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Mucking It Up

Ballot, ballot on the wall, who's the folkiest of all?

Well, kiddos, with the Houston Press Music Awards looming on the horizon, we find ourselves embroiled in a minor controversy, and I could use your help. The charmers over at McGonigel's Mucky Duck -- Houston's premier venue for eclectic-acoustic music -- have launched a lobbying campaign to add a category to the readers' choice ballot that'll be running in the Press later this summer. What they're after is a new category described as "Traditional Ethnic Folk Music," which would serve as categorical haven for acts such as Ceili's Muse, Wyndnwyre, The Flying Fish Sailors, the Houston Highlanders Pipe Band and others performing, you know, traditional ethnic folk musics. The lobbying effort so far consists of some 100-plus postcards distributed from the Mucky Duck stage, signed by patrons and mailed -- postage paid by the Duck -- to this office. My position so far is that the already-in-place category of Best Folk/Acoustic should suffice to encompass this territory, but Duck proprietors Rusty and Theresa Andrews argue that the existing category doesn't sufficiently take into account the diversity between the contemporary guitar-strum folk of acts like traditional winners Shake Russell and Jack Saunders and the bagpipe shenanigans of, say, the Men of Houston Morris Team.

Since I've been wrong before, and no doubt will be wrong again, and since the awards in question are readers' choice by nature, I'm going to pass this one into the public realm for comment. Do you, the readers of this paper, think that the standing Best Folk/Acoustic category encompasses these acts? Or do you, same readers, feel that Houston's music scene would be better represented if the Folk/Acoustic category were augmented with a second category for Best Traditional/Ethnic? The nomination process is already under way, so we need to know soon. If you care, try your best to let me know within the week. Letters may be sent to Brad Tyer, Houston Press, 2000 West Loop South, Ste. 1900, Houston, TX 77027, or faxed to my attention at 713-624-1496. Better yet, give me a call at 713-624-1473 and leave a brief yea or nay on the voicemail. The fate of something or other is riding on your input, so make it snappy.

Follow-ups... The results of the 15th Annual W.C. Handy Awards are in, and the late Albert Collins was honored in three categories. Collins posthumously pulled in Blues Entertainer of the Year, Contemporary Blues/Male Artist of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist/Guitar. Bobby "Blue" Bland's Years of Tears raked in Soul/Blues Album of the Year, and Bland was also awarded Soul/Blues Male Artist of the Year. Fiddler Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown collected Blues Instrumentalist/Other honors.

Local Stuff... It was a few weeks back that I dragged myself out of the house to see if East L.A.'s Blazers could live up to the standards of their debut disk on stage at the Satellite. It so happens that they surpassed it, but that didn't much surprise me. What surprised me was the opening set by Houston's own Rounders, whom I hadn't had the good fortune to see in some time. Just a word of advice: if you're one of those who naturally assume that any band playing around town as long as the Rounders have been must be profoundly mediocre or else they would have moved out of Houston long ago, and so you haven't bothered to stop in at one of their frequent shows, think again.

Powerful, twangy country rock with a bounce in its step and a howl in the mike. They headline at the Satellite Thursday the 19th. Earlier Thursday, lite rocker Tony Vila showcases material from his latest, South Central #9, at Party on the Plaza in Jones Plaza downtown.

Friday, you've got just too damn many choices. Peglegasus -- yes, they live in Austin now, but allow me my denial -- struts its brilliantly skewed brand of guitar pop at Rudyard's, while the white blues prodigies in Sunset Heights, who promise, despite perpetual delays, that they do have an album in the can and that they will release it before we all die of old age, play at Rockefeller's with Hadden Sayers opening. Ed Hall, another Austin band that ought to be from Houston, will pack Goat's Head Soup to the rafters, guaranteed, and Ethnic Rain does the Last Concert Cafe. Bee Stung Lips plays Toad's, also on the 20th.

In the more-bang-for-your-buck category, locals Monster Soup, Blueprint, 30footFALL, Manhole, Underwood and Badger play a suicide prevention benefit for "Teenline" at the Abyss Friday night. By the way, everyone's playing Nirvana covers. But the show you can't afford to miss is dead horse, with Dive and Dallas' lauded Toadies opening at the European Tavern.

Saturday, unappetizingly named party band Duck Soup celebrates a CD release at Rockefeller's, Blueprint opens for Geffen rockers Sugartooth at the Abyss and Third World Rising hits Rudz. For those of you without Elvis Costello tix, Sunday night's got Blunt at the Blue Iguana. Locals don't show up again in my calendar until Wednesday, when Austin songwriter Mandy Mercier celebrates a CD release at the Mucky Duck and Ethnic Rain plays the Pig Live. Oink.

P.S. -- It came in too late to do a damn thing about it, but if you have any affinity for soul/funk/jazz/R&B of any fashion whatsoever, I'm betting you're going to want to see a by-all-reports rejuvenated War at Rockefeller's, Wednesday the 25th.

 
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