Hot Sounds in the City

The 5th Annual Houston Press Music Awards

It doesn't seem possible at this late date that anyone could not know what zydeco is: not only is the Cajun music about as all-American as pizza at this point, but those of us who grew up along the Sabine, on either side, were raised on the stuff. You get your Cajun, Old French, African-American and Caribbean people all in a mix, wait till WW II, and then add country and bluegrass and laissez les bons temps rouler.

Pierre and the Zydeco Dots play smoky barrooms, tin halls, ugly dives and church socials where red beans and rice are served in the parish kitchen. Pierre and the Zydeco Dots even play Funday in the Park. It's a busy band, has been for years, and the dance floor, even when they play outdoors, is always crowded. (E.S.)

Best Industrial/Dance -- The Hunger
The pride of Clear Lake, The Hunger are good dance-band boys with actual radio airplay -- on the KLOL Texas Music show and in Europe. The band's trip into the heady realm of the mainstream hasn't quite gotten to the point of having a video hit on MTV, though, so TV viewers have yet to be subjected to shocking-yellow scenes, on painstakingly scratched and faded film, of Hunger brothers Thomas and Jeff Wilson hissing and spinning, their appearances punctuated with images of freaks and pork and unnatural machinery. Not yet, anyway.

Although industrial-oriented venues are shutting down at an alarming rate, The Hunger is an ambitious band -- in that sense, at least, they really are hard-core. Their last CD, Grip, was released on their own label, Gut Records, and they're taking care not to take day jobs that might interfere with a music career. They play dance music with a traditional pulsing disco bass, Bad Company covers (which carry more elan than most folks can get away with) and anything else to get gigs in clubs full of sweaty, writhing bodies. The Hunger has already weathered record deals that would squash a less determined band, and they're still out clubbing, so stay tuned. (E.S.)

Best Piano/Keyboards -- Ezra Charles
The Paul Schafer of Houston, the inventor of the Helpinstill piano pickup and the man who watched from the wings in horror last summer as his prize piano bench was smashed on the Black Forest stage by Jerry Lee Lewis, Ezra Charles has made his mark on Houston many times, and in many ways, over the course of a long career.

Charles, a perpetual Music Awards front-runner, stepped into the limelight yet again this past year when he landed the gig as halftime entertainment at Rockets home games. While other cities were amusing themselves with yet another lame round of Whoomp! There it is!, Charles was dosing the Houston crowd with Gulf Coast boogie-woogie.

Charles, along with new drummer Tim Root and new guitarist Joe Gavito, recently began recording new material. "The sound of the band," Charles reports, "has gone back to what it was two years ago, only at a higher level." As for any album that might materialize from the recording sessions, well, says Charles, "What I do is, we'll record a song, and then I send it out to everybody to see if they like it. In a worst-case scenario, we'll end up putting out an album, but in the best-case scenario, the songs will generate enough interest that someone else gets interested in putting it out." (B.T.)

Best Horn/Horn Section -- Global Village
Longtime funk fave Global Village may have been knocked out of its funk roost by Carolyn Wonderland's sweep through the awards, but you can't keep a funky band down, so Global Village surfaces here in the Best Horn Section slot.

The horns in question are played by Keith Van Horn (trumpet), Roger Igo (saxophone), Marty Martinez (trombone and flute) and Trey Smith (bari sax). Alongside the rest of the band, the Village horns have been seen gigging regularly at Yaga's and The Pig "Live," and making appearances at almost any event in town with a "Festival" tagged onto its name -- including the 1994 Freedom Fest, where the Global boys got a rare opportunity to open for Confederate Railroad, Cheap Trick and R.E.O. Speedwagon.

Global Village changed drummers this year, acquiring former Bonedaddy and Killer Bee Brian Sebastian, but the band never broke stride. Global Village landed a promotional contract with Bud Dry, and between shows in Austin and Corpus Christi, manages to continue work on an as-yet-untitled CD. In the meantime, the band, and its horns, remains one of Houston's top dance draws. (B.T.)

Best Live Lighting Design -- Goat's Head Soup
Every reader's poll worth its salt has to have a joke vote, and it's tempting to read this result as just that (yeah, man, you could see the sparks from a mile away. It was friggin' awesome...). But even if the short, sweet life of the lower Westheimer club will probably be remembered more for a clownishly botched job of apparent arson than for the way the tiny venue picked up the slack left over from the reformatting of the Vatican and Emo's, that shouldn't take away from the sweaty magic generated in the old house on a good night.

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