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Houston Press 1996 Music Awards

Thirty-six categories. More than 100 nominated bands and performers. You want proof that there's a lot of music to be found in Houston? Well, there you have it: the musicians who make up the ballot entries for the Press Music Awards. Keeping up with that explosion of sound can be difficult, so to make your voting easier and better informed, we've put together a guide. What follows is a short course in Houston music, an introduction to all those who impressed our nominating committee arranged alphabetically by each band's first name or each performer's last. (And don't be so culturally ignorant as to look for La Mafia under the Ls; you wouldn't look for The Hollisters under the Ts, would you?)

What follows also tells you the when and where of who'll be playing at the Press Music Awards Showcase Sunday, July 28. Just look for the bold type at the end of 45 of the capsule profiles. Check out the bios, check out the showcase, check out the bands -- then check your selections for Houston's best on the Music Awards ballot. And watch for the announcement of the winners in our August 8 issue.

-- The Editors

Profiles written by Jim Sherman, Edith Sorenson, Hobart Rowland, Brad Tyer, Craig D. Lindsey and Greg Barr.

Artist: Aftershock
Nominated for: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound of choice: Hip-hop a la hard rock
Time logged: One year

Etc.: This offshoot of last year's rap/hip-hop winner Planet Shock! touts itself as a virtual writing machine. That may be true, considering the group has spent a good nine months perfecting its vibe, leading up to the projected fall '96 release of a debut CD. Relying as much on true musicianship as on sampling, Aftershock claims to create magnificence out of raw, negative emotions.

Aftershock performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Ball Room.

Artist: Atticus Finch
Nominated for: Best New Act; Release of the Year (Bruised); Song of the Year ("FMTS")

Sound of choice: Post-grunge grunge
Time logged: More than a year
Etc.: You have to admire the guys in Atticus Finch. They've endured early blows from critics, and are gradually taking control of the fight. Currently, the band is leaving some of its grungier stuff behind in favor of a more crisp, pop-influenced sound. And the band is learning to stick to its guns while trying to make sense of the music business.

Atticus Finch performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Artist: Bamboo Crisis
Nominated for: Best Industrial
Sound of choice: Svengali-driven Goth-glam
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: Ken Gerhard is the Svengali doing the driving, and he's calling the band's music "modern rock" (because what's not?). Bamboo's "Aftermath" and "Shapeshifter" have been nudging elbows with the likes of White Zombie and Filter on alternative-dance charts, leading up to the recent release of 51 Pegasi.

Bamboo Crisis performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Artist: Bayou Roux
Nominated for: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound of choice: Modern zydeco with a traditional twist
Time logged: Off and on for eight years

Etc.: With names such as Keith Dupuis on accordion, Ryan Delahousissaye on fiddle, Mike Bourgeis on the kit and Jimmie Cormier on piano and vocals, you can bet Bayou Roux learned their zydeco by growing up with it. Ted Lee plays bass and joins Cormier on vocals in both English and Cajun, while Ken Reynolds and Charlie Kincannon work lead and rhythm guitars. If you're a little weak on your zydeco history, here's a tip: a zydeco band with a fiddle and piano is definitely worth checking out.

Artist: Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds
Nominated for: Best Act That Doesn't Fit a Category
Sound of choice: Rock and roll at its most wildly exhibitionistic
Time logged: Eleven years

Etc.: With the Bi-Peds, you get bizarre character studies, outlandish performance art, cabaret-style theater and costumes aplenty -- all to a potent rock and roll soundtrack. Welcome to Mr. Barton's twisted little experiment.

Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Big Horn Saloon.

Artist: Beat Temple
Nominated for: Best Funk/R&B; Best Reggae/World Beat; Release of the Year (Hands of Mercy); Best Male Vocalist (Ralz Mathias); Best Bassist (Carl Jones); Best Pianist/ Keyboardist (Rick Thompson); Best Drummer (Chris Axlerad)

Sound of choice: Funk with an earthy flair
Time logged: Seven years
Etc.: Beat Temple has been kicking out the jams on the Houston live music circuit for what seems like forever. And guess what? They've only gotten better. They offer a Sly Stone-meets-Lenny Kravitz vibe loaded with hippie implications, but not at the cost of patronizing listeners with needless nostalgia.

Beat Temple performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Ball Room.

Artist: Big Holiday
Nominated for: Best Rock/Pop
Sound of choice: Thoughtful jangle pop
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: Bands don't get any more untrendy than Big Holiday, which is all the more reason to appreciate this personable outfit of aging musical misfits -- aging, as in everyone in the band is well over 30. Imagine that: playing shyly delivered, tasteful guitar pop and still managing to pull in a crowd at the Urban Art Bar. Big Holiday's members are so out-of-sorts on-stage that they're cool.

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