Big Holiday performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at 8.O.

Artist: Botany Boys
Nominated for: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound of choice: Versatile, all-purpose rhymes
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: Hailing from the two-lane blacktops of Botany Street in the Cloverland hood, C-Note, Dez, Will Lean, Head and producer D-Red have been rapping since high school. But it wasn't until last year that things started happening for the group. They released an EP, Smokin' n' Leanin', last December on Big Shot Records, began hitting the club circuit and are now putting the finishing touches on their full-length debut CD, Thought of Many Ways.

Artist: Texas Johnny Brown
Nominated for: Best Blues
Sound of choice: Smooth, complex, uptown
Time logged: More than 50 years

Etc.: Texas Johnny Brown has been a key element of many pivotal moments in the history of Houston blues. He was a member of Amos Milburn's Chicken Shackers when that band defined and tested the limits of boogie-woogie, while his years as a session player with the Duke/Peacock labels honed his skills to a razor's edge and made Brown's "Two Steps from the Blues" one of the biggest hits of Bobby Bland's career. Look far, look wide; you'll have a hard time finding anyone in the blues who gives six strings such a workout while singing in such a sweet, smooth voice.

Artist: David Caceres
Nominated for: Best Jazz
Time logged: Two years
Sound of choice: Modern jazz saxophone with a traditionalist bent

Etc.: This Berklee-trained San Antonio native has had no shortage of work since moving to Houston. When not touring with other ensembles and leading his own quintet, Caceres is lending his alto sax work to local recordings by the likes of Paul English and Tod Vullo. And he's no slouch as a singer, either.

Artist: Ceili's Muse
Nominated for: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound of choice: Irish, with female harmonies
Time logged: More than six years

Etc.: The harmonies of Maggie Drennon and Melanie O'Sullivan have captivated audiences from Houston to Dublin. Mixing a well-researched enthusiasm for Irish traditions with considerable talent and more than a little humor has proven a crowd-winning combination for the group. These lasses -- along with guitarist Anders Johansen and bass man Chuck Ivy -- craft 300-year-old ballads into moments as fresh and captivating as the future Celtic classics they've written.

Artist: Celindine
Nominated for: Best New Act; Best Bassist (Shane Ray)
Sound of Choice: Inspired lo-fi racket
Time logged: Less than a year

Etc.: Houston's somewhat more abrasive answer to Pavement, Celindine has sparked quite a flurry of talk among Montrose music aficionados. Spontaneously unified (if there is such a thing) in its creative approach to making noise, the quartet has landed a few select slots opening national touring acts. They've already done some recording, most notably for the new It Came from Nowhere compilation. Next month, it's back into the studio to record their first full-lengther.

Celindine performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Big Horn Saloon.

Artist: Ezra Charles
Nominated for: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound of Choice: Rock and roll, Killer-style
Time logged: Since before Jerry Lee went gray

Etc.: After getting snubbed in the best keyboard player category last year (and expressing his frustration about it in a letter to the Press), the inimitable Ezra Charles is back in the running. And indeed, of all his various exploits over the years, Charles' piano playing has remained his most reliable asset.

Ezra Charles and the Works perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Ball Room.

Artist: Clandestine
Nominated for: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound of choice: Traditional Scottish with a rock twist
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: Fiddler Gregory McQueen, piper E.J. Jones and guitarist-vocalist Jennifer Hamel have churned a unique mix of influences that span several centuries into a highly original stage. Jones switches with ease from a highly traditional bagpipe technique to frenzied pipe-rock, while McQueen recalls the legends of seagoing fiddlers. Add to that mix a young singer who displays an impressive vocal range at every opportunity, stir in new addition Emily Dugas on acoustic percussion and you have a night's entertainment that makes as much sense in a rock club as it does at the Renaissance Festival.

Artist: Clouded
Nominated for: Best Rock/Pop; Song of the Year ("Sulking Days"); Songwriter(s) of the Year (Terry Costello and Mark Richardson)

Sound of Choice: Skewed, atmospheric alt-pop
Time logged: Two years
Etc.: Clouded's buzzy, somewhat confused wall of guitars seems more appropriate for the Best Alternative/Non-Commercial Category. But who's to question what qualifies as pop these days? Whatever you want to call it, the band's Song of the Year candidate, "Sulking Days," is just plain powerful, and so full of wide-eyed potential that you can't help but wonder what these relative newcomers could do with a little more time in the studio.

Clouded performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at Metroplex.

Artist: Commercial Art
Nominated for: Best Cover Band
Sound of choice: R&B classics
Time logged: Fifteen years

Etc.: Given all the time they've had to hone their cover skills, it's not surprising that this coed sextet (four guys, two girls) years ago graduated from smoky bars to the high-dollar private party circuit. Not the socialite type? Not to worry. Commercial Art still has a weekly gig at Maxie and Jake's.

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