Artist: P.J. Cooper
Nominated for: Best Female Vocalist
Sound of choice: Bar-band rock
Time logged: Four years (with Under the Sun)

Etc.: Some locally have placed P.J. Cooper in the hallowed company of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick. But Cooper has enough of a distinctive style to move out on her own. Building on the buzz created by the late '95 release of Everything, Under the Sun has developed a truckload of original material, everything from percussive, meat-and-potatoes rockers to soulful balladry. We think Janis would approve.

Under the Sun performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

Artist: David Craig
Nominated for: Best Bassist
Sound of choice: The jazz, the whole jazz and nothing but the jazz
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: Craig's perhaps most frequently seen -- long straight hair swinging, cig dangling from lip -- with Necessary Tension. But he covers the local live jazz landscape like some one-man musical kudzu, playing alongside everyone who's anyone in Houston jazz, including a Tuesday night shift at Cody's with guitarist Tod Vullo, all of drummer Sebastian Whittaker's recordings and more weddings than Craig probably wants to talk about. If you need a stand-up bass man, get in line.

Artist: Mary Cutrufello
Nominated for: Best C&W; Local Musician of the Year
Sound of choice: Roadhouse country
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: A black woman singing country music may raise a few eyebrows, but a Yale grad setting her standards to John Hiatt's ''Memphis in the Meantime'' is something that deserves a good, long listen. Treat yourself to that listen; Cutrufello can handle the scrutiny. Though the New Jersey native was raised on Stephen Sondheim, her song writing is reminiscent of Harlan Howard's, and she's got a sound that's all high and lonesome and honky-tonking.

Artist: Dave Dove Paul Duo
Nominated for: Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound of choice: Free improv
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: The duo is Dave Dove on acoustic and amplified trombone and Paul Guilford on bass and synth, and the sound is such that only a fool would worry about categorization, despite recognizable roots in jazz. You can hear them on their own CD, A, released last fall, via a track contributed to the Drilling the Curve Houston compilation or at an increasingly rare live display.

Dave Dove Paul Duo plays at 4 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Artist: Little Willy Davis
Nominated for: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound of choice: Louisiana country accordion blues
Time logged: A lifetime

Etc.: The best way to see Little Willy Davis is to access the east-side network of Catholic churches who've been hosting weekly zydeco blowouts since Clifton Chenier's day. No, they don't have a Web page; it will take some detective work to find which churches have zydecos and which church the party is at this weekend. But these community celebrations are the essence of zydeco, and the best places to find traditional artists such as Davis.

Artist: Jesse Dayton
Nominated for: Best Male Vocalist; Best C&W
Sound of choice: Alt-country
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: The homeboy with a million side projects (movies, soundtracks, a Road Kings reunion) has gotten reams of exposure thanks to the championing of his label, Justice (see the Twisted Willie compilation and a slot on Nelson's July 4 blowout), and if he's yet to record his breakthrough release, that's just one more reason to keep an eye on him.

Jesse Dayton performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Big Horn Saloon.

Artist: dead horse
Nominated for: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound of choice: Punk/metal hybrid better known as "horsecore"
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: A year ago, it seemed dead horse fans would have to subsist on memories alone. After flirting with the big time, the band, frustrated with record-label politics and the rigors of ill-funded excursions to various corners of the globe, dropped out of circulation. Then suddenly, bubbling up out of the asphalt of Farm Road 666 late last year came the BOIL (ing) CD, and the group, equipped with a new singer/guitarist, had re-staked its claim as Houston's reigning thrash tormentors.

Artist: Dethkultur BBQ
Nominated for: Best Industrial
Sound of choice: Atypical assembly-line noise
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: Begun as a side project for a pair of hyper-creative members of Violent Blue and Bamboo Crisis, Dethkultur BBQ is now a full-time venture for clatter gurus Rev. Tommy Sin and Mike BBQ. Spinning a discomfiting weave of propulsive guitar, deranged vocals, thumping bass and groove sampling, Dethkultur BBQ has been fittingly described by its creators as "industrial country death with a touch of hip-hop." That mouthful pretty much says it all.

Artist: Dinosaur Salad
Nominated for: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound of choice: Hard-core metallic with a fat groove
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Visualize Ice Cube with an electric guitar and GWAR as his backup band, and you've come reasonably close to approximating where Dinosaur Salad is headed. Three guys, a dueling duo of vocalists and an equal proclivity toward rap and heavy metal. Full-length CD expected soon.

Artist: D.R.U.M.
Nominated for: Best Reggae/World Beat
Sound of choice: African with glimpses of Latin and Caribbean
Time logged: Eight years

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