Etc.: Ever since the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts -- the first performing arts public school in the Southwest -- opened its doors, the students have been cultivating a certain tradition. It's that band-nerd tradition, as well as the playing, that has earned this junior orchestra its fans.

Artist: Joe "Guitar" Hughes
Nominated for: Best Blues; Best Guitarist
Sound of choice: Ringing, gritty Texas guitar
Time logged: Forty-two years

Etc.: Veteran Third Ward guitarist and bandleader Joe Hughes has managed to gain a measure of worldwide fame while remaining close to his Houston roots. When he's not touring Europe, Hughes and his ever-present Fender guitar keep the Gulf Coast blues alive and growing by entertaining crowds around town and playing mentor to the next generation of Houston bluesmen (and blueswomen).

Joe "Guitar" Hughes performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's Pub.

Artist: The Hunger
Nominated for: Best Industrial
Sound of choice: Dancey industrial
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Formed in 1990 by brothers Jeff and Thomas Wilson, the Hunger's sound addresses the spectrum of programmed keyboard-friendly rock, from lighter '80s techno to hard-driving, Nine Inch Nails-influenced rage. With this year's release of its third CD, Devil Thumbs a Ride, the Hunger's hard work is beginning to pay off, with sold-out shows and regional radio support. And they've snagged the Press Music Award's Best Industrial prize three years in a row, so deal with it.

Artist: Jinkies
Nominated for: Best Rock/Pop; Best Alternative/Non-Commercial; Local Musician of the Year (Carlos DeLeon); Best Male Vocalist (Carlos DeLeon); Song of the Year ("Hey Kids! Let's Go Buy Some Crack Today"); Songwriter(s) of the Year (Carlos DeLeon)

Sound of choice: Big, dumb rock and roll
Time logged: Two years
Etc.: Forget the Beatles comparisons; these days, the Jinkies are ripping off the Knack. And with the now-established introduction of fourth man Matthew Thurman on guitar and effects, they sound leaner, meaner and louder than ever. Expect management shakeups and -- lo and behold -- a self-produced CD in early fall.

Jinkies perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Artist: Robert Juarez
Nominated for: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound of Choice: Tejano, we guess
Time logged: Too little to be famous

Etc.: It happens. Someone gets on the Music Awards ballot, and then when we start asking around about them, nobody seems to know much about the performer. Worse, he fails to return phone calls to clear up the mystery. Still, at least one member of our nominating committee thought Juarez was one hot Tejano act. And we trust our nomating committee implicitly. Really, we do.

Artist: Little Brian Terry and the Zydeco Travelers
Nominated for: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound of choice: Still looking for a reason to take jitterbug lessons?
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: The Terry brothers, prolific collaborative songwriters, have penned an extensive repertoire of original songs in both English and Creole, and their first national CD, Fresh, is being distributed by Rounder Records. So it appears the Zydeco Travelers have broken free of their local orbit.

Artist: Liviya
Nominated for: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound of choice: Angry and sad
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: You've probably seen the print ads -- a Dear Gabby look-alike licking the neck of her guitar -- and wondered about Liviya Compean, age 22, who can "only write when I feel bad." She's been performing at venues such as the Urban Art Bar with just herself, her guitar and her dad (who plays a stable of horns). By the time you read this, she'll have just finished opening for Jose Feliciano at Rockefeller's. She's also in the process of putting a band together, and a debut CD, Feel This, is due out in a few months.

Liviya performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at Q Cafe.

Artist: Joe LoCascio
Nominated for: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound of choice: Jazzy ivories
Time logged: More than a decade

Etc.: Joe LoCascio is truly a case where the resume speaks for itself. Nine solo releases, including the most recent, appropriately titled A Charmed Life; an active trio project with drummer Ed Soph and bassist John Adams; a Mass-in-progress for the Houston Chorale Society; assorted production credits; a current spot in sax man David Caceres' group. The proof, as they say, is in the product.

Artist: Susan McDonald
Nominated for: Best Classical
Sound of choice: Classical guitar
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Susan McDonald, who's been glued to the guitar since the age of seven, has spent most of her time lately away from Houston, touring the U.S., South America, Europe and Canada. It's the price one pays for having such a varied and busy career. The thrice-Grammy nominated guitarist has premiered works by an array of contemporary composers, including Edgar Cortes, Rodrigo Rodriguez and John King, and she is just as comfortable playing for thousands at Carnegie Hall as she is taking intimate performances to libraries, schools and nursing homes.

Artist: Madd Oxe
Nominated for: Best Cover Band
Sound of Choice: Classic rock covers with a slant toward the atypical
Time logged: Less than a year

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