Etc.: There were some shakeups about a year ago that resulted in a couple of different bands both fronted by guys named Pierre, and it got kinda confusing for a while. The Pierre now fronting the Zydeco Dots is Pierre Stoot, while longtime Dot-leader Pierre Blanchard today pumps the windjammer in front of the Bayou Stompers. The Zydeco Dots, if memory serves, have won this category every Music Awards year so far. Their inclusion this year must be either a reflex or a reflection that -- whoever's the frontman -- the band is made up of seasoned, talented zydeco veterans.

Pierre and the Zydeco Dots perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at Cydney's.

Artist: Project Grimm
Nominated for: Best New Act
Sound of choice: Hook-savvy indie rock
Time logged: One year

Etc.: Assembled from the remains of once-promising Houston acts the Mike Gunn, Bleachbath and Smile 69, Project Grimm contains a bit of all those bands, and more. This potent power trio is having little problem making its way inside the Loop with a sound that matches the familiar sounds of the past with a dynamic, melody-driven approach that's something new altogether.

Project Grimm performs at 4 p.m. Sunday at Metroplex.

Artist: Richard Ramirez
Nominated for: Best Industrial
Sound of choice: Electronically manufactured, sonically unbound noise
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Largely a studio dweller, but occasionally venturing into the live light of night, Ramirez churns out homemade tapes of avant-experimentalism at an assembly line rate, pausing at times to collaborate with sympathetic noise savants such as Japan's Merzbow (with whom Ramirez will be playing several New York shows this fall, when he's also got LPs -- yes, LPs -- scheduled for release on German and Greek labels). Ramirez is making quite a name for himself in circles described by lines that 99.9 percent of music listeners will never, ever cross.

Artist: Rat Ranch
Nominated for: Best Cover Band
Sound of choice: Classic rock, emphasis on "classic"
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: The addition of flamboyant vocalist Mark Russell last year helped Rat Ranch become more than just a technically competent cover act; all of a sudden, they were entertainers. The Ranchers spend about 80 percent of their time performing outside of Houston, but apparently that 20 percent in town must be quality time -- it earned them a nomination.

Artist: Tony Rorai
Nominated for: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound of choice: A Deep Purple keyboard grind
Time logged: More than three years (with the Keenlies)

Etc.: Rorai is the man behind the Hammond B-3, or the Fender Rhodes, or the no-name synth at Keenlies gigs. He's the one who puts the bounce in the band's pop-step; the man who gives credibility to the band's Rush rip-offs; the man who fleshes out the guitar-pop skeletons in that band's repertoire. Buy him a beer, his equipment is heavy.

Artist: Rotten Piece
Nominated for: Best Industrial
Sound of choice: Clangorous sonic cutups and ambient noise
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Rotten Piece is mostly Carol and C-Dog (perhaps better known as the core of the slightly more punk-rock-traditional Sad Pygmy), though Piece projects have been known to draw on the talents of fellow experimentalists Richard Ramirez, Austin Caustic and others. The group's new CD, Caged Meat, scheduled for a September release, comes just in time for a Rotten Piece/Sad Pygmy tour of the West Coast in October.

Artist: Rubbur
Nominated for: Best New Act
Sound of choice: Spacey punk-pop
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: Proud owner of the coolest song on Fuzzgun Records' Nothing Is Cool compilation (a nominee for Release of the Year), Rubbur's playfully cosmic lunar rock has landed the group a deal with the Seattle-based C/Z label. Personnel changes have been a sore spot for the band in recent months, but it appears signing on the dotted line has brought everyone to their senses. Plan on seeing Rubbur around town more often in the next year.

Rubbur performs at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Big Horn Saloon.

Artist: Shake Russell and Jack Saunders
Nominated for: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound of choice: Singer/songwriter strumming
Time logged: More than 15 years

Etc.: There's little that can captivate a thoughtful audience more than two musicians trading songs and stories. Shake and Jack's shows draw so many longtime regulars that the performances often take on the air of a family reunion. Stories that the audience can relate to -- underlined and fleshed out with long-practiced guitar interplay -- make for music whose basic purity proves a draw year after year.

Artist: Rusted Shut
Nominated for: Best Act That Doesn't Fit a Category; Local Musician of the Year (Don Walsh); Best Bassist (Sybil Chance)

Sound of choice: Noise rock with a bad attitude
Time logged: Nine years
Etc.: Matt Sargent on drums; founders Don Walsh and Sybil Chance on guitar and bass, respectively. We can't describe them, and neither can Walsh: "I guess you could call it music, but it was just ... on. What is it? And what do they [the audience] like about it? We do not know what's gonna come out, and it just ... starts." See you there.

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