Rusted Shut performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at Metroplex.

Artist: Saddlebag
Nominated for: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound of choice: Big and heavy rock
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Ex-members of Poor Dumb Bastards and Hoss ride bareback over the thrash-rock competition with a sound that's one part Slayer, two parts Melvins and all parts invincible. A nine-song, self-titled E.P. came out earlier this year; a full-length CD is in the works.

Saddlebag performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at Cydney's.

Artist: Sad Pygmy
Nominated for: Best Alternative/Non-Commercial
Sound of choice: Purely pathological punk
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: Though they've assured us otherwise, Sad Pygmy's "beer-fueled quest for world domination" looks doubtful right now. But at least this raucous, clinically offbeat quartet has supplied Houston with enough tongue-in-cheek, punk-adelic memories old and new to make up for breaking its promise.

Sad Pygmy performs at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

Artist: Sam Brothers
Nominated for: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound of choice: Red beans and boogie
Time logged: More than 20 years

Etc.: A surprising number of the longtime zydeco bands in Houston are family-based, ranging from teenage drummers playing behind their dads to siblings who have played together since childhood. The Sam Brothers fit that latter model to come up with good-time music with just the right regional seasonings.

Artist: Don Sanders
Nominated for: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound of choice: Witty storytelling with a guitar

Time logged: Played Anderson Fair when Lyle Lovett was still looking for influences

Etc.: Don Sanders is at the top of many local folkies' "Best Person to Take on a Campout" list; there are times when nothing entertains like a guy with a guitar and a story he wants to tell. Although Sanders has never quite managed to capture his on-stage magic on tape -- at least not since the early-70's Anderson Fair Through the Night Darkly compilation -- his is a genre whose strength has always been cozy, intimate performances. The kind that Sanders invariably produces.

Don Sanders performs at 4 p.m. Sunday at 8.0.

Artist: Hadden Sayers
Nominated for: Best Rock/Pop; Songwriter(s) of the Year
Sound of choice: Blues-edged rock
Time logged: More than two years (with his own band)

Etc.: Hadden Sayers seems poised for a breakthrough year. His powerful new CD, Retrofutura, spills over with evidence that his song writing has moved up a couple of notches. And pared down to a tight three-piece outfit, the Hadden Sayers Band easily aces the "But can they cut it live?" test.

Artist: Seeds of Soul
Nominated for: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound of choice: Rap, hip-hop (surprised?)
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: "You guys don't look like rappers" is a comment that's regularly besieged this bunch. It's true: the guys in Seeds of Soul look like regular fellows. It's not their fault the business they happen to be in favors style over substance. But this quartet has been known to show its sense of style through its substance, and people are starting to take notice. Currently, they're working on an album set for release on Austin's Sector II label.

Artist: Harry Sheppard
Nominated for: Best Jazz
Sound of choice: Good vibes
Time logged: Fifty years (11 in Houston)

Etc.: At 69, this man's got some badass batteries. His regular gigs are with Necessary Tension at Rudyard's on Thursdays, with Erin Wright at the River Cafe on Tuesday nights and with bassist Bill Miller at that same venue's Sunday brunch. Points of View came out on Justice last year and received zero local press. Despite which, it's apparently selling well and generating airplay in Holland and Germany.

Harry Sheppard performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Q Cafe.

Artist: Sentir
Nominated for: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound of choice: Venezuelan folk music with island rhythms
Time logged: Eight years

Etc.: A weekly attraction at Elvia's Cantina, Sentir is a ten-member Cuban/Venezuelan folk outfit that fits the Latin/Tejano category only by necessity. Incorporating Caribbean rhythms into a traditional Venezuelan format, the group has more on its mind than any one label can justify.

Artist: Sisters Morales
Nominated for: Best C&W
Sound of choice: Harmony-driven country rock
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Lisa Morales' image as a folkie songwriter started to change direction when she and sister Roberta began pushing country harmonies to angelic levels. As they assembled one of the tightest backup bands in town, the sisters wrote and polished original songs -- in both Spanish and English -- that brought them to the attention of RCA Records. While Lisa and Roberta's words and the way they sing them are responsible for the bulk of their audience, David Spencer's blazing skills on electric and steel guitar are also a big part of what makes this band work so well.

Artist: The Suspects
Nominated for: Best Alternative/Non-Commercial; Best Reggae/World Beat; Best Act That Doesn't Fit a Category; Best Horn/Horn Section

Sound of choice: Ska
Time logged: Two years
Etc.: Without question, the Suspects do the Two-Tone/rock-steady thing better than any other act in Houston. With three nominations this year, the only thing this band of fierce ska purists could possibly protest is their inclusion in the Reggae/World Beat category. But what can we say? Musical definitions are a malleable, and unpredictable, thing.

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