By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Brian Davis keeps 30footFALL on the rails, never dropping a beat no matter what the shifts around him might be, musical or otherwise. "I'm really flattered," says Davis, regarding both the nomination and the award itself. "There're lots of really talented drummers and percussionists in this town. These sorts of things are always funny that way. They pretty much come down to a popularity contest." -- C.S.
Critic's choice: Sebastian Whittaker
The Dope House motto is "dope sells itself." How profound. (Really.) Yet it's always good to have a dealer who'll lay down that slick-as-Ricky-Martin's-leather-pants sales pitch to make buyers wanna score some product. As any employee of the Dope House dynasty will tell you, South Park Mexican is the most charismatic dealer since Superfly, or even more dastardly, David Geffen. With SPM large and in charge, the label's stable (Rasheed, Grimm, Low G, 24-7 Hustlaz, Hillwood Hustlaz, Baby Beesh) looks primed to blowuptuate, just like SPM. Together, the latest releases from Rasheed and Lone Star Ridaz (the latter a joint effort between SPM and producer Happy Perez) have moved about 40,000 units, says Dope House. And now, since the boss is hitting the big time -- Universal Music Group will distribute his next record -- he's looking for other major-label assistance. "Sony-Columbia is really interested in Baby Beesh," says SPM (a.k.a. Carlos Coy). "Elektra is very, very interested in obtaining a project. So we're not putting all our eggs in one basket." But it's not just SPM who's keeping the goings-on bubbling. Dope House has always been a family affair. Carlos and his brother, Arthur Jr., are co-chairmen, and the brothers' father, Arthur Sr., is president. Along with product, Dope House is also heavily stocked with loved ones. "[Compared] with the other record labels I've seen, I would say we are a more tightly knit family," says Sylvia Coy, Coy's big sista, who is also the general manager. "We try to work things out as a family. We believe in working together as a team." Damn, why can't everybody's family have that kind of love? -- C.D.L.
Critic's choice: Dope House Records
Heck, Drunken Thunder has played a Motörhead cover at least once in its day; there must be some kind of metal in there somewhere. But the band's Robert Lee Williams thinks otherwise: "We're not a metal band," he says, "but it's great to be one at times like this." (Damon O'Bannon, meanwhile, says he would like to "thank everyone that voted for us.") Garage power rock is Drunken Thunder's stock-in-trade; turn it up loud enough, and you end up in the metal neighborhood. Plans for the balance of 2000 include playing in and around town and going to New York City later in the summer to record CD no. two with Phil Lala, who just finished work on the next Lunachicks disc. New record in hand, Drunken Thunder plans to strike out on tour in 2001. For now, you can see the band play an unplugged (!?) set at Cactus Music & Video on Friday, August 11, at 6 p.m. -- C.S.
Critic's choice: demonseeds
Elvia's remains one of Houston's most treasured Latin bars. You gotta hand it to owner Elvia Parsons-Kras. She knows her market. Elvia's bands come from seemingly every aspect of Hispanic culture. Tejano, salsa, merengue, cumbia, you name it, the club has hosted it. And anyone who's anyone goes. Of course, white folk are more than welcome, and they fill the place by the dozens. The dance floor sometimes looks like a utopian vision of world peace. -- G.G.
Critic's choice: Elvia's
What Los Skarnales does with its horns is above the usual blow-hard approach most ska-influenced bands take. Ever-shifting tempos and strong, memorable melody lines allow the sax tandem of Jason Bird (alto) and Vince Palumbo (tenor) to insert themselves whenever. It's an arrangement built on trust: The other five guys in the band depend on the horn section to kick ass -- by any means necessary. "Our horns are hot as hell right now," says guitarist Jose Rodriguez. "They're our greatest so far." Bird and Palumbo know their boundaries, hitting sharp and in unison when they must, spreading out individually when they can. A raw and improvisational attitude buoys the band's overall sound. "When we're writing and we feel like a horn line should be there or when we say, 'Y'all can put something there,' we are trying to do new things," says Rodriguez. "Out of that fact, it's hard to just call us ska. We're a little different." Nothing is forced. Every line of every Los Skarnales horn lick comes off as genuinely as a baby's first words. -- A.M.
Critic's choice: David Caceres
Though Global Village doesn't play a lick of reggae, its dependence on strong rhythms and dance beats fits the "world" classification perfectly. The band has won the Press's Best Funk/R&B Band three times. Maybe Houston's reggae fans are so laid-back they forgot to vote for their faves.