By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
To belabor beyond all recognition that old saw about what you should wear to your wedding, this year Houston went in for something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Representing the old were such hardy perennials as the Zydeco Dots, Norma Zenteno, Cactus Music and Video, the Mucky Duck, Elvia's, Bozo Porno Circus, Blanco's and the Big Easy. As for the new, Japanic, Red Cat Jazz Café, Moses Guest, Sevenfold, John Evans and Snit's Dog & Pony Show were all first-time winners. We borrowed Houstonians Rodney Crowell from Nashville, Carolyn Wonderland from Austin, and Eric Taylor from Columbus. The blue(s) were furnished by the likes of Grady Gaines, Texas Johnny Brown and the Tony Vega Band. (Then there were the ones we "blew," such as putting Sevenfold in Metal/Hard Rock and seeing them win, and the newly hornless Los Skarnales in the Best Horn/Horn Section category. The booking flubs will be ironed out next time around. Me to you, Houston: Oops.)
But on the day, who was counting? The skies cooperated. The ridiculous heat of the past several years was supplanted by weather that seemed merely warm. We weren't visited by any of the rogue thunderstorms that have been visiting so often of late. Some 7,000 of you turned out and enjoyed tramping around downtown, making this the biggest Houston PressMusic Awards showcase yet.
This year's multiple winners included Japanic, Snit's Dog & Pony Show, 30footFALL and last year's grand champeen, South Park Mexican.
The wish list for next year includes, well, not much except for more bands. It is hoped that next year there will be both traditional and contemporary blues categories; Tejano and Latin will be separated; and there will be new ones for gospel, bluegrass, mariachi and jam bands, among others, as we march toward 100-band splendor and an attendance of 10,000.
Now that's an idea I can get married to. -- John Nova Lomax
Best Rap/Hip-hop; Local Musician of the Year; Best Local Label (Dope House Records)
South Park Mexican
For the second year in a row, Dope House Records, home to South Park Mexican and his escalating Latino rap empire that boasts songs with enough weed references to win the company a platinum-plated bong courtesy of NORML, has won the prize for Best Local Label. This past year, along with a couple of SPM albums, Dope House has dropped well-buzzed efforts from Lone Star Ridaz, Rasheed and Baby Beesh.
For the fall season, Sylvia Coy and the rest of the Dope House cartel are looking to bring some more no-bullshit, off-the-hinges rap for the hungry Houston masses, with October releases from SPM and debut artist Juan Gotti. Hell, if they keep going like this, they may get that bong after all.
For a moment there it looked like Carlos Coy, better known to H-town hustlers as South Park Mexican, wasn't gonna get the same fanfare, the same accolades, the same noise as he got last year when he won a whole bunch of these awards. Just look at his main competition this year in Local Musician of the Year category: Big Moe, who officially ushered in the codeine cocktail with his hit debut, City of Syrup, and the late DJ Screw, who received a special memorial nomination for his years of service. But SPM not only won LMY and Best Local Label, he also snagged a win in Best Rap/Hip-hop.
Ever the modest MC, the Mexican accepts his trophies on behalf of his Gulf Coast contemporaries, especially his dearly departed mentor, Screw. "I was the first Mexican, and the only Mexican, to be in the Screwed Up Click," says SPM. "DJ Screw has touched all of us, you know. He was the most hate-free person in the world. And I'm gonna keep his name alive, you know."
The rapper and his label already have seen to that by releasing a series of chopped-up and screwed-down tunes called Screwston. But not everything he will release will be slowed down for your protection. His next album, Never Change, will drop nationwide in October, and he is in talks with local filmmaker Greg Carter (Fifth Ward, Thug Life) to put his long-awaited movie debut, Hustle Town, in production. -- Craig D. Lindsey
Critic's pick (Best Rap/Hip-hop):K-Otix
Critic's pick (Local Musician of the Year): DJ Screw
Critic's pick (Best Local Label): Plethorazine
Texas Johnny Brown
It's been a productive 15 years for Texas Johnny Brown. He became a red-hot bandleader. His 1997 release, Nothin But the Truth, was heralded by many blues journalists as one of the comeback records of the year -- hell, the whole decade. He and his impeccably attired Quality Blues Band have torn up stages from the Third Ward to the City of Light. He accompanied the legendary Teddy Reynolds during that renowned ivory-tickler's last days.
Not bad for a guy who, according to the liner notes for 1986's Atlantic Blues Box, died sometime back in the mid-'80s. While those notes couldn't have been more wrong, the music they accompanied couldn't have been more right. Three of Brown's early recordings (made with Amos Milburn) reissued on that set -- "There Go the Blues," "The Blues Rock" and "Bongo Boogie" -- helped to reacquaint the blues world with a talent who had wandered too long in the thickets of obscurity.