Hot Tunes, Summer in the City

Houston Press Music Awards Showcase 2002

Grupo Batachá
Best Latin

The name means "fun group," and for the last five years this band has been having plenty of batachá with stints at the Houston International Festival, Power of Houston and the Playa Sol y Salsa Festival. The group has also made the rounds at Austin's Pecan Street Festival, South by Southwest, Fiesta San Antonio and Brownsville's Latinfest. GB has even made it to the big screen, providing music for a couple of movie soundtracks (VH1's The Way She Movesand the independently produced Red Shoes). The mostly Cuban-style group is working on a self-produced CD for release in late August. --O.F.A.
7 p.m. Harlon's Bayou Blues

The Gypsies
Best World Music

Of all the musicians in Houston, only accordionist Greg Harbar could introduce a tune like this (and know what he's talking about): "Our next number is a sort of Croatian-Serbian-Macedonian-type tune, but we're gonna do it with more of a Greek rhythm." Together with his band of Gypsies, Harbar can and does swing everything from conjunto to Nordic hambo, Louisiana zydeco to Hungarian csarda -- though he does love Romany-influenced music the most. What's more, he plays it everywhere from nightclubs to front lawns and for everybody from the coffeehouse crowd at Brasil to Presidents Clinton, Nixon, Carter, and Bush Sr. and Jr., not to mention King Hussein and Princess Margaret. If Harbar were a supermarket, he'd be a lively Fiesta flagship in a town full of bland Randalls. --J.N.L.
5 p.m. BAR Houston

Harlem Slim
Best Traditional Blues

With the title of his latest CD (his fourth since 1999), King of the Delta Bluesmen, this suddenly prolific retro solo guitarist and singer claims the crown traditionally bestowed on blues icon Robert Johnson, whose depression-era material the enigmatic Slim regularly covers -- along with original compositions and selections from other ancient blues legends and practitioners of "Piedmont rag." This fortysomething white man presents himself as a sonic (and possibly psychic) channel to those African-American blues originators of yore. And he gets away with it -- despite the fact that he's never lived in the Delta, the Piedmont or Harlem. How so? Even if the persona is simply a shrewd marketing ploy, Slim can pluck and bend those strings and howl those old-timey songs like nobody else in town. --R.W.
6 p.m. Hard Rock Cafe

The Hunger
Best Drummer (Max Schuldberg)

Few groups on the bill this year can claim major-label success like the Hunger. Since 1991, the industrial/dance quintet has released five albums, its last three for Universal Records. Spaceman's Last Goodbye (2001) brings the Hunger's trademark gothic rock and industrial electronica together with a more pronounced alternative metal influence. Basically, the group's going for something a little more Trent Reznor than Robert Smith. That goes beyond turning up the guitars and sharpening the beats, though. The production work on Spaceman's Last Goodbye is evidence that, this time, the Hunger has employed better scientists at the lab. It's frightful fusion. --T.S.
9 p.m. Verizon Wireless Theater

Irie Time
Best Ska/Reggae

Scottie McDonald and the rest of Irie Time couldn't be feeling any more irie at this point in their careers. Their new album, Live Up!, is finally out in stores not just in Houston but all over the country, and they are once again bouncing from stage to stage, serving up a blend of reggae, soca and dub grooves that's just about as refreshing as a bottle of Ting grapefruit soda on a sweltering Trenchtown summer day. The quartet is seeking management and label affiliations, so if anyone out there is looking for an 11-year-old reggae party band from Texas that can light a fire under the asses of even the most listless audience, then go to www.irietime.com and set up a meeting. --C.D.L.
4 p.m. Live Sports Cafe

Davin James
Best C&W, Song of the Year ("Magnolia")

If you're the type of person who likes his beer cold and his country old, chances are you'll love Davin James. Not that he's a cover act -- the opposite is true. James is one of the finest songwriters in town and one of the best guitar-playing front men for miles around. There's very little Nashville to his sound, and still less of the over-the-top Texas-Texas-Yee-Haw! cheerleader crap we've come to find so pukesome of late. Instead, what you get with James is bluesy, rockin', no-bullshit honky-tonk in the vein of the Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt and late-'70s Hank Jr. --J.N.L.
8 p.m. The Hub

Jiggernaut
Best Celtic

As Greg Harbar's Gypsies are to the music of the Balkans and all points east, so Wolf Loescher's Jiggernaut is to the Celtic sounds of the British Isles and America, with one big difference: Jiggernaut likes to rock. Like the Gypsies, Jiggernaut's lineup is a veritable United Nations. Bagpiper Richard Kean was born in Scotland and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta; accordionist Mark Kenneth is another Scot; as his name implies (and despite his Brooklyn birth), accordionist Brendan O'Sullivan was reared in Ireland; and multi-instrumentalist Loescher is a half-German Texas native who spent some formative years in Scotland. Rounding out the large band are Texans (and Blarney Brothers bandmates) Rodger Harrison (bass), Matthew Williams (drums, guitar), Steve Harrison (perhaps the world's only guitar, trumpet and didgeridoo player) and Milwaukee-born singer Deanna Smith. --J.N.L.
6 p.m. Spy (outside)

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