By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Best Contemporary Blues
Based on the strength of his album Telephone Road, blues rocker May took home Musician of the Year honors in this contest in 1999. Former Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts was also a fan, and he took May and band on the road with him for virtually all of 2001. Since then, May's blues and boogie have been blazing the "Bert Wills Circuit," the chain of suburban icehouses and biker bars that rings the city. May's band, the Agitators, is always among the best in town. And graduate Agitators such as Eric Demmer (now Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's sax man) and budding front man Dave Nevling suggest that May is becoming that rare bluesman who's also a teacher. --J.N.L.
9 p.m. Live Sports Cafe
Best New Act, Song of the Year ("For My Pleasure")
Imagine Johnny Goudie auditioning for Gary Numan's film biopic. Style his hair like Ian McCulloch and give him some lipstick and a cigarette. Now dress him up in Weimar Republic-era threads. That image sums up MenMechanical, a group so steeped in new-wave iconography you have to believe it's pulling your leg. Front man Brian Taylor isn't British, but you wouldn't know it from his singing accent, which, rumor has it, even spills over into normal conversation. In concert, he attempts the brazen practice of "making love to the audience," and arguably, it's a success. The costume and persona are clearly an act -- or are they? Is this clever irony or seriously derivative cheese? Will you be seduced by MenMechanical? --T.S.
7 p.m. BAR Houston
Some people in the local club scene may be at a loss for words about Mister Spacely. After all, it wasn't until this year that people began to hear about him. A member of the KAOS Entertainment crew, this UK hard house/nu-NRG maven has become a fixture at the crew's shows, promoting his latest collection of mixes, Target: Locked. But perhaps the most entertaining reason for Spacely's inclusion on this year's Music Awards ballot is not his cartoon character-inspired name, but his Web site, www.misterspacely.com. There awaits a link to a multitude of various Webcam shots of "barely legal" girls with their own amateur porn sites giving love to the Jetsons-inspired spinner. One batch of shots shows a girl strategically placing one of his CDs on her -- well, let's just call it her equalizer. With all of that working in the guy's favor, does he even need an award? --C.D.L.
5 p.m. Spy (upstairs)
Best Indie/Alt Rock, Song of the Year ("Grounded")
When revisiting '80s musical styles, contemporary bands tend to cross-pollinate (say, the Jesus & Mary Chain meets the Human League), but rarely does a group cull so many different influences into a thick wad of nostalgia as Module. New-wave and dance music play leading roles as Module melds heavy, melodic bass lines, vocal and guitar distortion and catchy, danceable rhythms. The musical name-dropping includes New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen, Siouxsie, Hüsker Dü and U2. While such revivalism can smack of pretension or even elitism, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Module's pop nostalgia is delivered with intelligence, joy and meditative fondness for the music they love. --T.S.
5 p.m. The Brewery Tap
Molly and the Ringwalds
Best Cover Band
As can be deduced from their name, this band worships the era when Ronald Reagan was our president, Saddam Hussein was our enemy, and George Michael released a controversial video...um, the first time. This all-'80s cover band mines the music of early MTV favorites from the Cars and Rick Springfield to Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper. One-hit wonders (rock on, Men Without Hats!), novelty tunes and even punk rock round out a totally bitchin' song list. Members include Carrie Carter (piano), Henry Davis (vocals), Jennifer Lowry (vocal), Joe Earthman (drums), Christopher Daniello (bass) and Alfred Tam (guitar). Yes, Gen-Xers, your music is rapidly and inevitably becoming the oldies of tomorrow. Just don't, like, totally try to squeeze into that old Izod and a pair of parachute pants, fer shure. -- B.R.
7 p.m. Spy (inside)
Coming off a year that saw the release of a phenomenal self-titled double disc and signing with a hot indie publicity firm, the act named after the Revolutionary War-era ancestor of singer/guitarist/lawyer/author Graham Guest seems primed for bigger things. Maturing far beyond its early jam/hesher roots, the band, which also includes Rick Thompson (keyboards), James Edwards (drums) and Jeremy Horton (bass), imbues its rock with laid-back country and jazz licks. This is a band that also shows a surprising adaptability to the tastes of a live audience, be it at an extreme sports festival, an outdoor hippie concert or a roots-rock nightclub. Moses Guest's songs also have been featured on MTV's Real World, but please don't hold that against them. -- B.R.
9 p.m. Hard Rock Cafe
Tim Murrah finds his nod for Best Dance/DJ downright laughable. For starters, he doesn't consider himself much of a DJ. It's true that as the resident booth man for downtown basement dive Metropol, he played tunes (mostly underground rock) he describes as "eclectic." But we speak of Murrah's DJ services at Metropol in the past tense because he hasn't played a record since his club shut down and became Underground Lounge earlier this year. Since the closing, he's been kind of a critic-at-large, a crusader for good rock music (especially his beloved Britpop) who loves to blast promoters, radio stations, record stores and DJs that he deems ignorant of the local scene. You may think he's all talk, but it's about time somebody started talking around here. --C.D.L.
7 p.m. Spy (upstairs)