By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Best New Act
Before a recent gig, mytwilightpilot's Matt Crow was discussing shoes (specifically, Skechers). He knew of a store with boxes stacked so high they obscured the surveillance cameras. It's a fitting topic of conversation, since mytwilightpilot is Houston's closest relative to shoegazer rock -- though not in the sense of My Bloody Valentine or Curve. mytwilightpilot is just really into its instruments. The five-piece employs the standard guitar attack with obligatory spaced-out effects and uses the loud/soft approach to songwriting. Songs build through airy, dreamy stretches and then lurch into feedback-riddled guitar blasts. Sequencer, keyboard and drums fill the spaces in between. Crow is a serviceable singer, but the group's preferred mix renders the vocals indecipherable (and it's not really about the words, anyway). Fans of Radio/Bedhead may find themselves in friendly skies. --T.S.
6 p.m. Harlon's Bayou Blues
This is the group formerly known as the Pander Band, fronted by the former lead singer of Soular Slide, who goes by the current (and former) name of Shawn Pander. Got that? Good. The singer/guitarist ditches the soul/funk of Soular Slide in his new outfit, which also comprises Marion Aquilina (guitar), Steven Ray Will (bass) and Marek Brown (drums). Pander has a much more folk/pop sound, with just a touch of breezy jazz and soul. Shawn Pander's vocal strength -- in addition to his solid pipes -- remains the casual ease in which he nonchalantly throws off his surprisingly philosophical lyrics. Pander is in the studio recording its debut CD. -- B.R.
7 p.m. Hard Rock Cafe
Arising out of an impromptu get-together in 1997, this Brazoria County string band has gone from parking-lot jam sessions to headlining status in a few short years. Led by Jay Richardson's banjo, Britt Keene's mandolin and the harmonies of Richardson, guitarist David Mintz and string bassist Cathy Richardson, Pet Rooster melds mountain music with Texas dancehall, rock and mainstream country into a mouth-o'-the-Brazos blend all its own. Like a pet rooster, they will wake you up. Unlike a pet rooster, they are melodious. --J.N.L.
7 p.m. The Mercury Room
A local jazz mainstay since he moved here in the mid-'80s, this silver-haired septuagenarian is the vibraphonist with the golden-toned mallets. Though his distinguished career began in his native Northeast, backing jazz giants such as Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman and Coleman Hawkins, Sheppard has performed in many styles, with both the famous and the not so. Who else could claim a stint with Barbra Streisand as well as a guest slot on a CD by Houston blues harpist Sonny Boy Terry? But this spry elder statesman really shines when he's on his own, either solo or leading a combo. After a recent period of experimenting with jazz fusion, the vibe master has returned to tradition with his latest CD, the tasteful Standards Unleashed. -- R.W.
5 p.m. The Hub
This is the third nomination in as many categories for this four-year-old, hard-to-pigeonhole, punky funk-rap quartet. In 2000, they were up for Best New Act, and last year saw them in the Best Alternative Rock category. Simpleton doesn't snugly snap into either the alt-rock or the funk/R&B category -- just call them the most urban rock band in H-town and be done with it. It's fitting that the band's headquarters is in a Main Street high-rise in the heart of downtown. Simpleton's sophomore disc, Baby You're a Star (which will rack August 6), shows that the band can thrive even without the stellar DJ Sun cut creations that highlighted "Milo," their ode to the Jose Lima-era Astros, and the rest of 2000's What Do You Want to Do. From the completely useless trivia department: Vocalist B.C. reports in the band's media kit that he "has one long eyebrow hair with a $20 bounty" and a tattoo on his leg depicting Wilson from Cast Away. -- J.N.L.
5 p.m. Spy (outside)
Best Female Vocalist (Roberta Morales)
Roberta and Lisa Morales started off singing in an Arizona Mexican restaurant, when their dad would insist they join the house mariachi band for a couple of songs. The duo has come a long way from crooning between servings of guacamole and enchiladas. Though they're now a big hit on the Texas folk and country scene, they haven't completely left their Latin roots behind. In fact, they'll be releasing an all-Spanish CD in September. Both sisters are accomplished songwriters and musicians, and both had successful solo careers before they joined forces. Like lots of artists with their own style and sound, Sisters Morales are hard to peg. Folk? Country? Rock? Folksy country? Rocky folk? It's hard to tell. Whatever it is, it's very, very good. -- O.F.A.
9 p.m. Lotus Lounge
Best Ska/Reggae, Best Punk, Best Latin
In the England of the late '70s and early '80s, the Two-Tone movement saw ska (along with beer and soccer) uniting blacks and whites in the impoverished, racially charged Midlands. Now in its fifth year, Los Skarnales does something similar for Houston. At no other band's shows will you find an almost equal number of Hispanics and Anglos in attendance, all in the thrall of front man Felipe Galvan's manic stage antics and Spanish and English rants about Monterrey's soccer team and the joys of drinking Tecates by the dozen. While ska is in another of its regularly scheduled doldrums, the vatos rudos of Los Skarnales bring enough Texas rockabilly twang to the table to render the fickle fashionability of the genre moot. -- J.N.L.
9 p.m. BAR Houston