Hot Tunes, Summer in the City

Houston Press Music Awards Showcase 2002

Slop Jar Junior
Best Funk/R&B

From the ashes of Soular Slide comes this new group, which unites four-fifths of that lineup with Chad Strader, the former lead singer of Global Village. And while the Slide is certainly defunct, this offshoot is certainly not de-funked. With clean, crisp and danceable original material (with props to Jamiroquai), Slop Jar Junior shows that they need no breaking-in period. In fact, they have a fine CD set for release in late summer. The lineup -- Strader, David Wolfe (guitar), Mike Meade (bass), James Bourdier (keyboards) and Greg Benavides (drums) -- puts a more rocking, aggressive spin on their material, differentiating them from their former outfits. The new band name is reflective of a new career for these ace players. -- B.R.
8 p.m. Spy (inside)

Southern Backtones
Best Rock/Pop

Once described as "voodoo rockabilly" and "psycho punkabilly," the Backtones' sound has since evolved into a somewhat less threatening species. The trio is still more or less a rockabilly outfit (well, technically), but influences like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Smiths (two groups with punk and rockabilly roots) have also emerged. An entity since 1997, the Southern Backtones keep things interesting in concert. Hank Schyma fronts with charisma and confidence; he's obviously comfortable behind a mike. And the group's liable to launch into German oompah, surf rock, Ennio Morricone or even a Pulp cover. -- T.S.
8 p.m. Live Sports Cafe

Steel Vibrations
Best World Music

Brothers Rony and Jason Perry and their sister Patrice are "Trinis," as natives of Trinidad and Tobago call themselves. That island nation is also the birthplace of steel drum music. This 11-year-old combo's bread-and-butter gigs in the summer months are Galveston resorts; their sounds of the Spanish Main enliven that frowsy island and its brown beaches, recalling the much prettier seas farther south. Recently, though, the Perry family headed north for a Michigan mini-tour, thus extending their reach all the way from the Caribbean to Kalamazoo. -- J.N.L.
7 p.m. Lotus Lounge

Strangelight
Best New Act, Best Indie/Alt Rock, Album of the Year (Lux)

Brooding, minor-key explorations of dark space are what Strangelight does best. The interplay of mysterious and androgynous front man Raman with guitarist Bill Royall drives the band's Britpop-cum-prog rock sound. The band seems to have come out of nowhere; rare is the group that garners three nominations on its first go-round. But Strangelight, thanks to steady gigging and heavy rotation on Jeffrey "King of Grief" Thames's Sound Awake KPFT show, has accomplished the feat. -- J.N.L.
7 p.m. Brewery Tap

Sugar Shack
Best Punk

Now that garage rock is officially cool again, maybe these veterans will finally get the recognition they deserved after their last record, Get Out of My World, and an incendiary performance at last year's showcase. Mark Lockridge (vocals), Andy Wright (guitar), Johnny Gibson (bass), Kyle G. Otis (guitar) and Stephanie Paige Friedman (drums) have lain low since their last gig in November, when Friedman (who is married to Wright) was four months pregnant. In fact, this year's showcase performance will be their first since then. But the band has recorded a new effort, Spinning Wheels, which will be out in August on Estrus Records. -- B.R.
5 p.m. Verizon Wireless Theater

Superna
Album of the Year (Reflect)

Cover bands don't get any respect, even if (as was the case with Superna's forerunner Zero Gravity) their music is powerful enough to start small riots. Despite their success playing the likes of 311, Tool and Rage Against the Machine, singer Melanie Brink and guitarist Nick Midulla tired of the human jukebox routine two years ago. Since then, they've changed their name to Superna, teamed up with four new band members (turntablist Obi Wan Spinobi, bassist Johnny Thompson, percussionist Rey Garcia and drummer Rico Garcia) and written 30 original modern hard rock songs, ten of which wound up on Album of the Year nominee Reflect. -- J.N.L.
4 p.m. BAR Houston

The Suspects
Best Ska/Reggae, Best Drummer (Claudio DePujedas)

Here's some messed-up news: The Music Awards Showcase will be the Suspects' second-to-last show. (The final show will be in August at Fitzgerald's.) It'll be sad to see these guys go after eight and a half years of being Houston's favorite party-boy ska band. They played drunk. They danced drunk. They sang drunk. Shit, they were drunks! But that doesn't mean they didn't turn out some decent get-down music. Now that they are soon-to-be no more, their fans will just have to well up when they hear "Goodbye Brown Eyes" or bash a mailbox with a baseball bat when they listen to "El Campo Slugger." Farewell, fair Suspects, and here's hoping you'll take home this year's Best Ska/Reggae trophy, as well as a Best Drummer nod for your boy Claudio DePujedas, as a parting gift. -- C.D.L.
9 p.m. The Hub

Swishahouse All-Stars
Best Rap/Hip-hop

The undisputed heirs to DJ Screw's mix-tape throne, this northside collective has taken the concept of slowed-down hip-hop and made it its own. Led by super DJ Michael Watts of 104.9 KPTY's Screwston show, Swishahouse has produced some of the biggest names in underground rap: Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillion, Archie Lee and Big Tiger, to name a few. Expect the crème de la crème of the clique to come down hard with their bad selves and teach a lesson in how to get Spy crunk. -- M.S.
7 p.m. Spy (outside)

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