By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Critic's pick: Rozz Zamorano
Bozo Porno Circus
Bozo Porno Circus is not the kind of circus most kids want to run off and join, and the only three rings they'd find are probably piercing a body part usually visible only in science textbooks. But the fetish gear-clad BPC crunched the competition with their hard and heavy sound, winning this category for the fourth time. When asked at the awards ceremony what set them apart from the others, drummer Ador Charming sounded like Bob Dole pitching Viagra: "Staying power, pure staying power!" he said. "We've been around a long time, we've stuck to our guns, and we had a strong album [Regenerate] come out. But this award feels great. It's just great to be acknowledged." Vocalist/guitarist Chris O. said the band plans to tour a lot more in the next year, particularly on the coasts and in Canada. "We have a really good response," he added. "It ranges from 'shock' to 'really great.' Most people haven't seen or heard anythingquite like us." -- B.R.
Critic's pick: Bozo Porno Circus
Best Latin Venue
As reliable as Tito Puente's hands, Elvia's wins this category for an amazing ninth year in a row. "It's great. Hopefully we can make it to ten!" general manager Oscar Amaya said at the awards ceremony, already laying the groundwork for next year. "We've expanded the dance floor and have a lot of new bands playing. It's a great place to be." Though Elvia's serves up a full menu of mostly Mexican dishes, it's the live salsa and merengue bands that create the energy no DJ could duplicate. "We look for groups that can put on a good show," Amaya said. Plus, there's no hierarchy out there on the dance floor -- fumbling beginners and smooth experts alike are welcome and encouraged to shake their bon-bons. "Everybody's friendly there. There's a good mix of all nationalities," Amaya enthused. And it's obvious that his customers both dance andvote. -- B.R.
Critic's pick: Elvia's International
The Suspects' eight-year run will come to an end at an August 23 Fitzgerald's gig. For singer Thomas Escalante, going out a winner is a bittersweet experience. He sees this plaque as something of a band lifetime achievement award. "It's a great way to go out, but what meant more for me was Claudio [Depujedas] getting nominated for Best Drummer," Escalante said. "Hearing his peers cheer for him that loud meant a lot." The same goes for the band as a whole. "I heard the reactions for some of the other bands, and they weren't as loud as ours was," he noted. "That meant a lot, too. Being recognized by your peers means a bunch. It's a cliché, but we're closing the book on this chapter of our lives, and some of us are starting new ones." For the record, Escalante's new "tiki-style exotica" band, Clouseaux, will soon release a debut, while Depujedas is banging the drums in psycho-surfobilly act Magnetic IV with fellow founding Suspect member Charlie Esparza. Other Suspects past and present are continuing along in Middlefinger. So if you look around a club and find yourself surrounded by the usual Suspects in other bands, you shouldn't be surprised. -- J.N.L.
Critic's pick: The Suspects
Best New Act
The guys in Drifter are, well, energized by both their win and what Red Bull has in store for them. Not only have they garnered the esteem of the Houston music community and a very cool plaque, but the folks at Red Bull are sending them on an all-expenses-paid trip to Cleveland, where they will play a show at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Drifter guitarist Paul Beebe, who as an El Orbit also beat out his third band, Beetle, in the Best Cover Band category, was mildly surprised to win New Act honors. "I thought we had a pretty good shot, but I wasn't superconfident," he said. "I didn't really know the other bands, but I did see that one of them [MenMechanical] had a pretty big crowd, so I thought they might sneak in. I also thought Hayes Carll had a pretty good shot." After the band returns from Cleveland, Drifter will complete the as-yet-untitled follow-up to its debut, Wherever You Will. -- J.N.L.
Critic's pick: Hayes Carll
Though the band lost its Universal deal and has been primarily based in Austin the last year or so, Houston still loves Blue October -- so much so that 200 of you wrote in various band members in numerous categories and the band drew more votes overall than any other act in the last two years, if not the history of the awards. Not that the perpetually worried Justin Furstenfeld, whose band also took this category in 1999 and 2000, was counting his chickens before they hatched. "This was my first time to be able to accept the award, and I was nervous as hell," he said the day after the ceremony. "I thought I was gonna puke, I was so nervous. I just knew we weren't going to have our names called." -- J.N.L.