Big John and Little Joe

Space City's tallest and shortest musicians rule the 2002 Houston Press Music Awards

Critic's pick: Simpleton

Best Funk/R&B
The only actual puking (see Best Rock/Pop) that we know of on awards night was emitted by Simpleton front man B.C., who got his Johnny Rotten on in grand style. After the show wrapped, the manic rap-rocker was cherishing his award with his bandmates at the Tavern when a fateful, celebratory shot of Tuaca wouldn't stay down and wound up garnishing the bar's floor and part of the wall. Looking to conceal his digestive faux pas, B.C. picked up his award and propped it over the telltale stain. But Simpleton guitarist Jon Black snatched it up and dressed down the rapper for disrespecting their prize. It's not surprising that B.C. chundered, since the band confessed to having knocked back more than a few before the ceremony, a few more with the ceremony and many, many more afterward. But hell, they deserve a binge. After getting nominations the last two years and coming up empty both times, the third time proved lucky. Simpleton is hoping that they won't have to wait for album no. 3 to break big; their sophomore disc, Baby You're a Star, drops on August 6. Here's hoping that title will soon apply to the band. -- J.N.L.

Critic's pick: Simpleton

John Evans
Jeff Fitlow
John Evans
Little Joe Washington
Jeff Fitlow
Little Joe Washington

Best World Music
Okay, so they didn't snag Best Ska/Reggae, but this long-running, exotic ensemble did manage to take home a win for the other form of music they're associated with. You knew these cats were going to win something in the end. After all, Alafia Gaidi and his crew of organic beatmakers have left too much of a legacy in this town for people to forget about 'em come awards time. "It's always an honor to win because it shows the approval of our audience," says Gaidi. "We try to do things that are innovative. I think that's the thing that keeps us in people's minds." The group is working on an album to be released later this year, and though D.R.U.M.'s weekly gig over at the Hotel Derek has been dropped, you can still catch them every other Wednesday at the Red Cat Jazz Café. And you can still catch Gaidi at his percussion school, which he remembers being described in these pages -- after a reporter spent a humid, a/c-less evening there -- as "hot as Salma Hayek in a thong." Chuckles Gaidi, "It's one of those good memories." -- C.D.L.

Critic's pick: D.R.U.M.

Best Cover Band, Best Keyboardist
The El Orbits, Pete Gray
There's a certain five-letter word to which El Orbits 88-radiator Pete Gray attributes his dual victories for himself and his band. The word's second letter is I and it ends in O. If you guessed that Gray is crediting his piano for his success, you guessed wrong. B-I-N-G-O is the way Gray spells out why he and his band won the game-o. The El Orbits' Monday-night bingo party at the Continental is rapidly becoming an institution, a fun way to ease out of the worst day of the week. "People have a lot of fun with that Monday-night bingo thing, and that's where a lot of [votes] transfer from, you know?" he says. Gray, who would seem to vie with David Beebe for the title of cap di tutti capi in the purely theoretical Continental Club Cosa Nostra, will neither confirm nor deny the existence of such an organization. But he does admit that if such a group existed, it racked up. "We did good!" he says, and you can read as much as you want into that "we." -- J.N.L.

Critic's picks:
Best Cover Band - Dreambreakers
Best Keyboardist - Rick Thompson

Album of the Year, Best C&W
Jesse Dayton, Tall Texas Tales
Considering that one of his two releases last year was a slap in Music City's face called Hey Nashvegas!, it was somewhat ironic that Jesse Dayton couldn't attend this year's ceremony because he was recovering from jet lag after a tour stop in Amsterdam on his way to…Nashville. Don't fret, folks, he's not eating his words and moving up to the city that has forsaken him and virtually every other true-blue, real-deal country act in the world. He was just going to play a show for that city's seamy, real-country underbelly. Lately, Dayton has been playing a once-a-month gig here at the Continental Club with Stag Records labelmate Greg Wood, both of whom have albums due out soon. Wood's is slated to come out in September, while Dayton's is tentatively scheduled for about a month after that. "We're taking our time with this one," says Dayton's manager Gary Moore of the as-yet-untitled album. "Tall Texas Tales was more of a shotgun-blast approach." -- J.N.L.

Critic's picks:
Album of the Year - Songs from the 6, Mary Cutrufello
Best C&W - Davin James

Best Drummer
Max Schuldberg, the Hunger
Max Schuldberg is already pondering a second career. "Have you ever been to traffic court?" he asks. "Does everyone go to court and think, 'Man, I'd make a good lawyer! I know what I would have said right there'? There was this one guy ahead of me, and I was like, 'Discredit the cop by asking this.' I had 20 questions ready to go in my mind." Not that he'll be giving up skin-pounding anytime soon. His victory means a lot to him. "My bank account's not gonna grow exponentially or anything like that, but it's a cool thing to win. I was talking to an acquaintance of mine who used to play in Chlorine -- one of the very few other rock bands here in Houston to do anything nationally -- and he was like, 'Man! That's cool! It's not a Grammy or anything, but I never got recognized for my playing.' And he was right, it is cool." Note that when Schuldberg said his bank account wasn't gonna swell, he was picking his words with the care of a seasoned trial lawyer. He later admitted that the award just might get him a few extra dollars after all: "It's a great tool for picking up endorsements and stuff like that, or something to say if I ever wanted to audition for another band." -- J.N.L.

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