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Reelin' In the Years

A look back at Houston Press Music Awards of yore

Well, the Music Awards are in their 14th year, and Racket thought this as good a time as any to take a look back through the archives. And what a story they tell.

Back in 1990, a Bush was in the White House and the economy -- especially the local economy -- was in the toilet. Seinfeld and The Simpsonsdebuted on the tube. Here it is 13 years later, and those shows are on four times a day, another Bush is on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the economy's at its worst since, well, about 13 years ago.

Some things happened back then that haven't happened since. Despite vast hype, the lambada fizzled on the dance floor. Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" and Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Timewere all the rage on the pop and rock radio, while Houston's own Clint Black ruled pre-Garth country radio. It was the most disgraceful year in Grammy history, as Milli Vanilli won and later had to surrender its tainted statuette.

Also, 1990 was the year the Press got into the music awards game, with similarly unpredictable results. But for that account and many more, you'll have to read on...

1990

The Big Story:It's not surprising, but the first awards issue was probably the worst one. A committee of Houston music scribes from the Post, the Chronicle and the Press painstakingly cobbled together a ballot of all their favorite bands in town. Trouble was, they also added in ZZ Top, Kirk Whalum, Clint Black, La Mafia and K.T. Oslin. While those certainly were the most famous acts from Houston at the time, few of them played more than one show here or even lived here full-time at that point.

The Subplot:Commercial Art, Pearl Murray, Yard Band and Velvet Hammer were almost the only current, full-time non-major-label Houstonians to win. Also, there was no showcase -- just a ballot.

Shape of things to come:Pierre & the Zydeco Dots.

Where Are They Now?Yard Band bassist Orville Adams owns and operates Yard Sound recording studio in Missouri City. Mystical rockers Velvet Hammer, 1990's Best New Act, moved to Austin, broke up and re-formed in the mid-'90s with new members as Dream Trybe, a band that still gigs here periodically.

1991

The Big Story:Most of the glitterati were sent to the sidelines, and for the first time bona fide local acts had a chance. Justice and its stable made its first big splash -- the label was honored, as were Jesse Dayton's Road Kings, Sebastian Whittaker and 18-year-old Wendi Slaton.

The Subplot:This marked the first ever Press showcase. The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Beat Temple, Wendi Slaton and the Road Kings performed at the Tower Theater on Lower Westheimer. Ten bucks got you in the door -- two more than you'll pay 12 years later for 71 more bands.

Shape of things to come:Miss Molly, the Basics, Shake Russell, the Mucky Duck, Rockefeller's and Fitzgerald's all won their first awards.

Business As Usual:Zydeco Dots.

Where Are They Now?Some of the Bayou Pigs ended up in San Francisco. Beat Temple keyboardist Rick Thompson is in Moses Guest. Wendi Slaton has switched from performing in clubs to musical theater and lives in Austin. (When she's here, she sometimes works alongside her mother at the Zydeco Diner.) Bliss Blood of the Pain Teens lives in New York, where she plays in the Moonlighters, a Hawaiian-style slack-key guitar and ukulele band. Her former bandmate Ralph Armin is now in 2003 nominee Swarm of Angels. Miss Molly now lives in Louisiana and doesn't perform much. Shake Russell is based out of Austin.

1992

The Big Story:The 1992 showcase was held in D2R, an address that housed a nightclub but has since been home to Lebanese and Salvadoran restaurants. Carolyn Wonderland won for Best Up-and-Coming, the first of dozens of awards. Global Village and dead horse won for the first time.

The Subplot:The Basics beat out Mike Barfield's Hollisters precursor the Rounders and Dayton's Road Kings for Best Pop/Rock. Def Squad defeated Scarface for best hip-hop. Denied the right to vote for Clint Black, Press readers voted in his brother Kevin instead.

Business As Usual:The Zydeco Dots, Justice Records, Basics, Shake Russell and Jack Saunders, Miss Molly.

Where Are They Now?Mike Haage of perennial Best Metal winners dead horse will release an album -- said to be a brilliant one -- from his new band Plus and Minus Project next year. Basics guitarist Lupe Olivarez has gone solo, though his old band did reunite for the 2003 Houston International Festival.

1993

The Big Story:Bill Clinton's first year in office was Shake Russell's year at the Press Music Awards. The veteran folkie won plaques for his singing, and his duo with Jack Saunders won awards for songwriting and the album of the year, Listen with Your Heart.

The Subplot:Wonderland won only one award -- the last time she would do so for years. Trish & Darin's reign as local rock royalty begins with their Best Pop/Rock victory.

Shape of things to come:Mucky Duck, Blanco's, Elvia's and Cactus.

Business As Usual:The Zydeco Dots, Kevin Black, Global Village, dead horse.

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