Hothouse Flowers

Groceries spoil in the heat, while the rest of Houston's music community blossoms

After a long stint in recording limbo, Evans is firing up the release schedule. Out of Control has been on the streets for a while now, while the follow-up I'm from the Beer Joint and an as-yet untitled foray into straight-up rock are due out soon. As the title implies, Beer Joint is going to be a straight-up honky-tonk record. "It's heavy-duty honky-tonk," he says. "We've already done the album, but we weren't happy with the sound so we're gonna re-record it here in town. It'll probably take about a week." Evans is also adding a piano, and hopes to persuade none other than Jerry Lee Lewis to join them on the record. "We've got a tune on there that is just him."

Meanwhile Evans is co-writing, and partying, with fellow multiple winner Hayes Carll. Carll is already performing "Sit in with the Band," their first co-write. "I got the idea to write that song from Adam Carroll," says Evans. "He told me one time that he sometimes got tired of playing alone, that sometimes he just wanted to sit in with the band. I told him he could sit in with me any time he wanted. But then I got to thinking about it, and I wanted to write that song for him, and I told Hayes about it and he completely understood. So we sat down and wrote this song."

Carll's quirky talent has totally won Evans over. "He is one of the most hilarious creative people I know," he says. "He slept on my floor last night. There's three of us who live in a little flat down by Minute Maid, and we have this one closet that's just crammed with junk. And I woke up this morning and I heard a rustling coming from in there, and there was Hayes. He had found a blanket and he had books and crap falling all over him."

Daniel Kramer
Mike Snow
Daniel Kramer
Mike Snow

Evans is also doing a lot of film work lately, not to mention dabbling in politics. Several of his songs are slated to appear in the upcoming independent horror movie Hallow's End, which Evans describes as "a funny freaking horror flick." Later, a song of Evans's will appear in a short by director Bill Sebastian, with two more Evans tunes slated to appear in that director's full-length film The Portal. As for his foray into democracy, Evans has composed the theme song for mayoral candidate Michael Berry.

In addition to his long-running Thursday night residency at St. Pete's Dancing Marlin, Evans's August gig schedule includes a regular Monday-night acoustic set at the Mucky Duck, which finds him accompanied only by his bassist Brad Jones. "We're calling those the "find-Brad-a-date" gigs. He's frustrated that he's in a band and can't find a girlfriend." -- J.N.L.

Critic's Pick: Best Male Vocalist -- Felipe Galvan (Los Skarnales); Best C&W -- John Evans Band; Local Musician of the Year -- Paul Wall and Chamillion

Best Folk, Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year ("Highway 87")
Hayes Carll

In winning his first three awards, the lanky young tunesmith had a breakthrough year. As we predicted a couple of weeks ago, his drink and drug-laden "Highway 87" continued the trend of songs that deal with mind-altering substances taking top honors. And while Carll probably hadn't been drinking whiskey for six months straight as had the character in his song about fear and loathing on the Bolivar Peninsula, it was apparent that he had been doing so for at least that many hours. (At one point, Carll headed to the stage before he was announced as the winner. He heard his name among the nominees and headed for the stage and had to take a quick right turn when he realized his error.)

At the ceremony, Carll played a new song he co-wrote earlier this year with Guy Clark called "River Town." He's also been co-writing with Ray Wylie Hubbard, and the two just finished "The Chicken Song." "He's been playing it," says an audibly hungover Carll. "There's too many Wylie-isms in it for me to do it though. I'm just too white and suburban to pull it off." Carll has also been co-writing with fellow big winner John Evans, with whom he partied until dawn after the ceremony.

Carll is planning a Spring 2004 release for the follow-up to his debut Flowers and Liquor, but there has already been a new addition to his body of work. Last month, Carll and wife Jenna welcomed Elijah, an eight-pound, five-ounce baby boy to the world. -- J.N.L.

Critic's Pick: Best Folk (Hayes Carll), Songwriter of the Year Greg Wood, Song of the Year "Highway 87"

Best Jazz
Free Radicals featuring Harry Sheppard

As Harry Sheppard put it while accepting this award for the rest of the Radicals, who are in Brazil, it's about time. Houston isn't the greatest jazz town in the world, but the hidden talent here is top notch. These cats deserve some sort of recognition. Leading the funky, free, progressive wave is Nick Cooper and his Free Radicals. Ever evolving, always outspoken, and as genuinely radical as their name implies, this rotating group of musicians puts on some of the most interesting live sets in this city. Expect a wild mix of keys, horns, percussion, and vocals playing music from every continent. The Free Radicals seldom sound like the same band twice in a row. The relatively recent addition of turntablist Fast4ward only makes things crazier. -- M.S.

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