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Hothouse Flowers

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

Critic's Pick: David Dove

Best Funk/R&B, Best Female Vocalist
Zwee, Jessica Zweback
This groove-based, traveling funk party is headed up by Frank Zweback, who was out of town for the ceremony. In his stead, the band was represented nicely by his sister Jessica, who not only got to accept the award for the band, but also got to soak in a little extra limelight when she was crowned Best Female Vocalist. A semi-recent transplant from Baltimore, Sister Zweback also tickles the ivories, sometimes fills in on percussion, and is now the band's full-time drummer. Seemingly floored by winning two awards that night, Jessica spoke emotionally after a huge hug session with fellow bandmates and supporters. "It's awesome, definitely unexpected," she said. "I was just thinking that gosh it's really nice that somebody outside of my group of friends has maybe heard me sing and thinks it's cool."-- M.S.


Critic's Pick: Female Vocalist: Cl'che, Funk/R&B/Soul: Zin

Best Local Label
Paid in Full Records

Headed up by The Box morning guy Madd Hatta, Paid In Full has become one of Houston's premier urban record labels in the past couple of years. The addition of local mix tape superstars Paul Wall and Chamillion to their roster certainly didn't hurt their rep -- in fact it took them to whole new levels, with major labels barking down their door almost weekly. (Yeah, we've all heard that one before, but in this case it's true.) Independence is important to everyone at Paid in Full; namely the aforementioned Paul Wall and Chamillion, O.G. Ron C of the Swishahouse, 50/50 Twin and Young Ro. The label has releases from all of its artists on deck for the last quarter of this year, and the solo debuts from Paul Wall and Chamillion should be two of the biggest selling independent records this year in the South. -- M.S.

Critic's Pick: Gameface

Best Rock/Pop, Album of the Year
(History for Sale)

Blue October
Maybe they didn't quite agree on everything when Justin Furstenfeld was a teenager, but his mom and dad -- Ro-Anne and Danny -- were proud parents indeed when they accepted both of Blue October's awards on behalf of the band. Ro-Anne thanked Blue October's fans, notably the ones who liked the band in its earliest inception when the band had to pay clubs in order to play. (The band was breaking in a new bassist and couldn't attend.)

Caught on the phone the day after the awards on a break from rehearsals in Dallas, Justin had this to say about the old days: "Yeah, it brings up memories....well, okay, some nice memories to think back to when you were really green," he said. As for how his parents handled his aspirations to be a rock star, Justin said "I really did what I felt I had to do, and then apologized later. But [my parents] have been supportive of my whole career so far, and we're best friends."

Now that the band's latest album, History For Sale -- specifically the single "Calling You" -- has been cracking radio markets around the country, and since the group has signed with Dave Matthews's booking agent, Justin and the band members are likely to shed their identity as a Houston group. Hell, they all but have done so already. Justin now lives in Dallas to be near the management team, and the other band members split time between San Marcos and the Metroplex.

Still, Justin says he's honored to win the awards from "his" city. "I respect all of the musicians there. I'm really glad Houston is getting its scene going. It may not be the biggest scene, but I think it's the most creative scene out there. There's a lot of good bands there now, and you can't go wrong with that." -- G.B.

Critic's Picks : Best Rock/Pop: Blue October; Album of the Year: Runaway Soul, Ruthie Foster.

Best CD/Record Store
Cactus Music and Video
For what seems like the 88th year in a row, Cactus Music & Video takes home the prize for Best Record Store. But what is it about this place that makes voters come back to it time and time again, instead of giving the oodles and oodles of record shops around here a chance? Is it the extra stuff they sell along with the music, like bowling-ball ties, Taxi lunch boxes and Gay Gum? Or is it the staff of diligent young men and women, ready to answer your inquiries and serve your every need? Or is it the live in-store performances they've had on many an occasion -- and the free beer they serve during those mini-concerts?

If you ask general manager Quinn Bishop, it's all about the store's love for the little guy -- in this case, the musician who's just starting out and needs someplace to hawk his or her product. "Now, we are the last store in town that still welcomes consignments of music from local artists," says Bishop. (Actually, there are other record stores in town that do that, but let's let the boy have his moment.) "You know, if you can bring your record into a record store, and then [we] welcome it with open arms and say, 'Hey, we're gonna try our best to sell it,' I think that makes an impression on people."

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