Hothouse Flowers

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

Best Drummer
Mike Potter (Paris Green)
For a self-described "former band nerd" who started skin-thumping in junior high, this award was special not only for what it was, but for what it represented. "It was a very good feeling," Potter said backstage immediately following the awards ceremony. "A lot of the guys who won this category before are good buddies of mine, so to follow in their footsteps is kind of nice." Potter is the drummer for Paris Green, the hot rock/rap/metal band from The Woodlands. "Mike adds a lot of personality to the band. He is a very amusing person," notes the band's Web site. Hopefully, he won't end up like Keith Moon or John Bonham, other "amusing" drummers. Paris Green has just released its third effort, a self-titled CD. Potter had to rein himself in during the recording. "In the studio, you've got to dummy it up a little," he explains. "They tell you 'don't do a lot of fills, don't hit your cymbals so aggressive, and sometimes that's frustrating. But live, it's just balls to the walls playing and showmanship." Potter admits that his victory in this category has a lot to do with the band's very dedicated fan base, who show up in droves at gigs, sporting their Paris Green T-shirts. "Once the word got out, a lot of people voted, and that's cool," he says. When someone jokes that the drums are the "weakest instrument" in the band, Potter is quick to facetiously agree. "They are. That's why I beat the shit out of them!" -- B.R.

Critic's Pick: Claudio de Pujadas

Best Folk Venue
Anderson Fair
Age trumped youth in this battle of the birkenstocks. While the Mucky's hardly a new club, Anderson Fair has been around since the pre-Watergate era, providing the north Montrose area with the finest in acoustic picking, well-turned phrases, heartfelt singing and mean quesadillas. To step over the threshold and on to the famous red brick floor of Nanci Griffith song is to enter into the mother church of Gulf Coast Folk, the architecturally eclectic sanctuary where everybody from Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams to Adam Carroll and Tish Hinojosa have either launched or polished their reputations. -- J.N.L.

John Evans Band
Jeff Fitlow
John Evans Band
Hayes Carll
Daniel Kramer
Hayes Carll

Critic's Pick: Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe

Best Rock Venue
The Engine Room
The first win for the venue is just one of the highlights for manager Mitch Burman. In addition to booking a steady stream of local bands, the club that he opened with Harris Kempner in 2000 has seen a sharp uprise in the quality and level of national acts from the Black-Eyed Peas and Ziggy Marley to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Buzzcocks. In addition, Burman's band, goneblind, signed a record deal with respected hard rock/metal label Roadrunner, and a five-song self-titled EP is out. Burman called this a sweet victory, and thanked those who followed him to the Engine Room from his former club, Instant Karma. "I feel that the Engine Room has a great staff, sound, vibe, and gets a broad range of talent through its doors," Burman says. "And having a variety of local and national acts is very important to bring in a different cross section of the public." Burman also credits manager Tommy Bryant and booker Jeff Messina at Clear Channel for upping the venue's prestige in the past year. As for the Engine Room's place in Houston clubs, he sees it as part of something much more than just a refurbished square warehouse location. "Support music by going out and listening to bands you never heard," he suggests. "You may find something you like." -- B.R.

Critic's Pick: Fitzgerald's

Best Rock en Español
Los Skarnales
It's tough categorizing bands. Sometimes the only approach that's feasible is to go as general as possible. Therefore, we're content to just call Los Skarnales a rock band that plays in Spanish, the better to avoid creating a category for surf-punk-rockabilly-ska-Tejano bands, which would be a category that these guys would win sin dificultidad ("hands down," for the Spanish-challenged) year after year. Calling Skarnales a rock en español band also gives them a little competition, but not too much -- the tattooed, fedora-wearing quartet won pretty easily. But even their competitors don't begrudge them their success. "They're a great band and they've really got their shit together," says Chango Jackson guitarist-singer Jaco Jackson. "There's a lot of rivalry in Spanish rock, but we aren't bitter about losing to those guys. As a matter of fact, it's been too long since we've done a show with them." -- J.N.L.

Critic's Pick: Chango Jackson

Best Punk
30footFALL's single-monikered Rubio was at a loss for words when asked his reaction to winning this year's award. "Uh...hmmm...uh....OK," he answered. Then he found his groove. "It's really cool that the Press supports local music, and it was an honor to win. We were totally surprised. I thought this year's ceremony was the best, and I was really proud of Blue October. They have worked just as hard as any of us, and it's cool that they've gotten where they have." (Take that, those of you who booed them when they won.) Not that Rubio's all sweetness and light. "I thought that Claudio De Pujadas got robbed in the drummer category. I always knew he was good, but I didn't know how good until he played a few shows with us." -- J.N.L.

Critic's Pick: Fatal Flying Guilloteens

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