By William Michael Smith
By Jef With One F
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Sonya Harvey
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Nathan Smith
By Craig Hlavaty
Best Cover Band
About three years
These privates in Sgt. Pepper's platoon lean heavily on the band's early and middle period -- say, up to Help! and Rubber Soul. Paul Beebe serves as John and Paul rolled into one, while guitarist Jim Henkel impersonates George Harrison. Last year, we cited the band's "authenticity," saying it extends "right down to the collarless suit coats, mod hairdos and even John Lennon's jangly Rickenbacker guitars." A regular at the Continental Club, this fab combo conjures mania wherever it perches.
Ezra Charles & the Works
Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly, Best Keyboardist
About 20 years
As much an institution of the city's music scene as Felix Mexican Restaurant is on the culinary, swamp-boogie piano man Ezra Charles got his start in Beaumont in the late 1950s in a band called Johnny and the Jammers, which featured, in his words, "Johnny and Edgar Winter on guitars, me on piano and David Holliday on drums." "I am the last protégé of Professor Longhair," Charles notes, and his favorite artist ever is his " uncle,' Ray Charles." Ezra is also an inventor -- a piano pickup he dreamed up is now standard gear ("I sold my first to Elton John in 1972"), but he claims the local media is an even greater inventor -- or make that fabricator. "Local reporting on my career has never examined my music; instead it has always focused on what is perceived to be my personality. Fortunately, the public has never bought into the egomaniac propaganda, preferring instead just to buy 15,000 of my CDs because (they tell me) they love the music, as do I."
"Retirement homes and cheerleading camps" are Hayes Carll's favorite venues, and what he likes best about the Houston music scene is "all the free drugs." The Bob Dylan acolyte and multiple past winner of HP music awards also cites albums by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Todd Snider and Bobby Bare Jr. as touchstones. The follow-up to his 2002 release, Flowers and Liquor, should be on shelves soon, at least in geological time; expect it to drop in "June 2009." Meanwhile, Carll will continue gigging and toiling at his day job: "dating affluent women." And he also continues to be proud of and amazed by the fact that he has "hung out with John Evans for three years" and is "still standing."
Best Bassist (Rozz Zamorano)
ZZ Top is one of the few bands that has been together with the same original members longer than the Monks, who have featured the same lineup since March 1991, according to Rozz Zamorano. "Jaco Pastorius" is the bassist's favorite, and he's perhaps the closest thing we've got to that late master on the local scene today; after all, he's been "nominated over five times for best bassist" in these awards, and he has "opened as a solo bass artist for Stanley Jordan, Eric Johnson and Johnny Winter." Of music, Zamorano says he was "born into it, I love to play, I play in my sleep"; if there were no such thing, though, he would settle for continuing his career as a high school running back. "Emmitt Smith stole my life, so I turned to music," he says. Zamorano loves the fact that there are "lots of great musicians to learn from" here, but hates the absence of "outside help for musicians to get to the next level."
The Z-Dots have "won the HPMA more than any other band," though that streak was broken last year by the Lady D. According to guitarist Tom Potter, here's what they love about the Houston scene: "It pays." Here's what they dislike: "It doesn't pay enough." Still, don't expect them to throw in the towel anytime soon: "Our mamas would switch us if we didn't play." Potter resents the fact that zydeco is somewhat ghettoized as music for crawfish boils and nothing more. "We play at weddings, private parties, festivals, New Year's Eve. You name it, we've done it -- not just crawfish boils."
Verizon Wireless Theater
520 Texas, 713-230-1600
5 pm Caliente
6 pm Paris Green
7 pm Chingo Bling with special guest
8 pm Faceplant
9 pm The Hunger
Best Salsa/Merengue/Latin Pop
Last year's winners in the Best Latin category, the youth orchestra Caliente recently performed with -- note, that's not the same as "shared the stage with" -- Jon Faddis and Pete Escovedo at a local showcase, where they blazed through a whopping 32 songs. "They're only kids," says Caliente executive director Susana Robles, "but they can play!" Last year, the grande band played before a crowd of more than 5,000 at Miller Outdoor Theatre, a venue that Robles says has an ambience that's "beyond compare." The band's artistic director, Jose Antonio Diaz, who was featured on the cover of Band and Orchestramagazine, has played with such legends as Eddie Palmieri and Wynton Marsalis and has an open-door policy for Caliente. "There is NO audition process," says Robles. It is a desire and dedication to want to play or perform."
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