By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
The Lonestar Bluegrass Band
More than 22 years
"Representing Houston in the Festival of Cities in Chiba, Japan" was one of this local institution's recent thrills. Bandleader Chris Hirsch restores antique guns by day and picks banjo by night, though he stresses the fact that his is not a trad bluegrass band: "We throw other styles in the mix and play songs that were never intended to be bluegrass, [but] with bluegrass instruments in a bluegrass style." Hirsch believes "fun" and "friendship" are the twin engines of his band's longevity and success. "All the members of the band are in this because we honestly love it and we are friends. We have fun on stage, and I believe that is why the audience has so much fun."
Best Alternative Rock
"Aside from breathing and dying, music is the one element that connects us all, a common ground," said goneblind lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist John Curry, back in the heady days when his band was signed to Roadrunner Records. The band has been pretty inactive recently, but four years ago their "aggressive and melodic" "AM rock" was all the rage in Houston and on the road.
Best Salsa/Merengue/Latin Pop, Best Female Vocalist
More than 25 years
The daughter of prominent Latin bandleader Roberto Zenteno, Norma can swing anything, from Latin salsa, merengue, cumbia and cha-cha to blues, rock and Top 40. Since getting a guitar from her father at age 11, Norma has been a performer. Today, "She's jazz, she's Latin, she's funked-up fusion, she's rock and roll, she is an original!" She's also something of a local celeb: In addition to being a staple on the big-time festival circuit, like former Astros hurler José Lima, she has starred in a Casa Olé ad campaign.
Dean's Credit Clothing
316 Main, 713-227-3326
5 pm Dr. Jeff & the Painkillers
6 pm The El Orbits
7 pm Guy Schwartz & the New Jack Hippies
8 pm Southern Backtones
9 pm Liviya Compean
Dr. Jeff & the Painkillers
Best Cover Band
This "Beatles, blues and oldies and originals" band recently played the infamous Balinese Room in Galveston. Dr. Jeff chafes under the "cover band" description. "We also do some originals," he says. "There should be a category next year for best fun band or best party band!" By day Dr. Jeff is a first-call recording engineer, and he loves Houston's "wide-open, unlimited possibilities," but he decries the scene's "lack of camaraderie." On a cryptic note, Dr. Jeff said that a previous band of his "used to feed the motel television late at night due to boredom."
The El Orbits
Best Cover Band
These suit-wearing, lounge-adelic covermeisters shake up musical martinis comprising equal parts "pop radio swing standards from the '50s and '60s, country hits from your grandfather's AM car radio, and nearly forgotten Gulf Coast R&B favorites." For some, being an El Orbit is "as much of a lifestyle as a musical endeavor." The band has been hosting a Monday-night bingo party every week for the past few years, and can often be spotted around Texas in one of their flotilla of vintage Suburbans, often towing their custom-built yellow RC Cola trailer.
Roger & Guy for 33 years; this band for eight years Cagey music veteran Schwartz touts Houston's "humans and music" but slams the city's "mosquitoes and humidity." He also has choice words for "all the venues who shorted the musicians bucks or treated musicians like shit," but he won't name any names. "I won't allow any of those venue-owning assholes who burned us to feel better about themselves 'cause someone else was even worse." Schwartz wants it known that his is not exclusively a blues band -- "we're songwriters with a band," he says. His love for Elvis Costello, Frank Zappa, Robbie Robertson and Willie Dixon should give the uninitiated some idea of the band's breadth. Schwartz says enigmatically that his funniest gig was "the night that Heath got laid!" and wants it known that "George Bush isn't as smart as he looks."
Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly
Southern Backtone Hank Schyma likes band names that roll past like freight trains: "the Homeless Drunks Who Wake Up in Strange Beds" and "the Bridge Burners Who Shit Where They Eat" are two that he says "would have probably been more fitting" in description of his hard-to-describe band. Schyma damns the local scene with faint praise, to put it mildly -- "I do like that it is very unsaturated, very dismal," though he adds that the trio of "Houston, Austin and Dallas together make a great scene." As for his dislikes, among them are this paper's annual misappraisal of his band -- "I scratch my head after every subtle mentioning," he says, sounding very much like a philosophical Parisian on his fourth espresso as he reels off a litany of wrongs that includes our branding them a rockabilly band with an upright bass that occasionally lapses into German oom-pah. (For the record, they aren't, don't have one, and don't.)