Music Awards Survey

A rundown of every act on this year's bill

Liviya Compean
Best Female Vocalist
About eight years

PJ Harvey, Prince, Gato Barbieri, Tool, Linkin Park and Rush all mingle in the sound of Liviya Compean's well-traveled band, which has opened for Jose Feliciano, Leon Russell, Consolidated and Saliva. Compean, the product of a multigenerational music family, says she basks in "the undying support of our fans, who continue to come see us play show after show and have been patiently waiting for the release of our new record." But she's irked by the "misconception that we are a female, acoustic/folk act instead of a heavy, alternative rock band." Compean isn't "just the singer, but also the songwriter and performs all of the guitar work, both live and in the studio." As for the previously mentioned album, it will be called Hormonal Injustice, and it's to be released in August or September.

Hard Rock Cafe
502 Texas, 713-227-1392

Chingo Bling
Chingo Bling
Mark Towns
Mark Towns

4 pm Mark Towns
5 pm Bojones
6 pm Dune*TX
7 pm Grady Gaines & the Texas Upsetters
8 pm Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys
9 pm D.R.U.M.

Mark Towns
Best Jazz
Five years under own name

"I jam, therefore I am" is the motto of this dexterous guitarist. Towns has two CDs coming soon, one of "very mellow" guitar, the other of "hot, upbeat" Latin jazz. Towns also has a record out now -- Passion, with jazz legend Hubert Laws, and he has performed live with Kirk Whalum. Towns enjoys playing outdoor festivals and large events best, and adds that "nothing" particularly bothers him about the local music scene. Towns believes the music of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis can help as you "seek that which is good: peace, love and enlightenment through music."

Best New Act
About a year

That there is a piano in this young group leads to the greatest misconception about them, according to Nick, the redheaded guy who plays it. "People think we're soft," he says. "Don't get me wrong, we're not hard-core, but people see the piano and think we're another Ben Folds or Coldplay, but we're not." Still a very young man, the Vines, Mars Volta and Bright Eyes fan also says that he has the medical history of a 75-year-old, including having been "clinically dead three times," but he feels very much alive when he plays music. "It's what makes me happy," he says. "Everything else feels like work; this feels like play."

Best Bassist (Rusty Guess)
Nine years

"Hanging out with Fountains of Wayne" was a recent red-letter day in the near-ten-year career of rockers Dune*TX. They do say "having a 70-year-old lady tell us we suck" and "using our merch as blankets since we didn't realize we were going to be sleeping in the van and it was going to be 25 degrees" came in at the other end of the satisfaction spectrum. Though stylistically different, the power pop/garage rockers have much in common with Mark Towns: They prefer outdoor festival shows, cite Hendrix as a top influence and share his optimistic outlook. Asked to name their worst gig ever, they say there's "no such thing -- it's rock and roll...Have fun!" Trends here do bug them, but they even find a silver lining in the cloud of frequent band breakups on the scene: They like that "you can get good deals on gear since people don't stay in bands too long." And in case you forgot, they say "Billy Gibbons is a cool mofo."

Grady Gaines & the Texas Upsetters
Best Horn/Horn Section
Roughly 50 years

Harlem's Apollo Theatre is cited by "living legend" Grady Gaines as his favorite place to play, and he has seen many rooms in the saxman's five full decades of entertaining. Gaines says he can't quite decide who is his favorite all-time musician -- so he calls it a tie between Sam Cooke and Little Richard, both of whom he has toured with. Gaines's grandfather played music, so he says the art is in his "blood and soul," as are his favorite records ever: "Caldonia" by Louis Jordan and "Honky Tonk" by Bill Doggett.

Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys
Best New Act, Best C&W
One year

You'd expect there to be more than one stoner in a band that goes by the name Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys, but according to drummer Neal LaCroix, that's not the case. "Only one of us actually gets high," he says, "and at least one of us has a college degree." The drummer for the hard-core country traditionalists also surprises with what he listens to in his leisure time: U2, Jane's Addiction, the Smiths and Zeppelin. Poor promotion on the part of some club owners irks this band, as does a certain lack of selectiveness on the part of fans -- "They will be happy and clap for any drunk yahoo who gets on stage," LaCroix grouses. But he loves the HPMA Showcase, which he says "has to continue for years to come. It is one of the few things that culminates all of Houston's diverse acts into one setting and allows all of the cliques to experience something out of their own world."

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