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Music Awards Survey

A rundown of every act on this year's bill

D.R.U.M.
Best Reggae/Dancehall
14 years
www.drumusic.com

By now, Elvis Costello's "dancing about architecture" dig at the music critic's profession is so famous as to be clichéd. But D.R.U.M.'s Alafia Gaidi knows a fresher, if likely older, way to say the same thing: "Do not allow your eyes to be made from the lips of another," he says, citing an African proverb. In D.R.U.M.'s case, the axiom is most apt; many people think erroneously that the band "plays only reggae or only drums." In fact, you'll hear echoes of many of their favorite artists, a list that includes Bob Marley, sure, but also "Coltrane, Fela, the men and women of Motown, Baba Olatunji, Parliament/ Funkadelic, Duke Ellington, Tito Puente, Nina Simone, Baaba Maal, Antonio Carlos Jobim -- don't get us started." D.R.U.M. has a new live CD coming soon, but in the meantime you can go see them "anyplace there's enough room to play, enough money to pay and enough people to sway."

Mercury Room
1008 Prairie, 713-225-MERC

5 pm Mando Saenz
6 pm Chango Jackson
7 pm Clouseaux
8 pm Tony Vega Band
9 pm John Evans Band

Mando Saenz
Best C&W
Three years
www.mandosaenz.com

For Mando Saenz, Houston's "bad listeners" are balanced out by the city's "good musicians." Though he has a record and publishing deal with a Nashville company -- Carnival Music -- he bridles when you call his twangy, tasteful, rustic rock "country." Saenz's recent feats include co-writing with Kim Richey and gigging with Buddy Miller and Leanne Womack at Stubb's in Austin. Though those are indeed worthy deeds, he still believes all musicians "are fucked in the head." His 2002 album, Watertown, is scheduled for rerelease in September.

Chango Jackson
Best Rock en Español
15 years
www.changojackson.com

We have the basic truth that "average doesn't cut it in porn" to thank for the fact that the members of Chango Jackson chose musical careers, and they claim that without music they would be nothing but "pinche borrachos." "Los Beatles, Hendrix, Doors, Bowie, Rush, etc..." are all pureed in the CJ blender, along with Spanish lyrics and flying hazards at their shows -- "We would like to apologize if you have or will be hit by a tamale at our show." A long-waited release of a four-year-old CD could be looming for the group. They claim that by day, they "are the Chuck E. Cheese band!" The greatest misconception about Chango Jackson? "That we actually have a shot."

Clouseaux
Best Horn Section, Best Drummer and Local Musician of the Year (Claudio De Pujadas)
152 weeks
www.clouseaux.com

Clouseaux singer Tomas Escalante considers it a noteworthy recent feat that they "actually played a show with all the members in attendance." And it's no small one when you understand that this "tiki-lounge-exotica" outfit boasts a dozen members. On August 2, Lagoon!, their second full-length album, will drop, though that day is something of a sad one for the band, since the CD release party will be drummer Claudio De Pujadas's last with them. (He's moving to Philadelphia to pursue jazz drumming.) "Michael Haaga" is Escalante's favorite thing about the Houston scene. Among his worries: that "Main Street is destined to become the Richmond Strip rather than a live music haven" and that too many people erroneously believe that Clouseaux plays "ska and funk...good job, Houston Chronicle! Really doing your homework."

Tony Vega Band
Best Blues
Seven years
www.tonyvegaband.com

Why play music? "I suck at everything else!" says Tony Vega, who chafes under the blues label. Although he admits his band has "a blues-based backbone," he says he "never asked to be nominated for Best Blues alongside men like Texas Johnny Brown and Joe ŒGuitar' Hughes." His favorite artist is Lyle Lovett; his favorite albums are NWA's Straight Outta Compton and The Neighborhood by Los Lobos. Vega's band is big overseas; his favorite places to play are "the Hide-out club in Munich and anywhere in Switzerland." Closer to home, Vega digs the fact that H-town has "an indigenous sound, a Gulf coast sound, if you will." But he wishes that every local bar would charge a cover. "It would make things easier on everyone involved," he believes.

John Evans Band
Best C&W, Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly, Best Male Vocalist, Local Musician of the Year
13 years
www.johnevansband.net

"Real music. Real different." That's the motto of the John Evans Band, and by that he means a rootsy blend of styles -- including country, Texas swing and rockabilly -- presented with the balls-out energy and drive of a hard rock band. And evidently Houstonians think he's "real cool" -- over the last three years, the six-foot-six singer-guitarist-Luby's pitchman has won a total of seven awards, including Local Musician of the Year two years running.

Red Cat Jazz Café
924 Congress, 713-226-7870

4 pm Lisa Novak and Melinda Mones
5 pm UME
6 pm Hilary Sloan & Aunt Erma's Fillin' Station
7 pm Kyle Turner
8 pm Free Radicals with Harry Sheppard
9 pm Zwee

Lisa Novak and Melinda Mones
Best Folk/Acoustic
A couple of years together
www.lisanovak.com
and www.melindamones.com

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