Music Awards Survey

A rundown of every act on this year's bill

"Postmodern U2" and "Live with a hint of English rock sensibilities" are two descriptions of these alt-rockers, whose album Last Year's New Thing is, they claim, "a diverse collection of power-pop songs showcasing big hooks and catchy melodies." In concert, the band claims to "move effortlessly from heavy, guitar-driven tunes to eloquent, compelling ballads." In short, "a Deep Ella show leaves an indelible impression on each listener, which can only be overshadowed by their next Deep Ella experience."

Best Alternative Rock, Album of the Year (The Show)
Almost two years

"Anywhere that people want to rock and get rocked" is where Silverleaf likes to play, and recently 700 of those people showed up at Numbers for the release of their new CD, The Show. The fact that "real jobs suck" is their impetus to pursue music; another thing that sucks in their view is the fact that "Houston is soooo spread out. There's not really one central spot for good local music like Sixth Street or Deep Ellum." And the third thing that they think sucks? This misconception: "A lot of people think we are fairly light and poppy." Au contraire, says the band. "Especially our live shows. They are very intense and energetic." Which is what you would expect from a band that cites Live and Pearl Jam as faves, though not from one that cites James Taylor, who they say is a "brilliant" songwriter.

Chingo Bling
Chingo Bling
Mark Towns
Mark Towns

The Speakeasy
110 Main, 713-547-0566

5 pm Lady D & the Zydeco Tornadoes
6 pm Mark Zeus
7 pm Opie Hendrix & the Texas Tallboys
8 pm Arthur Yoria
9 pm Mark May

Lady D & the Zydeco Tornadoes
Best Zydeco
Nine and a half years

Lady D had come a long way when she won last year's Best Zydeco award. After all, eight years previously she'd made her debut "at 6 a.m. on the shores of Clear Lake. I played ŒHappy Birthday,' and it went from 25 ducks to two ducks. I said, ŒIf I can get y'all to listen, I can get anybody to listen.'" Now, she often plays on a different body of water -- Galveston Bay -- for a different creature, namely humans, who, um, flock to see her shows on the Kemah party boat Sensation. The Opelousas, Louisiana, native works two full-time jobs but lives for her weekend gigs -- "zydeco makes people happy," she says, "whether you're old, young, handicapped, black or white." Alone among zydeco musicians, Beau Jocque encouraged her -- "ŒDon't give up Lady D, it'll pay off,' he would tell me" -- and thus ranks as tops with her within her genre. But her favorite tune is one by another Louisiana native: "My favorite song right now is ŒToxic' by Britney Spears."

Mark Zeus
Mark Zeus/Thunderboltz
Four years

Last year's River Oaks Redneck Musician of the Year has a solo album slated for release later this year. The bluesy, folksy Cubs fan touts "Dan Electro's and JP Hops House" as his favorite local gigs -- though he says he has plans of his own -- "I'm thinking about opening a restaurant/club in the future." Zeus loves the "diversity, mix of style and mostly the songwriting" in H-town but loathes the "lack of recognition for the amazing acoustic songwriter community here." The former instructor -- "I coached football and taught English at the high school level" -- says local Ken Gaines is his favorite artist "right now," and he touts Bruce Cockburn's Burning Light and Traffic's Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys as desert island discs.

Opie Hendrix & the Texas Tallboys
Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly
13 years

"Roots-rocking alt-country, spiced by a pinch of rockabilly" is the forte of this flame-haired outlaw, the defending champ in the Roots Rock/Rockabilly category. The son of an Elvis-loving mother who named him Stephan Buchanan, Opie earned his moniker at the late, lamented Boat Yard, where the hard-bitten regulars took a shine to both his hair and his six-string dexterity. Since then, Opie has assembled a "premier backing band," including steel guitar legend Susan Alcorn, and they always "play from the heart, not a set list."

Arthur Yoria
Songwriter of the Year
Three years

Landing songs on TV (Felicity soundtrack, MTV's Camp Jim) and films (Breaking Dawn), and playing a show in Liverpool's Cavern Club are among the recently installed feathers in this sophisticated modern popster's cap. Yoria claims to "enjoy working very hard and making very little money," which rather puts the lie to his claim that if he weren't a musician, he'd be a "sleep research volunteer." The Colombian-American Cubs fan cites Piero's self-titled record and Charlie Rich's Behind Closed Doors as his favorite albums ever, though he looks beyond his field for his fave artist: Richard Pryor.

Mark May
Best Blues
Over 20 years

Two years ago, somebody not from around these parts called 1999's Local Musician of the Year "the best guitarist you've never heard of, and arguably the most versatile talent working the blues today," but we've obviously known all that for a long time. The same goes for Dickey Betts, who says he was "blown away" by May and took him on the road with him for two years. Dollmaker, May's long-awaited follow-up to 1997's Telephone Road, came out this year, and this paper called it "a great party record," as much a necessity for your next outdoor soiree as "beer, insect repellent and meat for the grill."

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