By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
And man, was it fun. The newly compact showcase on July 30 condensed Houston's many musical scenes and offered up a blueprint for one possible future for downtown: a haven for live bands on the order of Sixth Street or Deep Ellum.
Once again, the Meridian hosted our annual raucous awards ceremony. LoneStar PornStar, Medicine Show, the Zydeco Dots, Miss Leslie & Her Juke Jointers, Lee Alexander and Spain Colored Orange all graced us with at least one song apiece. The crowd was dotted with cowboy hats, those of the redneck, Tejano and zydeco variety. Paul Wall was in the house -- the superstar rapper came and picked up his award and was gracious enough to hang out and mingle with his peeps. (The People's Champ lived up to his name again.)
Outlaw Dave handled the emcee duty with complete skill and a biting wit. (One he turned on yours truly on several occasions.) As usual, a couple of the presenters badly garbled some of the names of the bands, but this year we did not see any musicians puking. (We're batting .333 in that regard -- we've seen it twice in six years.)
And as usual, after-parties raged all over town, most notably at the Spain Colored Orange house. Hell, that one might still be going on, even as you read this -- winning four awards can keep the party popping.
Those guys were this year's big winners. John Evans also took home a couple more -- he's making steady progress on Carolyn Wonderland's all-time record of, what, 50 Press Music Awards? Los Skarnales and bassist Nick Gaitan accounted for two more awards, but other than that, the voters spread the wealth.
Repeat winners included, among others, Sevrin (Best Metal), LoneStar PornStar (Best Alt-Rock) and Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys (Best Country). Each built on last year's wins, while the old '90s guard (the Hollisters and Poor Dumb Bastards) made a comeback. First-timers included the Legendary K.O., Tina y Los Gallitos, Southern Backtones and Satin Hooks, and all the usual venues (Blanco's, the Mucky Duck, the Big Easy) took home their hardware. Cactus Music and Video was conspicuously absent and sorely missed. And congrats to Soundwaves for their second win in the history of the Music Awards.
Bob Fuldauer and the Meridian staff did their usual bang-up job hosting the shindig, new Press promotions director Tracy Grossbard excelled her first time out, and band booker Dana Donovan also shined.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners of the 2006 Houston Press Music Awards...
Local Musician of the Year; Best Indie Rock; Best Keyboardist (Gilbert Alfaro); Album of the Year (Hopelessly Incapable of Standing in the Way): Spain Colored Orange
These guys had a feeling they were gonna take home a trophy or two -- early in the night, they invited us to their after-party deep in the heart of Montrose. "Win or lose, we're gonna party," gushed a band member (who shall remain nameless) early in the evening. "We spent $300 on liquor, dude." Spying a trio of scantily clad women, the anonymous SCO-ster cracked that he would be leaving a trail of cocaine for them to follow from the venue to the party. (He was kidding, we think.)
Singing keyboardist and bandleader Gilbert Alfaro won an individual award for his ivory-tickling skills and three more for his work with the band. We caught up with Alfaro over the phone the next day at his day job: accounts payable for a skateboard distributor. "Man, that party was really, really good," he said. "We had a great turnout for that. But I made it a point to get out of there by about 1:30. The other guys stuck around. They might still be at it, for all I know."
Alfaro admitted that he knew the band had taken home a trophy, but he was astonished by the magnitude of all those triumphs. "It was a surprise, but a good surprise," he said. "I honestly didn't think we would win that many. I mean, I thought we might win one, but not four." -- John Nova Lomax
Best Major-Label Rap: Paul Wall
Back in 2004, when Paul Wall's song "They Don't Know" first dropped on the independent album Chick Magnet, the world outside Texas really didn't know much about all the things he rapped about: candy paint, Timmy Chan's, chunkin' the deuce, poppin' trunk and all that. Today, thanks in no small part to Wall, kids from Paris to Tokyo to Buenos Aires are rapping about Williams Chicken, sittin' sideways and grills with more carats than Bugs Bunny's lunch.
This was a close election: Wall edged old potna Chamillionaire by fewer than ten votes out of thousands cast. Luckily for us, Wall won. We say luckily, because unlike Chamillionaire, or any of the other rappers on the ballot, Wall showed up, wife and infant son in tow. "They Don't Know" boomed out of the Meridian's speakers as he took the stage. "I'd like to thank the Houston Press for showin' us a ton of love over the years," he said. Honestly, Paul, the pleasure's ours. -- J.N.L.