By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Best National Rock: ZZ Top
This category recognizes a Houston-based act that someone in Wisconsin actually may have heard of, and it goes to that Little Ol' Band from Texas. The power trio got their start locally in the late '60s as the Moving Sidewalks, and went on to worldwide fame with their raunchy, fuzz-laden blues-rock that also, years later, made them unlikely MTV icons with their trademark facial hair, cheap sunglasses and magical keychains. "Billy Gibbons, where are you? Dusty Hill, come on up!" award presenter and WB news anchor Alan Hemberger exhorted from the ceremony's stage. However, neither bearded boy was in the house. Not that Hemberger -- who quickly focused his attention on the two Hooters girls next to him -- seemed to mind. This year saw the release of expanded editions of their classic records Tres Hombres and Fandango!, and the band is reportedly preparing a new effort. -- Bob Ruggiero
Best Funk: Fondue Monks
One of the most veteran bands on this year's ballot, this is the fourth nomination and first win for the Monks in this or any category. In fact, it's amazing they weren't given the trophy immediately after their phenomenally energetic, sweat-drenched Showcase performance that had singer Denver Courtney extolling the assembled to "Shake that ass!" Not that the writhing populace needed any egging on.
"This feels good. Somehow, through dumb, hard-headed determination or getting used to a $50 gig fee, we've stuck together," guitarist Steve Olson said backstage at the ceremony. "I think we finally outlasted all of our competition!"
The recent addition of Carlos Johnson as multi-percussionist has filled out the band's funky sounds, particularly since regular drummer Ronnie Zamorano has spent much of this year working for a contractor in Iraq. Olson adds that the next year will see the band try out some new tunes and perhaps record a new CD. But there's one big question haunting the band's fans: Will bassist Rozz Zamorano wear anything else on stage than an untucked black long-sleeve shirt and blue jeans? "Well," Olson offers, "I have seen him wear different pairs of shoes." -- B.R.
Best C&W: Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys
All similarities to Wayne Hancock -- and they are numerous -- aside, the Resin-ators continue to grow in popularity. They exemplify the danceable amped-up, in-your-face country we here in H-town have a strong appreciation for. The steel guitar has that antique sound that raises the hair on your neck and puts goosebumps on your arms, the fiddle is straight out of Bob Wills, and the vibe is pure Hank Senior. What we don't have enough of from these hardwood-floor warriors is records, but they are working on the successor to Texas Hill Country (that's a play on THC, duh). "Thanks to all of y'all for voting us in again," said drummer Neal LaCroix from the stage. "It showed last year wasn't a fluke. If we win 37 more of these, we might catch John Evans." -- William Michael Smith
Best Guitarist: Kelly Doyle
To be so young, Kelly Doyle is so good. Right now he's into smarty-pants jazz exotica and off-the-wall heavy stuff, but bets are being laid that one of these days when he starts to shave every day and sees a bit of gray in his beard, he's going to settle down to being a true badass Southern picker who can burn up roadhouse rockers or pick the hottest country licks. Lately he's brought new herky-jerky animation into his playing that shows he's aware that it's entertainment, not a seminar lecture. Unless the young man experiences a major brain dump, he's just going to get better and better, and he's already damned good. -- W.M.S.
Songwriter of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year: John Evans
The towering songwriter was heard to say he was gonna drink his dinner early in the night; later, he was spotted chowing down on cold leftovers direct from the serving trays. But hell, when you've gotten to be as big a dog as Evans -- more than ten Music Awards since 2001, and two more this year in the wake of his new release, Ramblin' Boy -- you can eat whenever, whatever and however you please. We also learned that Evans has what was described as "a man-fort" in his backyard. So that's where he stashes all these awards... -- J.N.L.
Best Tejano/NorteŮo/Mariachi: Tina y Los Gallitos
It's her parents' fault. Back in 1999, they told then-12-year-old Tina Vega that she could accomplish anything she wanted, grow up to be anything. They didn't know that she wanted to grow up to be a bajo sexto player. Seven years later, 19-year-old Tina Vega and her two brothers, John (15, on bass) and Robert (20, accordion), along with cousin Pricilla Tamayo (17, drums), are regulars on the Tejano circuit. And the only Tejano group led by a female instrumentalist. It hasn't been easy for Tina and Los Gallitos. Tina does all the bookings and publicity for the group, her brothers regularly join their dad on his landscaping jobs, and mom has turned teacher, homeschooling all three children. It's paying off. A couple of years ago, Tina took home the Best Bajo award at the Tejano Music Awards, the first female to do so. "Si Dios quiere, this is just the beginning for us. We're making our way, Gallito-style, so Houston, be ready!" said Tina with a laugh.