By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
"These are new all experiences for us, winning awards. It's all just fun and exciting for me, but we know there's more work for us to do," added Robert. "Hopefully we'll be able to go back into the studio soon and record some songs that we've been writing. We want to get a music video out. Gracias a Dios, we've been working hard, keeping our head up. We've been told that we could never do this, that we would never be good enough, but we just keep working, and it's starting to happen for us. This award means a lot to us. It's the first one that we've won, so it's real special." -- Olivia Flores Alvarez
Best Folk/Acoustic: Medicine Show
"Show" is the operative word with this bunch of Montrose bluegrass gonzos. Like North Carolina's Avett Brothers, the Med boys like to add vigorous doses of punk attitude and swagger to their gigs, and that creates an atmosphere of excitement that may offend the average true-blue "that ain't the way Bill Monroe done it" bluegrass Nazi. The repertoire, on the other hand, with old standards like "Salty Dog," would thrill the purest bluegrass snob. The band's been known to make up songs pretty quick: We heard top-hatted singer Craig "the Reverend" Kinsey sing a line or two at the awards show about how we compared him to the preacher from Deadwood. -- W.M.S.
Best Blues/Zydeco: The Zydeco Dots
It says a lot about the Dots' enduring popularity that even after the Awards did away with a dedicated zydeco category (in which they've won the award more than ten times), they can beat out all the bluesmen in town. "It is very strange they've done away with that category, because all of the other zydeco bands in Houston are playing more gigs than ever before," Dots rubboardist and founding member Mike Vee said backstage. "But a lot of them are in the Fifth Ward, and they're not always in places you see over the counter. And we're like that. We're a blue-collar band that works all year long." The Dots will soon celebrate their 21st anniversary, and they are required viewing at some point for any festival-bound music lover, since the band's zydeco is augmented by a smattering of blues, R&B and C&W. Vee had just returned from Italy the night before the ceremony, where he played on tour with another Houston zydeco band, Li'l Brian and the Zydeco Travelers. The Dots have their own series of gigs in the country booked for next summer, so they'll have to learn to say "crawfish" with a Corleone family accent. -- B.R.
Best Rock en Español: Los Skarnales; Best Bassist: Nick Gaitan
The big man with the big instrument (um, his bass, that is) takes his third consecutive win in this category, a testament to his talent as an (upright) four-string plunker. "Oh, my God, this feels beautiful! I love Houston and I love our music scene!" he said seconds after leaving the stage with his prize. Gaitan has been with Los Skarnales since 1999 but this year started a side project with a number of other musicians called the Umbrella Man. However -- like some hood inducted into the Mafia -- he says he'll never leave La Familia Skarnales. "That's continuous -- and there's no way out!" he said with a laugh.
And while he took home honors as Best Bassist, Gaitan insisted that even that honor was a group win. "It's a win for me, sure, but it's a win for the band, too. Anything I get is because of the group; it's always about the group," he said.
The repeat win for Best Rock en Español is especially sweet for the group, since they say their audience has stayed with them through some style changes. People evolve, bands evolve, sounds evolve, too. We're growing and we're happy that Houston is still liking what we're doing." -- B.R.
Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly: The Hollisters
Hiatus? What hiatus? After taking the Best Country award in '96, '97 and '98, the Hollisters jumped categories for this victory -- not bad, considering that the reformed unit played only three gigs this year. "We're gonna step it up next year - maybe do five," joked guitarist Eric Danheim. "But we really appreciate this award. And since the band is located closer to each other [geographically] now, you can expect more from us in the next year. Seriously!" Bassist Denny Blakely -- he of the on-stage pipe puffing -- certainly doesn't take for granted the fans that put them on top in this category. "We built such a core base when we were around before. And since we don't play all the time, it keeps 'em coming back for more! The whole band lives in Houston, but I'm still stuck in west Houston -- Austin, that is," he said. Danheim said they'll be working on new, original material in the next year, and a new CD is "not out of the question." -- B.R.
Best Metal: Sevrin