By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
Best Traditional Rock: Southern Backtones
The Backtones have been making the scene so long we tend to take them for granted, like the wallpaper in the guest bathroom. Hank Schyma keeps refining his take on modern rock, molting his skin occasionally to remake his stage image. But no matter the costuming, the Backtones know the job of a rock band is to rock, and Schyma's crew can party with the best. "Thank you all," enthused Schyma from the stage. " We'd especially like to thank John Evans. We wouldn't be here without him." -- W.M.S.
Song of the Year: "George Bush Don't Like Black People" The Legendary K.O.
This, for me, was the feel-good win of the whole shebang. A post-Katrina remix of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," with lyrics like "If FEMA really comes through in an emergency / But nobody seem to have a sense of urgency / Now the mayor's been reduced to crying / I guess Bush said, 'Nigga's been used to dying!'" and "Hurricane came through, fucked us up round here / Government acting like it's bad luck down here / All I know is that you better bring some trucks round here / Wonder why I got my middle finger up round here," this ranks as one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded. Going back to their days as K-Otix, the Legendary K.O. have always been the conscience of Houston's hip-hop scene; with this song, which has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times, they became the conscience of the nation. -- J.N.L.
Best Cover Band: Molly & the Ringwalds
"This is for all the Jewish police officers!" singer Jennifer Ringwald said giddily (and cryptically) upon accepting the trophy -- which they won despite shameless politicking by the Allen Oldies Band. So what put them over the top? "I think it was 'Livin' on a Prayer.' Bon Jovi -- he's our new level of excellence!" she added. Guitarist-bassist Dekan Ringwald promised "120 new '80s songs" added to the repertoire in the coming year before Jennifer upped the ante. "We're going to do naked karaoke!" -- B.R.
Best World Music/Reggae: D.R.U.M.
What makes Houston a great place to play world music? According to Alafia Gaidi, lead vocalist for D.R.U.M., "Houston has a strong contrast. There's a sense that it's a one-horse town but that it's also a cosmopolitan port city. And because there are a great many people, there is a lot of diversity. These two factors make world music and reggae well received here." But don't think that D.R.U.M. is just about reggae --African diasporic rhythms, hints of Motown and a smattering of jazz all interweave within their songs to create the equivalent of an eclectic world beat potpourri. Check out their D.R.U.M. Livealbum to sample their sound, or visit drummusic.com to catch them at their next Houston show. When you do see them live, you'll be sure to find yourself skanking with the rude boys and girls. -- Jeff Meserve
Best Emo/Post Punk: The JonBenet
The JonBenet proved that it is a group worthy of recognition by not showing up for the awards ceremony, and it wasn't because the band members believe they are above a local awards show. The group was too busy doing what a band should be doing to make a name for itself; the JonBenet was most likely taking the stage at Plan B in Dansville, Virginia -- a stop on its tour up the East Coast. (The band's absence did afford Outlaw Dave the opening for the quip of the evening: "JonBenet's not here. She's in heaven looking down on her vile parents.") With a sound that combines post-hardcore with metal and a tight rhythm section, this group may be moving into the national act category by this time next year. -- D.R.
Best Underground Hip-hop: Studemont Project
Studemont Project has been a member in good standing with the Houston underground since it came together almost three years ago, but member Caption said he was surprised to receive the award again. (The guys also took home this prize at the 2003 Music Awards.) SP is known for its ability to mix hip-hop with every type of music, for an eclectic sound that its members say is the key to the future of underground hip-hop. Their release, Avenue of the Observatory, testifies to that belief: The group lays lyrics over everything from blues to classical mixes for yet another SP release that reflects as much about the spirit of Houston as it does underground hip-hop. In fact, Caption bristles at the notion that his band is "just hip-hop" -- he believes his group could be classified under any number of an ever-expanding array of genres. "Punk is one of the only things we haven't tried yet, but it's coming," Caption said. We'll be waiting. -- D.R.
Best Salsa/Reggaetón/Latin Pop: Mango Punch
Mango Punch leader Walter Suhr is a happy man. A new CD, Desayuno de Amor, is on store shelves across the country, the video for the album's first single, "Que Se Lleve el Viento Mi Dolor," is playing on VH Uno, and Mango Punch just won a third Press Music Award nod for Best Salsa.