The Orange Show

Spain Colored Orange takes home four Press Music Awards

The votes have been tallied, the drums have been bashed, the raps have been spit, the accordions have been squeezed, the guitar chords have been strummed and the hardware has been handed out. Music Awards '06 is now in the history books.

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.)

Spain Colored Orange
Daniel Kramer
Spain Colored Orange
Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys
Daniel Kramer
Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys
Medicine Show
Daniel Kramer
Medicine Show
Southern Backtones
Daniel Kramer
Southern Backtones
The Legendary K.O.
Daniel Kramer
The Legendary K.O.

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.

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/Norteño/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.

"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

Formed in 2003, Sevrin puts out a sound that isn't straight Maiden-type head-banging metal. There are plenty of touches of alternative sounds reminiscent of Korn and Incubus in this quartet's mix. "This is great!" said singer Sam Ammash seconds after nabbing the trophy. "I know we've had some lineup changes recently, but the fans are behind us. And it's great to know we're still supported." Ammash added that Sevrin has been playing "nonstop" shows in Houston for the past several months since taking an extended hiatus. Finally, he noted, they hope to have out soon their first full-length effort. "We're planning on going in the studio in September for real and getting the whole record done by early next year," he added. "And it will be worth the wait, believe me." -- B.R.

Best Jazz: Drop Trio

Drop Trio has a problem: They have to figure out which one of the three will get to keep the Houston Press Music Award statuette. "I'm the only one who actually lives in Houston, so I should have it," said drummer Nuje. Bass player Patrick Flanagan thinks maybe they should play Rock, Paper, Scissors for the honor. Since keyboardist Ian Varley didn't attend the awards ceremony, he didn't get a vote.

But figuring out where to store their awards is a small thing compared to getting Houston audiences to jazz performances. Nuje said the group chooses to play jazz, which might be the least marketable genre, "because we like to think. It's complicated, it's certainly the most expressive kind of music, it's the most fluid. It changes every night, there's so much improvisation. We understand the music we play has a limited audience, but we're fine with that." -- O.F.A.

Best Alternative Rock: LoneStar PornStar

Singer Greg David Stegman was excited after the PornStar win. "We've only been together three years and have won this the last two years in a row, so we're real excited about that."

"I've only been with them for the last two years, so it's really great for me, because I'm batting a thousand," deadpanned DJ J.Rod. "Basically, I think they couldn't have done it without me."

During his acceptance speech, Stegman thanked the Houston Band Coalition, an organization that he said is making positive changes in the local music scene. "Everybody in it is supportive of each other. We've been members since 2004, and we feel like the coalition is a tremendous factor in the growth of Houston's music scene. They're making things happen. So, of course, they are always at the top of our list of people to thank."

Asked to confirm the rumor that each of the LoneStar PornStar band members was required to appear in an adult movie before joining the band, DJ J.Rod, despite his obvious porn stage name, hesitated and then said, "You're going to have to buy me a lot more beers before you can get me to answer that question." -- O.F.A.

Best New Act: Million Year Dance

The theatrical and mystical rockers of Million Year Dance were terse and enigmatic when they accepted their award. "We'd like to dedicate this to Steven, who can't be with us," said singer Jonathan Welch, whose vocals are downright amazing. The band's shows incorporate Eastern religious imagery, potted plants, incense and soon, they say, puppets too. -- J.N.L.

Best Drummer: Paul "Falcon" Valdez

A product of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts jazz program, Valdez defines the word "impeccable" behind the kit. You've heard all those drummer jokes: "What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians? A drummer." Not Valdez, a true musician behind the kit and a master of the Jim Keltner/Pete Thomas school of skin-bashing. Tody Castillo, one of the many musicians in town to enlist his services, says, "He brings that big ol' bag of percussion with him and his rock drum set. And what he does works -- he's never back there doing stuff just because he can." -- J.N.L.

Best Record Store: Soundwaves

It took something tantamount to an act of God -- the actual closure of the store -- but Cactus Music and Video did not win this category as it had every year but once. Not that Cactus's shuttering stopped many of you from voting for it anyway -- 150 or so of you did so even though the store is now nonexistent, which was enough to place it in second place in the final tally. Thirteen of you wrote "n/a," 44 of you stumped for Best Buy and Wal-Mart, and 24 of you voted for "the Internet" or specific Web sites. Data like that makes us truly depressed about the future of bricks-and-mortar music retail. -- J.N.L.

Best Female Vocalist: Lisa Novak

Houston has yet to see what will come of Lisa Novak's effort to raise her status from a local favorite to national icon. Novak is in the studio working on her latest release while trying to capture the attention of label bigwigs who might be interested in her enticing blend of acoustic pop and alt-country. This is Novak's second straight year to take the award for Best Female Vocalist, but that shouldn't be surprising to the fans who have continued to join her at her regular gig at the Big Top every Tuesday. -- Dusti Rhodes

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. Live album 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.

"It means so much to us to get this award in Houston, to be recognized by our hometown," Suhr said. "We're doing our best, always, to perform for our fans, and it just means so much to us that we win this. We're really very grateful to everyone for all the support and encouragement."

Suhr said the group tries to give its audience a respite from the troubles and grind of everyday life. "There is so much conflict and sadness in the world right now," he said. "We try to give our fans a break from all that. Our shows are designed to give them a little bit of happiness, a little time to relax." Not that Suhr has any time to relax. Along with longtime manager Susana Trimmer, he's promoting the new CD and making the rounds on Houston's talk show circuit. He's also writing new tunes (Suhr has won the Billboard Songwriting and John Lennon Songwriting contests, as well as contests in Europe, and his songs appear on movie soundtracks and television commercials). -- O.F.A.

Best Pop: The Handsomes

With the support of a loyal fan base and some killer live shows, this funky quartet wins Best Pop honors for the third year in a row. When asked about their feelings on the win, this is what they had to say: "It's awesome! We weren't expecting to win. We won the last two years and we thought it was time somebody else won, but we're happy that we did win." -- Christopher Whaley

Best DJ: DJ Red

In a surprise move in the Best DJ category, DJ Red walked away with the honors. Holding it down at the Lounge in Houston, DJ Red is fast moving forward in his career as an up-and-coming producer. Obviously stunned when he was announced as the winner, DJ Red said, "It feels great. I've received a lot of support in this city, and I wasn't expecting to win. Even I voted for DJ Sun because he's one of my heroes. I feel like it's a lot of great talent in this city." Later he told us, "I know a lot of the bands don't think of DJs when they think of the Music Awards because we don't play live music, but a lot of the DJs are also producers. We're making our own music, and we're contributing to the music scene in Houston, so I think it's good that there's an acknowledgement of the DJs adding to the content of music in the city. This is keeping us on the same level as musicians, and that's a good thing because we all -- DJs, musicians, producers -- all us have to keep contributing and contributing at a high-quality level." DJ Red has big plans for next year. "Right now I'm pushing my tracks in the UK, so next year I'm going to be touring in Europe and South America, getting the music out there." -- C.W.

Best Experimental/Avant-Garde: Satin Hooks

As clichéd as it may sound, Satin Hooks is definitely one of the hardest-working bands in Houston. Part rockers, part savvy businessmen, the guys from Satin Hooks have an unparalleled grasp on how to milk MySpace for all its worth and have developed their own advertisement technique for their many shows. "We think we can reach international success," said guitarist-singer Kerry Melonson assuredly. While rubbing shoulders with the heavy hitters of rock may be the long-term goal, the Satin Hooks have more a immediate concern: making people dance. Melonson wants people to know that with the group's off-kilter chords and rhythms, people can bring their girlfriends to the band's shows. "Moshing gets old really quick," Melonson said. "You shouldn't have to wear earplugs all the time. I think we can say we're lady-friendly." Fans of the band and their ladyfriends can check out new Satin Hooks material when the band's new album comes out in late September or November. Currently wrapping it up in the studio, Melonson has high hopes for what he thinks will be a really important album. "It's one of the best-sounding albums out of Houston, if we do it right," he cautioned proudly. "It's going to be shiny." -- Chester Soria

Best Punk: Poor Dumb Bastards

In 1998, Poor Dumb Bastards earned not just one but two HP Music Awards. After winning Best Song and being hailed as Best Band of the Year, lead singer Byron Dean graciously accepted the awards the only way he really could have: naked. Fast-forward to 2006, past an eight-year hiatus from the Awards, and PDB is back where it belongs, winning 2006's Best Punk. Four drummers, eight guitarists and three bass players later, after first coming onto the Houston scene, the Bastards are back.

"The coolest thing [about playing] is the people," Dean said. "They get that we're not trying to change the world. We're not trying to be Bono." Indeed they're not. Has Bono opened for the Smashing Pumpkins in the nude, or almost had a beer bottle shoved in his rectum on stage? And we've yet to hear U2's rendition of the PDB classic, "My Dad, Two Whores & a Crackpipe."

"We have fun," bassist Steve Scholtes said. "So do our fans." Together since 1991, the band has had a consistent following, and it keeps getting bigger. "Our fans from when we started now have kids who come to the shows," Scholtes noted.

The Bastards are in the studio working on their third album, tentatively tilted Price of Rebellion, which hordes of soon-to-be PDB fans can expect out by late 2006 or early 2007. "Just in time to be nominated for Best Album next year," Dean joked. -- C.S.

Best R&B: Brooke Valentine

Brooke Valentine has been busy lately. She debuted in 2005 with the single "Girlfight," featuring Lil Jon and Big Boi. Just a year later, she's on magazine covers, playing to thousands of people in arena concerts like JamFest 2006 and making the red carpet at the BET Awards. Her newest single, "D-Girl," from her yet-to-be-released CD, Physical Education, is already in the Top 100 for urban radio spins and in heavy rotation on Sirius Satellite's Hot Jamz. The "D-Girl" video popped the highest debut of the week on Yahoo!, and she's already reading scripts, getting set to push into acting. No wonder she didn't have time to pick up her Music Awards statuette. -- O.F.A.

Awards Artist: Mik Miano

Artist Mik Miano is repeating his duties as creator of the Music Award statuettes (Miano also created last year's guitarlike awards). Figuring out what to do was easy, he said. "I did a railing in front of Rudyard's last year, and that had some notes in it. Everyone seemed to like them, and so when this came up, I thought about them. It's something musical, but also something visual. It was an easy choice."

While similar, each of the statuettes is distinct. "Each of them is a little different, because I think the music is all different, so I wanted each award to be unique. I wanted to do something special to thank the musicians. And I don't want to do the same thing over and over. If I wanted to do that, I could just go out and have them made in a factory, but that would be boring and this music, these musicians are not boring. So I wanted to do something that would be special, one of a kind."

Miano, whose training includes a stint at the Lawndale Art Center, said he's happy thinking of his statuettes sitting on the shelves of musicians all around Houston. "I hope that they'll be very valuable to them, not only as an award, as an acknowledgement of their accomplishments, but as a piece of art as well." -- O.F.A.

Best Latin Venue: Azteca's

Best Blues/R&B Venue: The Big Easy

Best Folk Venue: McGonigel's Mucky Duck

Best C&W Venue: Blanco's

Best Rock Venue: Warehouse Live

Best Concert Venue: Warehouse Live

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