Ten Years After the 1997 Houston Press Music Awards

Where are the bands and nominees today?

With all the coverage of what's going on right now elsewhere in these pages, we thought it would be fun to look back at the Press Music Awards of ten years ago and find out what has happened to some of the winners and nominees since then.

Back then, the showcase was still held at Shepherd Plaza, then the city's trendy hot spot, and in nearby bars such as Instant Karma. And talk about an ephemeral city: Ten years later, not a single one of the venues, which also included 8.0, Voodoo Lounge, the Rhino Room, Metroplex, Q Café and the Big Horn Saloon, remains.

The year 1997 was a watershed. Music Editor Hobart Rowland expanded the nominating committee to better serve the city's musical youth. (Many of the bands with a big following among minors performed at a purpose-built outdoor stage.) And the kids acted like kids; the night culminated with then-bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 30footFALL leading a crowd of teens in a defiant chant of "Fuck!" much, according to Rowland, "to the chagrin of the police officers monitoring the area."

When the dust had settled and the votes were tallied, Middlefinger and I End Result had their first wins. Elsewhere, it was business as usual, with the likes of Carolyn Wonderland, Jesse Dayton, Paul English and Norma Zenteno maintaining their strangleholds on their respective categories.

Who They Were Then: Aftershock, a "metal-edged hip-hop" combo that combined "rap's street-level credibility" with "heavy metal's grind-it-out aesthetic" for a result that "rocks hard and grooves serious." Members had been in the similar previous outfit Planet Shock.

Where They Are Now: Still in town, still on MySpace ( aftershockhouston), and still playing shows at Fitz's after their reunion this year. In fact, they play one there this very Saturday. If you're one of those people who thought rap-rock is either dead or was stillborn to begin with, you owe it to yourself (and the genre) to check them out.

Who They Were Then: Alice's Tin Pony, "a smart, arty, serious folk pop band that isn't afraid to wax soft and sensitive in a city full of young bands that would rather rock loud and silly."

Where They Are Now: Lead singer Alana Waters left a job at Enron in 1998 and moved to Chicago, where she now works as a graphic designer and photographer. She's still making music too; her sound has grown more electronic of late.

Who They Were Then: Ralf Armin, best bassist nominee for his work in the band Truth Decay, whose "uncompromisingly heavy" sound is featured on "countless compilations."

Where They Are Now: Still in town, and still playing bass, DJing and terrifying 23-year-old girls in indie rock bars.

Who They Were Then: Mary Cutrufello, "a black woman making country music in Texas" and "Ivy Leaguer from Connecticut."

Where They Are Now: After winning and losing a major label deal, Cutrufello relocated to Minneapolis, where she suffered from nodes on her vocal chords. After touring Europe as a sidewoman for Tish Hinojosa a couple of years ago, Cutrufello refound her voice and moved back to Texas this year. Austin, that is.

Who They Were Then: Jesse Dayton, an "ever more entertaining and seasoned performer" who was then "steadily developing a more perceptive, sensitive side to his Baytown bravado." His Hey Nashvegas was said to be coming out later that summer.

Where They Are Now: Hey Nashvegas would fall prey to the implosion of Justice Records and languish another four years. Dayton moved to Austin, where he learned to augment that bravado — surely the writer meant "Beaumont" instead of Baytown — with yet another facet to his personality. This would be the deranged, depraved side he showcased with his alter ego band Banjo & Sullivan with honky-tonk classics like "I'm at Home Gettin' Hammered (While She's Out Gettin' Nailed)" on the sound track to the Rob Zombie white-trash gorefest The Devil's Rejects.

Who They Were Then: "Houston's once-powerful beasts of thrash," dead horse, who eschewed "the industry's hype machine in favor of meat and potatoes touring," to their detriment.

Where They Are Now: The band had already broken up by the time the 1997 awards rolled around. Singer-guitarist Michael Haaga would go on to perform in Superjoint Ritual and front the Demonseeds. His later eponymous solo project The Plus and Minus Show would dominate our awards in 2005. As of this writing, the volcano that is Mount Haaga is dormant, but not extinct.

Who They Were Then: Horseshoe, one of 1997's most oft-nominated bands. Their "promising debut" King of the World's blend of Syd Barrett and Hank Williams served as "little more than a launching point for an even weirder set of excursions into the bowels of lead singer/songwriter Greg Wood's record collection." (A most disquieting image, especially right up to the last two words.) "Bigger and better things" were predicted for the band, if only they could "keep their own saddle on straight."

Where They Are Now: A few years later, the saddle fell right off amid fiendish partying and Wood's attendant health woes. Wood is now in retail, while guitarist Scott Daniels fronts his own band here and plays with Carolyn Wonderland in Austin. King of the World still stands as a weird set of excursions into the bowels of well, never mind.

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