By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
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By Sean Pendergast
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The Houston Press Music Awards turned 18 this year the event is finally old enough to go to war, vote and get into shows. And grouse if you must about the technical glitches at both the showcase and the awards ceremony (curse you, PowerPoint!), but these seemed to be the best ever. Warehouse Live's ballroom easily the best venue we've ever enjoyed felt full and was definitely buzzing. The Dimes, Skyblue72, Arthur Yoria, Million Year Dance, Scattered Pages and Black Math Experiment kicked ass onstage, the beer flowed and the Mexican food didn't last long.
And at the end of the night, a trio of first-time winners walked away with the lion's share of the hardware: Devin the Dude (Local Musician of the Year, Songwriter of the Year), Katie Stuckey and the Swagger (Best Folk/Acoustic, Best Female Vocalist) and triple winners The Dimes (Best Indie Rock, Song of the Year, Best New Act). Other first-timers included Karina Nistal, multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey "Uncle Tick" Muller, Peekaboo Theory, The Mighty Orq, Chrome 44 and drummer Patrick "Beans" Wheeler.
This being the Music Awards, plenty of old standbys also claimed statuettes; no one will bat an eyelash to learn of victories by stout perennials the Big Easy, Blanco's, Zydeco Dots, John Evans, Drop Trio, Fondue Monks and the Mucky Duck. Minus Cactus Music and Video, Soundwaves continued its domination of the music retail category.
Generally, our Music Awards ceremonies generate some controversy, public nudity or simulated onstage blow jobs, but the only tongue-waggable podium moment this year came from Little Joe Washington, whose non sequitur-filled acceptance speech for Best Blues Act ("Guess what? I'm a bad motherfucker. I don't know what the hell I'm here for") was the only breach of etiquette of the entire three hours. Several winners said little beyond thanking their fans, but Best Traditional Rock winners Southern Backtones provided a note of levity when their initial absence from the stage prompted emcee Grease Munkey of KIOL-FM to speculate, "They're in the back drinking." There's always a few gaffes, and again, this year was no exception. Zydeco Dots guitarist Tom Potter thanked the Houston Post for his award. It's okay; we miss the Post too.
And as always, the ceremony offered the Houston music community a chance to publicly grieve fallen players. Poor Dumb Bastards, winners for Best Punk, dedicated their award to recently deceased bandmate Hunter Ward, who died June 30 of a suspected drug overdose, and the evening closed with Dr. Roger Wood eulogizing the late, great blues shouter/songwriter Jimmy "T-99" Nelson, who passed away the day of the showcase. John Nova Lomax and Chris Gray
Songwriter of the Year, Local Musician of the YearDevin the DudeThe only rapper other than South Park Mexican to take songwriter honors, and the only MC other than S.P.M. and Chingo Bling to take the much-coveted Local Musician of the Year award, Devin richly deserves each plaudit. He is among the most locally oriented musicians ever. While lots of local rappers name-check H-Town landmarks, Devin's witty rhymes weave the city in as a backdrop with consummate skill. In one old song, you can "meet [him] at the sandwich shop at Bellfort and Scott"; another finds him jonesin' for weed, stuck behind the train off Mykawa; in "Lacville '79" he trolls "Chim-in-ey Rock" looking for a girl "that will give me the cock"; and in this year's single "The Almighty Dollar," he's girl-watching at T.S.U. and tortured by the delectable aroma of the Frenchy's chicken he can't afford. Houston comes to life in his lines.
Another reason these awards come as no surprise is that Houstonians love songs about getting messed up. Past songs of the year include "My Dad, Two Whores and a Crack Pipe," "No Really I Can Drive" and "High So High" and anybody with even a passing acquaintance with Devin's work can tell you he is a master of that art form.
Devin's music appeals not just to critics and other rappers but also to many who don't care for hip-hop at all; you hear rock fans say things like "I can't stand rap except for Devin" fairly often. That's because he never brags about his bling indeed, he doesn't sport any and has an all-too-rare self-deprecating sense of humor. And he lives many of his songs he really does drive the 1979 Cadillac of "Lacville '79," and when he raps about his love for both Bud and bud, he's not frontin' in the slightest.
Devin's busy '07 continues; as you read this, he's on the West Coast touring new album Waitin' to Inhale, and next month his Coughee Brothaz posse releases their own full-length album. J.N.L.
Best Indie Rock, Best New Act, Song of the Year ("Delilah") The Dimes Moments after ripping through an electrifying version of "Delilah," the song that would later net The Dimes a third statue to join their awards for Best Indie Rock and Best New Act, the Stratford quartet was happy to finally relax. "It feels good to be backstage," said guitarist Cley Miller as he, singer Carlos Sanchez, drummer Iram Guerrero and bassist Jose Sanchez crowded into one of Warehouse Live's tiny dressing rooms. "We get nervous before we play."