By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Best Bassist Nick Gaitan Nick Gaitan is pleased and relieved to have prevailed in one of the closest races on the ballot the former Los Skarnales member of and current upright thumper for Umbrella Man and the Octanes edged out Fondue Monks ace Rozz Zamorano by a handful of votes. "I knew it was gonna be close," a hungover Gaitan said the next day. "I was really surprised. That was something else. I'll take it though, shit. The competition is always really good I was happy that Shawn Supra was on the ballot this year. He's a great, great bassist. I've seen him in so many bands, and it was bad-ass that he finally got on the ballot this year." J.N.L.
Best Guitarist The Mighty Orq Like several winners, bluesy rocker Orq was hungover when reached the next day. "It's worth it," he said. The first-time winners sent a shout-out to bandmates Matt Johnson and Westside Johnny, plus Tom at the Big Easy, where Orq has enjoyed a Monday-night residency of several years' duration. "That's all I can think of right now," he said. "Cream soda doesn't have any caffeine in it." Orq and band have just completed a new CD, To the Bone, which they're shopping to labels, and are working on lining up dates for another European tour. J.N.L.
Best Punk Poor Dumb Bastards Unlike a decade ago, when Poor Dumb Bastards won Song of the Year with "My Dad, Two Whores and a Crack Pipe," this year they accepted their statue for Best Punk fully clothed. But this year was considerably more solemn, as the four-piece is still recovering from guitarist Hunter Ward's June 30 death from a suspected overdose. "This isn't very punk rock," singer Byron Dean said from the stage, "but this goes out to our fallen hero Hunter." Ward had been a Bastard for seven years, and Dean credited him with rejuvenating the band. "Not that we were ever stagnant, but we had hit a routine," he said a little later. "Then Hunter came, and he was like fresh blood or fresh air." "He was our eyes and ears down in Montrose," added bassist Steve Scholtes. Asked the best way the Bastards can honor Ward's memory, they replied in unison, "keep playing." With an album due in January, the Bastards will play the Damon O'Banion memorial show at Meridian August 18, and planned to treat Wednesday's award better than they did the one they won for "Crack Pipe." "Our first award, we went to Lola's and broke it on the bar," said guitarist Mike P. "This one'll go to Bob, our drummer. He's actually lived a lot longer, so he gets the award." C.G.
Best Blues Little Joe Washington Very much in line with his mercurial guitar style, Little Joe Washington's acceptance speech was all over the map. In addition to his Ali-like boast "I'm a bad motherfucker!" he launched into and abandoned a telling of one of his adventures abroad. (Since the speech was somewhat hard to decipher, we'll retell it here.) A few years ago, when Washington was flying to Japan to play a festival, the flight attendant asked him if he wanted pasta for dinner. Washington misheard her, and when he returned to Houston, he told sometime manager Reg Burns that he was insulted and astonished to be offered "possum" for dinner on the plane. "I told 'em I didn't eat possum," he told Burns. "They brought me chicken."
Washington also thanked the Press, and after his speech, denigrated the Chronicle. "I'm the invisible man there," he said. (To be fair, they did profile him a couple of years ago.) The pint-sized bluesman richly deserves whatever ink he gets. The sole survivor of a group of titanic Third Ward homies that included Johnny Clyde Copeland, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Albert Collins and Joe "Guitar" Hughes, Washington's stinging tone and near-psychedelic licks constitute some of the finest blues on planet Earth right now. J.N.L. Best World Music/Reggae D.R.U.M. This is the D.R.U.M.'s 12th time taking home an award. The category's name has evolved over the years, but they remain Houston's most popular cosmopolitan band. In his acceptance speech, front man Alafia Gaidi declared his love for Houston, a result undoubtedly due in no small part to the fact that this city has treated the band well for more than 17 years. And despite having played with everyone from War to Burning Spear, D.R.U.M. plans to celebrate this year's victory in typical working musician style: continuing the tour they just kicked off in the most otherworldly of all locales Oklahoma. Amy Prasad
Best Experimental/Avant Garde Peekaboo Theory After winning Best Experimental Wednesday night, Peekaboo Theory spent the next day relaxing. "We're kinda resting because yesterday was a lot and we've been working on our album," says lead singer Jamescayn Thursday afternoon. All they have left, he added, is to have the record mastered and the artwork completed. "We're in the last stretches." Considering the band wasn't even around this time last year, their progress has been impressive indeed. "We're all really firm believers in putting whatever you believe out in the universe, and it will come back to you," Jamescayn said. "We just played any show everywhere we could play with any bands, hit it hard, went out and supported other bands, and I think our sound placed us in the bracket where we were." That's because, he says, what they're doing now is only part of an eventual whole. "The music we're doing is experimental to us. We're producers; I think it matches what we're doing right now," he reckons. "I don't think it matches the whole picture, but it matches where we are right now." Peekaboo's eclectic sound should fit right in at their next gig, August 12 at the Santa Fe Music Festival in New Mexico, alongside Wu-Tang Clan, Everclear and Blue October before returning for a homecoming show August 18 at Meridian. C.G.