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 Pop Skyblue72 After warming up the crowd before the ceremony with selections from forthcoming CD Feel My Way Home, Skyblue72 returned to the stage to collect a trophy for Best Pop Act, taking the award with a grain of salt. "It's cool," said drummer and vocalist Jessica Zweback, also 2003 winner for Best Female Vocalist. "We're excited, dude." However, she added, "We have a pop element for sure, but we're more of a rock band. I'm not a big genre person anyway. I think we cross-pollinate." The trio was psyched for another reason they had just picked up Feel My Way Home, which they recorded mostly live at Jessica's brother (and SB72 bassist/vocalist) Frank's house in January, that very day. "We're really pleased," Jessica said. "Our first CD was a little bit more produced, but this one is more what-you-see-is-what-you-get." The trio barely has time to break down their gear before they return to Warehouse Live for Saturday's CD release show with Shawn Pander, Deep Ella, Lanky, Rebbesoul and Nine O'Clock Scholars. C.G.
Best Hardcore The JonBenét Unlike former schoolteacher/fake murderer John Mark Karr, who grabbed headlines again recently due to his domestic-dispute arrest in Atlanta, The JonBenét have their name in the paper for a much better reason. They weren't in attendance to pick up their award, but they help break in new bass player Bryan on September 8 at Proletariat. See for yourself why this year's hardcore voters judged them newsworthy. A.P.
Best Local Rap/Hip-Hop Karina Nistal Yeah, she may have won a statuette in the local rap/hip-hop category one of three she was nominated for this year but Karina Nistal doesn't fit the usual Houston rapper profile. For starters, she's cute, usually a major no-no in the rap community. And then, there's her usual queen-of-the-night rep showcased on last year's debut album, Nistyle of laying down soulful vocals over dance grooves, along with dropping rhymes mostly en español. Let's face it: They don't call her "Diva Karina" because it's catchy.
But this win isn't just her victory, it's a victory for her music/art collective the Rebel Crew, whose members canvassed hard for their songbird señorita. "At first, it wasn't [important], because I love what I do and I'm gonna do it regardless of winning an award or not," Nistal said minutes after her win. "But to my team, it was a big deal for me to achieve this award. So I had to take that extra step to get these awards, and I had to campaign and ask people for votes." Nistal finally has a trophy to show for all the hard work she and her outfit went through. And now, like so many queens before her, she retires to her domain, where she must rest before she valiantly takes on the night once again. Craig D. Lindsey
Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly Flamin' Hellcats "We've been around for 14 years and we've never sounded better," enthused Jaime Hellcat after his band's first victory since 2001. "We have as much energy as we did when we first started." The ever-ebullient, fast-talking Jaime says his roots-rocking new rhythm section drummer Richie Vazquez and bassist Dropkick Dave has reinvigorated him. "The guys I had were punk guys, and we just kept getting heavier and heavier and one day I just said, ‘Dude, when did we become Judas Priest?'" The vato-billy gatos are getting airplay in Australia and the UK and are headed out to California for some shows later this summer, but in the meantime, you can catch them at Rad Rich's bash next Saturday (August 18) at the Meridian. J.N.L.
Best Traditional Rock Southern Backtones "I'm really honored to win," bassist John Griffin said a couple of days after Southern Backtones took Best Traditional Rock for the second year in a row. "I never really expect to win." The decade-old band recently started working on its next album, squeezing it around playing in town once a month, scattered regional gigs and the movie singer Hank Schyma and fellow HPMA winner John Evans wrote and are now filming. But just how traditional are these Traditional Rock winners? "I guess we definitely have elements of traditional rock we're certainly influenced by it. We're kind of a combination of indie and traditional rock," figures Griffin. "We used to be a lot more rockabillyish. The name kind of confuses people we still play that stuff live, but we don't really write songs like that anymore. For years, we were in the roots/rockabilly category, so I think this is a more accurate description. But just to win is nice." C.G.
Best Cover Band Molly & the Ringwalds With their fifth win in a row, Molly & the Ringwalds are starting to own Best Cover Band the way Zydeco Dots own zydeco and D.R.U.M. owns whatever they're calling the world-music category this year. They have Friday happy hours at the Continental locked down in perpetuity, but went MIA before the Press could get a comment on their most recent victory, so we cobbled together a possible acceptance speech from their seemingly bottomless repertoire of Reagan-era titles: "Add it up. A little respect just what I needed. I know what boys like, I love rock and roll. I want you to want me, don't you want me? Faithfully, one way or another, nothin' but a good time." C.G.