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2011 Music Awards Showcase

Your guide to the bands and venues.

Ozeal (6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Soul / Funk / R&B, Best Keyboards (Paul Viers), Best Miscellaneous Instrument (Isaac Munoz, saxophone)
It's hard to believe that Ozeal doesn't actually have an official release yet, though they are promising us an EP at the dawn of the next year. What we've managed to hear from them speaks of a band that maybe counts as hip-hop and maybe counts as funk. Trying to find a neat little box to shove them in is silly, because what Ozeal is really about is waking your body up for a good time. They combine the fun of the Roots with pure poetic flow and just a little bit of James Brown musk to make for a singularly fresh experience capable of funkifying the most un-funk situations. Paul Viers is also up for Best Keyboards, and while he's not busting out complicated ivory riffs, he does more to set the mood than scented candles and a bearskin rug. Jef With One F

BEN'S BEANS
1302 Dallas

Square and Compass (3 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best New Act
Fans of Hot Water Music and Taking Back Sunday — and expert tap guitar — will thrill for Square and Compass, who are relative newcomers to the Houston scene. The five-piece is a sight to see live, all arms and energy, and lead singer Thomas Heard hadn't even helmed a band before joining S&C in the summer of 2010. Craig Hlavaty

Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys (4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Country
Brent Best of Slobberbone once said he'd know the band had made it if they ever overcame their own moniker. That assumes, of course, that you're looking for some kind of acceptance by the mainstream community, and Reefer and his Boys have never given anyone that impression. At any given show, you're just as likely to hear rockabilly, Hank Williams Sr. and Western swing as you are to get songs extolling the virtues of controlled substances. Something for everyone, really. Pete Vonder Haar

Chase Hamblin Band (5 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Pop Artist
Chase Hamblin churns out buttery melodies the way some people sweat, which has made him one of the most beloved Houston roots artists, able to grab fans from all age brackets. The older folks get wowed by his old-school Kinks charm, and the younger folks get their power-pop fix. A new album, Can You See the Beast?, is in the works now, following up 2009's well-received A Fine Time. Craig Hlavaty

The Beans (6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Bassist (Daniel Taylor), Best Drummer (Brendan Hall), Best New Act
The Beans' claim to fame seems to be a song about Houston, along with several hundred young, fresh-faced Facebook friends and followers on Twitter. The music is kinda bluesy, kinda psychedelic, kinda they-haven't-figured-out-what-they-are-yet. But the kids seem to like it, as a nice-size crowd showed up at their recent gigs at Rudz and the Continental. Daniel Taylor and Brendan Hall are nominated for Best Bassist and Drummer. William Michael Smith

The Journey Agents (7 p.m.)
Nominated In: Soul / Funk / R&B, Best Keyboards (St. Clair)
Why it's the funkster players netting all the Best Keyboard nominations is a little puzzling when you put them up against people like Jennifer Grassman and Meghan Hendley, both of whom went criminally unrecognized. Not that Journey Agents front man St. Clair doesn't deliver the perfect mood when he lays down his lines, but his focus is clearly on being a seductive, fire-breathing mouthpiece. The group has a jazzy, beat poet approach, which is what you'd expect from a band named after a Rahsaan Roland Kirk lyric. This is The Journey Agents' second straight year running for the statue for Best Soul/Funk/R&B, and this band going head to head with Ozeal in the exact same two categories should make for some powerful competition. Personally, we would have liked to see the Journey Agents' B. Miles up in the Best Guitarist race. The man can really shred himself some jazz progressions. Jef With One F

Texas Johnny Brown (8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Blues
Immaculate. Tasteful. Classy as a bespoke suit with matching tie and handkerchief, and smooth as iced and aged Cuban rum. That's Texas Johnny Brown, a true hero of blues, vintage R&B and a pioneering early rock and roller. Brown's career spans the decades down from Spotify to 78s — that's him on guitar with Amos Milburn's Chickenshackers way back in 1946, and that's him behind Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ruth Brown on many of her seminal Atlantic sessions. As a songwriter, Brown's best known for penning the title track to Bobby "Blue" Bland's canonical album Two Steps from the Blues. Despite that "Texas Johnny" handle, Brown is actually a Mississippi native, and his Choctaw County hometown of Ackerman recently claimed him forever as a native son, placing a plaque there on the Mississippi blues trail. Trivia: In 1941, the 12-year-old Brown, his blind musician father and their guitar-playing dog appeared in Virginia, a Hollywood film also starring Fred MacMurray, Sterling Hayden and Marie Wilson. John Nova Lomax

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