2011 Music Awards Showcase

Your guide to the bands and venues.

1204 Caroline

Kevin Taylor Kendrick (3 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Songwriter
Kevin Taylor Kendrick laughingly describes himself as "playfully endearing," and he comes by that from having grown up as an only child. Kendrick had to figure out how to entertain himself, and he developed a rich imagination. Today, many of his songs about, say, girls, are laced with adventure and exaggerated scenery: castles and majestic mountain ranges and the like. Kendrick delivers those embellished truths with a Dylanesque style and layers the lot with folksy guitar. Matthew Keever

Steve Krase & the In Crowd (4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Blues
An oilfield salesman by day, Steve Krase works out his inner demons at night playing harp in front of a big, honking blues band, the In Crowd. A longtime member of the Houston Blues Society and supporter of all things blues in Houston, Krase played harp in Jerry Lightfoot's band for years before forming his own outfit. He's known for stepping up at benefits and for backing up legends like Big Walter "The Thunderbird" at his annual birthday soirees. Being a good old boy is nice, but you won't last in the Houston blues scene if you can't play, and it's Krase's ability and showmanship that keep him bubbling on the scene anywhere from Shakespeare's Pub or the Big Easy to any icehouse or biker bar that will open the doors and provide a stage. William Michael Smith

Folk Family Revival (5 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Americana
Led by gifted singer and picker Mason Lankford, Folk Family Revival is a band wise beyond its years, with more gig experience under its belt already than most groups of guys twice their age. This year FFR released Unfolding, a surprisingly crisp and sturdy country-inflected album built around Lankford's burly tenor. FFR already plays with the swagger of guys who have been on the red-dirt circuit for decades, without the whine and pomp, so the next few decades of FFR should be a joy to watch. Craig Hlavaty

Clory Martin (6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Folk, Best Songwriter, Best Female Vocals, Best Song ("Sunshine")
Originally from Austin, Clory Martin is a singer-songwriter who now (thankfully) calls Houston home. She grew up singing in choirs and playing piano, but eventually chose the guitar, and now her simple chord progressions blend with her strong alto voice and come forth as indie-folk with a bluesy feel — "a smokier Norah Jones," as Press Assistant Music Editor Craig Hlavaty once wrote. Martin has been spending her Wednesday nights at Last Concert Cafe (opening for jam band institution Potroast), and her debut album, Summer Spent, was released in December 2010. Matthew Keever

Brant Lee Croucher (7 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Country
Since moving back to Houston after chasing the rainbow in Nashville and Austin, Brant Lee Croucher has produced an album of quiet Americana songs called Old Denton Roads. Another showcase performer who got his musical education at the University of North Texas, Croucher was trained as a classical pianist before turning his attention to guitar and songwriting. Lately he's spread his scope a bit and played Blanco's, the Firehouse and the Fairview, where he delivers his songs of love and loss with twanging guitars and a nice fiddle touch. William Michael Smith

Steve Steele (8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Rock, Best Male Vocals
While primarily a guitar instructor, Steve Steele sallies forth occasionally for a gig. But for all intents and purposes, he's primarily a studio guy, toiling away in front of or behind the knobs, piecing together albums like 2010 release The Expat, his cry of pain about existing in Houston. "The theme of The Expat is being disconnected," Steele has said. "I live in Houston, and I don't feel comfortable here at all." Steele's music is comparable to the stylized modern rock of local favorites Pale. William Michael Smith

813 St. Emanuel

Los Skarnales (3 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Reggae / Ska / Dub, Best LP/CD/EP (Dále Shine!)
During their BestFest performance in September, Los Skarnales showed that after 17 years of making music, they still put the ska in Skarnales. But the bowler-hatted carnales in the band also dip into punk, zydeco, reggae and cumbia and deliver it all with a variety of brass instruments and congas. Since the band's inception all those years ago, there have been more than a few personnel changes — at least three other bands performing at the showcase have former Skarnales players as key members. Out of the current nine-member roster, kinetic front man Felipe Galvan and guitarist Jose Rodriguez are the original founding members. The two keep the spirit of their former punk rock band, Desorden, alive, especially Galvan, whose energy and personality are the band's amped-up central nervous system. Allison Wagoner

Venomous Maximus (4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Metal
Venomous Maximus gurgles with the sounds of proto-metal gods Pentagram and Blue Cheer, as well as new-school leaders like High on Fire. The headspace of the heavily tattooed group — lead singer Gregg Higgins slings ink himself — falls somewhere between an Alejandro Jodorowsky film and a New Orleans voodoo den. Hail Satan and pass the chicken feet. The band released a 12-inch EP, The Mission, early this fall. Craig Hlavaty

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