2011 Music Awards Showcase

Your guide to the bands and venues.

D.R.U.M. (8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Reggae / Ska / Dub
It's hard to argue with the excellence of D.R.U.M. as they enter the running for their 14th HPMA. They've been a constant fixture on the world music and reggae scene, even touring with the Bob Marley Festival and on three other continents. Their full name says everything you need to know about the group, Divine Rhythm United Motion. If we had a category for Best Music Businessman, then D.R.U.M.'s Frank Zweback would win every year just as easily as he captures other awards. The group has harnessed professionalism along with the laid-back accessibility of their sound in order to become a band that's likely to continue succeeding long after the rest of their dwindling number of contemporaries hang it up. Talk about a clash of the Houston music titans: This year, D.R.U.M. is up against Los Skarnales in a single category appearance. We will have to see if Felipe and the boys break D.R.U.M.'s streak. Jef With One F

1800 Texas

Little Joe Washington (4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Blues
Out of a Third Ward blues guitar school that has now graduated to the great beyond Albert Collins, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Johnny Guitar Watson and Joe Guitar Hughes, Little Joe Washington is the last man standing. And he's hardly standing still: He's also pedaling his Schwinn from gig to gig, Fender strapped to his back, doing things with it you've never heard before and never will again, and then passing his hat around for tips. After opening with a cover of the Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime," Washington brought down the House (of Blues) at last year's showcase, prompting Press Music Editor Chris Gray to opine that the dreadlocked, pint-size master was a national treasure and "the funkiest person on the planet, although he may not actually be from this planet." Call him the Ornette Coleman of the blues guitar. John Nova Lomax

Free Radicals (5 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Jazz
According to free radical theory, radicals (atoms with unpaired electrons) damage cells in an organism, causing aging. But if anything, Nick Cooper's Free Radicals have become more vital with the passage of time, with prophetic songs about environmental disaster and financial collapse. The band has been as close to a lock as you can have in the Best Jazz category over the last ten-plus years, but the Rads' sound is much, much more; a dizzying amalgam of genres as diverse as Houston itself. Pete Vonder Haar

Screwtape (6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Indie / Alternative
Screwtape's name obviously sounds like they'd make rap music, both because the band's leader, Nosaprise, has been rapping in Houston for a few years now and because the moniker looks like a nod to DJ Screw's iconic Grey Tapes legacy. Instead, the band makes indie jams that coat the walls with melody, and Nosaprise manages to sound like — gasp — Elliott Smith on the ballads. And he does so without sounding whiny. So we understand now if your interest has been more than aroused. Get thee to this HPMA showcase slot. Craig Hlavaty

CHangoMan (7 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Latin
Former Moscas and Chango Jackson bassist/singer/songwriter Tino Ortega fronts this good-timing, thought-provoking American cumbia band. Over the Colombian-born genre's 4/4 infectious hiss-clomp-hiss-clomp beat Americanized with wailing rock guitars, Ortega mixes his own songs of devilish women and American bigots with mind-blowing covers. (Expect to hear anything from "Come Together" to "Sex Machine" to "We Will Rock You.") And make no mistake: The cumbia will rock you; few beats on Earth so powerfully compel you to shake your ass. PS: Watch out for impromptu conga lines and/or flying tamales. John Nova Lomax

Melovine (8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Metal
Melovine is a Galveston power trio that veers between metal and alternative rock. Regulars at joints like Scout Bar and the 19th Hole, the band has released three EPs since forming in 2004 and has now recorded a full-length album, Blight. It features solid musicianship and songwriting and shows a band that has just had a huge growth spurt. Recently, they've been hitting the road to far-off destinations like El Paso, where they shared the bill with national touring act Chevelle. William Michael Smith

1800 Texas

Vivian Pikkles & The Sweethearts Über Alles (4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Punk / Garage
Call them bratty, sexy and grimy, but don't call Vivian Pikkles & The Sweethearts Über Alles shrinking violets. This punk quartet began as a Breeders tribute group about a year back, before quickly turning into a straight-ahead gig for lead singer April Patrick — you should remember her from GUITARS — and bassist Anna Garza. The pair melded while working the GirlsRock camps and soon formed the Sweethearts. The band also includes Matthew Hall and Something Fierce's Niki Seven on drums and guitar, respectively. Craig Hlavaty

Zydeco Dots (5 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Zydeco
With a career spanning almost a quarter century and a regional following one could conservatively describe as "passionate," the Zydeco Dots can easily claim "musical institution" status in and around the Bayou City. They've had a stranglehold on the Best Zydeco category for some time, but complacency has never seeped into their live shows, which go off with the enthusiasm you'd expect more from a band that hasn't been together since the second Reagan administration. One thing though — could you update that Web page,, fellas? Pete Vonder Haar

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