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Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Manly Ballet

    Ben Stevenson's Cleopatra

    Stevenson's biggest ballet since Dracula was billed as a star vehicle for Lauren Anderson, the African-American principal Stevenson spotted at the Houston Ballet Academy when she was just a child. But while the title role certainly allowed Anderson to show off her explosive athleticism and theatricalism, Cleopatra turned out to be a much broader ballet for the whole company, including,… More >>
  • Best Band Stage Show

    Middlefinger

    During a CD release performance at Fitzgerald's earlier this year, Middlefinger lead singer Matt Kelly asked the crowd in between songs for the correct pronunciation of the name "G-O-E-T-H-E." Whoever answered first would get one of the Middlefinger CDs Kelly held in his hands. After getting nothing but quizzical looks, Kelly, a wheatstalk wearing thick black eyeglass frames, asked again:… More >>
  • Best Pastime for Hands When Not Servicing $100,000 Automobiles

    Playin' in a rock 'n' roll band

    Acquaintances who happen to see 27-year-old Jug O' Lightnin' front man Aaron Loesch tooling around town in that glossy, black late-model Jaguar of his might well wonder whether The Jug has somehow managed to parlay its regular free Sunday-night gig at Rudyard's into a multimillion-dollar deal with Sony or somesuch. No such luck. Fact is, Loesch poured a good amount… More >>
  • Best Open-Mike Night

    Thursdays at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar

    Seasoned musicians drift into Dan Electro's on Thursdays and jam with whoever happens to be around. Frequently these impromptu groupings kick ass. On a recent night, veterans Andy Williams and Diunna Greenleaf took the stage with three others and unleashed a feverish set of blues. Williams made his guitar moan, while Greenleaf hammed it up diva-style, showcasing her rich, booming… More >>
  • Best Open-Mike Poetry Reading

    Mausoleum

    Usually an open reading serves a particular clique, but when Mike Alexander started running things at the Mausoleum, he made an effort to create the kind of environment where anti-intellectual anarchists could follow the academic folks from the creative writing programs. A selected poet opens the reading every Wednesday at 9 p.m., and poets who sign up to read are… More >>
  • Best Band Name

    Trailer Park Playboys

    What's in a name? The Trailer Park Playboys, we reckon, are the sort of fellas who understand the lyricism of Jerry Springer and the poetry of the WWF. They're the kind that growed up on Momma's broken heart and Daddy's whiskey breath. These boys, we suspect, now find it in their hearts to minister to all those attention-starved trailer maidens… More >>
  • Best IMAX Theater

    Edwards Marq*E IMAX Theatre

    With all due respect to the Houston Museum of Natural Science's IMAX Theatre, which has been giving us exemplary wide-screen nature documentaries for 12 years now, this theater takes the prize because it shows the cool IMAX flicks -- the ones in 3-D, y'all! Seeing how koala bears survive in their natural habitat is fine and all that, but for… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk Show

    The Matthew Momoh Show, KPFT/90.1 FM, (713)526-5738

    Talk show host Matthew Momoh serves up faultless venues for clashes among Houston's liberals, moderates and conservatives. From issues of UN peacekeeping to ethnic injustice to police brutality, his show is a magnet for the wise, the weird and the wacky. Sixteen years ago the West African native employed by the city's public works division walked into KPFT to assist… More >>
  • Best Theater Season

    Alley Theatre

    The Alley's artistic director, Gregory Boyd, is eclectic and gutsy and sometimes simply wicked. But most of all, the man is smart. Since he was appointed head honcho at Houston's richest theater in late 1988, he has brought home a Tony and taken to Broadway a whole slew of shows that premiered at the Alley. Things were a bit quieter… More >>
  • Best Designer

    Devlin Browning, Infernal Bridegroom Productions

    Jason Nodler's Infernal Bridegroom Productions is still the most innovative and exciting theater company in town. A lot of its success goes to the inspired designers Nodler has been able to coerce into coming on board. Such is the case with his deliciously dark production of David Mamet's Edmond. It was designer Devlin Browning who made the Atomic Cafe's stage… More >>
  • Best Choreographer

    Trey McIntyre

    Trey McIntyre is a modern dancemaker whose ideas are as evocative as the movements that express them. His White Noise dealt with a fear of death; Speak pitted soft ballet against violent rap; and Aliss in Wonderland cast the storybook characters in modern celebrity culture. McIntyre's latest creation, Bound, choreographed this year for Houston Ballet, explored the very different meanings… More >>
  • Best One-Man Show

    Rob Nash

    Writer/actor Rob Nash has lots of fans. No wonder. His one-man shows, including Junior Blues and Senioritis, which ran this year at the Bienvenue Theater, are pure theatrical magic. Built around his teenage years at Houston's own Strake Jesuit high school, the scripts are hysterically funny. But a lot of what makes these fairly simple stories about adolescent troubles so… More >>
  • Best New Theater

    Ashland Street Theatre Co.,

    Even the surroundings are theatrical -- sort of. When you drive up to Ashland Street Theatre Co., the first thing you see is the factory at the end of the street. Huge and metallic and glowing in the shadowy darkness, the ominous building looks like it could be the hideaway haven of some sort of mythic drug lord. But this… More >>
  • Best Poetry Magazine

    tongue magazine

    Get your heads out the damn gutter right now! Despite its suggestive title, tongue is a magazine that specializes in the words of local creative minds. Believe it or not, this city has an eclectic poetry scene. And with all the spoken-word nights that circulate from all points of town throughout the year, tongue is just the publication we need… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    KTRU/91.7 FM

    Selecting Houston's best supplier of over-the-airwaves music can seem like an exercise in picking the lesser evil. Between corporate-held stations controlled by focus groups and a public station run by a general manager who seems intent on destroying its democratic ways, our city's radio offerings don't exactly inspire listeners to switch off the CD player. But Rice University's KTRU is… More >>
  • Best Local Cookbook

    Supper Time, by Leon Hale, Winedale Publishing

    It's not precisely a cookbook, as Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale makes clear in his author's note, but he has subtitled this gastro-memoir "Recollections and Recipes," so fair game. Who cares if most of the recipes are for Depression-era fare like pinto beans and corn bread. We like these things too. Never mind that Hale prefers store-mix corn bread to… More >>
  • Best Band to Break Up/ Get Together

    Clay Farmer Band/Clay Farmer

    Only a couple of months after young buck Clay Farmer disbanded his four-piece earlier this year, the singer-songwriter was playing open-mikes whenever and wherever with three of his former four musical deputies in tow. So while technically the Clay Farmer Band remains dead, Clay Farmer the humanoid performer -- gettin' by with a little help from his friends -- has… More >>
  • Best Live Music Venue

    Sidecar Pub

    Adding up sound, clientele, drink selection and ambience, you couldn't beat the Sidecar Pub with a male Tennessee Williams character at your side. The owners, husband and wife Peron Einkauf and Marybeth Moore, have done somersaults to create the ideal joint, from the century-old Belgian chairs to the 140 international beers available. Einkauf is about six foot six, 200-some pounds,… More >>
  • Best Circus

    P.T. Barnum's Kaleidoscape

    "There's a sucker born every minute," or so said Phineas Taylor Barnum, the greatest American huckster who ever lived. He honed his flimflam skills to such astonishing heights that he eventually became the owner and hawker of "The Greatest Show on Earth," a grand colossus of a circus that lately has turned into a lumbering behemoth of chicanery. To make… More >>
  • Best Swells of Houstonian Pride

    Shannon Elizabeth

    Some of y'all guys probably don't know this, but when you saw American Pie for the 40th time last year just to see that Czechoslovakian chick take her top off in the bedroom of the guy who humped the pie, those were Houston-born breasts you were ogling. Those were local breasts, hometown breasts, your breasts you were staring at. And… More >>
  • Best Local Television Show Causing a Commotion

    Street Flava, KUHT Channel 8

    Ever since Channel 39's Straight from the Streetz, hosted by the KBXX-FM's omnipresent Madd Hatta, sadly disappeared from television airwaves a while back, rap-video enthusiasts who can't afford cable for BET or public access have had to get their weekly fix from KUHT's Saturday-night video fest. But not all folks love the program. According to the people at the local… More >>
  • Best Director

    Jason Nodler

    Jason Nodler is without a doubt the best thing that has happened to Houston theater in a long, long while. An artistic hoodlum of the most provocative sort, the thirtysomethinger has tenaciously built his vagabond theater company, Infernal Bridegroom Productions, from the gutter up. And now, after many years of late-night rehearsals (which apparently required many, many beers to get… More >>
  • Best Sex Scene

    Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby

    Boy meets Girl. Boy gets Girl. Boy is "hard all the time." Girl is young and lithe, with pert breasts and slim hips. Boy chases Girl across stage, naked and giddy. Boy pulls Girl's towel off, exposing her body under bright lights. Boy describes the tremendous trek through the divide between Girl's pale breasts, across her soft navel, into the… More >>
  • Best Gay Theater

    Bienvenue Theatre

    Christian De Vries did a lot of living before he took over the small space on Washington Avenue and turned it into Bienvenue Theatre, one of Houston's most successful small theaters, gay or otherwise. In past lives he'd been a carpenter, a painter, an electrician and an actor. But no talent has served the man better than his flirty charm… More >>
  • Best Rant

    Ray Hill

    Anyone who has heard Ray Hill's Prison Show on KPFT, a sort of lonely hearts' club call-in show for all those folks who've got loved ones locked up in the big house, knows something about the loud-mouthed activist. The political gadfly has been biting at the backside of prominent uptight Houstonians for decades. Whether he's holding a political rally in… More >>
  • Best Angst-Ridden Show

    This Is Our Youth

    Was there any group of young people more head-bangingly angst-filled than the twentysomethingers living in New York City during the cocaine-driven days of the 1980s? Not according to Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth, a wickedly cynical script about three would-be adults trapped in that dark crawl space between money, love and art, a space that yawned wide then bit… More >>
  • Best New Black Novelist

    Troy L. Martin

    African-American literary circles around this country may be singing the praises of such contemporary authors as E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey and Omar Tyree, but black Houstonians have their own Sensitive Brotha educating the men and satisfying the women with his dead-on words. This year author and local boy Troy L. Martin independently published and distributed his debut novel,… More >>
  • Best Dollar Movie Theater

    Windchimes Cinema 8

    Squish-squish, go your shoes as you enter the darkened theater. Squish-squish-squish, they continue, as you make your way down the aisle, eyes scanning for that perfect middle seat. To prevent anyone from blocking your line of sight to the screen, you might rest your legs over the chair in front of you. No one will want to sit there, not… More >>
  • Best Honky-tonk

    Blanco's - CLOSED

    The minute you walk into Blanco's and see the beaten hardwood floors, or breathe in the fog of cigarette smoke, or just push your way past a posse of cowboys in Wranglers and pearl-snaps, you know you've found the real thing: a genuine Texas honky-tonk. This oasis of traditional Texana in the heart of the Greenbriar area is no poseur's… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    The Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club

    The blues is not complicated. It does not require a complicated venue to host it. In fact, it thrives in just the opposite: intimate neighborhood bars where the beat of the drummer matches the beat of your heart, each offering something to the other in a sort of telepathy between bandstand and audience. Houston is blessed with many such venues,… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    Spotlight Karaoke

    If Ed McMahon had the gumption to host a Houston Star Search, Spotlight Karaoke would be his headquarters. Bringing in crowds of all colors, all ages and all -- umm, both -- genders, the Spotlight is where countertenor accountants go when they're not crunching numbers and where shower-stall divas go when they're trying to combat stage fright. A good majority… More >>
  • Best Comedy Club

    Laff Stop

    Face it. The heat, humidity, hurricanes and assorted other urban horrors make Houston a place that can't survive without a healthy dose of -- you guessed it -- humor. While there are only a handful of stand-up comedy venues in the area, the the Laff Stop consistently comes through with the pros with the punch-line polish. The late Bill Hicks… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Angelika Film Center and Cafe

    Sometime in the '60s, the moviegoing experience suffered a serious blow: Chain operators built small, shoe-boxlike theaters where people were shooed in and out with all the ceremony of cattle herding. In recent years, chains have started building megaplexes with stadium seating and large screens. But the cheap materials, gaudy colors and boxy constructions still bespeak corporations more interested in… More >>
  • Best A Cappella Group

    The Lager Rhythms

    In 1994 a group of Rice graduate students realized that drinking and singing together was more fun than writing their dissertations. Many eventually graduated anyway, but their group, the Lager Rhythms, lives on, filled out by a rotating cast of other Rice people: grad students, faculty, undergrads, staff, a faculty spouse, a staff member's brother-in-law and even (they claim) a… More >>
  • Best Actor

    John Feltch

    All hail John Feltch, the gorgeous and thoroughly rakish actor who played Henry in the Alley's production of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing. The show was one of the season's best, owing in no small part to Feltch's bespectacled and brooding sexuality, along with his blazing intelligence. The long-limbed performer burned like a smoldering fire as he brought to life… More >>
  • Best Production

    Wit

    Margaret Edson just might be the only kindergarten teacher in the country who can list the Pulitzer Prize on her résumé. But Edson is no ordinary teacher -- or writer, for that matter. It was just a couple of years ago that the unassuming teacher won the award for her stunning play, Wit. All about an erudite college professor who… More >>
  • Best Adulterated Shakespeare

    Gregory Boyd's The Comedy of Errors, Alley Theatre

    Stand-up comedy in Shakespeare? How about slapstick? Or musical interludes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? The Alley's Gregory Boyd did all this and more in his irreverent and very funny take on one of Shakespeare's zaniest tales of mistaken identity, The Comedy of Errors. The Looney Tunes take time-warped the whole story out of the Renaissance and… More >>
  • Best Camp

    When Pigs Fly

    Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly is perhaps one of the silliest, funniest and even bravest autobiographical scripts ever penned. Totally gay and wonderfully queeny, the odd synthesis of old-fashioned musical and screeching wildness set up camp at Masquerade Theatre, and there it spun a magical haze of hilarious hair-sprayed boys behaving like girls. Punny and irreverent, the songs about gay… More >>
  • Best Christmas Show

    David Mamet's Edmond, by Infernal Bridegroom Productions

    There is no worse time to go to the theater than that seven-week period so innocently referred to as the holiday season, a time in which playhouses all over town prove that they can be as money-grubbing as the next tawdry business. Just look at all the lame productions of A Christmas Carol that begin trickling over the musty boards… More >>
  • Best Out-of-Print Book by a Dead Local Columnist

    Sig Byrd's Houston, Sigman Byrd, The Viking Press, 1955

    Sig Byrd spent years as a columnist with the old daily Houston Press and later moved to the Houston Chronicle, but his columns, compiled and connected here, read today like nothing you'd expect to find in a newspaper, daily or otherwise. Downtown, when there was still a thing called Vinegar Hill there, and the Hispanic east side were his favorite… More >>
  • Best Nasty Puppets

    Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre

    Disturbing, funny and downright odd, Joel Orr's Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre is the best and, thankfully, only one of its kind in town. The creepy beings who come out to play at Orr's strange theatrical events are nothing less than your worst childhood nightmares come to full-color papier-mäché life. Talking devil heads, lost souls and killer shadow puppets appeared on the… More >>
  • Best Band to Leave Houston

    I-45

    Obvious jokes that come to mind when it is learned that, of all the dens of iniquity, Los Angeles is the new home of cannabis commanders and slip-hop merchants I-45: If L.A. suddenly is recrowned the smoggiest city in America, then Houston City Council knows where to send the cleanup bill (c/o Tripp Von Slipp, Tech Ron B. and DJ… More >>
  • Best Unsigned Band

    Los Skarnales

    It's just too damn bad major record labels haven't figured out a way to bottle live energy and the hundreds of bodies that figure into that force and package it. If they could, the work of ska giants Los Skarnales would be worth more than a Los Alamos hard drive. With catsuit-tight horn lines, which are always inventive and never… More >>
  • Best New Effort to Inject Culture into Houston

    Brazos Projects

    Last year Brazos Bookstore, the most civilized shop in town, gave birth to a nonprofit arm, Brazos Projects, which sponsors the kind of artistic and literary events that make thinking people swoon. So far it has brought to town Robert Pinsky, the U.S. poet laureate, and has shown furniture (furniture?!) by sculptor Donald Judd and architect Frank Gehry. This fall… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater That Will Never Show Gladiator

    Aurora Picture Show

    Sure, there are other places in town that show cool stuff, but it's hard to compete with a video kaleidoscope for a marquis, a converted church for a venue and a quirky Sandy Duncan look-alike running the place. But don't expect big reclining seats and a tub of $5 popcorn when you go. The Aurora Picture Show is not that… More >>
  • Best Impersonations on the Radio

    Lance Zierlien, KILT/610 AM

    With his partner, John Granado, Zierlien is co-host of The Bench, heard on KILT from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. each weekday. When it comes to a sports background, Zierlien was raised right. His dad was offensive line coach for years with Bill Yeoman at the University of Houston. But in addition to his insights, Zierlien is at his radio… More >>
  • Best Radio Sidekick

    Jay Mack, The Madd Hatta Show, KBXX/97.9 FM

    You gotta give some much-deserved credit to the man they call Jay Mack. How many brothas out there you know who are as suave as a Julio Iglesias song and can still not take themselves too seriously? There seems to be a shortage these days. Thankfully, the cat who co-commands the mike every weekday afternoon on the city's most widely… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Natalie Maisel

    Remember Brandon Teena, the 21-year-old female who was murdered because she tried to live her life as a man? This true-life cautionary tale about a young person's desperation to find herself was brought to passionate life last fall in Leigh Silverman's minimalistic stage play Brandon Teena at The Little Room Downstairs Theater. The one-woman show was caressed into glimmering life… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch a Belly Dancer

    Al Diwan

    The restaurant is dim and empty; you have arrived too early for a late dinner. A dark-skinned young man in a pressed white shirt shows you to a table far away from the stage. Halfway through your baba ghanoush or hummus appetizer, a stoic-faced band begins to play Middle Eastern music, although it's clear they are not playing for you.… More >>
  • Best Show You Can Chew Over

    The Great Caruso Dinner Theater

    Spero Criezis, producer of The Great Caruso, seems hell-bent on yanking the quaintly dated idea of dinner theater into the 21st century. And with his production of Ain't Misbehavin', the Fats Waller Musical Show, the man just might succeed. The tiny Caruso stage, built into a snooty strip center in far west Houston, looks like some sort of throwback to… More >>
  • Best Theater the Size of a Postage Stamp

    The Little Room Downstairs Theater

    The road has been rocky and hard, but now there are two spaces under The Little Room Downstairs Theater's modest little sign on Bissonnet. Still, neither of Richard Laub's theaters seats more than 60 people, and most of the time the stages have been reconfigured so as to allow no more than 55 people in the intimate audience. Elbow to… More >>
  • Best Dancing by the Side of the Road

    Drive By Dancing 2000

    Dancing and driving hardly seem compatible. But choreographer Leslie Scates, the woman who single-handedly engineered Drive By Dancing 2000, is clearly not the type to let a little workaday common sense supersede inspiration. The big idea came to her back in 1997, during one of those Houston-freeway-turned-parking-lot-hell moments. She tells it this way: "I was stuck in traffic at 59… More >>
  • Best Out-of-Print Book by a Living Local Columnist

    Houston: Land of the Big Rich, The Story of a Fabulous City, by George Fuermann

    After stumbling across this book on eBay, we tracked down the retired George Fuermann's phone number and called, hoping to hear some stories of his career, which spanned the better part of half a century, seven books, innumerable magazine articles and long-running columns in both major dailies. "Career?" Fuermann growled over the line. "I didn't have a career." We know… More >>
  • Best Local Song About Drivin'

    "Supercop," by the Road Kings

    Front man and local homeboy Jesse Dayton says on the band's Web site that this song is "based on a real-life altercation between the Texas Highway Patrol and a kid with a hot-rod Ford and a little too much to drink." But you gotta believe Dayton's crunchy-twangy guitar work and Jason Burns and Eric Tucker's kickin' rhythms weren't playing in… More >>
  • Best Guitarist Who Never Plays in Public

    Cherie Craze

    Cherie Craze is one of Houston's unrecognized wonders. Like lots of shy teenagers, the self-taught guitarist spent a good deal of her childhood hiding out in her room, wrapped around her guitar, teaching herself to play. What sets Craze apart from most pimply-faced, angst-ridden adolescents is the fire in her heart and the amazing talent in those ten little digits.… More >>
  • Best Club for Local Acts

    Cezanne

    Though being able to sit on a musician's lap as he plays does not necessarily a great live local-music venue make, fantastic sound and a hospitable atmosphere do (we're talking about a city that is not Los Angeles or New York and where local musicians need that friendly face to turn to for work). Cezanne is the place. Under the… More >>
  • Best Reading Series

    Margarett Root Brown Reading Series

    To know why the Margarett Root Brown Reading Series has persevered for 20 years, you need only look at some of the top-notch writers who have participated. Raymond Carver, Margaret Atwood, Donald Barthelme, Robert Pinsky, Galway Kinnel, Tobias Wolff and Jamaica Kincaid are just some of the names on the list. This season continues that same high standard, bringing in… More >>
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