I don't remember any Houstonians on the Grammy stage this year, but when the recognition isn't coming from one direction, it comes from another. Nominees for the Blues Foundation-sponsored 15th annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards -- just the most prestigious honor in the blues world -- were announced a while back, and the list is filled with Houston names. Johnny Copeland, with nominations for Blues Entertainer of the Year, Blues Band of the Year, Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year and Contem-porary Blues Album of the Year (Flyin' High), ought to score big, and the late Albert Collins' four nominations, including Blues Instrumentalist/Guitar, will surely reflect the respect his legacy deserves. Bobby Blue Bland reined in five nominations, including Best Male Vocalist, Soul/Blues Artist of the Year, Soul/Blues Album (Years of Tears), Re-issue Album (I Pity the Fool) and Blues Song of the Year ("Years of Tears"). Not to be discounted are fiddler Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's nomination in the ignominiously titled Blues Instrumentalist/Other category and Trudy Lynn's nomination as Soul/Blues Female Artist of the Year. Lynn is up against the dauntingly honored Etta James, but I've been listening to Lynn's I'll Run Your Hurt Away (Ichiban Records) for three days straight now, and if we have to hammer out the statue ourselves, someone needs to give this woman's voice an award.
The Houston Blues Society also earned recognition with its nomination for a Keeping the Blues Alive award, handed out in Memphis the day after the Handys. Thirteen KBAs go out to people and organizations, from live venues to radio(and including blues societies), that have made significant contributions to the blues. The HBS, founded in February of '93, is now bulging at 450 members.
Stuff you should pay to see if you ever want a reason to quit bitching about your shitty music scene... Cincinnati's Afghan Whigs and Portland's Spinanes may be better known in most parts of the world, but not in Katy. Out there, where the kids are still hanging on to Jane's Addiction for dear life, Constant Buzz is the rage. The Buzz, the latest in what's starting to look like a mob of young bands busting out of Katy, sounds more like Crazy-killedmingus than burb-mates Dive -- all fat guitar buzz and hormonal drive, ankle-deep and light on virtuosity. The band's being pushed by a very aggressive pair of band parents who promise me that the kids are gonna be real big real soon, and if I and the rest of the city don't jump to attention, we're gonna be left behind. The band is already pulling a steady 400-plus draw of teenagers, and since they're the ones who buy rock and roll records, who's to say they're wrong? Consider yourselves warned. Constant Buzz opens for the Spinanes and Afghan Whigs at the Abyss Thursday, April 21.
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Friday evening, Global Village plays the FridayFest stage at Old Market Square downtown, opening for the Killer Bees in a free concert. Later on the 22nd, Sad Pygmy plays Rudyard's, and if you've only heard the tragicomic rant of their self-produced Tomato Halo on disk, well, you've got something in common with me. Don't know quite what to expect, but I expect I'll be finding out.
'Course, other Friday night options aren't so shabby, either. Happy Fingers Institute is scheduled at Harvey's, and the dreamsicle nightmare double bill of Keenlies and Willis will bend the floorboards at Epstein's. (I'm dead serious -- ask the bartender.) Keenlies screamer Brad Moore tells me that the Keenlies' block-party benefit a few weeks back didn't do much more than break even after the beer was paid for (the band is trying to finance a single), so slip the boys a five-spot after the set. Better make that a check. I'm not kidding about the Keenlies. If you've never seen God while five drunk spazzes yell "fish sticks swim in the bottom of the hole" into the mike, you're missing something. It's better not to miss things.
Also on Friday, David Rice, who's been too busy with production chores and band searches to play in town since September, re-takes the stage at Munchies.
Saturday, the criminally underrated vato-billy of the Flamin' Hellcats does Epstein's. Trish and Darin, with new drummer Jay Patino (formerly of Twenty Mondays and Inside Out), play the Satellite while openers Banana Blender Surprise hold a CD release for their goof-rock debut Send in the Crowns. (You can read a review of this just a few pages back.) Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds make another pit stop in the Montrose at Rudz. Houston's award-winning Taste of Garlic opens for Denton's Brutal Juice in a powerful double bill at the Abyss, and Blueprint's at Harvey's. Deth Kultur BBQ plays Harvey's on Monday.