Conference Kudos and Crud

Best Hollywood Cameo: Director/sometime guitarist Robert Rodriguez jamming like a man possessed with Tito and Tarantula at Waterloo Brewing Co.

Best Reason to Annex Canada: Vancouver-based PURE's potent showcase at Liberty Lunch.

Best Proof That Great Rock Can Thrive in Cold Climates: Libido's bracing Norwegian blast at the Atomic Cafe.

Best Place to Watch New Yorkers Desecrate the Two-Step: Hollisters showcase, Hang 'Em High Saloon.

Best Label Party Entertainment: David Rice at the Columbia Records Barbecue, Stubb's. (Sorry, Spacehog.)

Best Band Name: ... and you will know us by the trail of dead, from Austin, Texas.

Worst Band Name: Ashtray Babyhead from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Worst Letdown: A much-anticipated Fastball showcase at La Zona Rosa rendered unlistenable by horrendous sound.

Best Showcase: The phenomenal return of former Living Colour frontman Corey Glover at Babe's. Think Al Green fronting the Bad Brains.

Worst Showcase: At Steamboat, Absinthe's spectacular failure to deliver on their Live-meets-Bowie promise.

Best Vibe: After-hours at Waterloo Brewing with Betty Elders, Michael Fracasso and Jimmy LaFave.

Worst Panel: "Is Country Ready for a New Radio Format?" A four-star snoozer.

Best Reason to Believe that Alt-Country Has a Future: Denton's Slobberbone, Doolittle Records party.

Worst Reason to Believe That Alt-Country Has a Future: Philly's Buck Diaz at Hole in the Wall.

Best Hype as Truth: Canadians Bran Van 3000 at La Zona Rosa. Genuinely funky, postmodern dance-rock.

Worst Hype as Truth: Indiana's Old Pike at Steamboat. These guys signed for six figures?

Best Surprise Appearance: Beastie Boy Mike D's unannounced show-stealing turn as host at a Sean Lennon showcase.

Worst Surprise Appearance: Post-showcase at Steamboat, Austin's Breedlove were surprised by a process-server wielding subpoenas.

-- Jim Caligiuri, Andy Langer, Hobart Rowland and David Simutis


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