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.
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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