Miss Molly and Mattress Mac, Too

We hate to blow our own horn (well, actually, we don't hate any such thing, we just hate to admit that we don't mind blowing our own horn), but if we didn't think the 5th Annual Houston Press Music Awards was worth your time on a Monday night, we sure as hell wouldn't have put in the extra hours, sans overtime compensation, that it's taken to plan the damn thing.

You may remember last year's shindig, when well over 2,000 (we were too drunk to count) Houston scenesters converged on the Music Hall to show off their funny clothes, listen to some jim-dandy music and applaud more-or-less politely as the accomplishments of their peers were recognized with the sort of balls-to-the-wall blowout that's well-deserved but rarely seen in this town. Even nightlife chronicler Alvin Van Black, after being terribly rude on the phone, deigned to poke his pasty face in for a look-see.

Not everybody, of course, agreed with every last one of our readers' choices (what do you expect from a popularity contest?), but I think it was generally conceded that the exposure didn't hurt anyone, and the gala atmosphere, along with the unlikely and unprecedented proximity of representatives from every last far-flung corner of Houston's far-flung music "scene(s)" under a single roof -- was that really jazz balladeer Paul English trading fashion tips with the Bozo Porno Circus tribe in the ladies' room? -- made for grand people-watching.

So, taking our cue from last year, we tried to make the whole thing just a little bit weirder this time around. Houston stalwarts the Rounders play country rock from 7:30 to 7:50 p.m.; critics' darlings Keenlies play high-octane guitar rock from 8:15 to 8:30; The Dave Catney Trio performs emotional piano jazz from 8:45 to 9; Rap-a-Lot artists Odd Squad stick choice rhymes in your earhole from 9:15 to 9:30; stinging blues legend Joe "Guitar" Hughes justifies his international rep from 9:45 to 10; and capping it all off, Pasadena thrash heroes dead horse romp through a 45-minute headlining set. Along the way, readers' choice awards will be presented to your faves by special guest presenters, including keys whiz Ezra Charles; R&B diva Miss Molly; Latin jazz sensation Norma Zenteno; the Texas Music Office's Casey Monahan; sax legend Grady Gaines; City Controller George Greanias; irrepressible vocal stylist Pearl Murray; glamorous socialite Carolyn Farb; blues renegade Rocky Hill; and celebrity-about-town Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale, among others. As far as co-hosts go, you can count on KLOL/101 air personality Dayna Steele and -- provided I don't lose my voice from the extra cigarette consumption required by the organization of such a project -- yours truly. Please don't boo, I'm very sensitive to criticism.

The awards show runs from the Rounders' opening twang at 7:30 p.m. to dead horse's final blistering chord at 11, after which the entire shebang moves over to the Fabulous Satellite Lounge (3616 Washington) for a no-cover live-music after-party.

If you're a musician, etc., on the ballot, you've got free tickets for the asking. Just call KLOL at 630-3521, tell the nice man who you are, who you're sending to pick up your tickets, and they'll take care of you. If you're not on the ballot and just want to be there to witness the glorious spectacle of the whole thing, you can buy tickets at any Ticketmaster location, or over the phone at 629-3700, for the thoroughly reasonable price of $10 a pop, $12 at the door. Hell, you can bring the whole family. Join us, won't you?

-- Brad Tyer

Crit Picks
Soundgarden and The Rev. Horton Heat -- Soundgarden's latest, Superunknown, finally got Seattle's original grunge-meisters on the radio, not to mention the cover of Rolling Stone. Never mind that all the finally-made-it press comes on the heels of the most tepid product singer Chris Cornell and company have ever shaken their hair over. The point is, even if Superunknown does clock in at an opus-length 70-minutes-plus, the band's got to play some old stuff from back when they rocked. The Rev. Horton Heat, of which you may read more a few pages back, is the band most likely to steal the show. At the AstroArena, Thursday, July 21. 629-3700.

Helmet, The Rollins Band and Sausage -- Three bands and not a melody in the house. There's an argument to be made that high-volume disjunction and shifty metallic rhythms are not, in fact, unmusical -- just modern music for modern times -- and if that's your argument, make it here. Helmet's touring on the recent release of Betty, another generally likable and generally coherent, if not necessarily memorable, foray into crunch chords and minimalist rock. As for the Rollins Band, I'm convinced that Henry Rollins the man is a good and noble idea, but the Rollins Band's music is a plodding boredom-match for the worst products of the corporate culture Rollins rails so passionately against. Sausage is the latest brainchild of Primus bassist and visionary Les Claypool, and is, in fact, a pre-breakthrough line-up of Primus itself. Riddles Are Abound Tonight is the debut offering, and it's odd. Show up early, catch some zzzzz's in the middle slot, and bang your cleanly shorn head at the end. At the International Ballroom, Sunday, July 24. 629-3700.


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