1998 Houston Press Music Awards

Ballot-stuffers and shameless self-promoters take note. There's a reason why every Press rack in Montrose is empty: It's coming up on Sunday's ninth annual Houston Press Music Awards Showcase, the festival equivalent of an official "Hug Your Local Musician" Day. (And, who knows? After a few beers, you may want to do more than that.)

By now, you ought to know the drill: Fifty-five bands, five bucks, one night. Once again the performances will take place in clubs on and near Shepherd Plaza. Love or spurn the block's shallow, meat-market reputation, it's the closest thing we've got to Austin's Sixth Street. And come to think of it, indulging in the Press Music Awards is the closest you're likely to come to copping a South by Southwest buzz this side of the real deal (and for a lot less money). Thus, it seems only natural that Press and Plaza merge for the second year running. That means a hassle-free stumble between most venues. (We learned plenty from our rainy Richmond Avenue showcase debacle a few years back.)

A new and necessary addition to the 1998 ballot is the Best DJ/Dance category, included to reflect the blossoming turntable scene here in Houston. Keep in mind that those nominated this year -- DJ Bizz, DJ Sun, DJ Theory, Lord Vishnu and Sean Carnahan -- can all be seen at various clubs around town spinning to suit their own tastes as well as those of their not-always-so-captive audience, whether it's industrial, R&B, soul, hip-hop, electronica, acid jazz or whatever. Four of the five nominees are guesting at the showcase -- DJ Theory at Instant Karma, Sean Carnahan at the Rhino Room, DJ Sun at the Voodoo Lounge and DJ Bizz at the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor stage. So don't forget the guy behind the rig when casting your votes.

As usual, though, it wouldn't be the Music Awards without a surplus of the same old nominees, not to mention the requisite controversy. (Yeah, we know, Eddie Hawkins is no longer the drummer for Horseshoe, and Ceili's Muse is kaput; tell it to the nominating committee.) But yet another effort to include more younger faces on the committee helped to nudge some worthy new acts into the running. In fact, most participants in last year's Houston OpPressed showcase, an unaffiliated, rogue event for acts that didn't make the '97 ballot, were nominated in 1998. So we must be doing something right -- and so should you. Show up, vote and, please, keep your fists to yourself.(Hobart Rowland)



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