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1998 Houston Press Music Awards Nominees

Aftershock
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock;
Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound: Metal, rap
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: After claiming victory last year in the Best Rap/Hip-Hop category, the Aftershock posse is back again, and this time they're upping the ante with an additional nomination in the Best Metal/Hard Rock category. What they've been doing in recent months is as much a mystery as how to handle their music. Best just to call it metal, call it hip-hop or settle for founding member Lee Leal's apt summation: "bad-ass songs."

Aftershock performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Iguana.

Allen Oldies Band
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: The name says it all
Time logged: More than a year

Etc.: It doesn't feel right talking about the Allen Oldies Band without addressing fellow Best Cover Band nominees the El Orbits. After all, they're kindred purveyors in the nostalgia game. Both acts include founding members of the long-running RC Cola support group, Banana Blender Surprise (Allen Hill and David Beebe), and each chooses from among the most vintage ingredients. If there is a key difference between the two outfits, it's in song selection: The El Orbits take a more subtle, Texas-centric approach to their set lists, while the Allen Oldies Band isn't as bound by regional sentiment. Most important, though, both groups aren't so much about the music as they are about a fulfilling leisure lifestyle -- of which Monday-night bingo at the Satellite Lounge is a crucial part.

The Allen Oldies Band performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Velvet E.

Bamboo Crisis
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Dark, moody, tweaker fare
Time logged: 11 years

Etc.: Flickers of success on the alternative dance charts haven't spoiled Bamboo Crisis in the eyes of its tight-knit local following. And although they aren't the most visible band in town, their vaguely European Goth/industrial slant is both club-savvy and intelligent. At once brooding and booming, Bamboo Crisis never loses sight of the bottom end -- rock bottom. You've been warned.

Bamboo Crisis performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Iguana.

Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds
Nomination: Best Underground
Sound: Classic rock and classic freaks
Time logged: 12 years

Etc.: If you haven't seen them yet, let's just say it's never too late to exercise those sensory-overload receptors. His on-stage aura somewhat akin to a white-trash Captain Beefheart -- or maybe Puff the Magic Dragon on crank -- Beans Barton must be experienced to be inhaled (or something to that effect). With an act that could be described as redneck etiquette meets art-school camp, Barton could only have continued his little brouhaha for 12 years in a place as freak-friendly as Houston. In less tolerant cities, he'd have been run out of town by now, rather than lionized (well, sort of). Inspired nonsense.

Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Bighorn Saloon.

The Basics
Sound: Latino roots rock
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: Within Houston's blossoming rock en Espanol scene, the Basics are members of the old guard. Seasoned by a decade's worth of experience on stages of every shape, size and locale, the Basics' Tequila-spiked cantina rock blazes without incinerating its historical reference points -- which range from Ritchie Valens and Santana to Los Lobos and Austin's True Believers.

The Basics perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's.

Blue October
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound: Music to accompany inner turmoil
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: Blue October certainly earns our vote for the moodiest band on the local music landscape. Then again, commuting between San Marcos and Houston week after week to rehearse and perform could leave anyone cranky and a bit out of sorts: Only one Blue October member -- its bass player -- actually lives in Houston full-time. Regardless, it's a trek the group's founders, Justin and Jeremy Furstenfeld (both Houston natives), have had to endure more and more frequently, especially now that Blue October's torridly literate art-house rock is going over so well with the Fitzgerald's crowd. Imagine that, a Fitz's favorite that isn't punk, ska or a combination of the two. Maybe the scene has taken a turn for the better.

Blue October performs at 4 p.m. Sunday on Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

Bozo Porno Circus
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Sadomasochistic soundtrack fodder
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Lords of Acid's over-the-top synthetic grind and perverse sexuality not enough for you? Sample the Houston version. Sponsored by a local fetish-wear store, Bozo Porno Circus is a supergroup of super-freaks who thrive on audience participation. Here's the twisted equation: Intense cacophony plus ghoulish coed band members scantily clad in leather and spikes equals one outrageous display. Use your imagination for the rest.

 

Bozo Porno Circus performs at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Iguana.

Texas Johnny Brown
Nomination: Best Blues
Sound: Blues guitar
Time logged: More than 50 years

Etc.: About all you need to know about this upbeat Houston blues veteran is in the name. Texas Johnny Brown and the Quality Blues Band is the perfect encapsulation of what this guitarist does best: homegrown blues with an emphasis on craftsmanship. Of course, there's also the enticing historical footnotes provided by his work with Bobby "Blue" Bland," Amos Milburn and Junior Parker. Here in the present, Brown recently released Nothin' But the Truth, the first solo album in an on-and-off career that spans five decades. You could say it's taken that long just to settle him down long enough to sit still in the studio.

Texas Johnny Brown performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's.

Ceili's Muse
Nomination: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound: Nouveau Celtic
Time logged: Eight years (now defunct)

Etc.: It seems sort of silly wasting space on a band that is no longer operable, even if Ceili's Muse was one of the finest Celt-flavored outfits around. No worries, though: Grieving fans can find ample solace in SixMileBridge, the latest project from ex-Musers Maggie Drennon and Anders Johansson.

Ezra Charles
Nomination: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound: Good-time rock and roll keys
Time logged: More than 30 years

Etc.: It's a shame Ezra made the ballot this year. We were really looking forward to this year's post-nomination wave of angry, paranoid correspondence from the piano man.

Ezra Charles performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Cent'Anni.

Chlorine
Nomination: Best New Act; Best Rock/Pop
Sound: Angsty melodic guitar rock
Time Logged: Two years

Etc.: Not really a new act, per se, Chlorine nonetheless has taken to the local live circuit with renewed vigor in recent months. Nothing novel here: Just grungy guitars, plenty o' low end and throaty vocals. But, somehow, all those run-of-the-mill ingredients combine for a sound that is as passionate as it is radio friendly. An anthemic marriage of finesse and power, Chlorine tries hard not to insult you while they rock you.

Chlorine performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Clandestine
Nomination: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound: Contemporary Celtic
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Begun back in 1991 as a traditional pipe band, Clandestine has evolved considerably over the years, currently billing itself (appropriately enough) as a Scottish folk-rock outfit. Their music is a high-energy mix of bagpipe, fiddle, guitar and percussion. E.J. Jones is well schooled and impressive on the Highland pipes, particularly during his frequent instrumental interplay with acclaimed fiddler Gregory McQueen. As for vocalist/songwriter Jennifer Hamel, previous comparisons to a young Joni Mitchell are not wholly without merit.

Liviya Compean
Nomination: Best Female Vocalist; Best Horn/Horn Section (Jesse Compean)
Sound: Riveting, confessional rock
Time logged: More than two years (together)

Etc.: Thumbing their noses at the generation gap, twentysomething Liviya Compean and her middle-aged pop, Jesse, are both after the same things: respect and the higher-paying gigs that come with it. The Compeans prove time and again that the right to rock is hardly the sole jurisdiction of youth. On the flipside, passion and commitment need never be limited by age, even if Liviya's on-stage displays of the former are still a wee bit -- shall we say -- unrefined.

Liviya Compean performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

David Craig
Nomination: Best Bassist
Sound: Jazz
Time logged: 12 years

Etc.: At home on both the electric and acoustic bass, David Craig is a versatile and active bassist. It's not all that unusual to find him playing avant-garde jazz one night and pop the next. One of Houston's most in-demand sidemen, Craig has performed with such jazz legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Byrd and Tal Farlow, and toured with James Moody and Herb Ellis. He's also appeared on no less than nine top-notch releases, including four by local jazz drumming standout Sebastian Whittaker.

Creole Junction
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound: Funked-up zydeco
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Though they've been active since 1995, Creole Junction relocated to Houston from the little town of Palmetto, Louisiana, just last year. The move was out of convenience more than anything, as the band -- led by brothers Gregg, Stan and Javon Chambers -- was finding more work here than in its home state. As evidenced from its two CDs on Louisiana imprint Maison De Sol, Creole Junction's zydeco takes the soul train, with white-hot '70s funk fused to its hitches. The Junction's regular gigs at Jax Grill in the Heights are as good a place as any to come along for the ride.

Mary Cutrufello
Nomination: Local Musician of the Year
Sound: Roadhouse rock
Time logged: Six years

 

Etc.: Mary Cutrufello's brand-new multi-album deal with Mercury Records makes her Houston's first Great White Hope in quite some time. Only problem is, she's black. She's also a woman, for what it's worth, and about as well-grounded and strong-willed as Texans get -- even if she is a Connecticut transplant. And now that she's adjusted her sound to reflect the everyman blue-collar punch of early Bruce Springsteen more than the honky-tonk shuffle of Hank Williams, stardom seems inevitable. Catch her up-close while you can.

Mary Cutrufello performs at 9 p.m. at Q After 2.

Jesse Dayton
Nomination: Best C&W; Best Male Vocalist; Songwriter(s) of the Year
Sound: Country through and through
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: He's been spending a lot of time out of town lately, and it's hard to say when his oft-postponed sophomore CD might make it into stores. Yet Houston's commitment to seeing Jesse Dayton succeed hasn't let up since the charmed crooner's glory days fronting the rowdy honkabilly trio the Road Kings. And gauging by Dayton's latest pure country material -- far superior to anything on his disappointing Raisin' Cain debut -- our patience may be rewarded one of these days ... or years.

Jesse Dayton performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Bighorn Saloon.

Destiny's Child
Nomination: Best Funk/R&B
Sound: Pop-friendly R&B
Time logged: Eight years

Etc.: There are two ways to view Destiny's Child: Look at them as the nubile female quartet who put Houston R&B on the map; or look at them as the four unbearably focused teens responsible for that interminable "No No No" single. While the Child's popularity is verging on overkill, LeToya, Beyonce, LaTavia and Kelly (she's probably the weird one) are lapping up the carefully laid-out success that is virtually ensured with production from the likes of Wyclef Jean, Jermaine Dupri and Master P. Let's hope another single comes soon, before the one-hit-wonder train makes its next stop.

DethKultur BBQ
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Harsh-grooving industrial
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Heaviness is the rule here. From its rumbling, growling guitars, deep bass, raw dance grooves and sampling, to its distortion-laden vocals, Dethkultur BBQ spreads it on thick. A little disturbed, perhaps, but not so much so as to lack humor -- or the ability to lock into a pummeling groove.

DethKultur BBQ performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Iguana.

D.R.U.M.
Nomination: Best Reggae/World Music
Sound: Universal rock and reggae
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: Wanna make the jaws of the members of D.R.U.M. (Divine Rhythm, United Motion) real tight? Call them "world beat," a tag they've been combating for almost a decade. In that time, the reggae-influenced quintet has established themselves as something decidedly more universal, translated via a plethora of percussion. The human heartbeat has never sounded so, well, superhuman.

D.R.U.M. performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at Q After 2.

Paul English
Nomination: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound: All genres
Time logged: More than 20 years

Etc.: A multi-talented pianist, composer and arranger, Paul English has delved into almost every musical genre in some way or another. Moreover, he's written for symphonies and chamber orchestras, feature films and commercials. On top of all that, he is one of the city's most respected jazz players, whose credits include work with Dizzy Gillespie, Arnett Cobb and Kirk Whalum. His own own high-energy jazz quartet is also a hoot.

Example
Nomination: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound: Out-of-the-ordinary, South-style rap
Time logged: More than two years

Etc.: On paper, Example seems like something out of the TV series Spawn. By day, Otha Baker and Kevin Jackson are regular 9-to-5 joes; by night, they're Cipher and Dekay, restorers of all that is pure and decent in hip-hop. Okay, maybe it really isn't that dramatic. Still, ever since Example's debut EP (Impulses) and live performance (both happened on the same day), the duo has been making a mark on Houston's cutthroat rap scene with its highly efficient sampling and evocative wordplay. They'll parlay that super-sized promise into a full-length CD set for release early next year.

Example performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Voodoo Lounge.

Fondue Monks
Nomination: Best Funk/R&B; Best Bassist (Rozz Zamorano)
Sound: Groovy, pseudo-mystic retro rock
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Much like an especially vivid acid flashback, classic rock and busy chops collide when Fondue Monks take the stage. And if their well-schooled technique fails to impress, their relentless hippie-funk rhythms and penchant for Doors-like imagery ought to leave you with a pronounced quasi-psychedelic aftertaste.

Denice Franke
Nomination: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound: Personal reflection set to rich vocals
Time logged: Nine years (in Houston)

Etc.: A former backup singer for Nanci Griffith and a Hill Country draw in her own right, Denice Franke came to Houston in 1989 a burned-out folk artist with designs on rethinking her life. Taking a job as a bartender, she eased back into performing at a slow, low-key pace -- hence the title of her excellent new CD, You Don't Know Me. But, apparently, a few folks around here do.

 

Free Radicals
Nomination: Best Funk/R&B; Best Jazz; Best Underground; Musician of the Year (Nick Cooper)

Sound: Eclectic and all-inclusive
Time logged: More than two years
Etc.: The brainchild of staunch experimentalist and relatively recent jazz initiate Nick Cooper, Free Radicals began as a really cool concept and morphed into an even cooler band. Equally indebted to delving into the past and building a future, Free Radicals has its origins in bands such as Necessary Tension and Sprawl, yet the end result sounds like neither of them, even when it harks back to the heady fusion of both. Anything goes, so long as it's got a beat. The rest, children, is up to you.

Free Radicals perform at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Voodoo Lounge.

Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters
Nomination: Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound: Pure R&B
Time logged: More than 40 years

Etc.: One of this city's most enduring bands, Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters is also one of its most historic. The band's horn section backed Little Richard when he recorded "Long Tall Sally"; they recorded "Twisting the Night Away" with Sam Cooke. And although they've toured the globe extensively, Gaines and the Upsetters have called Houston home for more than two decades. Now that's loyalty for ya.

Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's.

Gone Blind
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound: Aggravated alt-rock
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: The lead singer is black, the rest of the band isn't, and if you can't accept that, say the members of Gone Blind, something is seriously wrong with you. But, really, it's not so difficult to do. Continuing in the racially unified rock tradition of Thin Lizzy, Hootie and the Blowfish and the like, Gone Blind has steadily become one of Houston's more popular bands -- weighty issues and all.

Gone Blind performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Iguana.

Good Luck Band
Nomination: Best C&W
Sound: Classic country
Time logged: Eight years

Etc.: Slaves to C&W's roots, the members of the Good Luck Band manage to satisfy both purists and young-country fans with their easygoing attitude, faithful renditions of the classics and sterling two- and three-part harmonies. Covering such legends as Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe, the band pays tribute to the biggies while adding a distinctly contemporary spin on the past. They've even been known to throw in a few spirited originals on occasion.

The Gypsies
Nomination: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound: Everything folk
Time logged: More than 24 years

Etc.: A European-style strolling and ethnic dance band founded by Greg Harbar and his wife, Mary Ann, the Gypsies are polyglot practitioners, playing everything from swing and Cajun music to country and klezmer ditties. Billed as the right band for any occasion (they've played Gypsy slavas, weddings, bar mitzvahs, Oktoberfests, crawfish boils), their multi-ethnic repertoire incorporates an astounding array of instruments. Depending on the gig, expect to hear bouzouki, mandolin, horns, guitars, banjos, accordion and more. Roots music doesn't get any more all-inclusive.

Bob Henschen
Nomination: Best Jazz
Sound: Jazz piano
Time logged: 28 years

Etc.: Bob Henschen has been a visible presence around town for 20 years, thanks to his jazz trio work and his duet gigs with vocalist Horace Grigsby (he romances the ivories on the singer's 1997 CD, At Last). An unflappable professional capable of handling an assortment of styles, Henschen's toured with the Buddy Rich Big Band, and he once headed up a freeform jazz collective called the Houston Free Music Orchestra. He even led a commercial dance band for a spell. Today, he's a regular headliner at Cezanne (where he serves as musical director) and Ovations.

The Hollisters
Nomination: Best C&W; Best Male Vocalist (Mike Barfield); Best Bassist (Denny Dale); Album of the Year (The Land of Rhythm and Pleasure)

Sound: Honky-tonk substance
Time logged: Three years
Etc.: A recent Hollisters gig at the Ale House demonstrated how popular this band has become: By 11 p.m. you couldn't breathe, let alone jimmy your way to the bar or restroom. What a year: an excellent label debut, sellout crowds at the Satellite (arguably one of the town's toughest rooms to fill), even a (semi)national tour. It wasn't always that way, and the Hollisters aren't about to forget what it took to get there -- meaning they'll be playing the Ale House again soon, floorboards and fire codes be damned.

 

Hometown Boys
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: New-jack conjunto
Time logged: Eight years

Etc.: The Homies, as they're affectionately known, might be described as salsa-fied Staples Singers. Featuring members of the Martinez family (two brothers and dad) and a close friend in its lineup, the band won the Tejano Music Award last year for Instrumental of the Year and has more than ten releases to its credit. Boasting the sharp accordion skills of Boni Mauricio, the Hometown Boys have highly danceable Spanish-language tunes that polish traditional conjunto to an infectious sheen.

Hometown Boys perform at 8 p.m. at Q After 2.

Milton Hopkins
Nomination: Best Blues
Sound: Legendary fret fave
Time logged: 49 years

Etc.: Sure, he's played with B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke, and is kin to the Texas blues god Lightning Hopkins, but this Milton has never needed a famous name to prove his worth. This class act and Houston native has enough talent of his own, thank you very much. Often seen scorching the stage at Billy Blues, he's one of the few genuine articles left in the genre. Hopkins's guitar doesn't gently weep, it cries buckets. Probably has something to do with a woman....

Horseshoe
Nomination: Best C&W; Best Male Vocalist (Greg Wood); Best Guitarist (Scott Daniels); Best Drummer (Eddie Hawkins)

Sound: Wide-open
Time logged: Three years
Etc.: Just weeks after its impressive showing at last year's Music Awards, Horseshoe came to a sudden halt, clothes-lined when its drummer, producer and prime motivator Eddie Hawkins traded the rock and roll lifestyle and Horseshoe's boundless creative aesthetic for a steady day job and more quality time with his family. But after a few months spent reeling, our hearty hallucino-billy Horsemen are back at a steady gallop with a more powerful presence behind the set in Michael Fischer, not to mention a full plate of live gigs staring them in the face. Shucks, it's like they never left.

Horseshoe performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Q After 2.

Joe "Guitar" Hughes
Nomination: Best Blues
Sound: Pure blues
Time logged: 44 years

Etc.: Joe Hughes may have slipped past the nominating committee's radar in the Best Guitarist category this year, but that hardly means he's slipping professionally. Still Houston's most vital Texas blues fixture, the veteran Third Ward guitarist can still be found tearing into his Fender on local stages all over the city.

Joe "Guitar" Hughes performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Velvet E.

I End Result
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock; Best Guitarist (Arnett Vaughn)
Sound: Molten grooves
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: This is the second year in a row I End Result and its reluctant first-in-command have been nominated in both of the above categories, and frankly, few bands in Houston are more deserving of the honors. Even if this hot-wired, rhythm-metal outfit hasn't yet delivered its full-length release as promised, rest assured Arnett Vaughn has been working toward that goal in his own roundabout way. Meanwhile, his bid for local guitar-god status has only become more compelling.

I End Result performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

I-45
Nomination: Best Rap/ Hip-Hop, Local Musician of the Year (Tony Avitia), Song of the Year ("The Bike Song"), Album of the Year (The Regal Beagle)

Sound: Slip-hop
Time logged: Two years
Etc.: These kooky bag-boys-turned-hip-hop-hedonists have had themselves one honey of a year. Despite the absence of their lawfully detained spin master, Jason Mienelt (DJ Rudy Martinez 2000), Tony Avitia (Tech. Ron B.) and Billy Kinnamon (Tripp Von Slipp) have flourished both live and in the studio. Out on Avitia's own Broken Note label, the group's debut CD, The Regal Beagle, includes the instant cult classic "The Bike Song," with the most irreverent chorus of the year: "Bitch I got a bike / So don't ask me for a ride." The rap equivalent of pulling an extended wheelie on a tricycle.

I-45 performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Voodoo Lounge.

Irie Time
Nomination: Best Reggae/World Music
Sound: Giddy vibrations
Time logged: Seven years

Etc. Irie Time's premise is simple: Enjoy. No major soliloquies or self-important statements buffet their slick-and-easy island sound. Nope, they're about as apolitical as reggae gets, which explains why they're such a popular warm-weather distraction around town. After all, weighty issues can really drag a party down.

Irie Time performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Velvet E.

Kymistry
Nomination: Best Funk/R & B
Sound: Soul, pop, hip-hop
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Chances are, no group has suffered more than Kymistry has over the last year, enduring the loss of drummer, keyboardist and band co-founder Barbara Williams in a tragic shooting near her home. Yet the band has continued on, even performing at Mayor Lee Brown's inaugural ball, with percussionist Marcie Chapa and drummer Eric Porter filling the considerable void left by Williams's passing. They're currently working on an album due out early next year.

 

Kymistry performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Voodoo Lounge.

Liberation
Nomination: Best Reggae/World Music
Sound: Eighties-style roots reggae
Time logged: More than two years

Etc.: Liberation is a philosophically progressive reggae outfit with members from such exotic locales as Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and the Virgin Islands. So what are they doing in Houston? It might have something to do with the fact that they actually like it here. They also plucked a key member, keyboardist/vocalist Jacquelyn "J'Lall" Lall, from this town and were inspired enough by the Houston scene to start their own record company. So there. A live staple at clubs like Jamaica Jamaica and Club Karibana, Liberation has performed all over Texas, and as far away as New York.

Lil' KeKe
Nomination: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound: Hard-but-humble party rap
Time logged: More than a year

Etc.: Last fall, the jeeps, hoopties and various souped-up rides cruised the city's urban (read: ghetto) asphalt to the bass-heavy beats of Lil' KeKe's "Southside," from his debut CD, Don't Mess Wit' Texas. "Southside, Southside / Yeah, Southside, Southside," the lyric goes, and as simple as that sounds, it left fans' heads and shoulders bobbing -- and thirsty for the next installment from the Lil' one (a.k.a. Marcus Lakee Edwards). If all goes as planned, that should be an album with his crew, the Herschelwood Hardheads.

Joe Locascio
Nomination: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound: Jazz ivories
Time logged: 12 years

Etc.: There aren't many jazz musicians in Houston with a resume as bulky as Joe Locascio's. He's recorded ten albums, played with such jazz luminaries as Freddie Hubbard, Mel Lewis, Pharaoh Sanders and George Coleman, and received well-deserved critical acclaim on a national level. A potently lyrical pianist, Locascio has matured considerably since his more contemporary late-'80s output. Today, he's a more introspective player, with impeccable technique, who can render rock-solid interpretations of the standards.

Mark May and the Agitators
Nomination: Best Blues; Best Bassist (Dan Cooper); Album of the Year (Telephone Road)

Sound: Electric
Time logged: 16 years
Etc.: Telephone Road, Mark May's second CD for the Memphis-based Icehouse label, sealed the artist's electric-blues-hero rep here in Houston. But what some folks may not know is that May is a workhorse, playing venues all over the city and elsewhere for the sheer love of it. As a result, over the last year, May and his Agitators have cut a much larger profile. All the better for us.

Mark May and the Agitators perform at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Bighorn Saloon.

Kimberly M'Carver
Nomination: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound: Intimate roots
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: She's said to have the sweetest voice this side of Emmylou Harris, which might explain Kimberly M'Carver's fast start in the business. She'd performed in public for just two years before releasing the critically acclaimed Breathe the Moonlight on Rounder Records. Her second release, 1994's Inherited Road, garnered national Americana airplay, and her fans include the Grammy-winning Kendalls, who recently recorded her tune "Serious Doubt." Currently working on her third release, M'Carver is heading overseas for a European tour-- after her Music Awards showcase, that is.

Kimberly M'Carver performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at Cent'Anni.

Middlefinger
Nomination: Best New Act; Best Underground; Album of the Year (Quickie)
Sound: Chunky, punky ska
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: With live shows so brutal that frenzied frontman Matt Kelly has sustained injuries that required minor surgery, Middlefinger is the hot ticket around town -- and not just in ska/punk circles. While these Conroe out-lyers conduct themselves admirably on their debut CD, Quickie (each of the band's two excellent guitarists could carry the band on his own), they're at their best on-stage, flailing themselves dizzy.

Middlefinger performs at 8 p.m. Sunday on the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

Moses Guest
Nomination: Best Rock/Pop; Best Pianist/ Keyboardist (Rick Thompson)
Sound: Crack, jammy groove rock
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Since its members shook up their lineup and loosened up their sound for the fine CD American Trailer Home Blues, Moses Guest has parted the waters for a new sea of enthusiasts, with a sound that goes over equally well at festivals and nightclubs. Keyboardist Rick Thompson adds a superbly swirling sound to the band's Little Feat-cum-Alice in Chains mix, complementing Guest's guitar and effective (if somewhat limited) vocals.

Moses Guest performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Velvet E.

Naked/Switzer Duo
Nomination: Best Jazz
Sound: Kitchen-sink improv
Time logged: Three years

 

Etc.: The Naked/Switzer Duo is a slightly more formal offshoot of the Hawthorne Improv Collective, which is really just a fancy name for a bunch of fun-minded jazzers getting together regularly to jam -- most of the sessions take place in a big old house on Hawthorne, in Montrose. The Naked half is Charlie Naked, otherwise of the equally out-there Linus Pauling Quartet; the Switzer half is Mike Switzer, who also plays with Slight Surface Noise. The sound of the two butting heads (with Naked on trombone, harmonica, percussion and vocals, and Switzer on sax and percussion) has been likened to John Cage fronting an oompah band.

Number Nine
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Metallic guitar meets metronomic beats
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: Just grating enough for industrially trained ears (dive-bombing guitars, Nine-Inch-Nail-gun drum-machine barrages), yet just melodic enough to be somewhat accessible (thanks, in part, to Cody Morris's creepily tuneful voice), Number Nine is twisted, all right. But don't be afraid, they're not especially fearsome -- just gloomy. And how about that multimedia stage show?

El Orbits
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Lounge music for bingo parlors
Time logged: More than a year
Etc.: See "Allen Oldies Band."
El Orbits perform at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

Los Palominos
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: La Mafia with superior harmonies
Time logged: More than seven years

Etc.: Proteges of the Grammy-winning Tejano superstars La Mafia, the Palominos appear to be well on the way to duplicating the phenomenal success of their mentors. Of course, it always helps to have multi-platinum associations.

J. Paul Jr. and the
Zydeco Newbreeds
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound: Spirited squeezebox
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: J. Paul Jr. found his calling when he switched from drums (he played with Step Rideau) to accordion. These days, he works for himself. Like his musical and spiritual guide Clifton Chenier, J. Paul is a writer as well as a gifted musician. And while J. Paul may be a native of Conroe, on-stage he and his Zydeco Newbreeds sound like they were raised in Shreveport, righteously stomping and swinging their way through a mix of originals and crawfish-circuit classics.

Poor Dumb Bastards
Nomination: Best Drummer (Glenn Harper)
Sound: Skins en absentia
Time logged: 17 years

Etc.: Now that he's abandoned his liquor-dispensing post at Rudyard's, Glenn Harper can no longer claim Houston's "grumpiest bartender" honors. What's more, he hasn't been with Poor Dumb Bastards for months -- and frankly, we miss the guy. But hey, don't let Glenbo's absence stop you from checking out PDB.

Poor Dumb Bastards perform at 5 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Richard Ramirez
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Manufactured malady
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: There's no telling what refried sonic version of hell Richard Ramirez is cooking up for his listeners these days. And isn't that just like a militant, essentially unreachable underground force, to keep his public guessing? As to who that public is, your guess is as good as ours. Apparently, though, they're out there.

Rat Ranch
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Immaculately executed carbon copies
Time logged: 11 years

Etc.: For Rat Ranch, imitation is serious business. And with a new-and-old repertoire that includes interpretations of complex epics by the likes of Rush and Kansas, it's no wonder the group has kept its cover-boat afloat for more than a decade. After all, nothing beats a note-perfect rendition of "The Spirit of Radio." Does it?

Step Rideau
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound: Straight-up zydeco
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Along with his band, the Zydeco Outlaws, accordion ace Stephen "Step" Rideau has been a colorful and anticipated live presence at nightclubs, festivals and the like throughout the region. It's hard to argue that zydeco is not the best party music on the planet, and Rideau parties with the best of them, bringing his distinctive high-energy style to perennial favorites as well as more obscure -- though equally danceable -- chestnuts.

riverfenix
Nomination: Best New Act; Song of the Year ("All My Fault")
Sound: Laugh-along punk
Time logged: One year

Etc.: The melodic vocals, uptempo punk predictability and ruthless sense of humor of riverfenix have been wowing Houston's kiddie-core set for months now. The band has also been known to dip a collective toe into ska's skanky waters, which should seal its local credibility for some time to come. Fun, frivolous and virtually unflappable (just look at their name, for chrissakes), they get away with wearing their egos on their sleeves. Then, before you know it, they flip you the bird.

Riverfenix performs at 5 p.m. Sunday on the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

 

Rotten Piece
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Mix-and-match chaos
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: The ongoing pathological outlet of sound-sample surgeons Carol and C-Dog, Rotten Piece keeps on festering away in disturbing fits and spurts -- subject, as it is, to the curious whims of its creators. In other words, it's a hobby of sorts, though one would hesitate to equate the group's gnarled audio mutations with, say, stamp collecting. Unless, that is, stamps have some unheard-of ability to make the ears ring and the senses bristle.

Shake Russell
Nomination: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound: Singer/songwriter fare
Time logged: 28 years

Etc.: Winner of four BMI awards, singer/ songwriter Shake Russell has seen his songs recorded by the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Clint Black and Waylon Jennings. As a performer, he's been a Houston mainstay for more than 22 years and is probably best known for his 14-year partnership with Jack Saunders. Since the pairing with Saunders ended, Russell has been quite active, recording CDs with the Clint Black Band and Dana Cooper, both scheduled for release in the coming months.

Rusted Shut
Nomination: Best Underground
Sound: Anti-rock
Time Logged: 11 years

Etc.: It took Rusted Shut nine years to release an album, and it's taking them even longer, it seems, to earn the respect of anyone but the most diehard inner-Loop in-sters. Ah well, so much for art as commerce. Rusted Shut's brand of noisy, landfill ephemera is pockmarked with the obligatory distortion and delay effects, not to mention an open-ended approach to songwriting. Though the band polarizes listener opinion faster than Phish, it's hardly ever boring.

Abel Salazar
Nomination: Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Sound: Eclectic keys and covers
Time logged: 25 years

Etc.: A talented pianist and adept interpreter of the songs of others, Abel Salazar has additional talents, as well. He plays saxophone, bass and flute, and he writes his own material with lyricist/poet Kay Moon Winters. A multipurpose veteran of the Houston scene, Salazar has toured internationally, and chances are good that you've seen him jamming around town with his band, Infinity, or wowing the jacket-and-tie crowd as a solo performer in some swank nightspot.

Jack Saunders
Nomination: Best Folk/Acoustic; Best Male Vocalist; Best Guitarist
Sound: Folk/roots rock/other
Time logged: 22 years

Etc.: It's no secret that Jack Saunders has been around the block a few times in Houston. Having arrived in 1976, he's been a member of any number of local bands, and his 14-year partnership with fellow singer/songwriter Shake Russell produced eight albums. In recent years, Saunders has been branching out as a sideman, solo performer and bandleader. These days, you're as likely to hear him dabbling in rock and Cajun as you are folk.

Jack Saunders performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at Cent'Anni.

Scarface
Nomination: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound: Hard-guy gangsta rap
Time logged: Seven years (solo)

Etc.: Even the most sacrosanct figures in rap need a little help from their friends every now and then, which explains Brad "Scarface" Jordan's decision to follow last year's successful solo outing, The Untouchable, with My Homies, a roughneck rap community love-in that showcases Houston's latest crop of rap talent while featuring bag-name guest shots from Ice Cube, Master P and the late Tupac Shakur (in yet another creepy, posthumous performance). And while My Homies didn't score as decisively on the charts as his last album did, it demonstrated the godfather's ruthless dominion over Gulf Coast hip-hop -- and beyond.

Guy Schwartz
Nomination: Best Songwriter(s)
Sound: Blues, rock, etc.
Time logged: More than 30 years

Etc.: Guy Schwartz is more than happy to be known as a middle-aged Woodstock type; in fact, one of his recent projects (co-piloted by Sisters Morales bassist Roger Tuaz) was dubbed New Jack Hippies. Fact is, Schwartz has been an uncontested guitar-wielding presence on the Houston scene for decades, lending his fluid licks to a variety of projects -- most recently Sonny James, with whom he's just parted ways. Granted, Schwartz's profile in town isn't what it used to be. But given the mountain of songs he's written over the years, you could say this Best Songwriter nomination is belated payment for a long-overdue I.O.U.

Secret Sunday
Nomination: Best Rock/Pop; Song of the Year ("Last Disco Junkie")
Sound: Guitar-soaked, keyboard-rinsed alt-rock
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Courtship be damned. The guys from Secret Sunday are out to steal our daughters, girlfriends and wives right out from under our noses. Brazenly Brit-pop macho in its approach -- with melodies, wishy-washy keyboards and lush, layered guitars steeped in the Johnny Marr/Noel Gallagher tradition -- the band also has an interesting sense of humor, as the oh-so-cheesy bridge on "Last Disco Junkie" attests.

Secret Sunday performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Bighorn Saloon.

 

Harry Sheppard
Nomination: Best Jazz
Sound: First-class vibes
Time logged: 52 years

Etc.: A seasoned vibraphonist whose long list of credits includes stints with Billie Holiday and Benny Goodman, Harry Sheppard is now safely retrenched in tradition after dabbling in jazz fusion for a spell. As comfortable performing solo as he is in duos and trios, Sheppard never needs much of an excuse to play, and his well-honed enthusiasm is a hoot in any capacity. Pick a night, and he's apt to be on-stage somewhere around town.

Harry Sheppard performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at Cent'Anni.

Sisters Morales
Nomination: Best C&W; Songwriter(s) of the Year; Best Guitarist (David Spencer); Best Female Vocalist (Lisa Morales)

Sound: Country, rock, pop
Time logged: Nine years
Etc.: Well, the album many thought they'd never hear is finally out there for the taking, even if it isn't the triumphant major-label debut many -- including the band -- had hoped it would be. It's called Ain't No Perfect Diamond, and rest assured it ain't perfect. But all the songs are there, the same ones Sisters Morales fans have been singing along to since who knows when. Hearing them live, though, you get the overwhelming impression that there's even better days to come for Lisa and Roberta -- just as soon as the music industry types come to their senses.

Sisters Morales perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at Q After 2.

SixMileBridge
Nomination: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound: Celtic rock ephemera
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Bolstered by innovative arrangements, strong execution and the ethereal soprano of Maggie Drennon, SixMileBridge is winning an increasing number of converts in Houston and beyond. Led by former members of the well-liked -- and now defunct -- Ceili's Muse, the quartet blends rock and country influences with traditional Scottish and Irish music for a well-seasoned and substantial Celt-rock stew.

Los Skarnales
Nomination: Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound: Latinized ska-punk
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: It's tough not to be flattened by Los Skarnales' virile, ska-punk steamroller even if you can't understand the lyrics, which are sung (more often yelled) largely in Spanish. Easily one of the city's fittest and most unique live acts, the Skarnales released a raucous, hypertensive full-length CD, Vatos Rudos, back in 1997. And while they were shut out of the Best Tejano/Latin slot this year, at least their plucky sax-and-trumpet duo is getting some well-deserved recognition in '98.

Los Skarnales perform at 7 p.m. Sunday on the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

Sonnier Brothers Band
Nomination: Best Rock/Pop
Sound: The Beatles do "Crossfire"
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: If the four-part harmonies and multilayered blues-rock licks don't pull you in, then the individual performances ought to. After all, everyone in the Sonnier Brothers Band can play -- not just passably but exceptionally. Even better, four of the five can sing, and at least as many can write. That they've survived three years with only a single personnel change has less to do with a lack of ego than a surplus of common sense. Because though Dane and Len Sonnier and the rest of the guys could do just fine on their own or with other outfits, they know the sound of a great democracy when they hear it. Apparently so does Atlantic Records, which is negotiating a development deal for the group.

The Sonnier Brothers Band performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at the Velvet E.

Walter Suhr and Mango Punch!
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: Latin pop
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: It's easy to locate the pop on Walter Suhr's latest CD, Pop/Rock -- the super-slick Mango Punch! oeuvre revels in the form -- but the "rock" is a little tougher to find. Granted, heavy sequencing and electric guitars aren't the norm in your typical salsa band. But despite the rock trimmings, Suhr will always be more sentimental softy than hard-guy rebel.

Walter Suhr and Mango Punch! perform at
7 p.m. Sunday at the Voodoo Lounge.

The Suspects
Nomination: Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound: True ska
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Maybe the Suspects' meager Music Awards showing this year would have been a whole lot different if the band had fresh product to wave around. But they don't, and it shouldn't matter, really, because local ska's most orthodox zealots have always been more fun in the flesh anyhow. Perhaps a live album...?

Swing Kings
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Standards
Time logged: Less than a year

Etc.: Formed in late '97, the Swing Kings have fast found their niche in the potentially lucrative "supper club" format. Though they call themselves the Swing Kings, they don't have a horn section, relying on a lineup of voice, mandolin, guitar, steel guitar, bass and drums. While their set list relies mostly on songs from the '30s and '40s, the Kings also have an impressive stash of originals, which owe much to the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

 

Li'l Brian Terry
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound of choice:
Time logged: 12 years

Etc.: Thanks to his Rounder Records CD, Z-Funk, Li'l Brian Terry is now synonymous with Gulf Coast zydeco's evolutionary potential. His is a funky, wholly original game plan for a tradition-bound genre's continued vitality well into the next millennium, sprinkling hip-hip, funk and reggae into the mix while keeping the crucial accordion foundation sound. Time to party like it's 1999.

30footFALL
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock; Best Drummer (Damon DeLaPaz)
Sound: Drag-strip hard-core
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Year after year, it's the same old, same old: spine-crushing power chords, dumb-ass lyrics, hyper-spasmodic time signatures, all delivered in the short, fast and not-so-sweet tradition of West Coast thrasher-punk and its tinny metal undertones. Of course, that's just swell with 30footFALL's ever-revolving -- and some might say, never-evolving -- army of young fans. A band to grow on.

30footFALL performs at 6 p.m. Sunday on the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

TKoh!
Nomination: Best Horn/Horn Section; Best Funk/R&B
Sound: Soul-tainted funk and jazz
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Though TKoh! boasts an impressive roster of journeyman players, it's more jam session than supergroup. The seven-horn lineup -- backed by a searing rhythm section -- blasts an eclectic melange of funk, jazz and soul classics that draws on the catalogs of everyone from James Brown to Stevie Wonder to Steely Dan. While its members continue to play assorted gigs with other artists on a regular basis, TKoh! has achieved a solid reputation all its own -- just for the fun of it.

TKoh! performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Toy Subs
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Covers with personality
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Once again, Toy Subs has been nominated in the Best Cover Band category, and once again, you can be damn sure members would rather be on the ballot in another capacity -- i.e. Best Rock/Pop band. But the fact is, Toy Subs is better at playing other people's songs than writing its own. And until Toy Subs proves otherwise, expect a similar outcome in '99.

Train in Vain
Nomination: Best Rock/Pop
Sound: Pop disguised as something heavier
Time logged: More than five years

Etc.: Okay, so they're really from Beaumont, and they've been around far longer than even they care to acknowledge. But Train in Vain's trailer-park angst is real enough, its punk-pop hooks clever enough, to land the band more Houston gigs in a month than it's had in a year at home. And that, of course, is why they spend so much time hanging around here. Houston ought to claim this bunch as its own soon, lest they're signed, and Beaumont is besieged with major-label talent scouts. Don't think it couldn't happen; they're that good.

Train in Vain performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

Truth Decay
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock; Local Musician of the Year (Scott Ayers)
Sound of Choice: Rock opera for the hard of hearing
Time Logged: Eight years

Etc.: Sewn together from the remnants of Houston anti-legends the Pain Teens and Culturcide, Truth Decay is perhaps the most accessible group any of its members have ever been involved with. But that accessibility doesn't stop Ralf Armin, Scott Ayres and Frank Garymartin from rocking with more sonic brutality than any other power trio in Texas. Conventions be damned, this is progressive rock.

Truth Decay performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

23
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound: Tightly wound punk
Time logged: One year

Etc.: A punk band with horns that doesn't play ska is pretty rare these days, which makes 23 a unique specimen, indeed. With harsh guitars, comparatively mild vocals, tight drumming and off-kilter chord changes to keep listeners alert, this clever outfit is resigned to asking little in return for its art -- other than the occasional gig, of course.

23 performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Instant Karma.

Under the Sun
Nomination: Best Female Vocalist (P.J. Cooper)
Sound: Bluesish rock
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: As she's grown into the all-around role as frontwoman for blues-rockers Under the Sun, P.J. Cooper has toned down the overly mannered banshee acrobatics that once stymied her vocals, revealing a voice of considerable finesse and character. Fortunately, her band is keeping pace with that considerable growth.

Under the Sun performs at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Rhino Room.

Violent Blue
Nomination: Best Female Vocalist (Brigid Sade)
Sound: Ethereal alterna-pop
Time logged: Seven years

 

Etc.: Built around Brigid Sade's fluid voice, Violent Blue's trippy progressive pop, in turn, provides just the sort of liquid atmosphere such singing demands. Boasting an impressive range and unique, often unintelligible phrasing, Sade is her own instrument, falling somewhere along the mystical female trajectory that stretches from the Cocteau Twins' Elisabeth Frazer to Sinead O'Connor.

Violent Blue performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Iguana.

Wazobia
Nomination: Best Reggae/World Music
Sound: Both of the above
Time logged: 13 years

Etc.: Three-time Press Music Award winners in the Best Reggae/World Music category, Wazobia (the title means "Come Together") takes its sound and its inspiration from the memories of its founding members' homelands, places like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and America. They've toured throughout the country, performing at any number of reggae festivals, spreading the communal Rasta ethic from coast to coast, the Gulf included.

Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys
Nomination: Best Blues; Best Female Vocalist; Songwriter(s) of the Year; Song of the Year ("Blue Lights"); Best Guitarist (Eric Dane); Best Bassist (Chris King); Best Drummer (Leesa Harrington Squyres)

Sound: Rock gets the blues
Time logged: Six years
Etc.: In the last few years, Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys have taken the concept of rock as a purely road-bound medium and run with it -- literally. The band has spent so much time touring of late that it's easy to forget its roots are still in Houston -- that is, until you take a gander at this year's Music Awards ballot. Frankly, Wonderland's dominance year after year has become so predictable that it's no wonder the Imperial Monkeys haven't shown up in person to claim their trophies at a Music Awards ceremony for quite some time now. Still, that hardly detracts from the fact that the heartfelt slow-burner "Blue Lights" is easily one of the best tunes the group has recorded and ranks among the best holiday tunes of the '90s. Merry Christmas, Carolyn, wherever you are.

Wyndnwyre
Nomination: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound: Celtic folk
Time logged: 15 years

Etc.: The recent Celtic music resurgence hasn't exactly sparked a renaissance for Renaissance-era music. Wyndnwyre addresses such neglect by relying heavily on that period, while providing equally energetic, expressive, hauntingly beautiful renditions of Celtic fare -- all of it played on authentic instruments such as the bodhran, hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp and bouzouki.

Wyndnwyre performs at 6 p.m. Sunday at Cent'Anni.

Tony Xpress
Nomination: Best Reggae/World Music
Sound: Atypical reggae
Time logged: Five years

Etc: Talk about a jack of all trades. When native Nigerian Tony Xpress isn't performing, he's working part-time work as a mechanic and a private detective And to accommodate his mix-and-match lifestyle, he has a recording studio in his auto shop. If you can believe it, his otherworldly vocals have been compared to those of punk freakazoids the Cramps. He's also been given the esteemed title (by whom, it's hard to say) of "Barrister of Roots Rock Reggae." Definitely not your run-of-the-mill Rastaman vibration.

Norma Zenteno
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: Jazz, rock, salsa, you name it
Time logged: 43 years

Etc.: Kind of a skimpy Music Awards showing this year for Houston's most energetic and versatile diva. Not to worry, though. Come next year's ballot, Norma Zenteno will have already wrapped her raspy, soulful pipes around another genre or two (as if fronting the Calvin Owens Orchestra for a big-band jazz album sung entirely in Spanish wasn't eclectic enough).

Norma Zenteno performs at 9 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's.

Zydeco Dots
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound: One guess
Time logged: 11 years

Etc.: You've got to respect a band that still manages to see itself as just another humble nominee despite owning this category for eight years running. The "Pierre" factor no longer a part of the band's name or its well-established game plan, this Houston quintet nonetheless remains synonymous with the Gulf Coast zydeco scene, transporting revelers to the bayou's edge with veteran ease and ear-to-ear enthusiasm.

The Zydeco Dots perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at McElroy's.


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