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18th Houston Press Music Awards Marked by Politeness, Bleeding

Although they took home the most statues at the 18th annual Houston Press Music Awards, announced Wednesday evening at Warehouse Live, the evening began somewhat ignominiously for the Dimes.

"Some guy hit me in the face when he was walking out," said guitarist Carlos Sanchez, visibly bleeding from a cut on his eyebrow as the Stratford High quartet accepted its award for Best New Act. "He didn't even say sorry."

Dana Donovan

Notwithstanding Little Joe Washington's non sequitur-filled acceptance speech for Best Blues Act ("Guess what? I'm a bad motherfucker. I don't know what the hell I'm here for"), that was the only breach of etiquette of the entire three-hour ceremony, and even Sanchez backtracked a bit the next time the Dimes took the stage.

"That guy just told me he did say sorry," he said as the band accepted for Best Indie Rock. "I just didn't hear him."

Several winners said little beyond thanking their fans, including Best Alt-Rock threepeaters LoneStar PornStar, Best Metal honorees Chrome 44, and Peekaboo Theory, who took home Best Experimental. Best Traditional Rock winners Southern Backtones provided a note of levity when their initial absence from the stage prompted emcee Grease Monkey of KIOL-FM to speculate, "They're in the back drinking."

Poor Dumb Bastards, winners for Best Punk, dedicated their award to recently deceased bandmate Hunter Ward, who died June 30 of a suspected drug overdose.

"We've been doing this for 17 years, so this isn't very punk rock," said singer Byron Dean. "[But] this goes out to our fallen hero Hunter."

Best Pop winners Skyblue 72, who previewed their new CD Feel My Way Home as nominees, presenters, and onlookers filed into Warehouse Live's Ballroom – the venue itself won for Best Venue and Best Rock Venue – were grateful for their award, even though they weren't sure it came in the right category.

"We have a pop element for sure, but we're more a rock band," said drummer and vocalist Jessica Zweback, 2003 HPMA winner for Best Female Vocalist. "I'm not a big genre person. I think we cross-pollinate."

"I feel like Jethro Tull," offered guitarist and vocalist Davis Jumper.

Other winners used their acceptance speeches as a call to political action. Accepting for Best World Music/Reggae – for what he figured was around the 12th time overall – D.R.U.M. lead singer Alafia said it's time for the city of Houston to consider letting bars stay open past 2 a.m.

"It really stifles a lot of creativity in the city," said Alafia, who added he is changing his name to Ifalade to honor his "spiritual father." "That's why [Houston] lost the Essence Festival, nobody could do anything after two. It also cuts down on musicians' hours."

As the evening wore on, Million Year Dance, the Dimes, Black Math Experiment, and Scattered Pages performed, and formalities fell by the wayside. Million Year Dance was already halfway to the stage when Press Music Editor John Nova Lomax announced Liberation's win for Album of the Year – the PowerPoint display spilled the beans a few seconds premature - the Dimes had to be coaxed back out onstage a fourth time to accept their Song of the Year trophy for "Delilah."

"This award is for everyone who made a full-length album," said Million Year Dance singer Jonathan Welch, noting Liberation is technically an EP.

Devin the Dude, who captured two of the night's biggest awards in Songwriter of the Year and Local Musician of the Year, had other things on his mind as the ceremony wound to a close.

"I'm just going to go get something to eat," he said. – Chris Gray

Click here to see a slideshow of last night's ceremony.

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