Web site: www.k-otix.com, myspace.com/thelegendarykokotix
Personnel: Damien Randle, Michah Nickerson
You know about regular knockouts...What makes for Legendary KO? "Good, truthful, hard-hitting hip-hop music," says this Houston hip-hop duo, an island of conscience in a sea of bling. Last year, their post-Katrina single "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" emerged as one of the most critically acclaimed singles to come from H-town in recent memory, but don't expect that to move them any closer to their stated goal: "To quit the day job once and for all." (The song was strictly a free download -- they made no money from it.) "Laffy Taffy" and "The Engine Room" get the gas face from these loving disciples of A Tribe Called Quest, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Others they send props to include Warehouse Live and locals like V-Zilla and Hustle Skwad.
Name: Fondue Monks
Nominated in: Best Bassist (Rozz Zamorano); Best Funk
Web site: www.fonduemonks.com
Personnel: Rozz Zamorano (bass), Ronnie Zamorano (drums), Steve Olson (guitar), Denver Courtney (vocals)
The Fondue Monks, one of the hardest-working bands in Houston's show business, dish out "creative funk/rock rhythms" with "bluesy backbeats." They're also one of the city's best live acts -- when their bio calls their shows "must-see" events, it ain't lyin'. Highlights from their long history include "opening for Jimmy Buffett at The Woodlands," "playing the grand opening of the Theater at Bayou Place with Little Feat" and opening "for Iron Butterfly, Eric Burdon, Yes and the Alan Parsons Project." Zamorano has taken Best Bassist awards before, and he is that rare four-stringer who can pull off a whole album of solo bass.
Nominated in: Best World Music/Reggae
Web site: homepage.mac.com/kijana/mo/drum.html
Personnel: Alafaia Gaidi (vocals, multiple instruments), Anura Neysadurai (keyboards), Nathan Faulk (vocals), percussion), Jamaaludiyn Ali (guitars, backing vocals), Osakwe Rikondja (vocals, bass, percussion)
Divine Rhythm, United Motion is the full name of this acronymic H-town institution, and they dish out "a unique musical gumbo of continental African and African Diasporic rhythms melded with smooth vocals, colorful staging, pop hooks and melodious sounds and a healthy dose of jazz, funk, R&B and Latin influences." Got all that? Good. But if you want it in shorthand, try this: "original material and cover tunes ranging from Bob Marley to Motown."
THE BREWERY TAP
Nominated in: Best Metal
Web site: www.myspace.com/whorehound
Personnel: Jon Black (guitar, vocals), Trevi Biles (bass), Cory Jackson (drums)
They've been together for only a year-plus, so they haven't released a CD yet, but it shouldn't be long before they manage to push something out. That is, if they can take time away from their quest to "achieve the rank of deities in the hallowed halls of the Dark Lord." Hey, that's how metalheads talk. With an aversion for Van Hagar, and a liking for Morphine (we think they mean the band, and not the highly addictive, evil and dangerous drug), they count Slayer and Herb Albert as their main influences (don't laugh -- Herb was cool back in the day). The trio hangs mostly at Rudyard's and Walter's on Washington these days. They used to haunt the Summit, but they've recently noticed that a different crowd has been hanging out there. (Okay, maybe they didn't mean the band.)
Name: Vibe Committee
Nominated in: Best Funk
Web site: www.vibecommittee.com
Personnel: Erin Crowe (vocals), Josh Matranga (bass), Jennifer O'Bryant (flute), Mike Whitebread (guitar, vocals), Lantz Stevens (drums, vocals)
This five-piece band calls their sound "original rock, jazz and blues built on a foundation of funk [and] soul." There's also some Latin, reggae and rockabilly thrown in. Mike Whitebread and Josh Matranga, who were both attending the University of St. Thomas a few years ago, started the group. Jennifer O'Bryant, another UST alum, joined up during an early recording session. Lantz Stevens and Erin Crowe got added along the way. Sharing a commitment to "overcome the segregation of sound," the Vibe Committee has accomplished quite a bit in the six years they've been together. They've released two CDs (Vibe Committee in 2004 and Flavor this year), performed with big-time acts like Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago and the Grateful Dead's Vince Welnick, and donated both time and money to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. That's a lot for a group that still has to juggle day jobs.
Name: A Pink Cloud
Nominated in: Best Experimental/Avant-Garde
Web site: www.myspace.com/apinkcloud
Personnel: Domokos and host of others
You think you like it weird? Find out just how weird you are with this project of Rusted Shut's Domokos. Here's how fellow freaks Rotten Piece, probably the second-weirdest band on this bill, put it: "A Pink Cloud is death music for the living (and also, I suppose, life music for the dead). Sometimes they don't suck. You should go see them and buy them drinks. They have more entertainment value than squirting lighter fluid into a raging barbecue pit...or possibly having your party broken up by vampires who shit blood in the punch bowl."