"Show, don't tell." Writers don't need to know much more than that to become masters of their craft. Let the story tell itself through dialogue and action, and you'll rivet your readers every time.
The same applies to the music. We tell you about the diversity of the Houston music scene 51 weeks a year this is the week we can show it to you in one gift-wrapped package at the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase. Tear it open and you'll find ten hours of music from over 60 bands and six DJs on 12 stages.
Houston Press Music Awards
We mentioned diversity; take a look at the lineup at the Red Cat, just for example. The show opens with the old-school rockabilly of the Octanes, who are followed by the X-style punk of Ninevolt. After that comes the fiery southside rap of lady MC Cl'che, who is followed in turn by the straight-up rock of twangy Texan L.L. Cooper. The space jazz of Drop Trio comes after that, and the show closes with the hyper-contemporary Spanish/English future pop of Karina Nistal. And that multiplicity is repeated at each of the other 11 stages.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again this is the best day of the year for the Houston music scene. We'll go one further this year and say it's the best day of the year to be downtown, too. But we're done telling you things. Hopefully you're reading this at the show, where you can see for yourself. John Nova Lomax
(Band blurbs by Chris Gray, Olivia Flores Alvarez and John Nova Lomax. DJ write-up by Valerie Alberto.)
902 Capitol Street (at Travis) 713-224-6700
Dizzy Pilot Nominated in: Best Indie Rock www.myspace.com/dizzypilot 4 p.m.
From the wrong end of Leeland Street, over there where Third Ward bleeds into what used to be Old Chinatown, comes this "avalanche of glass" of a "menstrual" and "inappropriately catchy" band. Dizzy Pilot has already made one round-trip flight to SXSW, which found them somewhere in their evolution from "hideous" to "disgustingly pathetic" to where they are now a mélange of those traits, Sonic Youth, Bring Back the Guns and Jug O' Lightnin' (among other bands) that equals "the most blistering, beautiful sound in the universe." "Hide yr children and watch yr spouse," they warn, "cuz we got a record coming out that could end a marriage."
Peekaboo Theory Nominated in: Best Experimental / Avant-Garde www.myspace.com/peekabootheory 5 p.m. If you are theorizing where best to play peekaboo with this "timely, adventitious, fervent, eclectic, spontaneous" (and multiethnic) sextet, the answers are the Proletariat for shows and the Cotton Exchange for drinks. Or possibly on lower Westheimer, as the band claims to be composed all of "whores." The rest of their habits are mystery; they claim to have been fused after anatomic explosion in the Middle East, and to dream of playing a gig on Jupiter. Those seeking more tangible answers can check out their alternately jittery and mystical electro grooves on their MySpace.
Black Math Experiment Nominated in: Best Song ("You Cannot Kill David Arquette") www.theblackmathexperiment.com 6 p.m. "We found the G-spot," claim Black Math Experiment, "I mean G-chord." David Arquette found them in March, when the goofy Scream actor showed up at the Proletariat to hear BME's tribute/Song of the Year nominee "You Cannot Kill David Arquette" in person, an encounter well documented in the April 5 Press. They're hardly finished mining this particular vein, either. "We want to write more songs about celebrities so we can piss off more Houston bands that can't write any songs about celebrities," claim the dedicated Deadhorse fans. "We also want to sell out." And just like real celebrities, they've already accumulated quite a thank-you list: "God, Matt's hairstylist, Christi's love of young boys, Bill's divorce attorney, Shiva the destroyerÉand our die-hard fans."
Paris Green Nominated in: Best Alternative Rock www.myspace.com/parisgreen 7 p.m. Paris Green's Buzz-friendly blend of "funk, rock, blues, reggae and hip-hop" began in high school in The Woodlands in the late '90s. Since then, the quintet's "melodic riffs and thought-provoking lyrics" have found them sharing stages/on opening slots with everybody from Journey, Def Leppard and Blue October to 2 Live Crew and Slim Thug. The band also has a regional and even national touring base, with upcoming shows spanning from Mississippi to the Valley. Meanwhile, their loyal fan base from New York to Florida will just have to wait.
Tody Castillo Nominated in: Best Pop www.todycastillo.com; www.myspace.com/todycastillo 8 p.m. A world where pop-rock dullards like Jack Johnson are famous and sell platinum while people like Tody Castillo languish in semi-obscurity seems unfair. In fact, it seems downright unlivable when you get right down and wallow in that injustice. But hope always springs eternal; Castillo's "pretty rock and roll" will return soon for another swipe at the brass ring he deserves. He just started recording a follow-up to the magnificent Independence Day a couple of weeks ago and hopes to have something on shelves for us around the turn of this year.
Fondue Monks Nominated in: Best Funk/R&B; Best Bassist (Rozz Zamorano) www.fonduemonks.com 9 p.m. In a town where once every other band called themselves "funk-rock," only the Fondue Monks and precious few others remain standing. Maybe that's because the Monks were one of the few funk-rock bands that were then and remain now actually funky. The band's original lineup has now been together for 16 years, and that longevity, in addition to their rhythm section comprised of two brothers named Zamorano, gives us another reason to compare them to ZZ Top.
Grasshopper Lounge 506 Main 713-222-1442
Poor Dumb Bastards Nominated in: Best Punk www.poordumbbastards.fuzz.com, www.myspace.com/poordumbbastards 4 p.m. Still reeling from the June 30 drug-related death of guitarist Hunter Ward, the Poor Dumb Bastards say the show must go on. "It really sucks, and it really, really hurts, but at the same time we had a long talk as a band," says singer Byron Dean. "We said, 'Is this what's gonna kill us?' And the answer is no. We're gonna go out on our own terms, and this isn't our terms." So the "Texas Drunk Rock" Dean, "heterosexual life partner" Mike Porterfield and various other Bastards have indulged since 1991 will continue, as songs like "My Pussy Hurts" take on a new degree of poignancy. "We deal with things our own special way," says Dean. "We're not gonna let a little thing like death keep us from playing."
Kemo for Emo Nominated in: Best Punk www.kemoforemo.com 5 p.m. Kemo for Emo sends big ups to God. "Not the one in heaven but the cult leader who showed us the way to salvationÉand his Kool-Aid was kick-ass." Enron is their key local influence, while on the national front they were shaped by the likes of MxPx, Bad Religion and Straight Outta Junior High. The band loves to play Fitzgerald's Upstairs and then head for Rudyard's for post-show bevvies; Java Jazz, on the other hand, gets a collective gas face. "The crowd there was like Wonder Woman's invisible jet," they aver, and we don't think they mean it revealed a statuesque, raven-haired hottie in a skimpy costume.
The El Orbits Nominated in: Best Cover Band, Best Guitarist (Jim Henkel) www.elorbit.com 6 p.m. Still anchoring Monday nights at the Continental Club after all these years and several lineup changes, the El Orbits are nothing if not resourceful. "We were once late to a high-dollar gig in Sugar Land. Finally almost there, I realized I had forgotten my guitar," says Jim Henkel, now the Orbits' piano player despite his Best Guitarist nomination. "We had a Farfisa in the truck, so our first thought was for me to play that, but after imagining four hours of swing and Sinatra the bulk of our repertoire at the time, and what the client expected with a bass/drums/piano/Farfisa lineup, we sent bassist at the time Paul Beebe out to procure a guitar while we hurriedly set up for the gig. He returned about five minutes before we were set to start with a Stratocaster knockoff he bought for $150 at an H&H he found. I played that guitar for the next three years."
The Aqua Velva Nominated in: Best Cover Band www.theaquavelva.com 7 p.m. It's a cosmic thing. You wouldn't understand unless your antennae pick up the frequency of these local rock lobsters. In that case, you know that re-creating the sci-fi/surf/new wave sock hop of Athens's second-most-famous '80s export after R.E.M. is this El Orbits/Allen Oldies Band/Ringwalds offshoot's sole raison d'etre, rumors of a growing repertoire to the contrary. "We're not expanding past the B-52's, because there's no reason to," says Farfisa captain David Beebe. "But we are trying to learn their later stuff." Stay tuned to channel Z the love shack is open for business.
O Pioneers!!! Nominated in: Best Hardcore www.opioneers.com; www.myspace.com/opioneers 8 p.m. Great guitar sounds and vaguely roots-rock structures underscore the invariably screamed vocals in this Spring "smegacore" duo. With many post-hardcore/screamo bands, you get the idea they are loud because they don't have anything else in their arsenal. Not these guys, not exactly; as a guitarist, the single-monikered Eric can swing a little and shows no fear of hooks or moments of real beauty on his whacked-out axe. If Two Gallants sounds like Maroon 5 to you, here's your new favorite band. Now if only Eric could sing, even a little bitÉ
Bring Back the Guns Nominated in: Best Indie Rock www.bringbacktheguns.com 9 p.m. Bring Back the Guns has been channeling their harrowing experiences riding bicycles in Houston's notorious traffic into some of the city's most interesting indie rock since 1998, though they think their music has become "more complicated and less popular." Even so, they've shared the stage with the Toadies and Peelander-Z, and dirtied up a hotel conference room at SXSW last year. "There was a mustard slip-and-slide, among other things." Hoping to release their album Dry Futures before the end of the year, the one thing Bring Back the Guns hopes Houston knows about them, they say, is "that we exist."
Hard Rock Café 502 Texas 713-227-1392
The Jonx Nominated in: Best Punk www.myspace.com/thejonx 5 p.m. "Frashitic," "risquous," "aeliaer" and "smabtabulatial" are just a few of the adjectives this madcap trio has minted to apply to themselves. (Drummer Daniel Mee is a Press contributor.) Mining the rich vein of jazzy modern rock Television unearthed, the Jonx claim to have been born as purveyors of "punk rock with some jammy stuff" that "one day woke up as a prog band." When not gracing the stage or greasing the barstools at fave hang Rudyard's, the band enjoys singing the praises of other prominent stars in their constellation: Really Red, Sharks and Sailors, God's Temple of Family Deliverance, Minutemen, NoMeansNo, Wire and the Jesus Lizard. Looks pretty "goobulist" to us.
Katie Stuckey and the Swagger Nominated in: Best New Act; Best C&W; Best Female Vocalist; Best Folk/Acoustic www.katiestuckey.com; www.myspace.com/katiestuckey 6 p.m. Conservatory-trained chanteuse Stuckey doesn't care what you call her twangy acoustic music, so long as you don't label her a "hard-core rapper not that I'm opposed to it!" And in fact, the redhead has much more in common with heroes like Carole King and Patty Griffin, which is to say the best kind of Americana that stuff that edges toward darkness and never goes treacly.
Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers Nominated in: Best C&W, Best Female Vocalist (Miss Leslie) www.missleslie.com 7 p.m. "I've played my best to a crowd of 12," says Leslie Lindley, Miss Leslie to her many fans at the Continental Club and other honky-tonks around the Lone Star State. "And I've played and sounded my worst to a crowd of 2,000 that couldn't tell." Her gig at a retirement community where everyone line-danced to the waltzes falls somewhere in between. "Something's just wrong about line-dancing to a waltz." Preserving the pristine sounds of George Jones, Connie Smith, Wynn Stewart, Ray Price and so many others for today's audiences, the Juke-Jointers recently pared down to four members from seven and aspire, Leslie says, "to have more fans in Houston than the UK."
D.R.U.M. Nominated in: Best Reggae/ World Music www.myspace.com/drumtheband 8 p.m. The next two bands combine to form an inspired bit of sequential booking. As the Sideshow Tramps are to European-based sounds (see below), so the global visionaries in D.R.U.M. are to the music of the African diaspora. The band's shows feature everything from the gumbo funk of the Wild Magnolias to the tightly wound grooves of Fela Kuti to the breezy riddims of Dennis Brown's roots-reggae, sometimes all in the same song. Since they are mainstays of this shindig, and multiple winners to boot, not to mention quite eloquent, we'll let them take it from here, at some length: "Funkier than a cane cutter's armpits, hard enough to cut titanium, hot enough to melt tungsten, cool enough to make the devil go home, saying he might catch a cold, sweet enough to make you need some insulin, smooth enough to put colicky babies to sleep, taking troubled minds and spirits to the light from the deep."
Sideshow Tramps Nominated in: Best Folk/Acoustic; Best Miscellaneous Instrument (Uncle Tick) www.myspace.com/sideshowtramps 9 p.m. The band formerly known as Medicine Show has just ditched their band name, redubbed themselves the Sideshow Tramps and released their first album, which is calledÉThe Medicine Show. Got that? Good. By any name, these punk-raised hillbillies have been becoming more and more citizens of the world of late, moving towards something very much like a music that could only be called polyethnic slamgrass. It's too bad they only get an hour here the Tramps are one of the few bands in town that could play at least three times as long.
Life Lounge 308 Main 832-489-7910 Ryan Scroggins and the Trenchtown Texans Nominated in: Best Drummer (Patrick "Beans" Wheeler) www.myspace.com/ryanscroggins; www.ryanscroggins.com 4 p.m. One of several bands to have emerged so far from the implosion of Los Skarnales, the Trenchtown Texans are led by the organ-playing of former Skarnal Ryan Scroggins. (Others from the same camp include accordionist Robert Rodriguez, bassist Nick Gaitan and guitarist Jeremy Peña.) As the name suggests, the band is way traditional, taking cues from artists like Jackie Mittoo and comps like Club Ska '67, while adding what Scroggins describes as "country-sounding melodies." The Trenchtown Texans already have a better record on the road than a certain other batch of Texans in town, winning over fans from California to New Jersey. What's more, there is a rumored national record deal in their immediate future.
Wayside Drive Nominated in: Best Alt-Rock www.waysidedrive.com 5 p.m. Hoping to pick up where Japanic left off with some well-known ringers behind him, Wayside Drive's Jeremy Osborn didn't let a discouraging reply get him down. "I wrote a very personal and sincere letter to U2 asking them to be my backup band," he says. "They kindly replied that I should seek professional help, so I just found my own people." Taking their name from the street all three have worked on or near at various times, Wayside has scared off the crowd at a kicker bar on Richmond and found the backstage at Numbers by accident. They're also hiring. "Roadies," says Osborn. "Dear God, we need roadies."
The Flamin' Hellcats Nominated in: Best Roots Rock / Rockabilly www.myspace.com/theflaminhellcats 6 p.m. Imagine if a slimmed-down Oscar Zeta Acosta, the "Samoan" attorney made forever infamous in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, fronted a psychobilly band out of Houston, Texas. Now imagine he would take the stage dressed as a priest, and then would throw down inferno-fueled jams about what comes naturally to him drinkin', druggin', screwin' and fuckin' with your head, and then throw in a twangy dirge about the fact that all of San Antonio was murdered along with Tacoland's Ram Ayala. You have just begun to imagine the fearsome spectacle that is the Flamin' Hellcats.
The Wiggins Nominated in: Best Traditional Rock www.myspace.com/thewigginsrox; www.geocities.com/thewigginsrox 7 p.m. Somewhere in the nether reaches of the cosmos where fuzzed-out guitars, reverb-saturated vocals and click-track drums roil in unholy communion, you'll find the Wiggins. It all ends up sounding like the din that would result from dropping a radio playing the Yardbirds into a bathtub full of both Fighting Cock whiskey and Kurt Cobain's reanimated corpse.
Ragged Hearts Nominated in: Best Roots Rock/ Rockabilly www.myspace.com/raggedhearts 8 p.m. Set to tour Europe this fall, Ragged Hearts was once a side project that became full-time after drummer Davey Jonez toured with former New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain. Recovering from an ill-fated opening of a "since-failed" cupcake shop in Marble Falls, they've found the footing for their literate roots-rock think Steve Earle, Marah, Austin's True Believers at the Continental Club while indulging their glam side up the block at Mink. And, like all good Houston boys, they swear by Archie Bell & the Drells' "Tighten Up."
John Evans Band Nominated in: Best C&W, Best Bassist (Shawn Supra) www.johnevansband.net; www.myspace.com/johnevansband 9 p.m. We've frankly lost count of the number of awards the lanky, bespectacled singer-guitarist has taken home over the years; in fact, were there a Carolyn Wonderland Houston Press Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, Evans would be one of the few who would qualify. To describe John Evans's music as "Buddy Holly fronting AC/DC" is among the more apt shorthand descriptors for any act in this town, but lately it's a little less accurate. Side Show, Evans's newest, soon-to-be-released platter, is an acoustic set.
Live Sports Cafe 407 Main 713-228-LIVE The Allen Oldies Band Nominated in: Best Cover Band www.allenoldiesband.com 4 p.m. "We'd love to be considered the Orange Show of Houston bands," says Allen Oldies Band near-namesake Allen Hill. "Something so bizarre, magical and fun that you have to be there to truly understand what's going on." From Yo La Tengo's famous club Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey, to Minute Maid Park, the ever-expanding band now with horns! is one of the Bayou City's surest crowd-pleasers, something Chuck Berry, Roy Head, Archie Bell, Barbara Mason and Andre Williams learned firsthand. Book them at your next backyard barbecue or corporate function and help them buy the bright green suits they want so badly.
Whorehound Nominated in: Best Metal www.myspace.com/whorehound 5 p.m. What's that beast snarling and drooling in the corner over there, fangs bared, eyeing you and yours with a heart full of pure malice? It's Whorehound, an "old-school original metal" supergroup of scene vets (bassist Trevi Biles, singer-guitarist Jon Black and drummer Cory Jackson) from H-Town staple bands such as Dinosaur Salad, Simpleton, Drunken Thunder and Transmaniacon MC. Fueled by Satan and Lone Star Beer, this trio will melt your face like that Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark who dared gaze at Moses's Law.
Opie Hendrix & the Texas Tallboys Nominated In: Best Roots Rock/ Rockabilly www.myspace.com/opiehendrixandthetexastallboys 6 p.m. Lord help whoever tries to pry a definitive answer out of Opie Hendrix. Or any answer, really. Best gig ever? "Haven't had it yet." Worst gig ever? "Haven't had it yet." Weirdest gig ever? "All of them." Favorite club? "I love 'em all." Then again, perhaps Hendrix's brevity and diplomacy is born out of necessity. He can't share his favorite backstage story because "my lawyers advised me not to talk about it until after the trial." Hendrix allows he's partial to Jesus, Lightnin' Hopkins, the Rutles, Carrie Ann & the Apocalyptics, and the El Orbits' "Haul, U-Haul, Haul," but the restÉwell, the rest you'll just have to discover on your own.
dUNETX Nominated In: Best Traditional Rock www.dunetx.com 7 p.m. dUNETX have been together since 1995, when "flannel was all the rage," remembers Chris Sacco, and have been nominated for multiple Press music awards every year since 1999. "We know how to tune our guitars, so it sounds a little better," Sacco promises. Thanking the Judys, Van Halen circa Fair Warning and whoever it is playing guitar on the corner of Jensen and Cavalcade, Dune hopes to one day record the theme song to Flip This House and discover the ideal feng shui for their practice space. "We floss after every meal and tend to rock a little," Sacco says.
Satin Hooks Nominated In: Best Experimental/Avant-Garde www.myspace.com/satinhooks 8 p.m. Satin Hooks' local influences, word for word: "The polluted air, exercise, books, films, museums, the Houston Police Department, broken streets, graffiti, bicycles, friends, caffeine, tetrahydrocannabinol, women, life, alcohol, mental illnesses, fun stuff, historic homes, furniture and architecture, art, Verb, Yar, them dudes." These dudes aren't even sure they're in the right category. "We write catchy pop songs," they insist. "We're not so experimental, unless you call minorities playing rock/pop/punk/dance songs experimental. We'd like to be written into other categories." That's not up to usÉ
Million Year Dance Nominated In: Best Alt Rock, Best Male Vocalist (Jonathan Welch), Album of the Year (Liberation) www.millionyeardance.com 9 p.m. "Million Year Dance implies connectedness, the wave energies that connect all that exist, the great expanse of the universe," offers singer Jonathan Welch. So naturally, the only band in this year's nominees to cite Patty Griffin, Tool, Nina Simone and Sri Karunamayi as influences began at a supermarket. "Doyle and Steven were forming a band and needed a singer," says Welch. "They came to me to play an acoustic set at Whole Foods. They liked it to a degree, and I said we could work together." Identifying the group with parts of Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway "Not really enough hills and valleys, but beautiful scenery, twisting and turning roads, sometimes you don't know what to expect next" Welch says a Notsuoh gig at 4 a.m. was right up MYD's alley. "We definitely drew out the weirdoes our kind of crowd."
Mosaic 530 Texas
Once the amps are unplugged, this year's HPMA Best DJ nominees start setting up their tables for a late-night showcase after-party. 2006 winner DJ Red (1 a.m.) is back to defend his crown, and certainly has his work cut out for him. Local collective [tha-group] earns its bragging rights with three nominees on its roster: James Reed (10 p.m.), Josh Dupont (11 p.m.) and Jessica Lozano (11:30 p.m.). San Francisco native Reed, a professional dancer with the Houston Ballet, shares a residency with ten-year house-circuit veteran Dupont at the Davenport's "Choice Sundays." The two vie for the title against Lozano, a DJ/producer with a taste for and expertise in an expansive array of house genres, yet only one of these comrades can win. Or, with 19 years of DJing experience, maybe Red Door resident Ethan Klein (10:30 p.m.) can make a comeback this year for the Scooby Doo Crew. He and 2006 nominee Sean Carnahan make up the SDC duo, dishing out only the best house and old-school funk. Speaking of funk, Ill Set (12 a.m.) is a very busy girl. Rebel Crew member, B-girl and Crome's "Sundae Fundae," she spins everything from hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae and Latin to breaks while brokering real-estate deals by day. Last but certainly not least, it's no surprise if this showcase feels like déjà vu for DJ Sun (12:30 a.m.). The six-time winner recently made his recording debut with the Monday Drive EP, with a full-length album due later this year. Perhaps Sun will make it lucky seven in 2007.
Red Cat Jazz Café
924 Congress 713-226-7870
The Octanes Nominated in: Best Roots Rock/ Rockabilly www.myspace.com/octanes 4 p.m. Adam Burchfield, long a guitar-slingin' sideman for some of the city's top old-school blues and rock bands (Snit's Dog and Pony Show, Tony Vega, Sonny Boy Terry, among others), steps front and center to helm this hep little rockabilly trio. (A stand-up bass ace either Nick Gaitan or Buddy Demon and drummer Steve Candelari help constitute this high-grade fuel.) While the band's music retains a time-warp quality, Burchfield sings well and writes very good lyrics. His guitar prowess has never been in question.
Ninevolt Nominated In: Best Traditional Rock www.myspace.com/ninevoltrocks 5 p.m. Ninevolt dates back to the early '90s, when Angela Sexton and Lucky Trujillo passed many an hour as a guitar duo playing originals and Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Velvet Underground songs. They meandered through various bands (Rainbones, The Murder of Crows) until around 2003, when they hooked up with a rhythm section, broke up for a while, then reconvened, overhauling their earlier punk sound with "screaming stadium rock that hasn't been heard since the days of Led Zeppelin and Guns 'N' Roses." Look for Ninevolt to pop up at an open mike or dive bar near you. Maybe they'll tell you about the time they all pissed in the same toilet as Billy Idol, Robert Plant and Robert Smith, "and didn't wash our hands for a week."
Cl'che Nominated in: Best Local Rap/Hip-Hop www.myspace.com/clche 6 p.m. They used to call teen pop sensation Brenda Lee "Little Miss Dynamite." In Cl'che's case, better make that "Little Miss W.M.D." Five feet tall and nothin' but curves, class and fire, this southside MC is a dynamic live performer who never leaves her showgoers feeling cheated. As she says in the video for "Ghetto Blues," "See once they nominated me in the Houston Press / I showed 'em all the Cl'che is known as the best."
LL Cooper Nominated in: Best New Act, Traditional Rock www.myspace.com/llcooper 7 p.m. Enduring several shows "on par with 'Puppet Show and Spinal Tap,'" LL Cooper has been busting out its roots-rockin', beer-battered, country-fried Texas rock and roll since late 2005. It all started, says Larry Cooper, when "I started writing some decent songs again, and was stupid enough to believe folks would want to hear me this time around." Soon to start recording El Penguino, a concept album about Hunter S. Thompson, Cooper says the quintet aspires to "conquer the world, or just get lit up during the last set at Henry's Hideout in Plantersville."
Drop Trio Nominated In: Best Jazz www.droptrio.com 8 p.m. Prog-rock fanatics who formed a funk-jazz combo and wound up on the sound track to the 2004 Cedric the Entertainer vehicle Johnson Family Vacation (thanks to the patronage of costar and fan Solange Knowles), Drop Trio provides the ideal "spaceship jazz" sound track for a chill night out at Brasil, Luna or the new AvantGarden. Well-seasoned by frequent touring, they have a Web site that's well-stocked with a streaming "Drop Trio Radio," tons of live tracks and easy access to their three CDs: 2003's Big Dipper, 2004's all-improvised Leap and 2005's live Cezanne.
Karina Nistal Nominated in: Best New Act, Best Local Rap/Hip-Hop, Best Salsa/Latin Pop www.karinanistal.com; www.myspace.com/karinanistal 9 p.m. Drawing inspiration from a broad palette of luminous ladies from Celia Cruz to Janet Jackson, Karina Nistal has been dropping rhymes with soul and style since 1997, both solo and with her beloved Rebel Crew. Recent gigs have included a Disco Donkeys le Funk date at Chaise Lounge and Frida Kahlo's 100th birthday party, but she prefers the dusky back room at Mink on Main. "The vibe is set just right with dim lighting," she says. "But there's still room to get up and groove." If she were a Houston street, Nistal chooses Interstates 10 and 45, "'cause my career is going far and wide."
RocBar 530 Texas 713-236-1100
Collective Hallucination Nominated In: Best Funk/R&B www.collectivehallucination.com 4 p.m. Like Mr. "Gloryhallastoopid" himself, George Clinton, Collective Hallucination is far too funky to put spaces between words. They started when they came together to vibe to some "funkyrockingsoulfultunes." Ant Boogie praises "Soul Diamond" Stacy Butler as "the bestbadassed vocalist in Houston." A recent gig at Scott Gertner's Sky Bar was "krazysexycool." With the joint "Between You and Me" due next year, Collective Hallucination dreams of hooking up with Prince for a fantasy-fulfilling tour. The Purple One did name them, after all. "He had no idea, though, until recently," admits A-Boogie.
Deadbolt Zen Nominated In: Best Pop www.deadboltzen.com; www.myspace.com/deadboltzen 5 p.m. "Godsmack should be opening for you guys!" So says one of Deadbolt Zen's many MySpace friends, and if it didn't quite work out that way earlier this month at the Verizon Wireless Theater, they may still be the heaviest group up for Best Pop Band in HPMA history. Close your eyes and concentrate really hard, and you'll definitely hear some melody filtering through the sea of guitars, but it's still way more Deftones than Kelly Clarkson. Which makes sense, as DZ added the three founders of Houston metal band Somber to their lineup last year, and saw near-immediate results when Garageband.com named their "Everything Changes" Song of the Day back in May.
Deep Ella Nominated In: Best Alt-Rock www.deepella.com 6 p.m. Sweeping melodies anchored by a sturdy spine, Deep Ella's music contains introspective, progressive elements similar to Tool and Incubus, and more agitated moments echoing Linkin Park and Shinedown. After a decade of musical chairs, the band has settled into a steady lineup; this spring, they released new album Empty Seas and Memories, which moves into harder territory than the ballad-heavy Last Year's New Thing.
Southern Backtones Nominated In: Best Traditional Rock, Best Bassist (John Griffin) www.southernbacktones.com; www.myspace.com/ southernbacktones 7 p.m. Last year's HPMA Traditional Rock winners hope to make their tenth year as a band a memorable one with a repeat. Since last year's win, they landed five songs in the documentary There Ain't No Surf in Texas, the UH basketball team advanced to the Conference USA tournament final using the U2-ish "Forever" as their theme song and Donewaiting.com scribe David Cobb named their self-titled third album his favorite Houston record of 2006, saying "the album is full of Britrock pomposity, a gothic undercurrent and addictive tunes reminiscent of Nick Cave, The Cult circa Love and David Bowie."
Glass Intrepid Nominated In: Best Alt-Rock www.glassintrepidband.com 8 p.m. Fresh off appearances at the Warped Tour's Houston and Dallas stops that sent their MySpace comments through the roof ("I even missed part of Bad Religion to see ya play"), Glass Intrepid has been making their way around the Texas alt-rock circuit for seven years, also appearing at Buzzfest XV and several well-received shows in Austin during SXSW '07. They recently released their self-titled third album, full of meaty guitars and sure-fire singles like "Til My Heart Stops" and "The Victim."
LoneStar PornStar Nominated In: Best Alt-Rock www.lonestarpornstar.com 9 p.m. Two-time defending HPMA alt-rock winners LoneStar PornStar aren't about to surrender their crown without a fight especially since the Press also singled out LSPS for "Best Band Stage Show" in last year's Best of Houston awards. Remember? "Singer Greg David Stegman commands the stage, stomping from one side to the other, jumping and screaming (on key, of course) during the entire show. If the group sometimes starts a little late, it's because they've had to tie up the sound engineer backstage. That's the only way they can set the speakers to make-everyone-deaf levels."
Slainte 509 Main 713-222-1033
Lee Alexander Band Nominated In: Best Folk/Acoustic www.alexandersongs.com 4 p.m. Lee Alexander and his band are vegetarians, "but not because we're animal-friendly," he says. "It's actually because we really hate plants." They're not overly fond of Sansone's on Westheimer, either. "They booked us six months in advance, and then unwittingly booked an open mike in place of our show," says Alexander. "It all came to a head the night before the show, and management gave us the boot in favor of the open mike. It was insulting." Alexander has better things to say about LL Cooper, whom he calls his "mentor in the music biz," and the Press's Back Page ads that's how they met. They hope to record an album in the fall. "We were hoping to do it as a joint album with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra," Alexander sighs, "but they won't return our phone calls."
Pride Kills Nominated In: Best Hardcore www.myspace.com/pridekills 5 p.m. Pride Kills, with an album due this year on Ground N Pound Records, identify with Telephone Road because "no one likes Telephone Road, especially after dark." They sure have some peculiar listening choices for a band that shouts out 30 Foot Fall, D.R.I., Sick of It All, Will to Live and Agnostic Front. "Paul and I got into a fistfight in Jacksonville, Florida, over the fact that I wanted to listen to Elliot Smith," says singer Gabriel Wells. At last year's multiband Fallcore show at Meridian, "tension had built all night between concertgoers and overzealous security meatheads," relates Paul. "It came to a head during our set when I threw a mike stand that hit a bouncer in the head." Small wonder, then, that Paul advises, "If you don't want to be physically involved in our show in some form, stand at the back."
Jack Saunders Nominated In: Best Folk/Acoustic www.jacksaunders.com 6 p.m. Sidewalk.com says Jack Saunders is "king of the singer-songwriter hill in Houston," and who are we to argue? After all, the southern California native has been a cornerstone of the local acoustic scene since the late '70s, on his own and collaborating with Shake Russell, Dana Cooper, Susan Gibson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Hayes Carll and many more; he's won enough HPMA hardware along the way to make a solid case for the title. Since the mid-'90s, Russell has brought his practiced ear to bear as owner, producer and engineer at his White Cat Studios on the northside, but stepped back in front of the mike earlier this year for third album Living for the Sunshine.
Insect Warfare Nominated In: Best Metal www.insectwarfare.com 7 p.m. Insect Warfare's apt self-description is "elitist grindcore asshole whirlwind noise power death assault from North America." Houston, more specifically. Their Web site lists an address off Richmond, but we suspect they might have actually been spat out of the depths of Hell for stealing Satan's thunder. (Speaking of thunder, check out "Decontamination," "Zone Killer" and "Mind Ripper" on their "DeathSpace" page.) Freshly armed with new 625 Thrash CD World Extermination, IW's HPMA showcase should whet its appetite for more bloodlust on September's West Coast tour with Japan's Unholy Grave, provided they don't pulverize Slainte into smithereens first.
Blaggards Nominated In: Best World Music/Reggae www.blaggards.com 8 p.m. H-town's heir to the emerald throne of Phil Lynott and Shane MacGowan, the Blaggards have caused many a pint glass to be raised in celebration, and maybe a few tears to be shed remembering the old country as well. But it's hard to get too sentimental when their souped-up guitars are going full blast, Turi Hoiseth is sawing away at her fiddle and drummer "Earthquake" Edwards slaps out a double-time train beat that fits "Irish Rover" as well as "Folsom Prison Blues." The greenest reggae band you've ever heard.
Arthur Yoria Nominated In: Best Pop, Local Musician of the Year, Best Male Vocalist, Songwriter of the Year www.arthuryoria.com 9 p.m. Arthur Yoria may be mellowing with age. His current bandmates "don't seem to have short fuses like some of the previous guys, so I'm having a better time," the multiple HPMA nominee says. "I'm not writing songs about wanting to punch a bandmate in the face anymore." He's also picked up some interesting fans, who in turn tried to pick up other fans. "At the Vortex in Beaumont, a prostitute got up and sang some really cool ethereal vocals for me before getting thrown out for soliciting the patrons," Yoria swears. And if it's all the same, he prefers to do his drinking onstage. "It's usually not crowded up there, and the drinks are always at least discounted, if not free." One more thing: "We're looking for a piano/keyboard player that can sing backup vocals."
Dancing Marlin 300 Main 713-227-1511
Eyeagainst Nominated In: Best Hardcore www.myspace.com/ea713 4 p.m. Eyeagainst is somewhat emphatic about where they most like to play. "FITZGERALD'S IS OUR HOME TURF!" responds drummer Mike Ibanez. Bad Brains and Studewood (the street) also get all-caps pounds. The Onion Creek regulars met around summer 1997 and debuted at the end of 1998, an interval they used to, well, learn how to play. "We picked up our instruments when we started the band," says Ibanez. Between playing to just the sound man and bartender at Instant Karma, the Family Values main stage and L.A.'s Roxy with hard-core legends Strife later this year, Eyeagainst has taught various headliners not to leave any food lying around. "We pissed off the guys from Insane Clown Posse because we were eating their meal set up by the venue where they were performing," recounts Ibanez. "We didn't even play that show. We were just hanging out."
Chrome 44 Nominated In: Best Metal www.chrome44.com 5 p.m. Chrome 44 is back on the prowl after recently welcoming new (and former) vocalist Sloane Gallegos to the front of the stage. Slugging it out since 2000, they have a burgeoning base of dedicated fans. Constantly touring around Texas, they recently wrapped second CD Into the Red at Houston's Spyder Studios. "Chrome 44 strives to create a sound as unique as it is raw," they claim on their Web site, and it sounds like they have.
SkyBlue 72 Nominated In: Best Pop www.skyblue72.com 6 p.m. Serving up creamy "rock sauce" since 2003, SkyBlue72's origin story sounds almost like a fairy tale. "Davis and Jessica started writing songs together on Jessica's porch," begins Jessica's big brother and bassist Frank Zweback. "Then they started dating. Frank joined and got them off the porch. Jessica and Davis broke up. Drama drama drama. Then they rocked on." Everybody loves a happy ending. But there's more. "Not only are we a rock band," says Frank, "but we love puppies, restoring old houses and reading about video games."
Molly & the Ringwalds Nominated In: Best Cover Band www.theringwalds.com 7 p.m. Forget the Point everybody knows Molly & the Ringwalds' Friday happy hours at the Continental Club are where Houston really turns for its '80s fix. Otherwise they wouldn't have owned the HPMA's Cover Band category since 2003 that's right, this year could make it one for the thumb. With a repertoire deeper than the detention-forged bond between the five Breakfast Club members, and no reservations about letting their fans take over lead vocals if they so desire, the Ringwalds could own this category until the original Van Halen re-forms and beyond.
Zydeco Dots Nominated In: Best Zydeco zydecodots.tripod.com 8 p.m. The Zydeco Dots, celebrating their 20th anniversary with a new CD due this month, have won the HPMA Best Zydeco award so many times we've honestly lost count, but at this point it should probably be renamed in their honor. Their calendar remains as full as ever, and their Web site is worth a visit to watch the dancing swamp critters alone.
Sharks and Sailors Nominated In: Best Indie Rock, Best Bassist (Melissa Lonchambon) www.sharksandsailors.com 9 p.m. The four deep-sea fishing enthusiasts (or so they say) of Sharks and Sailors owe their existence to a parking lot. "I met Mike and Phil in the parking lot of Francisco's practice studio, and Al and I had a lot of friends in common but were just acquaintances," says bassist Melissa Lonchambon. "All of our old bands [Voltex, Sjolander, Panic in Detroit] ended up breaking up about the same time." A common sight at Walter's, Rudyard's and the Proletariat since their first gig in May 2005, they're also partial to Richmond inside the Loop. "That's where all the margaritas (and mango-ritas) are," explains Lonchambon. S & S hope their first album, due later this year, is the first step toward landing a tour bus with "sushi, an Xbox 360, widescreen TV that only gets ESPN, 360-degree Mötley Crüe spinning drum kit, caged orangutans and beer kegs on both sides of the stage, and a Santa Claus at every show."
Venue 719 Main 713-236-8150
Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys Nominated in: Best C&W, Best Misc. Instrument (Will Golden) www.myspace.com/resinvalleyboys 5 p.m. Since forming in 2002, Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys haven't changed a lick. What they have done, says Sean Raiford, is "stayed true to our original vision of bringing old-time country back on the radar." They've also brought their old-time country everywhere from Meridian, where they opened for Junior Brown, to the roof of the Hotel Icon, where they twanged a women's fashion magazine party. (Nice work if you can get it.) Their home base remains the Continental Club, where they usually play at least once a week; lately they've been prepping album No. 2 in the studio. Just watch out for Raiford's infamous fart machine. "I'll put the machine behind my drummer's chair and then when he sits down, I'll press the remote button," he says. "Silly, I know, but we are a bunch of guys."
Snit's Dog & Pony Show Nominated in: Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly www.snitshow.com 6 p.m. When not holding up the bar at McElroys, Snit's Dog & Pony Show can be found rocking and rolling all over Houston, though Warehouse Live's studio is their current venue of choice. According to Snit himself, the idea for the group dates back to 1986, but they've been going strong since opening for Joe Ely at the Continental Club in 2000. "That really got the ball rolling for us," the ex-Hollister says. Hoping to one day tour Europe with Status Quo, and to not get busted drinking the headliner's beer, they really want people to get their name right. "Last year at the Awards, even the emcee called us 'Snit Dog and the Pony Show,'" moans Snit.
Gritboys Nominated in: Best Local Rap/Hip-Hop www.gritboys.com; www.myspace.com/gritboys 7 p.m. The first half of this southside rap group's name is an acronym for "Ghetto Reality in Texas," and that's just what they bring. It's not exactly the nightmarish fever dreams of the early Geto Boys, nor the now-tired cornucopia of car culture clichés of Mike Jones, or the moronic dance-floor chants of a Hurricane Chris and everybody else the Box is drilling in your brain these Worthing High products just come up with smoldering beats and tell it like it T-I-is. Used to be that was what hip-hop was all about, and if it ever is again, these guys will go platinum-plus.
The Scattered Pages Nominated In: Best Drummer (Andy McWilliams), Song of the Year ("Iris"), Songwriter of the Year (Brandon Hancock), Album of the Year (Lazy are the Skeletons) www.myspace.com/thescatteredpages 8 p.m. To describe his music, Scattered Pages and Lisa Novak drummer Andy McWilliams composed the following haiku: "Not as strange as it might seem, definitely odd, but grandma likes it okay." The multitalented McWilliams is also an experienced studio hand, sound engineer and man of leisure. The following are his favorite places to drink and/or kick back: "1. Home. 2. Ginger Man on a weeknight. 3. Alabama Ice House on a Saturday. 4. Warren's, when I want a drink poured right. 5. La Carafe, when I want to be out but not out. 6. I'm taking some time off from drinking for a week or a month right now." One of McWilliams's future aspirations is to be in Tom Waits's backing band, and he may be just the man for the job.
Spain Coloured Orange Nominated In: Best Indie Rock, Local Musician of the Year www.myspace.com/ spaincolouredorange 9 p.m. After cleaning up at last year's HPMAs Album of the Year for Hopelessly Incapable of Standing in the Way; Best Indie Rock; Local Musician(s) of the Year; Best Keyboards (Gilbert Alfaro) Spain Coloured Orange is back for more. They're down to a mere two nominations this year, mostly because they didn't have a new album, but their description-defying fusion of indie, prog, R&B, funk and just plain rock is still about the best the Bayou City has on offer. With Hopelessly follow-up Sneaky Like a Villain due in October on Chicago's Lucid Records, they better start clearing space on the mantle for 2008.
Verizon Wireless Theater 520 Texas 713-230-1600
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The Mighty Orq Nominated In: Best Blues, Best Guitarist www.mightyorq.com 7 p.m. The only musician in this year's HPMA questionnaires to describe his music as "face-melting," the Mighty Orq says his group is more original rock than blues these days, but it's all good. "Frankly, these days I'm not so concerned with labels," he adds. "We're just happy to be doing what we're doing, and glad that people like us. Call us what you want." They can't have strayed too far, as the Big Easy is still Orq's favorite place to play and kick back, and Joe Bonamassa gave them props after watching their opening set in Oklahoma City in May. Rock, blues, whatever, Orq has it all figured out: "The worst gig is almost always better than the best day at the office."
The Handsomes Nominated In: Best Pop www.thehandsomes.com 8 p.m. Hoping to make it four Best Pop HPMAs in a row, the Handsomes are often likened to Austin crowd-pleasers the Scabs their first bit of press in the Press bore the headline "The Spirit of the Scabs" but always take care to remind the crowd where they're really from. "Whenever we play in Austin, which is a fair amount, Jordon makes sure to let the crowd know that we're a Houston band," says bassist Ben Stark. And just because they're popular doesn't mean they haven't paid some dues. "We [once] blew out this venue's miniature and dilapidated PA on the first song," recounts Stark. "Jordon had to sing through a miniature keyboard amp for the rest of a two-hour set." A new EP is on the way.
The Dimes Nominated in: Best New Act; Best Indie Rock; Local Musician of the Year; Song of the Year (Delilah) www.myspace.com/dimes 9 p.m. These kids are young enough to admit the Arcade Fire as an influence, but most critics and fans cite the Pixies as a better fit for this "fun," "loud," "sloppy" and "goofy" four-piece. Paradoxically, or perhaps not, the band cites ZZ Top as both their favorite and least favorite local band; more of a straight-up head-scratcher is their identification with Kuykendahl Road. But clearly, they've come a long way in a short time, drawing some of the biggest and most enthusiastic crowds in town a scant 30 months after launching their career at Cardi's 2000.
Saliva Nominated In: Nothing www.myspace.com/saliva 10:15 p.m. Saliva is from Memphis. They had a hit a few years back with "Click Click Boom" and a bigger one with "Always." They appeared on the WWE's Forceable Entry CD and know the dude from Nickelback. Their new album on Island Records is Blood Stained Love Story. That's about all there is to say.