Houston Press 1997 Music Awards Preview

At times, we must admit, putting together the ballot for the Press Music Awards engenders a touch of deja vu. Familiar names (can you say Carolyn Wonderland? Jesse Dayton? Joe "Guitar" Hughes?) keep popping up. Not that that's necessarily bad; this would be a poorer town musically if the reliables weren't so, well, reliable. Still, it was nice this time around to see a number of new names elbowing their way in and demanding a little recognition.

And so to reacquaint you with the old, and introduce you to the new, we offer this guide to just who's who on the Music Awards Ballot -- and just who's playing where at the Music Awards showcase. Performers are arranged as alphabetically as we could get them (would Lady D go under Lady or D? We chose D), with playtimes and locations under 55 of the more than 100 nominees. So give a read, then give a listen -- and keep an eye out for the announcement of the Music Awards winners in our July 10 issue.

-- The Editors

Artist: Aftershock
Nomination: Best Rap/Hip-Hop
Sound of choice: Metal-edged hip-hop
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: It was a long time coming, but Aftershock's self-titled debut release, recorded in

the Arizona desert with producer Jay Lean, was worth the wait. A cocky convergence of rap's street-level credibility and heavy metal's grind-it-out aesthetic that is equal parts instrumental prowess and inventive sampling, Aftershock rocks hard and grooves serious -- just like its namesake does in the flesh.

Aftershock performs at 7 p.m. at the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

Artist: Alice's Tin Pony
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound of choice: Tasteful, mildly progressive folk-pop
Time logged: More than a year

Etc.: Alice's Tin Pony's debut CD, Hate Book, was one of the more refreshing CDs of the year. Guided by the silky pipes and introspective inclinations of acknowledged old soul Alana Waters, the disc works as a blueprint for what, given the right circumstances, ATP should become -- which is essentially a smart, arty, serious folk pop band that isn't afraid to wax soft and sensitive in a city full of young bands that would rather rock loud and silly.

Alice's Tin Pony performs at 8 p.m. at 8.0.

Artist: Ralf Armin (Truth Decay)
Nomination: Best Bassist
Sound of choice: Fiery hard rock
Time logged: Seven years (with Truth Decay)

Etc.: Featuring former members of the Pain Teens and Culturcide, Truth Decay and its co-founder, bassist Ralf Armin, are currently in the studio working on a debut release, Expressway to Spongecake. Uncom-promisingly heavy, the band has been featured on countless compilations over the years and recently released a single, "White Bunnies."

Artist: Aubrey Dunham and the Party Machine
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound of choice: Blues, soul, rock and roll
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Saxophonist Aubrey Dunham's latest project, the Party Machine, boasts a wide array of amiable covers aimed at shaking an audience's butts and moving their feet. Blessed with another warhorse of the local scene, guitarist Charlie Chavira, the band's broad knowledge of both well-known and obscure blues, rock and soul tunes has made them one of the more appealing bands of their ilk. Never one to turn down a request for "Happy Birthday" or to refuse a dance with a stumbling group of drunk women at the foot of the stage, Dunham's eager-to-please good nature makes him unique.

Aubrey Dunham and the Party Machine perform at 5 p.m. at Metroplex.

Artist: Bamboo Crisis
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound of choice: Gothic techno
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: For a band that keeps such a low-key local profile, Bamboo Crisis certainly gets around. Early Bamboo singles such as "Aftermath" and "Shapeshifter" have shared chart space with the likes of White Zombie, Tricky and Foetus on national alternative-dance charts over the last few years. And with the recent release of the full-length 51 Pegasi, the band proves that its life span is greater than the sum of a few bracing technological sound bites.

Bamboo Crisis performs at 9 p.m. at the Blue Iguana.

Artist: The Basics
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound of choice: Bi-cultural Rock
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: Though half their songs are sung in Spanish, the Basics are pure, guitar-driven rock and roll. In essence, they're Houston's version of Los Lobos, minus the overt acousti-folk indulgences.

The Basics perform at 6 p.m. at Metroplex.

Artist: Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds
Nomination: Best Act That Doesn't Fit a Category
Sound of choice: Classic rock and roll performance art
Time logged: Eleven years

Etc.: The Bi-Peds are a little like a soap opera in that it's nearly impossible to comprehend everything that's happening on first look. Catch the show a few times, though, and you should be hooked. Sick, funny, surreal and warm, Beans Barton is a truly lovable and perplexing local legend, and his Bi-Peds sprinkle in just the right amount of technical expertise and Monty Pythonesque wackiness to complement him. The recent addition of guitar ace Jimmy Raycraft has only strengthened the group's qualifications -- and its case for clinical insanity.

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