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HPMA Preview: Get This Party Started Edition

Music is primal. Sure, it can be intellectual, make you think and even change perspectives. But, at it's heart, music is about making you want to shake what your momma gave you. After all, rock and roll was just a euphemism for sex. Let's face it, where there's music, there is quite often a party.

One might say that when the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase is on, so is the party, which is probably true overall, but some bands just encourage it more than others, whether it is through deep dark grooves that make want to writhe around on the dance floor with a bunch of other twentysomethings or via an over-the-top display that makes you throw your fist in the air for the rock.

But before you get so lost in the jams, you can't remember your last name click this link and buy a ticket to the showcase. Then, commence with the get down.


(PETE'S DUELING PIANO BAR STAGE, 1201 Franklin, 6 p.m.)

Nominated In: Best Soul / Funk / R&B, Best Keyboards (Paul Viers), Best Miscellaneous Instrument (Isaac Munoz, saxophone)

It's hard to believe that Ozeal doesn't actually have an official release yet, though they are promising us an EP at the dawn of the next year. What we've managed to hear from them speaks of a band that maybe counts as hip-hop and maybe counts as funk. Trying to find a neat little box to shove them in is silly, because what Ozeal is really about is waking your body up for a good time. They combine the fun of the Roots with pure poetic flow and just a little bit of James Brown musk to make for a singularly fresh experience capable of funkifying the most un-funk situations. Paul Viers is also up for Best Keyboards, and while he's not busting out complicated ivory riffs, he does more to set the mood than scented candles and a bearskin rug. - Jef With One F

The Journey Agents

(BEN'S BEANS, 1302 Dallas, 7 p.m.)

Nominated In: Soul / Funk / R&B, Best Keyboards (St. Clair)

Why it's the funkster players netting all the Best Keyboard nominations is a little puzzling when you put them up against people like Jennifer Grassman and Meghan Hendley, both of whom went criminally unrecognized. Not that Journey Agents front man St. Clair doesn't deliver the perfect mood when he lays down his lines, but his focus is clearly on being a seductive, fire-breathing mouthpiece. The group has a jazzy, beat poet approach, which is what you'd expect from a band named after a Rahsaan Roland Kirk lyric. This is The Journey Agents' second straight year running for the statue for Best Soul/Funk/R&B, and this band going head to head with Ozeal in the exact same two categories should make for some powerful competition. Personally, we would have liked to see the Journey Agents' B. Miles up in the Best Guitarist race. The man can really shred himself some jazz progressions. - Jef With One F



Nominated In: Best Latin

Former Moscas and Chango Jackson bassist/singer/songwriter Tino Ortega fronts this good-timing, thought-provoking American cumbia band. Over the Colombian-born genre's 4/4 infectious hiss-clomp-hiss-clomp beat Americanized with wailing rock guitars, Ortega mixes his own songs of devilish women and American bigots with mind-blowing covers. (Expect to hear anything from "Come Together" to "Sex Machine" to "We Will Rock You.") And make no mistake: The cumbia will rock you; few beats on Earth so powerfully compel you to shake your ass. PS: Watch out for impromptu conga lines and/or flying tamales. - John Nova Lomax

Zydeco Dots


Nominated In: Best Zydeco

With a career spanning almost a quarter century and a regional following one could conservatively describe as "passionate," the Zydeco Dots can easily claim "musical institution" status in and around the Bayou City. They've had a stranglehold on the Best Zydeco category for some time, but complacency has never seeped into their live shows, which go off with the enthusiasm you'd expect more from a band that hasn't been together since the second Reagan administration. One thing though -- could you update that Web page, www.zydecodots.com, fellas? - Pete Vonder Haar

Sideshow Tramps


Nominated In: Best Americana, Best Miscellaneous Instrument (Geoffrey Mueller, saw), Best LP/CD/EP (Revelator), Best Song ("John the Revelator")

Possessed by demonic angels that would be equally at home in oystershell Montrose back alleys and hickory smoke-redolent old weird American barnyards, Sideshow Tramps shows are equal parts hambone hoedowns and apocalyptic breakdowns. Country, bluegrass, punk, blues, soul, Gypsy swing and gospel are all trampled under the feet of these young neo-traditionalist Catholic school grads. At a Tramps show, the wall between band and audience is utterly abolished. The band's long early-and-mid-2000s run of shows at Helios has become the stuff of Houston music legend now, and on new album Revelator, they sound like nothing less than the beginning and the end of American music. And that's a good thing. - John Nova Lomax

Electric Attitude

(RESERVE 101, 1201 Caroline, 5 p.m.)

Nominated In: Soul / Funk / R&B, Best Miscellaneous Instrument

The purist may balk at the nomination of Electric Attitude in the Soul/Funk/R&B category, as there is little in their sound of what you might consider true funk, but they do at least come up with good, sexy dance music. The band has been on a roll, doing six shows in two days at SXSW and opening for Semi-Precious Weapons and Dengue Fever, both red-hot national acts. The music is loud and primal, bringing to mind the early Detroit rock/soul fusions or a richer version of the White Stripes. We confess we haven't caught them live yet, and the recordings featured online don't really give any indication of what netted James Murphy a nod as a saxophonist, but any man who can keep up with Jordan Bell's guitars and Joe Ramirez's drums is clearly a force to reckon with. - Jef With One F

Gene's Addiction

(RESERVE 101, 1201 Caroline, 8 p.m.)

Nominated In: Best Cover / Tribute Act

It must be a tough row to hoe being a KISS tribute band, considering that there's already a highly successful one with a huge budget that tours constantly under the name KISS. You have to give Mike Campion credit. Hearing him sing "Deuce" is miles better than listening to the Demon himself do it these days. Not to mention that Michael Emerson and Gready Hunter are tremendous guitarists. We don't know if they can out-write Paul and Ace, but we're willing to bet they can outplay them at this point. Gene's Addiction deserves major kudos for their massive sets and musical accuracy, though we have to say from a purely costuming standpoint everyone but Campion kind of phones it in. Seriously, guys, wigs and leather aren't that expensive. - Jef With One F

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