Oh, yes, it is that time again, time for the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase You can almost smell it...well, hopefully not.
This week we will be profiling the bands who will be performing at this Saturday's HPMA showcase at venues all over downtown and the Warehouse Live area, with different subsets each day from myself and Craig Hlavaty.
Earlier today, Craig gave us a list of the heaviest bands on this year's ballot who are performing on Saturday and it's quite a list. But, after a balls-to-the-wall metal show, you may be saying, "Ow, my freaking ears!"
To give the old auditory canal a rest or if you just prefer to mellow out to some fine music that isn't played at the volume of a jet engine, check out these seven bands, all performing Saturday.
And do a brother a solid by buying some tickets. Just click this link and let the web work its magic wizardry.
(WAREHOUSE LIVE (BALLROOM STAGE), 813 St. Emanuel, 7 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Bassist (Nick Gaitan), Best Drummer (Brian Shoppell)
Calling a mélange of Gulf Coast musical styles a "gumbo" is a cliché, so we'll call what Nick Gaitan whips up for his Umbrella Man project a "caldo" instead. It's a tasty H-Town stew, equal parts blues, Tejano, swamp pop, rockabilly, ska, cumbia, and vintage rock and roll, all roiling with a steady swing. When he's not thumping the bull fiddle alongside Umbrella Man bandmates Bart Maloney (steel guitar), Brian Shoppell (drums) and Roberto Rodriguez (accordion), Gaitan (formerly of Los Skarnales) fills the same role in both fellow HPMA nominees the Octanes and in Billy Joe Shaver's road band. The legendary honky-tonk hero even recorded Gaitan's 2009 song "I've Found My Weakness in You." Chances are Gaitan's band will find your weakness, too. - John Nova Lomax
Ryan Scroggins & the Trenchtown Texans
(WAREHOUSE LIVE (BALLROOM STAGE), 813 St. Emanuel, 8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Reggae / Ska / Dub, Best Song ("Devil Box")
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Like his predecessor to this stage Nick Gaitan, Scroggins is a veteran of Los Skarnales, but Scroggins has remained much more fixedly devoted to the Jamaican sounds that put the "ska" in that band's name. Which is not to say he's a hardshell traditionalist -- the band continues to evolve away from Trenchtown and more towards Texas, with more steel guitar, fiddle and harmonica coming to the fore of late. Here's what Music Editor Chris Gray had to say earlier this year about the band's two new CDs: "Both Move to the Country and Folk Devils blend the unhurried (but never lazy) tropical rhythms of reggae, ska and dub with more native sounds like easygoing harmonica blues, jug-band bluegrass and sinewy Latin guitar leads. The result is some mesquite-smoked roots reggae that takes its time, and an ideal soundtrack for the sultry summer nights we've been having lately." - John Nova Lomax
(THE DIRT, 1209 Carolin, 5 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Cover / Tribute Act
Beetle is a Thursday-night happy-hour institution at the Continental Club. So much so, I know people who absolutely would not know what to do with their Thursdays if Beetle wasn't onstage churning out the "yeah, yeah, yeahs." The lineup has stayed intact for quite a while now, and that continuity has led to an overall tightening up. But no one comes to these shows for technical excellence or innovation; they come to hear the Beatles' catalog delivered as close to the original as the band can possibly do. Judging by the crowds, Beetle knows the job. - William Michael Smith
Kevin Taylor Kendrick
(HOUSE OF BLUES (FOUNDATION ROOM), 1204 Caroline, 3 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Songwriter
Kevin Taylor Kendrick laughingly describes himself as "playfully endearing," and he comes by that from having grown up as an only child. Kendrick had to figure out how to entertain himself, and he developed a rich imagination. Today, many of his songs about, say, girls, are laced with adventure and exaggerated scenery: castles and majestic mountain ranges and the like. Kendrick delivers those embellished truths with a Dylanesque style and layers the lot with folksy guitar. - Matthew Keever
(HOUSE OF BLUES (FOUNDATION ROOM), 1204 Caroline, 6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Folk, Best Songwriter, Best Female Vocals, Best Song ("Sunshine")
Originally from Austin, Clory Martin is a singer-songwriter who now (thankfully) calls Houston home. She grew up singing in choirs and playing piano, but eventually chose the guitar, and now her simple chord progressions blend with her strong alto voice and come forth as indie-folk with a bluesy feel -- "a smokier Norah Jones," as Press Assistant Music Editor Craig Hlavaty once wrote. Martin has been spending her Wednesday nights at Last Concert Cafe (opening for jam band institution Potroast), and her debut album, Summer Spent, was released in December 2010. - Matthew Keever
Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys
(BEN'S BEANS, 1302 DALLAS, 4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Country
Brent Best of Slobberbone once said he'd know the band had made it if they ever overcame their own moniker. That assumes, of course, that you're looking for some kind of acceptance by the mainstream community, and Reefer and his Boys have never given anyone that impression. At any given show, you're just as likely to hear rockabilly, Hank Williams Sr. and Western swing as you are to get songs extolling the virtues of controlled substances. Something for everyone, really. - Pete Vonder haar
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(PETE'S DUELING PIANO BAR STAGE, 1301 Fannin, 3 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Female Vocals, Best Jazz
This is not Kristine Mills's first rodeo. The chanteuse already has an HPMA award for Best Female Vocals weighing down her shelf, and Houston's sultry jazz darling is looking to earn a matching set this year in addition to also netting a nod for Best Jazz. For two decades she has fallen ever upwards, never letting a single piece of music that didn't throb with tremendous beauty appear on her albums. If you haven't heard any of the tracks from her upcoming fourth release As Yet Untitled, a collaboration with David Rice that has been two decades in the making, then you are missing out on the reason she also holds a Best Songwriter HPMA. Mills never fails to strike right at the heart with her uncanny cords, and you'd have to be deaf to deny it. Jef With One F