Houston Press Music Awards 2000

As if last year's 50 bands weren't enough, this year's installation of the

Houston Press

Music Awards offers up 60 bands for the same price: five bones. That's all it takes to show up on Sunday, July 16, trot from venue to venue down around Bayou Place and see some great live, original, homegrown music. And no, not every band will be some variation on white-boy blues-rock.

There're lots of new faces. Some have been around for years and have never gotten any recognition; some are brand-new to the scene and are carrying on as if they helped usher in the processed-cheese era. Original cowpoke Doug Supernaw brings his 19 years of gigging to the Hard Rock Cafe at 9 p.m. And original gangsta South Park Mexican, who has been a force of one these past seven years, is getting a chance to get jiggy at the Aerial Theater during that same time slot. In the still-wet-behind-the-ears class, everybody's favorite full-bodied entertainment act, Bo Patt, gets gonzo at Rehab at 6 p.m., while one-man-techno-band Population Zero will be making feet move at Spy an hour later. Every performer, from Jimmy ”T-99“ Nelson (who in 1999 was nominated for two W.C. Handy Awards, the Grammy of the blues industry) to Jesse Dayton to 30footFALL to the Mark Dini Group to the Hollisters to Mi Rumba, is a pro. These are acts people normally pay two or three times as much to see -- and we're essentially giving 'em away. At the end of the evening, major-label studs and honorary Houstonians-for-a-day 8STOPS7 will perform at the Aerial Theater at 10:15 p.m.

An important aspect about attending this festival is the voting process. Inside each venue, Music Awards patrons will find writing implements, ballot boxes and ballots, on which are listed the names of each showcase performer and others who, for whatever reason, couldn't play. All it takes is two minutes to fill out one of the forms and drop it in a nearby ballot box. Winners will be announced in the second issue after the awards showcase. These lucky folk will receive Pressys (the Houston Press's answer to the Grammys) and something nice to put on their résumés. If a band's music moves you, then move to a ballot box and show your gratitude.

-- Anthony Mariani

Allen Oldies Band
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Sweatin' to the oldies
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Front man Allen Hill must've been one of those antsy, hammy kids in school. Watching him jump from one end of the crowded stage to the other, bumping over mike stands as he goes, is like watching someone's inner child blare as loud as bandmate Joe Earthman's sax. But just like the well-worn tunes the band plays, there's something sort of comforting about the whole shtick, something warm and fuzzy about the steady, predictable beats of guys like former Banana Blender Surprise front man David Beebe, who plays drums for the group. The Allen Oldies band recently joined Mojo Nixon in christening Houston's own installment of the Austin-famed Continental Club. -- J.F.

The Allen Oldies Band performs at 4 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Audio 3
Nomination: Best DJ/Dance
Sound: Drum 'n' bass, dammit
Time logged: 15 years

Etc.: Audio 3 is pissed. An ardent supporter of drum 'n' bass, the turntable veteran (né Lionel Gonzalez) is rallying for more d-n-b to be played in Houston raves and nightclubs. The sight of seeing a d-n-b DJ being forced to play the second room of a party or having to deal with shitty lights and a bad sound system is the kind of stuff that really makes Audio 3 clench his jaws. This may be why he's planning to produce some original beats and release an album with his occasional partner in crime MC Swift. D-n-b supporters can find Audio 3 Wednesday nights at Club Waxx, where he plays jungle, reggae and, of course, drum 'n' bass. -- C.D.L.

Audio 3 performs at 8 p.m. at Spy (upstairs).

Bamboo Crisis
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: What Big Brother composes when he's not watching you pee
Time logged: 14 years

Etc.: Self-described purveyors of "electronic body music," this quartet has seen the new world order. And it ain't pretty -- although there are apparently endless stocks of lipstick and eyeliner implements. Listening to its most recent CD, Konspirosphere (ToneZone Records), one can almost feel the dry ice rising from the stage and see the strobe lights twirling around. But this band, with its Armageddon-in-a-bottle exhortations, has an equal grasp of robotics and rhythms, which can command your attention -- if not a urine sample. -- B.R.

Bamboo Crisis performs at 8 p.m. at No tsu oH.

Big Holiday
Nomination: Best Folk/Acoustic
Sound: Sunshine on your shoulder
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Big Holiday has racked up its share of honors for its sugary folk made edgy by bits of rock, but it has yet to win a Pressy. Perhaps this year the band will triumph. Influenced by the Indigo Girls and Fleetwood Mac as well as Queen, this six-member band offers accessible melodies, catchy hooks and the sweet voice of its lead vocalist, Lisa Novak. The band's noticeable progression toward a more rock sound has been a welcome change. -- S.C.

Big Holiday performs at 5 p.m. at Ruggles Bistro Latino.

DJ Bizz
Nomination: Best DJ/Dance
Sound: Housin' hip-hop
Time logged: 16 years

Etc.: Though he hasn't won one of these babies since the Press started up this category a couple of years back, two-time nominee Albert Rowan, a.k.a. DJ Bizz, can be proud of many things. He's a pioneer of the Houston house scene. He has conquered clubs and raves not just here but in New York, L.A. and Hawaii. And yet perhaps the thing he can be most proud of is his side business, Chemistry Records, on Westheimer. On a regular day, you might bump into Lord Vishnu or Sean Carnahan or Mike Snow or Michael DeGrace, just to name a few area DJs who turn to Chemistry for new beats and melodies. It's kinda becoming the record store from that movie Empire Records, except that it's not very big and Liv Tyler and Renée Zellweger don't work there. But apart from that, it's just like it. -- C.D.L.

DJ Bizz performs at 6 p.m. at Spy (upstairs).

Bo Patt
Nomination: Best New Act, Best Percussion
Sound: Playin' in the (punk) band
Time logged: Six months

Etc.: Bo Patt is just a baby band, on the scene since January, but it already has a loyal fan base. Well, you figure if each of the 11 band members gets two people to go to a show, that's a full house right there. The band took seed one night at Cecil's Tavern on West Gray, where most of the band members either worked or hung out. "We were sitting around making fun of songs on the jukebox and, at the spur of the moment, decided to form a band," says lead singer Spanky Laughlin. The result is a punk-inspired drama show -- or as guitarist David Hardiker puts it, "punk-inspired porno music" -- replete with movable go-go dancers. -- G.G.

Bo Patt performs at 6 p.m. at Rehab.

Bozo Porno Circus
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Get yer yayas out
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: "Houston's Top Fetish Band" is known equally for its outlandish stage shows and its music. Dressed in leather, fishnets, spikes and the occasional unisex crotchless panty, these decadent dance fiends perform odes to biker sluts, sadism and kinky sex. Over robotic beats, sound effects, gruff vox and a slashing guitar, these Texas Chainsaw Masochists deliver a "real big shoe." Who can forget the slack-jawed looks on hundreds of horny headbangers as a coterie of BPC's randy female dancers dry-humped each other throughout most of the band's set, opening for M&oumltley Cr¨e not too long ago. Talk about a lotta bang for the buck. -- B.R.

Bozo Porno Circus performs at 7 p.m. at No tsu oH.

Leonard "Lowdown" Brown
Nomination: Best Blues
Sound: One big thumb for pickin'
Time logged: More than 30 years

Etc.: Really, Leonard "Lowdown" Brown has been playing music all his life. The Browns may as well have been the Von Trapps of Gary, Indiana; mother on piano, dad on guitar and children strictly urged to sing in the right key. These humble and cinematically dreamy roots have kept him on the Houston scene since 1981. In 1997 he recorded his first CD in a homemade garage studio. A year later Brown and his band made it to the finals of the famed International Blues Talent Competition in Memphis, Tennessee. Unlike the Von Trapp clones, though, Brown's got his idiosyncrasies. Check out his hands: He plays guitar with his thumb and the backs of his fingers. -- J.F.

Leonard "Lowdown" Brown performs at 8 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe.

David Caceres
Nomination: Musician of the Year, Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound: Smooth operator
Time logged: 18 Years

Etc.: Alto saxophonist David Caceres is the baddest musician on the scene. On stage, some players, suffering from a classic case of "How can I follow that?" syndrome, refuse to solo after him. While he's a monster on the bandstand, Caceres doesn't play for effect. What comes out of his horn is always musical, and he can play a variety of genres. The versatile saxophonist leads the David Caceres swing band, is a member of the fusion outfit Stratus and leads a hardcore bebop trio. His bebop album, Trio, was one of the most challenging of 1999. He can also get down and play some serious R&B, and at one time was part of TKoH!'s funky horn section. Oh yeah, he also sings. -- P.J.M.

David Caceres performs at 7 p.m. at the Mercury Room.

Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys
Nomination: Best Female Vocalist (Carolyn Wonderland)
Sound: Reigning champ
Time logged: Eight years

Etc.: Though Carolyn Wonderland and her band scooped up the lion's share of honors at the 1998 Houston Press Awards and Wonderland kept the string alive with two more awards in 1999, industry perceptions may have finally caught up with reality. Wonderland is not, repeat, not, nominated in any kind of blues category for the 2000 awards. With an honest body of work that at best can be described using that ubiquitous you-have-to-be-from-here-to-understand term "Texas music," Wonderland has emerged from the past 12 months of upheaval with renewed energy and expressive songwriting ideas, and a whole new posse to boot. Her longtime bandmates -- Eric Dane, Chris King and Leesa Harrington-Squyres -- have all departed, replaced by Calvin Hall (bass), Brian Scardino (drums) and Scott Daniels (guitar). While Wonderland hasn't cut her ties to the blues, she's learning to reach further and further outside the blues-boogie box, even leaning a little into pure country. -- G.B.

Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys perform at 9 p.m. at Spy (outside).

Commercial Art
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Earth, hot air and fire
Time logged: 12 years

Etc.: Okay, yeah, Commercial Art is a cover band. But these guys don't deserve any grief. As far as cover bands go, this one has a singular style and sound -- two things you really might not expect from those who stomp on the shoulders of geniuses. Instead of the usual popular, overplayed songs most cover bands play, Commercial Art's highlights come from the old school; the band plays funk and soul your mama probably don't even know about. -- G.G.

Commercial Art performs at 7 p.m. at Ruggles Bistro Latino.

Nomination: Best Underground
Sound: Don't-jump! emo-pop
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Some bands exist only in turmoil; and some do their best work in that state of gracelessness. Maybe it's Coterie front man Brian Taylor's unconscious search for emotional tension that propels the band to the brink of death and back again every other month or so. Dark isn't an expansive enough word to describe the mood this band is capable of generating. Taylor sings in an eerie whine, delivering his lyrics like a Shakespearean actor performing a soliloquy. You really think he means everything he says; as if there were some ghost standing in the back of whatever club the band may be playing, watching, judging and staring right back at Taylor. Though historically the band's arrangement has been made up of guitars and drums, Taylor has hinted that digitized equipment might soon be replacing such Neanderthal instrumentation. Old school, new school, whatever form Coterie takes, the band will likely remain as heartbreaking as ever. -- A.M.

Coterie performs at 7 p.m. at The Hub.

Jesse Dayton
Nomination: Musician of the Year
Sound: Elvis, look out
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: For some reason Jesse Dayton thought the music editor of this publication didn't like him. At a show at the Satellite Lounge last year with his Road Kings, Dayton told the audience to tell that music editor that the name of the band was the Road Kings not "Surf Dog," the band's label. Note to Jesse: The regrettable typo was just that. A typo. Not the beginnings of some conspiracy against you. Not any ill will. Not any disrespect. Just a mistake.

Okay, you think, Dayton just had a bad day and was venting. Yet over the course of a few months, seeing Dayton on stage at various locales from here to Austin, one could notice an overriding theme: The guy is a little paranoid. There's no clear explanation. He's pretty well loved all over the South, from coast to coast, where he plies his rockabilly and country-western in free-spirited double time; he has been making a living as a musician since seemingly forever; and he's got enough charisma to coax a turtle from its shell. What gives?

Whatever the reason, Dayton needs to concentrate on the good, and understand that people like, even love, what he's doing. If they didn't, he'd probably be writing a music column for some alternative newsweekly. -- A.M.

Jesse Dayton performs at 9 p.m. at The Mercantile.

Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound: Sober -- as opposed to "stoner" -- rock
Time logged: One and a half years

Etc.: Ex-dead horse guitarist Mike Haaga has reincarnated himself in the demonseeds. The new band delivers material that is much more generally accessible than was most of dead horse's -- as evidenced by last year's debut, knee deep in hell's grasp. The riffs and songwriting have a pure rock and roll feel. There's still a lot of power. And still a lot of fun. But this band is likely to appeal to metalheads and "normal" music lovers alike. In addition to Haaga, the current demonseeds lineup is completed by Joseph Fazzio on drums and Craig Cazaubom on bass. As a whole, the demonseeds' emergence couldn't have been better timed. Haaga and Co. are dealing in something so fundamental it's almost new again: Rock, played at high volume and with attitude. -- C.S.

The demonseeds perform at 6 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.

Nomination: Best Reggae/World
Sound: Spiritual healing
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: D.R.U.M. plays percussion-driven dance in many forms, from African to Caribbean. Guitarist Jamaaludin Ali, drummer Nathan Faulk and bandleader Alafia Gaidi (sax, percussion and vocals) have been with the band since the beginning. Bass player and percussionist Osakwe Rikondja, keyboardist Anura Neysadurai and percussionist Carlos Johnson joined later. And in its early days, D.R.U.M. was part tribal collective vision, part extended sophisticated percussion ensemble and part shamanistic mystical flight. Bandleader Gaidi is still faithful to the concept of the African-derived drumming tradition as a means to achieving spirituality and health. He's always studying and he's still leading drum classes, doing drum repair and making custom drums. What's magical about D.R.U.M. is the synergy between the band and its audience. It's like being in an ocean of motion. On a good night, when the band slips into an extended reggae or funk groove, there's a sense of roots spirituality, the kind of message of strength and social unity the old Jamaican or soul bands brought to their music. -- A.H.

D.R.U.M. performs at 7 p.m. at Spy (outside).

Drunken Thunder
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Time logged: Two years
Sound: Whiskey sour pusses

Etc.: Each song on Cheap Acceptable Kill (Honest Abe's Custom Records), Drunken Thunder's most recent release, usually hovers at around two minutes in length, but also showcases a twisted sense of humor, from the confessin' alkie of "AA Blues" to the pub sing-along of "Balls 'Cross the Nose" to the Mexican horn section in the center of "Nielszilla." Bonus: On "Loaded and Loose [Pt. 2]," the band samples its own "Revolution 9" and everyone's favorite '70s dead horse saga, "Wildfire." -- B.R.

Drunken Thunder performs at 5 p.m. at Spy (downstairs).

Dune, TX
Nomination: Album of the Year (Machowagon)
Sound: Who called the fuzz?
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Dune, TX started off like any typical band. Guitarist Chris Sacco put out an ad looking for "groovy players," and within days drummer Tim Herrmann and bassist Rusty Guest had answered. Though the band's backbone is fuzzy, it doesn't cling to one musical sound. Instead, it picks up where guitar-centric garage bands like UFO and the Raspberries left off. Its second full-length CD, Machowagon, is in local stores. -- G.G.

Dune, TX performs at 6 p.m. at Spy (outside).

Gloria Edwards
Nomination: Best Female Vocalist
Sound: Old, old school
Time logged: 40-plus years

Etc.: As a kid being raised by her grandmother in the Fifth Ward, Gloria Smallwood saw plenty of grown-ups nod approvingly after she belted out traditional gospel songs. But when she started sneaking into blues clubs in the 1950s, the wide-eyed teen took on a more worldly crusade, emulating the style of Dinah Washington and daring to adopt some of the sexually charged bravado of a young Chuck Berry. Hence her nickname, "Little Miss Firecracker." Today, at 63, Gloria Edwards still has the fire, whether appearing at blues festivals around the country or occasionally at a Houston club. Her 1999 release, The Soul Queen of Texas, received warm reviews locally and particularly in Europe, where old-style blues singers are revered. -- G.B.

Gloria Edwards performs at 7 p.m. at Elvia's Latin Grill.

El Orbits
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Swingers
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: When David Beebe needed an act to play every Monday night at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, he did what any quick-thinking club manager would do. He, on the heels of the mid-'90s lounge craze, formed the El Orbits -- or, for you grammarians, simply "El" Orbits -- a swanky trio that still plays Mondays at the Satellite and now Thursdays at the Continental Club. With a repertoire of '50s and '60s jazz and pop standards, El Orbits are the only band in Houston with enough chutzpah to cover songs like "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" next to "Call Me" and "Rhinestone Cowboy." -- P.J.M.

El Orbits perform at 6 p.m. at The Mercantile.

Nomination: Best Rock/Pop
Sound: Progressive
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: It's both self-indulgent and cheap for media blowhards to compare one band to another. If you say Band X sounds like Bands A, B and C, then you run the risk of alienating the reader or listener or viewer who may not know of A, B or C. And consequently, X. Such lazy descriptions must be infuriating for the band Feel, which -- though its name is attached to those of progressive rock's past and present -- resists easy explanation. Throbbing rhythms, atmospheric guitar work and the theatrical antics of a charismatic lead singer, Alexander Lagos, who scales walls of amps when he can, constitute a smart take on brooding pop. You only wish the quartet would experiment more, would try lengthening or shortening songs, varying tempos and arrangements, hardening and softening edges. The supernatural lyrical content is there, compliments of Lagos, as are the musicianship and production capabilities. Yet top-ten singles do not necessarily a successful neo-prog rock band make. -- A.M.

Feel performs at 8 p.m. at The Hub.

Fo Sho
Nomination: Best Funk/R&B
Sound: Motown-Philly's back again
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Chris Alexander, Eric Hunter and Ron "Slack" Jefferson, all vocalists, have known each other for a long time. They grew up in the same Louisiana neighborhood. They sang and recorded three albums in the same male choir, then went their separate ways. Later, Jefferson was playing drums in the local group H-town when the trio reunited, calling Houston home. Fo Sho is the invention of their friendship. The group released its debut, Situations, last year. The group's new album, At It Again, is scheduled to be released at the end of July. -- G.G.

Fo Sho performs at 8 p.m. at Spy (outside).

Free Radicals
Nomination: Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound: I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it, we can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it …
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Probably the only Houston-based band to be mentioned in The New Yorker in the past year, the Free Radicals are a melting pot of genres. The outfit mixes R&B, funk, ska, acid jazz and whatever else it can get its grubby mitts on. Sometimes, true to part of its name, the band even finds "free" jazz territory. At the core of the Free Radicals is a horn section filled with players who can improvise in most any direction, which is a good thing. The music is often going in several directions at once. That these guys can make it funky and fun with a good beat makes them all the more dangerous. -- P.J.M.

The Free Radicals perform at 4 p.m. at Spy.

Nomination: Best Underground
Sound: Stick figures
Time logged: Eight years

Etc.: Forget about the oddity that is Giancarlo live, when it's usually just him on the Chapman Stick and some drummer, making more noise than some five-piece punk bands. Listen to the music. Everything from blues standards to rock originals to groovy happy birthday ditties comes through this young guy and his crazy instrument, part guitar, part piano; which looks like a two-by-four with 12 strings strung across it and is played with both hands on top -- more Liberace, less Leadbelly. Giancarlo also plays bass in the bands Juicebox (now working on a CD), Big Green Machine and Mark Towns Flamenco Jazz Trio. -- B.R.

Giancarlo performs at 5 p.m. at Spy (outside).

Global Village
Nomination: Best Reggae/World
Sound: We are the world
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: What began as an old-school funk cover band has now grown into one of the most rhythmic original outfits around. The latest incarnation of the band has been together for two years. Trumpet player Keith Van Horne (not to be confused with the star forward of the New Jersey Nets of the same name) is the band's only original member. For those not in the know, the band's latest CD is called Sugar What? -- and the What refers to the Sugar Butt panties the band sells at its gigs. Global Village is all about a funky groove, getting people out on the dance floor and having a good time. -- A.H.

Global Village performs at 9 p.m. at Ruggles Bistro Latino.

Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound: Arena rock
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: goneblind, with its unapologetically hard and crunchy sounds, has its sights set on the next "return to rock" wave. The band has been making short trips to Los Angeles to perform in front of several interested record labels and industry folks. Last month was devoted to the recording of its upcoming CD, which will be released this month. With a return trip to Los Angeles in August to satiate a growing buzz in the City of Angels, goneblind's vision is one of breaking well beyond Houston city limits. -- B.R.

goneblind performs at 9 p.m. at Rehab.

Terry Green
Nomination: Best Guitarist
Sound: Any way you want it
Time logged: 12 years

Etc.: Seducing a harem of bands with his Stratocaster and a beat-up Fender amp, Terry Green may as well be called a polygamist rocker. The Louisiana native unleashes his slow hand all over town with acts like the New Jack Hippies, the Megatones, Diunna Greenleaf and the Terry Green Band. And he's got a little suh'in-suh'in for everybody. Though he's a little more rock and roll, Green delivers R&B, blues, jazz and funk, too. After all, he has logged countless miles on his strings since he shot from Austin to Houston and back several times before finally landing in the Bayou City. -- J.F.

Terry Green performs at 8 p.m. at The Mercantile.

Diunna Greenleaf
Nomination: Best Female Vocalist
Sound: Go tell it on the mountain
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: When Diunna Greenleaf started singing publicly, she was really embarking on an advocacy mission, to bring the genius of African-American music to the masses. After spending her first two years performing a cappella, Greenleaf as a part-timer joined Blue Mercy, an instrumental blues-gospel-funk-everything combo. So from lecturer to entertainer, Greenleaf still can testify to the redeeming value of plainsong or can give a lesson or two in what those blue notes actually mean. -- A.M.

Diunna Greenleaf performs at 6 p.m. at Spy (downstairs).

Nomination: Best New Act
Sound: Strange days are here
Time logged: One year

Etc.: Initially a studio project that needed a band, Groceries (formerly Ghandi in Vegas) took to gigging without a hitch. Often entwined in Christmas lights while performing, the four-piece alt-indie band prides itself on giving its fans a supercool live show. For Groceries, showmanship is as important as the band's off-kilter musical style. Tunes are constantly shifting to the unexpected, especially with frequent time signature changes. It's pop, but in a weird, dissonance-loving way. Squalling guitars and bratty vocals alternate with crisp beats and spoken word. Groceries' debut EP, Knuckleheads & Icons, released in May, is already on the playlist at KTRU. -- S.C.

Groceries performs at 5 p.m. at The Mercantile.

The Gypsies
Nomination: Best Traditional/Ethnic
Sound: Ummm, everything
Time logged: 26 years

Etc.: Greg Harbar of the Gypsies is a 21st-century minstrel, the heir to those musicians who walked from town to town bringing their music to doorsteps and market squares in return for a few coins or dinner. Like those traveling players, Harbar is a carrier of cultural traditions. His knowledge of Eastern European music is encyclopedic. That means whether the Gypsies appear at a Jewish wedding or a German beer festival, the band is going to perform whatever fits. If your "village" can afford to hire a couple of strolling musicians or a full 12-piece orchestra, that's how many Gypsies will appear. Harbar plays the accordion and is usually joined by a guitar player, bass player and violinist. The Gypsies' repertoire also includes Russian street jazz, Gypsy tango and Hungarian cafe music. -- A.H.

The Gypsies perform at 5 p.m. at Elvia's Latin Grill.

The Hollisters
Nominations: Best C&W, Best Male Vocalist (Mike Barfield), Song of the Year ("Sweet Inspiration"), Songwriter(s) of the Year (Mike Barfield and Eric Danheim), Album of the Year (Sweet Inspiration)
Sound: C&W for the Houston chapter of the W.S. Merwin fan club
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: If getting five Houston Press Music Awards nominations isn't enough, the Hollisters made a national splash this year with Sweet Inspiration. The album shot to No. 3 on Gavin's Americana Radio chart, which is no small feat considering Steve Earle, Todd Snider and Joe Ely are Americana chart regulars. Taking their name from a minor character on The Andy Griffith Show, the Hollisters play a brand of honky-tonk that's a little bit country, a little bit roots rock and no part Donnie and Marie. -- P.J.M.

The Hollisters perform at 9 p.m. at Spy (downstairs).

Hollister Fracus
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound: Roid-heads call it "test" -- you may know it as "testosterone"
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Hollister Fracus is loud, obnoxious and aggressive. The hard-playing quartet whips its crowd into a frenzy, and its lyrics have been described as "venting" sessions. With song titles like "Fuck 311," you get the picture. The band's Web site greets you with, "Come on in, your mom's already here," and it sells T-shirts covered with the classic phrase "Smells like fish, tastes like chicken!" Charming? Okay, not really. But Hollister Fracus does have a lot of attitude, and so do its fans. Legend has it that when Hollister Fracus opened for M&oumltley Cr¨e's Vince Neil in 1996, the pro-Fracus crowd rioted when Neil took the stage. Good thing the band's on last for this gig. -- P.J.M.

Hollister Fracus performs at 9 p.m. at No tsu oH.

Nominations: Best C&W, Best Bassist (Ben Collis)
Sound: Rebel flag attitude without the rebel flag
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: Horseshoe's shit-kicking blend of classic country and hard rock may as well be called a Houston institution. Since its beginnings, the band has courted both the weathered boot-wearing barflies and the pierced-up insurgent country crowd at once. After ample time to mourn the temporary loss of founding drummer Michael Fischer to fatherhood, Horseshoe's eclectic crowd can sample more of the rowdy flavor on the band's latest offering, Moving the Goods. Check out Ben Collis's smooth bass here or with the Good Luck Band during its long-standing Monday-night gig at Mary Jane's. -- J.F.

Horseshoe performs at 4 p.m. at Spy.

Jody Hughes
Nomination: Best Underground
Sound: Moog rock
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: This past year Jody Hughes lived out the American dream -- well, the American dream for white boys approaching 30, weaned on sci-fi movies and video games and now working in computer graphics, that is. After serving tours of duty with such groups as defunct punk-rockers Catbox, Hughes broke out and became his own one-man synth-rock outfit. His most recent performances have found him playing old-school analog synthesizers and indulging in rock-star fantasies. The self-titled, self-distributed album he released earlier this year went even further in displaying Hughes's taste for nostalgic irony, teaming computer-assembled retro riffs with quirky covers of M&oumltley Cr¨e's "Home Sweet Home" and Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing." But with all this techno skulduggery, one question remains: Is Jody Hughes really a novice living out his geek-rock dreams or an avant-garde artist just too damn hip for the room? Listen to his work and see if you get it or not. -- C.D.L.

Jody Hughes performs at 8 p.m. at Rehab.

Jeff Boortz Band
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound: Good rockin' in Texas
Time logged: One year since first release

Etc.: He looks like some kind of pouty-lipped teen angel, slick haircut, goatee and all. He writes songs about girls who try to break his heart. He's backed by guys who've played with such greats as Bob Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, Patty Griffin and Emmy Lou Harris. His friend Willie Nelson let him and his band record at Pedernales Studios. He's inspired by Lucinda Williams. He's Jeff Boortz, and not only is he the heartthrob of the Sidecar Pub, but he's well on his way to becoming a Texas rock idol himself. -- J.F.

Jeff Boortz Band performs at 5 p.m. at The Hub.

Ashbury Keys
Nomination: Best Rock/Pop
Sound: What's the Buzz?
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: Everything seems to be going according to plan for young Mr. Keys. A growing fan base, coveted opening slots for nationals and the beginnings of broader recognition. What's not to like? Besides pin-up-quality looks, Ashbury Keys has the ability to write instantly memorable pop songs. Nonetheless, it hasn't exactly been overnight success for ole Ash. Having spent many years playing mostly to his four walls, gigging only occasionally, Keys only recently put together a stable, high-quality backup band and dedicated himself to making something happen. As things stand, Ashbury Keys is as fine an example of guitar pop as you're likely to hear. Yearning yet confident, and with hooks around every corner, there's absolutely no reason Keys isn't already pouring nonstop out of your radio. The rest of the BS just needs to fall into line. -- C.S.

Ashbury Keys performs at 7 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Nomination: Best DJ/Dance
Sound: Memo from Captain Kirk
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: What an odd bunch of cats Lunatex is. Front man Levon Louis, who also runs Space City Records, claims he and another member, Jay Tee, come from Dimension 23, stardate 6969. Their mission, from a direct order of the Intergalactic Groove Council, is to increase positivity "one weekend at a time." Got it?

What should be noted is that the pair, with occasional help, does its best work live, pulling space-age electronica high jinks at raves and at regular venues like The Oven and Rehab. When this live-PA band gets its flake on, you can get your shake on. Sound fair? -- C.D.L.

Lunatex performs at 9p.m. at Spy (upstairs).

Mark Dini Group
Nomination: Best Jazz
Sound: Except for this gypsy named Django…
Time logged: 20-plus years

Etc.: Possessing enough technique to awe most of the rock players in town, jazz guitarist Mark Dini draws as much from Steely Dan and Jeff Beck as he does from Pat Metheny and Wes Montgomery. His contemporary jazz sounds aren't constrained by any one genre. He just plays songs he likes -- whether the composer is Stevie Wonder, Beck, Duke Ellington or Dini himself. Dini's set list appeals to both serious and casual jazz fans, and his keen judgment has earned him first-call status at Sambuca Jazz Cafe, where he not only headlines, but has opened for jazz stalwarts like Roy Hargrove and Larry Carlton. -- P.J.M.

The Mark Dini Group performs at 6 p.m. at The Hub.

Mark May
Nomination: Best Guitarist
Sound: Rockin' blues -- or is it bluesy rock?
Time logged: 18 years

Etc.: Though he was named Local Musician of the Year at the 1999 Houston Press Music Awards, in some ways Mark May hasn't really lived up to that title. Instead, he's been too busy working on his new handle, Touring Musician of the Year, traveling with his backing band, the Agitators, to blues festivals around the country and even taking a mini-tour across the border into Canada -- now that his reputation for powerhouse riffs blended with an appropriate amount of catchy melodies and yearning, bluesy lyrics is catching on with the rest of the world. While at home, he hasn't been out much either, instead hunkering down in the studio working on his third CD, to be released later this year. Content now to let other people do the worrying about what kind of category he fits into -- blues or rock? -- the guy once known for his tryout with the Allman Brothers Band has found his own niche. -- G.B.

Mark May and the Agitators perform at 9 p.m. at Elvia's Latin Grill.

Mi Rumba
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: Hot
Time logged: Two and a half years

Etc.: The folk who've just come from a Mi Rumba gig stick out like flowers in snow. They are sweaty. Cha-cha-cha-ing to the tropical merengue and salsa of this octet has that effect on human bods. A mix of traditional, "American" (like sax, keys and bass) and ethnic (such as the tamboura, guiro and congas) instrumentation, Mi Rumba's sound naturally appeals to all types. The gig is all originals, mostly in Spanish. The band plans to record later this year. -- A.M.

Mi Rumba performs at 8 p.m. at Ruggles Bistro Latino.

Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: Los Red Hot Chili Peppers
Time Logged: Four years

Etc.: A few years down the road, Ricky Martin will be nothing but a historical footnote. And Moscas will probably still be playing some of the most original Spanish-language rock around. Like so many members of this Latino generation, Moscas's original members Faustino Ortega (bass and lead vocals) and Moises Alanis (rhythm guitar) were born in Mexico and raised in the States. Along with lead guitarist Graham Kirby, the Houston boys grew up on Anglo-American rock, the Doors, Hendrix, the Beatles and Zep. For many of these Latinos, oompah-pah-oompah-pah accordion-based conjunto is as foreign to them as it is to young whites and blacks. After playing in English-language bands, Ortega saw an opportunity to come out in Spanish and make a real impact. Unfortunately, here in Texas, the conservative Hispanic media does not support rock en español. The band's most enthusiastic audience is in California, so a move to L.A. may be in the future after the new Moscas CD is completed. -- A.H.

Moscas performs at 8 p.m. at Elvia's Latin Grill.

Jimmy "T-99" Nelson
Nominations: Best Blues Musician, Musician of the Year, Song of the Year ("I'll Miss Show Business"), Songwriter of the Year, Album of the Year (Jumpin' and Shoutin' the Blues)
Sound: Comeback kid
Time logged: 60-plus years

Etc.: This former bricklayer who moved to Houston in 1955 has a rock-solid foundation in the blues. Finally getting another shot of hard-earned national recognition, Nelson reached a new career zenith, when, in his 80th year, he was nominated for two 1999 W.C. Handy Awards (the big kahuna trophies of the blues) for his long-anticipated CD release, Jumpin' and Shoutin' the Blues (Bullseye Blues and Jazz). With a voice textured by years of hard living and late nights in smoke-filled corner blues joints, Nelson is showing no signs of being weary of it all and is squeezing every ounce of enjoyment out of his musical renaissance. For Nelson, who acquired the T-99 handle after his 1951 hit, "T-99 Blues," it's all about respect for his art, and for his peers. That's why everybody from his running buddies from the old Apollo days to the younger musicians who had a chance to record with him during the Jumpin' and Shoutin' sessions uses the same word to describe the broad-shouldered singer: classy. -- G.B.

Jimmy "T-99" Nelson performs at 6 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe.

neural nectar
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: What your portable Casio does when you're not looking
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Though heavy, neural nectar is not your typical power trio. There's a vocalist/guitarist (Bobby Gordon, also the band's founder), drummer (Heath Cram) and -- here's the kicker -- turntablist (Amir Hydari). Having performed in this format for some time now, neural nectar has sharpened that bassless yet still rockful sound to a fine point, evident on the band's third and forthcoming CD, Zygoat. Recording has been completed and release is imminent. In the continuous drive to perfect the nectar experience, however, well-enough is never left alone, and by the time of the band's showcase a bass player might be standing on stage, marking the first time in two years one such player has done so. Fans who haven't seen the band lately might be pleasantly surprised to hear a couple of re-engineered tracks from the early days. It's the neural nectar way: stripping everything down to the basics, then slowly building it all back up, improving with each and every step. -- C.S.

neural nectar performs at 6 p.m. at No tsu oH.

Heath Spencer Philip
Nomination: Best Male Vocalist
Sound: Young white man channels dead blues singers
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: What strikes most people after a Heath Spencer Philip performance is his incredible, booming voice. He's also a wildman on stage. Backed by a small rhythm section billed collectively as the Heath Spencer Philip Show or members of the New Jack Hippies, Philip is an experienced singer who grew up with music all his life. He favors blues, rock, R&B and rockabilly, and is a frequent guest vocalist with the Hippies. The singer is featured on "Since My Baby Went Away," a song heard regularly on KPFT. -- S.C.

Heath Spencer Philip performs at 7 p.m. at Rehab.

Population Zero
Nomination: Best Dance/DJ
Sound: Organic e-music
Time logged: Nine years

Etc.: For live-PA act Population Zero, which consists of producer/performer Jason Walsh, the audience determines what genre will be played. That's why every Population Zero performance comes with two distinct set lists: the trance/hard techno set and the drum 'n' bass set. As a four-year pro of the Houston underground scene (before that, he played in the alt-rock band Backlash), Walsh knows it's best to come prepared. Walsh is assembling material for a forthcoming album. -- C.D.L.

Population Zero performs at 7 p.m. at Spy (upstairs).

Rusted Shut
Nomination: Best Industrial/Noise
Sound: Static
Time logged: 15 years

Etc.: Nothing happens at the same time, ever. It's true. If you want this phenomenon boiled down to its most absurd-yet-evident level, go see Rusted Shut. Guitars buzz, sticks collide with drums, low noises come from a bass, electronic sounds spill from a little box, some dude babbles or screams "Rusted Shut" over and over again. Never does the music "begin." Not that it is supposed to. A crowd will wait and wait for a song to start. And the ghost of a song will seem like it's beginning to take shape but… nothing will happen. And before you know it, you're watching the band unplug its guitars. You've been hooked into anticipating one song for the past two hours and have received nothing. You feel cheated. But that's the point.

Ever wonder why your car eventually dies no matter what you do to it? It's because all those things that are supposed to be happening simultaneously don't. They happen tens of thousandths of a second apart from each other, and over the course of years add up to problems. So, in this sense, maybe Rusted Shut is the perfect band for the ages. It has discovered the truth and is putting it forward: Everything is senseless. Order and progress are the illusion. -- C.S.

Rusted Shut performs at 5 p.m. at No tsu oH.

Guy Schwartz
Nomination: Songwriter of the Year
Sound: Blues for the masses
Time logged: 26 years

Etc.: Guy Schwartz is here for you. During a performance at Dan Electro's earlier this year, lawyer-by-day-guitarist-by-night Rick Lee sat in the audience, waiting his turn to take the stage with Schwartz's New Jack Hippies, an ever-revolving band of local musicians. Performers on stage switched instruments, seemingly random passersby strapped on guitars with casual ease -- as if taking a drag of someone else's cigarette -- and Schwartz, ever the utility player, like the Bobby Bonilla of local rock, played every position, from rhythm guitarist to lead vocalist. All the while, Lee sat quietly, taking in the sights and sounds. When, during a break, Schwartz and Lee were asked why Lee hadn't been invited to the stage yet, Schwartz said that Lee wanted to be Hippie No. 69, which was three performers away. Lee laughed, aw-shucks-like, in agreement. Schwartz looked on glowingly. Satisfying Lee's desire to be the sex number was Schwartz's small way of bringing just a little more sweetness to the scene. Gotta love a guy for that. -- A.M.

Guy Schwartz performs at 5 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Nomination: Best Male Vocalist (David Underwood)
Time logged: Four years
Sound: Spiritualized

Etc.: Some bands think novelty is the way to go, hiding weak musicianship and songwriting behind bunny ears and penis jokes. Or extremism. Rapping or rocking the loudest and fastest. Generally doing anything that separates them from everyone else -- because that's what the major labels really want, right? Uniqueness? So instead of doing something well, these types of bands do everything poorly. At the opposite side of this coin is Sevenfold. Just a quintet of boys hell-bent on making solid, polished pop rock. Led by lyricist and vocalist David Underwood and guitarist Dane Sonnier, he of Sonnier Brothers fame, Sevenfold mashes together strong, straightforward rhythms with catchy, unpredictable melody lines with spiritual lyrics that aren't overtly Christian but Christian enough to turn most listeners off. In a world of fools who think individuality is the avoidance of clichés, a band like Sevenfold is bravest of all. -- A.M.

Sevenfold performs at 5 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.

Simpleton Music
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound: We're gonna rap around the clock tonight
Time logged: One year

Etc.: Simpleton describes its sound as continuous nonstop flights of jazz, hip-hop, rock and soul. Formed last year from the remains of four different Houston bands, Simpleton Music already has an eponymous album to its credit, and last month was the opening act for No Doubt at the Woodlands Pavilion. Not a bad way for a quartet to kick off its first tour of duty together. -- P.J.M.

Simpleton performs at 8 p.m. at Spy (downstairs).

Nomination: Best Female Vocalist
Sound: Quiet storm
Time logged: One and a half years

Etc.: Song describes her style as alternative R&B. Sure enough, Song has the smoothness of Sade with the jazziness of Ella Fitzgerald, never really settling between the two. Her songs ebb and flow, and if you close your eyes, you can picture yourself in a 1920s-era smoky bar. In 1989, when Song was attending Huston Tillotson in Austin, she got her first taste of live pop, at SXSW. She had never seen a live band before that. Soon after, Song was singing in cover bands. After bouncing around from city to city, Song finally settled on Houston, where her family lives. -- G.G.

Song performs at 4 p.m. at The Hub.

South Park Mexican
Nominations: Best Rap/Hip-Hop, Musician of the Year, Song of the Year ("High So High"), Album of the Year (The 3rd Wish: To Rock the World), Songwriter of the Year
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Oh, what a wonderful year it has been for the one they refer to as the South Park Mexican. In Houston rap, he has become the breakout star of the year, making all the lesser-talented MCs out there his very own putas. His fourth album, The 3rd Wish: To Rock the World, is his biggest seller yet, spawning the oft-spun hit "High So High" and making his label, Dope House Records, the place where all young rappers want to drop their rhymes. He even got his music played on KRBE -- and you know damn well that station doesn't play local rap. Well, in an age of Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez, here's a Latino performer that wouldn't give anyone the satisfaction of seeing him wiggle his ass. He's from South Park, dammit. As he says on his album, the day of the wetback has striked upon thee. -- C.D.L.

South Park Mexican performs at 9 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.

Sugar Shack
Nomination: Best Punk/Ska
Sound: From their garage to you
Time logged: 14 years

Etc.: With rock-solid chops and timing that Rolex would envy, this quintet's joyous abandon in exploring the land between the punk and pop makes a strong statement both live and on record. Though occasionally repetitious, the group's most recent effort, Get Out of My World (Estrus Records), is hard-edged and juicy. Lyrically, the band explores the fringe and bizarre: lady vampires, Lotto prizes and even monogamy. Bulldozer rhythms, furious drumming and jacked-up vocals are abundant throughout. -- B.R.

Sugar Shack performs at 8 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.

DJ Sun
Nomination: Best DJ/Dance
Sound: Burn, baby, burn
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: Followers of the omnipresent DJ (and they're out there) are probably wondering whether the man will have time to accept the award if he wins. The popular acid-jazz spinner has spent the past year working overtime, serving up eclectic, bass-beautiful grooves at some of Houston's trendiest hangouts. Working six nights a week (oddly enough, he rests on Fridays), Sun (né Andre Sam-Sin) can be found playing such diverse venues as Hyperia, Swank Lounge, Privé and Brasil -- and that doesn't count the various events where he has spun alongside visiting performers like, most recently, Groove Collective. And of course, there is his long-running public-radio show, Soular Grooves, Saturday nights on KPFT. -- C.D.L.

DJ Sun performs at 5 p.m. at Spy (upstairs).

Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: All shook up
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: When Sur started out, the band's original goal was to bring South American folk music, a mix of Spanish guitar and Indian flutes, to a U.S. audience. But the band has moved toward creating a more American music with those same instruments. Sur's repertoire combines New Age folk, rumba flamenco and American pop classics played with flute and guitar and sung in English. A Sur set may include a version of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" with an Afro-Brazilian rhythm as well as songs in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Band members are Argentineans Alfredo Espinoso (tin flute, percussion and lead vocals) and Ricardo Rojas (second guitar, charango) and Mexico City natives Julio Medrano (lead and classical guitar) and Fernando Ledesma (bass and drums). Anything is possible. -- A.H.

Sur performs at 6 p.m. at Ruggles Bistro Latino.

Doug Supernaw
Nominations: Best C&W, Song of the Year ("21-17")
Sound: For when you're drivin' them Texas byways
Time logged: 19 years

Etc.: Country singer Doug Supernaw knows there are plenty of singers out there with more raw vocal talent. So working hard to stay at the top of his game has never really been an issue, in more ways than one. After all, Supernaw has in recent years shown off his superhuman grit, surviving a string of near-fatal accidents during the 1990s since moving back to Houston from Nashville. Since then, he has produced his best work to date, including the hit "21-17" (from the Fadin' Renegade album). That song has all the elements that Texans (and Supernaw's female fans) can relate to: a sensitive guy, a girl who breaks up with the guy and some hard-knockin' Friday-night football. Let's see Son of Hank and his new Monday Night Football buddy Dennis Miller top that. -- G.B.

Doug Supernaw performs at 9 p.m. at the Hard Rock Cafe.

The Suspects
Nomination: Best Punk/Ska
Sound: 76 trombones lead the big parade!…
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: The Suspects have been a longtime Houston favorite. In 1998 the band was nominated for Best Horn/Horn Section. And last year it won Best Reggae/World Music. All this makes front man Thomas Escalante wonder: "What category will we be next year?" Escalante thinks his band sounds more reggae this year than last. "The only thing that keeps us sounding ska," says Escalante, "is Bill [Grady]," the band's guitarist. The band's August release, tentatively titled The S-word, is actually a spin on the ubiquitous "ska" label. S-word, get it? -- G.G.

The Suspects perform at 9 p.m. at The Hub.

Texas Guinness Lovers
Nomination: Best Cover Band
Sound: Getting jiggy with it
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Although Texas Guinness Lovers isn't a cover band per se, last year's Best Cover Band winner does deliver interesting arrangements of country, R&B and traditional Irish songs and jigs along with original stuff. Unlike the Richmond Strip "cover bands" that search for imitative quality, TGL simply commandeers pre-existing folk material and converts it into its own brand of western swing with Irish roots. In fact, many people can't even tell which songs are the covers. Stevie Wonder, the Pogues, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline are among the artists TGL has usurped with its fiddles. -- S.C.

Texas Guinness Lovers perform at 5 p.m. at the Mercury Room.

Texas Johnny Brown
Nominations: Best Blues, Best Male Vocalist, Best Guitarist
Sound: Finger-licking blues
Time logged: More than half a century

Etc.: When Texas Johnny Brown picks up a guitar, it's as if the deep pulse of his Mississippi soul made time stand still. And Houstonians get to relive some of his boyhood, spent on trains, escorting his blind father and eventually his orphaned family from station to station. Maybe that's why Brown is such a local legend. Because he is history, from his youth to his early career touring on lead guitar with blues greats Bobby Bland and Junior Parker. No guru can match Brown's years of experience on the road. It was only in his seventies that he stayed put long enough to record his own album, the highly acclaimed Nothin' But the Truth. -- J.F.

Texas Johnny Brown performs at 7 p.m. at Spy (downstairs).

Thanx But No Thanx
Nomination: Best Punk/Ska
Sound: Mosh politely now
Time logged: Three years

Etc.: Certainly nobody could call this trio lazy, having appeared on a number of compilations and Cali radio playlists -- in addition to on its own records -- in such a relatively short period of time. Short on aggression but heavy on a pleasing, commercial-radio sound, TBNT's most recent CD, Strike 2 No Balls (Pinche Flojo Records) is jammed with short blasts of -- dare we say -- sunny energy, which nonetheless manages not to come off castrated. -- B.R.

Thanx But No Thanx performs at 5 p.m. at Rehab.

That Gospel Sound
Nomination: Best Underground
Sound: Red Coats in Tommy Boy gear
Time logged: On and off, about two years

Etc.: Where the '60s mod scene meets '00s showmanship, That Gospel Sound resides. Soulful pop never had better representation or a better stage show. Though many lineup changes have occurred over the past 24 months and the band's profile remains relatively low, That Gospel Sound has not been retired. You can hear (and request) "The Empty Sea" on KTRU. -- C.S.

That Gospel Sound performs at 6 p.m. at Elvia's Latin Grill.

Nomination: Best Percussionist(s) (Brian Davis)
Sound: Punk with Vishnu on the skins
Time logged: Seven years

Etc.: Brian Davis picks up the baton without missing a beat, getting the same nomination for the same award from the same band that his predecessor, Damon Delapaz (currently filling in with Blink-182), seemed to get lobbed at him every year during the mid-'90s. What the two have in common is an ability to add texture to punk without transforming the sound into something else. And yes, that's harder than it seems. Davis also says that tales of 30footFALL's split have been greatly exaggerated. All that's happening is that a new guitarist is being worked in. The band will continue performing on the regional circuit in the meantime. And if you can't check out Davis with 30footFALL, you can also find him holding down the skins for Middlefinger (since 1995). -- C.S.

30footFALL performs at 7 p.m. at the Aerial Theater.

Nominations: Best Funk/R&B, Best Horn/Horn Section
Sound: Horny
Time logged: Almost six years

Etc.: TKoH! (pronounced "T-K-O") has been playing Sunday nights at Instant Karma since before the club got that name. With a regular cast of seven to 13 members, these professional jazz musicians converge under the TKoH! banner to play funk and soul instrumentals or covers and, mostly, just to jam. They'll play about two minutes of a Steely Dan cover and then open it up for solos, which often last longer than the song itself. Sometimes guest stars join in. -- S.C.

TKoH! performs at 6 p.m. at Mercury Room.

Vintage SKV
Nomination: Best Funk/R&B
Sound: Party's over here
Time logged: Five years

Etc.: Vintage SKV's stated aim is to "funk-dify," and its blend of up-tempo R&B with bass-heavy smooth jazz may just do that. Founded by keyboardist Tanny O. Busby (a.k.a. Chairman of the Board) and saxophonist Richard "Sweet Rich" Moore, Vintage SKV soon added a guitarist, drummer and two female vocalists. The "SKV" in the name stands for sax, keys and vocals. The band's repertoire of covers and original pieces runs the gamut. -- S.C.

Vintage SKV performs at 7 p.m. at The Mercantile.

Norma Zenteno
Nomination: Best Tejano/Latin
Sound: Shake, shake, shake…
Time logged: Eons

Etc.: Not much left to say about Norma Zenteno. The woman has won so many times in the past, readers probably know the reputation. But there's good reason she has been recognized so many times. Proclaimed "Houston's Salsa Queen," Zenteno kicks out hip-shaking, shoulder-shimmy dance. Zenteno knows her salsa, all right. But though she resides in Texas -- Houston in particular -- she cringes at the thought of her music being described as "Tejano." -- G.G.

Norma Zenteno performs at 9 p.m. at the Mercury Room.

The Zydeco Dots
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound: This he-ahh's authentic
Time logged: 13 years

Etc.: What we've come to understand as zydeco is largely the creation of one man, Clifton Chenier, who made his home in Houston. It's a bluesy, rock-based sound led by an accordion and backed by heavy drums, guitar and bass. And that's exactly what the Zydeco Dots specialize in. Lead guitarist Tom Potter and rubboard player Mike Vee have been with band since the beginning, and guitarist Thurman Hurst and drummer Joe Rossyion have been with the Dots for more than a decade. That's a long time as local bands go. Accordionist Leon Sam, at 37, is actually the young guy of the bunch. The band plays about 200 gigs a year, mostly in the Houston area. If you want to know how regarded the Dots are, Clifton's son, C.J. Chenier, sits in with the band whenever he's not on tour. -- A.H.

The Zydeco Dots perform at 8 p.m. at the Mercury Room.

Houston Press Music Awards previews were written by Greg Barr, Sande Chen, Jennifer Freytag, Giselle Greenwood, Aaron Howard, Craig D. Lindsey, Paul J. MacArthur, Anthony Mariani, Bob Ruggiero and Chris Smith

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