Hey now, don't get greedy! This retro synth-rock outfit took in the most nominations this year, and walked away with a cool three awards. But Kerschen's impromptu abandon may explain why Japanic is becoming quite the popular band. With Japanic's second album, Social Disease, making its way into people's CD changers and the group's rep as a charismatic, eccentric live act ever increasing, Cigainero can speak for her cohorts and say they're glad at least folks are noticing.
"I think everyone will agree that we've worked really hard in Houston, and outside of Houston, too," says Cigainero. "You always say, 'It's no big deal. Awards are nothing.' But it still makes you feel good that people know you're out there making an effort."
Cigainero confirms that Kerschen will handle all acceptance speeches. Oh, let's just hope nobody gets hurt. -- C.D.L.
Critic's pick (Best Alternative): Japanic
Critic's pick (Best Keyboardist):
Critic's pick (Album of the Year): The Houston Kid, Rodney Crowell
Since the release of American Trailer Home Blues in late 1997, psychedelic rockers Moses Guest have followed the basic blueprint for mid-level success. Aside from a semiregular gig at Last Concert, they make their annual springtime jaunt to the High Sierras and check in on their South Central outposts in Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. But next year promises much more for the first-time winners.
The big news, you see, comes in the smallest package. They have released a preview EP, foreshadowing the whole enchilada that will arrive around Christmastime in the form of a double, self-titled CD. Says Graham Guest: "We're considering this our ma--" he almost said magnum opus, I believe, which is okay, considering his advanced degree in philosophy -- "er, our major effort."
To the philosopher Hegel, the German word Aufheben, MG's unofficial motto, meant to replace yesterday's blues with today's joys, while wringing those blues for all the higher truth they are worth. Aufheben away, boys. -- J.N.L.
Critic's pick: Moses Guest
Best Metal/Hard Rock
Like when Jethro Tull took home the inaugural Heavy Metal Grammy, it's unclear if even Sevenfold knows what to make of this award. During balloting, the band's Web site asked visitors to "vote for Sevenfold in the Best Metal/Hard Rock category or write them in where ever you feel they deserve." Sevenfold describes itself as modern rock. The Press once used the term melodic rock. Regardless of the label, there can be little arguing about the quality of the band. It has performed with acts ranging from the Newsboys to Godsmack, even mixing in an opening spot for John Fogerty at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ability to straddle the Christian/secular fence and maintain an edge probably won't hurt in an age where vaguely spiritual goodies by the likes of Collective Soul and Creed seem to be omnipresent. Viva la Fold! -- Chris Smith
Critic's pick: Pure Rubbish
Best Punk/Ska; Best Underground; Best Drummer (Brian Davis) 30footFALL
It just wouldn't be the Houston Press Music Awards without 30footFALL once again rising to the top of the heap. And in case you haven't yet had an opportunity to check out the band, there's a reason for the enduring accolades: They deliver, time after time after time. 30footFALL entertains, gets its lefty views across, makes sure there's a party going on, and does all of this with aplomb often far removed from the "punk" genre. The underground classification is, frankly, somewhat dubious, given the group's gigantic local profile and multiple national releases on established labels such as Nitro and Fearless. But maybe the punk label merely recognizes that the band members still have their day jobs, that the band doesn't fit completely into any given mold and probably wouldn't be liked by your parents. And a 21 rim-shot salute to Brian Davis for maintaining his recent stranglehold on best drummer honors and demonstrating the terms "punk," "drummer" and "musician" can legitimately coexist. -- C.S.
Critic's pick (Best Punk/Ska): Middlefinger
Critic's pick (Best Underground): Fatal Flying Guilloteens
Critic's pick (Best Drummer): Albert "Tony" Stewart (Lil' Brian & The Zydeco Travelers)
Grady Gaines & The Texas Upsetters
Back when R&B was more blues than rhythm and owed an obvious debt to the likes of Ray Charles and Louis Jordan, Grady Gaines was picking up his tenor and blowing like a Texan. His three-year association with Little Richard in the mid-'50s yielded recordings like "Long Tall Sally," "Ooh, My Soul" and "Keep A Knockin'," which are at once R&B classics and seminal moments in early rock and roll. As Richard's right-hand sax man, Gaines proved to be one of the few reedmen with enough testicular fortitude to keep up with Mr. Penniman.