By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Rob G. and the Latin Pimps
When I received a CD by a band called Latin Pimps, I made sure to procrastinate opening the plastic seal. After working in a kitchen where every generic Latin band in the world became the soundtrack to flipping hamburgers, I was burned out on the genre. And the band's goofy name didn't help. But I noticed Centro-matic's Matt Pence (winner of the Best Producer award) credited with mixing Me Voy (translation: I'm Going), and it was enough to pique my interest. Turns out the music is more than merely palatable--somewhere between Gipsy Kings and Calexico, which means it's mainstream enough for a casual listener but has interesting musical twists for the discerning ear. This full-on Latin band succeeds in both traditional Latin rhythms, with lovely horn melodies over strumming guitars and Robert Gomez's Tecate-soaked vocals, and also more experimental sounds, like the ringing bells and xylophones peppered through "Me Voy Postludio." Don't write off this category as I almost did. Rob G. and the Latin Pimps are making music that deserves even bigger awards than this one. --S.M.
You might be surprised at the number of blues clubs around town: Keys Lounge, Deep Ellum Blues, Lota's Goat, Hole in the Wall, 6th Street Grill, J&J's, to name a few. It's hard to believe they can all stay in business, what with no radio station to support the genre like rock, hip-hop and Latin music receive. Even more interesting is that one band plays so many of these joints it could single-handedly keep them all afloat. The Silvertones, three-time winners of the best blues award, have been rustling around Dallas since 1993, and to put that in perspective, blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan has been dead only three years longer than they've been together. It's an appropriate touchstone, as Leo De La Vega leads his rock-leaning blues quartet with loud howls and guitar wails that would make Vaughan a proud papa. The guys are currently at work on a third LP, and in the meantime, you can always catch them live. Don't worry if you miss a show--you'll just have to wait a couple of days. --S.M.
Hard Night's Day
Show me someone who doesn't like the Beatles, and I'll show you a grouch who hasn't actually listened to them. Look, I don't care what kind of music you're into--the Beatles wrote a song for you, whether it's the buzzmuffle of "Revolution 9" or the pure heartbroken perfection of "Junk." People who hate the Beatles are just being difficult, which is exactly how I feel about people who don't like Hard Night's Day. Sure, they're a cover band. Sure, it's the least controversial music ever. Get over it. This Fab Four tribute act (oddly numbering five) are not only great musicians, but they also put on a show that is as hard to resist as a two-scoop ice cream sundae. HND's regular happy-hour gigs at Club Dada, The Bone and Lakewood Bar & Grill (among other locales) are sunny, toe-tapping evenings that bridge the chasm between moms and granddads, little girls and their daddies, couples of all ages, even snarky music journalist-types nursing a beer or seven. And by show's end, you'll find the whole strange crew on the dance floor, awkward and unconcerned, singing along to, say, "Come Together," which is exactly what this band makes happen. There's a reason Hard Night's Day has won the cover band category three years in a row. You like them. You really, really like them. --S.H.
The Adventure Club
Best Radio Program That Plays Local Music
Josh Venable's Sunday-night show The Adventure Club is DOMA's safest bet--with eight awards received in its 11 years on The Edge. But it's not just his home on a Clear Channel station, his longevity, a prime-time slot (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.), rabid fans, industry connections and great prize giveaways that cinch his victories. He has the music, too. Where else can you hear Christy Darlington cover Morrissey's "Sister I'm a Poet," not-yet-released tracks by The Deathray Davies and an acoustic session with the pAper chAse? It's those rarities that keep fans TiVoing The Simpsons and Arrested Development so they can tune in to The Adventure Club. Granted, Venable doesn't play local music exclusively, but he places it on an even scale with Bright Eyes, Morrissey or The Libertines--opening ears and, possibly, wallets of people who might not spend their weekends in bars catching local talent. In this category, Venable is like the local band on a major label--homegrown talent with the wattage and financial support that the other guys don't have (except for fellow Edge program/DOMA nominee The Local Show with Chris Ryan, The Adventure Club's harder-edged, red-headed stepchild). But the indie kids, some of whom credit Venable for encouraging them to start their own shows, deserve props as well. KTCU's The Good Show brings bands into the studio each Sunday night to perform a few of their songs, play some others and maybe request a few of their favorites. And KNTU's Frequency Down this year added a new segment called "Playing Favorites," in which local bands play one song that best represents them and a handful of tracks that influenced or inspired them (The Happy Bullets and Black Tie Dynasty are among the participants so far). Tune in if you can; it's not like you're cheating, since they air after The Adventure Club ends anyway. And, of course, you can catch Texas Radio1 online, all day, every day, at TexasRadio1.com. When you get down to it, they're all pretty safe bets. --S.S.