By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
Damn, who knew someone from Arlington had so much soul? Morris touches on that icky new country, but mostly she hangs about with the ghosts of Nashville's past. As gritty as the floor of an old stadium, Morris sings with conviction and finesse but hits the dirty notes of the third wave of country. She'd be equally comfortable playing AAC as an old honky-tonk.
Nominated for Best Country/Roots, Best Folk/Acoustic, Best Album (Everbody Has a Dark Side), Best Song ("These Tears Could Rust a Train")
The perfect setting for the Theater Fire's blend of rustic Americana and Southwestern music would be under a full moon on some sweltering backwoods porch, where listeners slap mosquitoes on their sweat-slicked skin, pass around little brown jugs of hooch and laugh when the hounds howl along with the performance.
Fishing for Comets
Nominated for Best Folk/Acoustic, Best Female Singer (Camille Cortinas)
What's wrong with a little happiness? Nothing—at least according to Fishing for Comets, with their sweet, unapologetic melodies, acousto-jangle and occasional accordion forays. When singer Camile Cortinas sings, "It's just so cute/Watching the waitress/Get swept off her feet" in her happy-go-lucky voice, you don't mind a bit. With pop this coy and catchy, you can throw away your Zoloft.
Nominated for Best Act in Town
Billed as the "premier Celtic rock band in the Southwest" (really!), the Killdares have been around since 1996, proving you can shred on a fiddle as much as you can with a Gibson. This is no Riverdance train wreck. Nope, the Killdares sound like what a rock band would sound like in The Hobbit—all distorto guitar, fiddle, bass and even John Bonham-esque drum bash.
Nominated for Best Folk/Acoustic
Gliding as smoothly as a crossfader from genre to genre, Calhoun's got something to please even the most jaded music fan. Straight-ahead rock? Check. Soft, acoustic ballads that eschew cheese in favor of a dark intensity? Disco? A smidge. New wave? Pass the hair gel. Which is not to say this crew is a bunch of dilettantes. They're simply music travelers, masters of each domain and unfettered by the concepts of genre.
Nominated for Best Blues
Months ago, THe BAcksliders mailed out a bunch of vinyl 45s as their press copies of a new single. As in, you know, a real live pressed platter, wrapped in cellophane and with cover art you could actually see. Opening that mother up, sliding out the disc with care, we were transported back to our eighth-grade trips to Sound Warehouse and Peaches Records. And that's how THe BAcksliders roll, with retro rock they can actually back up. They put their vinyl where their mouth is.
Nominated for Best Jazz, Best Female Singer (Amy Curnow)
Talk about eclectic: S5 harks back to those steamy Deep Ellum nights when chanteuses joined with punk rockers to put together a rockabilly band. In this case, make that a chanteuse, Amy Curnow, who has teamed up with a Billy Zoom-type guitarist and Dave Gahan-type keyboardist to produce some of the most original music you'll hear this side of the Trinity. At its soul sultry torch song sweetness, S5's output escapes the pigeonhole with brilliant guitar touches and warm, smart synths.
Nominated for Best Rap/Hip-hop, Best Album (Tres Monos in Love), Best Song ("Work It Out"), Best Producer (Picnic)
PPT knows what time it is. This hip-hop trio from tha Funky might as well be De La Soul reincarnate, with their tricky rhymes and sophisticated pop culture pickins (ever hear a rap band sample Flock of Seagulls?). Not to say they're lightweights—Pikahsso, Picnic and Tahiti have carved names for themselves with talent and humor, picking up the alt-rap mantle long ago abandoned by Tribe and the like.