No, the results this year weren't as unforeseen as an 18-wheeler with a full load of motorcycle batteries rounding a blind curve--hardly--but there is that same sense of unearthly quiet afterwards. All of us here at the Observer thank you for participating, because it is you who ultimately ratify our efforts. Like the bands who appear in these pages, we would be nothing without an audience. That means you, and this means "thank you." Without any more brouhaha, the envelopes, please.
Best Act Overall: The Toadies
Undeniable dominance, with roughly 2.5 times the votes of (each of) the second-place trio: the Old 97's, Slow Roosevelt, and Cowboys and Indians. Grand Street Cryers followed.
New Act: Radish
Leading another cluster of three contenders (GSC, Kim Lenz and her Jaguars, plus the Tomorrowpeople) by a good 100-150 votes, Greenville's finest--by now almost able to drive--finish big.
Most Improved Act: Quickserv Johnny
The guys who learned to spell in the "self-serv" line at the gas station bested UFOFU by less than two dozen votes. Keeping close--but not that close--company were GSC and Buck Jones.
Rock: Slow Roosevelt
Almost twice the votes of a follow-up triad (there's a statistics paper in this next-best trio thing somewhere) led by Pimpadelic, American Fuse, and Strap.
Saving UFOFU's payoff for a category to which they're probably better suited, fans awarded the band the crown in this race, with hot pursuit given by pop poppins, Bobgoblin, GSC, and Tablet.
Country & Western: Old 97's
No surprise here, but a surprisingly good showing by No. 2 mainstream comer LeAnn Rimes, followed by swingsters Cowboys and Indians. Donny Ray Ford can lay claim to No. 3 and "beloved," with almost 20 times the votes of Denton's own No. 4, Slobberbone.
Metal: Slow Roosevelt
Followed several lengths behind by REO Speedealer, then (a few more lengths each, respectively) by Brutal Juice and Stink!#bug.
Cover Band: Hard Night's Day
If they can keep from gutting themselves, HND has loyalty to spare, with over 1.5 times the votes of No. 2, popular cocktail captain Johnny Reno.
Folk/Acoustic: Colin Boyd
How to win this category? Play, play, play. El Segundo Meredith Miller probably dug her 80-some-vote trailing position by moving to Austin for a while, and Deep Ellum mainstay Spyche came in a respectable third with slightly over 200 votes.
Funk/R&B: Elvis T. Busboy
The clown prince to the cape and crown of James Brown, the people's choice, with 250 percent more votes than runners-up both funky (Afton Shack) and soulful (Bobby Patterson), Elvis T. proves that folks can tell: Sincerity pays off.
Watusi's run for the roses makes sense; Ooga Booga's follow-up 100 votes behind less so. Ras Tumba's position at third--and with approximately a third of Ooga's votes--is unfortunate, but--in light of No. 2--certainly no surprise.
Avant-Garde/Experimental: Cafe Noir
As it should be. Cafe Noir's gypsy jazz led similarly dedicated efforts by, in order of finish, the Enablers, Corn Mo, and Mazinga Phaser, with an honorable mention ribbon to Light Bright Highway. After that, single digits.
Welcome to a race built on misconception. Overwhelming fave Pimpadelic deserves mention--although probably not under this heading. And including No. 2 Professor D and the Play School requires a degree of elasticity that even Stretch Armstrong couldn't muster. Better the prize go to No. 3 Mad Flava--with nearly a third of Pimpadelic's vote, or Shabazz 3, with less than a quarter.
Jazz: Earl Harvin
Another shoo-in, followed at the halfway mark by Kirk Whalum. Hunter Sullivan's showing at third--a few votes ahead of Marchel Ivery and Shelley Carrol--is a puzzling bit of not-exactly-reassuring news.
Blues: Elvis T. Busboy
Elvis and Andy T.--in the latter case, the T is for Timmons--are separated by a few votes only. Bugs Henderson has earned his spot at third, some 50 votes behind, and Cricket Taylor proves, at fourth, how impression can confound intention. But why does Henry Qualls--much more the real deal--languish at fourth and local devotee Hash Brown at fifth? Talk about the blues.
Single Release (1996): Toadies, "Paper Dress"
The fave rave grupo of '96 carries on with almost twice the votes accorded the Old 97's "Cryin' Drunk," and nearly 2.5 times the total of Grand Street Cryers' "Angie Wood."
Album Release (1996): REO Speedealer, REO Speedealer
REO edged out Pump'n Ethyl's Thank God I'm Living in the USA by about the same amount that Living passed rubberbullet's open. Bedhead took fourth with Beheaded. Mess drew up the rear with Pretty Ugly, and, Funland, still, got 82 votes--and fourth place--from old fans no doubt still mourning.