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The Rock & The Aftermath [8/01/2007 11:08:00 PM]:
It's been an odd few days, that's for sure... I dragged the wife out to the Houston Press Music Awards this past Sunday in downtown, and although we got there late (right at 8PM), we still managed to catch some darn good bands. First we saw part of The Scattered Pages' set at Venue (they basically were playing their folky, melancholy pop-rock for the hip-hop headz who stuck around after the Grit Boys) before hiking over to the Verizon to catch funk/ska/pop/etc. guys The Handsomes (who were good but really needed to be playing a smaller room, unfortunately; things felt a bit empty in the big-ass theater).

After that Kim really wanted to see Million Year Dance at Livé (they bring plants on stage with 'em; no, really), so I watched part of their show and then ran down the block in time to catch the second half of Sharks and Sailors -- who, as I'd pretty much expected, crushed the place with their dextrous, math-y brand of heavy post-rock. Not as many bands as I'd hoped to see, admittedly, but under the circumstances (I couldn't very well bail on my dad's birthday party to get downtown earlier, so y'know), it was a good time. And hey, for $10 apiece, it's hard to beat. Damn, I love the HPMAs.

Meanwhile, as MYD was finishing up their set (they went on longer than most, apparently), SCR writer Russell managed to track me down after corralling any guy he saw with a blue T-shirt on, not to mention grabbing fellow SCR contributor Danny Mee, who was representin' wearing one of the very, very, very few Space City Rock shirts currently in existence. As the bar emptied, we grabbed a table and chatted for another hour or so about the state of the scene, journo shit in general (mind you, I don't particularly think of myself as a "journalist," myself, just a slacker amateur writer guy, but Russell's got quite a bit of real-live professional journalism experience), and the need to, yes, occasionally trash a band in a review. (It's sometimes necessary, I swear.)

We finally got up to head on back to the M-land 'hood, and Russell mentioned that he'd gotten invited to the official Houston Press Music Awards ceremony, and that I should come with him and crash the party (well, kinda, anyway). Neither of us really knew what to expect, so we joked about just standing around & dissing the Press -- I'd gotten an invitation, too, but I've never actually been to one of these things before, and I'm not entirely sure why they keep inviting me to this stuff. I haven't been in a band in years, and I've got about as much connection to the Press as I do, say, Der Spiegel. Maybe I'm on somebody's list as still being a freelancer for 'em, even though I haven't written an article for the paper since 2001 or so; I dunno.

At any rate, I went, and it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be, all things considered. For one thing, my fears of being somehow found out and given the boot turned out to be unfounded -- as far as we could tell, there was no registration whatsoever, no vigilant Press staffers manning the door, and no embarrassing "My name is: Tony Vega" nametags being handed out. Hell, we didn't even get patted down, which is pretty rare at a venue like Warehouse Live. Anybody could've just meandered in off the street, grabbed themselves some free food, and mingled with a Who's Who (okay, kinda) of Houston music.

Russell pointed out, by the way, that there's really no reason the Press doesn't do that -- why not make the awards ceremony free for bands & such and have it open to everybody else for $5 or something? Granted, the bands only play a song or two apiece, but still, if you didn't get to see The Black Math Experiment play at the actual showcase, it might be worth your while.

Once inside, it was a little surreal. One of my all-time favorite hip-hop artists (and not just in H-town), Devin the Dude, wandered past me at one point, and I had to really fight the urge to grab him by the shoulder and yell, "You're Devin the fuckin' Dude! Holy shit!" Russell and I handicapped the nominees, mostly successfully (I think we were both clueless on the Alt-Rock, Metal, and Salsa categories), and he introduced me to Press Music Editor John Lomax, who I think had me confused with somebody else, 'cause he said it'd been a long time since he'd seen me (we'd never met in person before) and that I was clean-shaven back then (I haven't been clean-shaven since 1990 or so, barring a brief one-month period back in 2001 when my wife asked me to shave the 'stache off and immediately regretted it). But hey, he was friendly enough, and his new Assistant Editor, Chris, seemed pretty nice.

I got to tell Al of Sharks and Sailors how much I liked their performance at the showcase the other night, and then The Scattered Pages played a song, which sounded a heck of a lot better at Warehouse Live than it had at Venue. Arthur Yoria did an acoustic version of one of his newer songs, which was great as always, except that apparently only a handful of folks were paying attention.

Little Joe Washington was pretty much the highlight of the night, stumbling onstage to accept his well-deserved award for Best Blues and declaring that, "you may not know it, but I'm a baaaaad motherfucker." He then tried to tell a story about going on a plane to Japan, but he kept losing his train of thought when the audience clapped and cheered and he had to tell 'em to shut up. Man, that guy's freakin' incredible...

Russell ended up doing some networking with a gaggle of Press chicks, so after finally getting to see The Dimes play live -- congrats, by the way, you guys; you were incredible, and I'm glad you won -- I shuffled my homebody self on out the door and made the long trudge back to the car. Not sure if I'll ever make it out to the awards again (assuming I'm ever invited again, naturally), but it was good to see some folks I missed on Sunday (Arthur, Black Math Experiment, Dimes) and nice to at long last be able to put faces to some names I'd heard of for years, like The Mighty Orq and Uncle Tick. 'Til next year, HPMAs...

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