The HPMAs Are Here! (Kind Of!) Vote Now! Controversy!
Alright, so I’m way behind, naturally, on this, but I wanted to point out to the woefully-clueless who don’t already know that the justly-ballyhooed Houston Press Music Awards are once more upon us.
There’s good news and bad news about that, but let’s start with the former. Voting started, erm, a week or so ago, but never fear — you can cast your vote between now and midnight on July 31st (wait…is that midnight on July 30th, then? Uh-oh…). And vote you should, because there is a fine, fine slate of bands, releases, and musicians on the list this time around.
There’s a neat new mechanism this year, by the way, which lets you save your ballot before you’ve filled out the whole thing, so don’t panic and think you have to somehow decide on all those damned crucial categories in one marathon session; just take a deep breath, walk away, and come back to it again later, right? Whatever you’ve got saved by the end of the voting period, well, that’s your completed ballot. Pretty cool, I have to say.
To nominate, or not to nominate, that is question…(er, no, actually, it’s not, really; it just sounded smart)
Before I go on, though, I wanted to note that I’m kind of glad about my usual slacker-ness this time out, because it’s let me sit back and observe as things burst into flames around this year’s nomination process.
The good people over at the Houston Press have gotten a whole lot of flack over the past couple of years when it comes to the mechanism they’ve used for bands/musicians/etc. to get nominated. I’ll grant that yours truly has thrown some punches (albeit hopefully friendly ones) their way in years past, particularly around the whole “open nominations” thing they were trying for a while there.
Democratic and free-wheeling though that approach may’ve been, I thought it unfairly left out deserving bands & such who don’t go in for the online stuff nearly as much — if you had a vocal, energetic online fan base, you had a much better shot at getting nominated, it seemed like, whereas bands that eschew that sort of thing, for whatever reason, got left out in the cold.
Of course, some graybeards out there might recall that the reason the HP went to that scheme in the first place was because they got hammered every year with criticism for the previous process, which basically had them poll a whole bunch of prominent music-scene folks and get their nominations, then boil those down to the list you could then vote on. This, predictably, led to charges that they were letting a bunch of music-snob elitists dictate what was deemed “good” in Houston music, that they were unfairly leaving out deserving bands/musicians who didn’t hang out in Montrose, etc. All of which, I’ve got to admit (speaking as one of said music-snob elitists), were pretty valid complaints.
In short, the HP has now been screwed both ways.
So this year, they decided to do it all. As in years past, they went first to some local music-scene folks — the HP-ers are keeping the list anonymous, but hell, I’ll freely admit that I was one of ’em, and yeah, I was pretty flattered — to get their take, but then they also opened up the floor for write-ins from all & sundry.
Apparently, it went off pretty painfully. After the initial announcement, it sounds like they got completely slammed with angry comments, even though they hinted that they had “one more wrinkle in store,” which I’m guessing was the write-in idea. On the positive side, a whole lot of people did in fact write in their favorites, and hey, that’s awesome. The more, the merrier.
In the end, I guess the takeaway is that you can’t please people all of the time, and you’re never going to be able to please all of the people, period. I think the process this year, painful as it may’ve been, was the best option possible, and I wholeheartedly applaud the HP staff for doing their best to bridge the gap.
And Now For the Bad News…
The various announcements from the Houston Press around this year’s Awards included a fairly large chunk of bad — okay, make that “disappointing,” rather — news, and if you just glanced at it like I did at first, you might’ve missed it: the multi-venue nominee showcase isn’t happening this year. To which: damn, that hurts.
Alright, alright, I know I haven’t been able to go myself in a few years now (The Fam always seems to be headed out on vacation right then, somehow). But still, for a lot of people (me included), the showcase was the HPMAs. That was one of the big things I used to look forward to every year, bouncing from stage to stage to see as many of my favorite bands as I possibly could.
This year, though, they’ve decided to skip it. Not entirely sure of the reasons why, but there it is; actually, I suspected that maybe the brand-new Houston Whatever Fest was being created by the HP gang to be the quasi-replacement for the HPMA showcase. That’s not the case, it turns out — it’s just one hell of a weird coincidence.
But All Is Not Lost…
Us HPMA-lovers aren’t totally screwed for music, mind you; just because there’s no showcase this year, that doesn’t mean there’s no awards ceremony. That’s where the action will be, on Thurs., August 7th over at the Warehouse Live (so you can see my confusion about Whatever Fest, seeing as it’s at the same venue the following two days…), where awards will be handed out in the actual ceremony at 7PM, which is open only by invitation to nominees and guests, and then bands will rock the hell out at 9PM for the public at large.
They’ve picked some damn, damn cool people to play, of course, with headlining soul-psych rockers The Tontons, rocksteady/soul-ska/reggae outfit The Suffers, über-bearded emo-alt rock dudes the last place you look, and down-and-dirty funk rockers Electric Attitude, all of whom I like a freaking ton. (Seriously.) Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 if you get ’em at the door.
Okay — Now, for the Voting…
With all of that out of the way, alright, let’s get down to the voting. To cast your vote, again, get on over here; one vote per person, one vote per category, and you can vote in however many categories you want.
And regardless of the grumbling from whichever side, the list of nominees is pretty damn good. While there’re definitely holes in the list (no The Church of Philadelphia? Man…), I’m psyched to see that The Tontons, The Wild Moccasins, newcomers BLSHS, the Linus Pauling Quartet, B.E. Godfrey (who, unfortunately, has just moved away from our fair city), and even the under-appreciated Ragged Hearts all made the “Best Local Recording” list (and no, I have no idea how I’m going to choose between those, dammit), and it’s great to see The Suffers (for their sweet, soulful video for “Gwan”), Featherface, and The Wild Moccasins make the “Best Local Music Video” list, and especially excited that Two Star Symphony got a nomination nod for Jerry Ochoa‘s scary-as-fuck video for “The Ninth Level”.
“Local Musician of the Year” is a tough pick, again, between B.E. Godfrey, Nick Gaitan, Kam Franklin, Nick Greer(!), Asli Omar, and Chase Hamblin, and I’m rolling the dice, as well, for “Best New Act,” unable to pick between BLSHS, Catch Fever, Children of Pop, & Satellite D’Homme. B.E. Godfrey and Sergio Trevino of Buxton certainly deserve the nod for “Best Songwriter,” but I’m thrilled Steven Higginbotham of The Wheel Workers made the cut, too.
I’m always a little “meh” on the “Best Male Vocals” & “Best Female Vocals” categories, mostly because it seems like a lot of my personal favorite singers don’t ever make it on there (Keeton Coffman, I was pulling for you…). Still, it’s great to see Ben “Nominated for Everything” Godfrey, Kam “Ditto” Franklin, Michelle Miers of BLSHS, Zahira Gutierrez of Wild Moccasins, Sergio Trevino, and Asli Omar of The Tontons on there this year…
Looking further down the list…sweet! Finnegan, Craig Kinsey, Second Lovers, and The Wandering Bufaleros all got the nom for “Best Folk/Americana Act” (alongside Buxton, obviously), and Knights of the Fire Kingdom sure as hell deserve to get listed for “Best Traditional Rock Act,” although I’m kinda confused why Young Mammals — awesome though they are — got lumped in there.
Other folks I’m happy to see nominated for things include Jealous Creatures, the last place you look, Mikey & The Drags, The Hates, Omotai, We Were Wolves, Scale The Summit, Venomous Maximus, P.L.X.T.X, FLCON FCKER, Picture Book, Bang Bangz, New York City Queens, Only Beast, and Grand Old Grizzly (the latter four of which are in the new “Reader’s Choice” category created for the write-ins this year). High-fives to all…
phew. There you have it; get your ass online to vote, then make plans to hit the post-awards show to see at least a handful of the folks you maybe-hopefully voted for. Cool? Cool.