Houston Press Nomination Picks

Please cast your vote to nominate Drop Trio for year's Houston Press! We'd love your support. Click here to open a new window and fill out the form. Vote for:
Drop Trio - Best New Act, Best Jazz, Best Funk / Soul / R&B
Ian Varley (Drop Trio) - Best Keyboards
Mike Blattel (Drop Trio) - Best Drums
Nino Batista (Drop Trio) - Best Bassist
Big Dipper by Drop Trio - Album Of The Year
Vote now!

Not sure who else to pick? Here's a list of some of our friends and favorites, and we think they deserve a nomination this year. The ones Drop Trio really wants your vote on are in pink.

Disclaimer: we're only human, so if we missed ya, it's just cuz we're dumb, so email us a reminder.


There are tons of new acts in town in the past couple years, including Drop Trio (hint, hint). Other newcomers playing original music are the awesome string quartet Two Star Symphony, Brad Martin's Psychodillos, and The Neutral Sisters.


OK, we have to admit to not knowing too many metal bands. If you watch Remus Radio, there's a pretty good chance Scott will post his picks before long. We've got pals who work with Hollister Fracus and Full Circle, so in lieu of another option, go with them. Other picks can be found with our pals at Fire & Ice Promotions.


Again, not too familiar with this scene, but we've got a friend in Gun Crazy, so they're a good bet. Dunno if you can call Chango Jackson or JW Americana "punk", but if so, consider them too.


Too many bands, too few votes! John Egan is one of the unsung giants of the Houston blues community, playing some of the down-n-dirtiest of the bayou blues. Sonny Boy Terry is one of the most rockin' blues harp players we've ever seen. John Evans is a damn fine musician. The New Jack Hippies are fantastic, though what they do encompasses so much more than blues. And while he really belongs in the honky-tonk / louisiana-tinged / boogie-woogie category, Ezra Charles might be a good choice for this spot as well.


We've heard great things about both the Medicine Show and Classical Grass. Your pick.


Some of our friends in this area include Brian Kalinec, David Fahl, and Carolyn Wonderland (who was recently paid a visit by an admiring fan, one Bob Dylan). Another acoustic musician to consider is harpist Betsy Paine.

Also, if you consider traditional Irish a part of this category, give some love to our friends in Glen Road and The Willow Band, too.


On the "pop" end of the spectrum, one of Houston's best in this area is Arthur Yoria. Ian plays in his band from time to time, so we're not entirely impartial. :) Other folks on the pop side who we love are The Buddhacrush & Goddess (Ian plays on their records too), Phuz, Tody & The Falcon, The Facts, ... the list goes on.

On the more "rock" side, you've got the inimitable Linus Pauling Quartet, with Charlie Naked and Ramon Medina among others. They're much deserving of credit. You've got the super-originals Chango Jackson & JW Americana, hard rockers Tin Henry & Superna, plus great newcomers Lost Element, Underground Nation & Creative Differences.


Hilary Sloan's sure a top contender for this one, in our eyes. She and her band (Aunt Erma's Filling Station) know what cawntry means and they don't tolerate imposters. We've also shared some damn good times with Mr. Opie Hendrix, so if you're partial to "big boobies like dirty movies" he's your man.


We have a bunch of friends in this space. I wish we could nominate a radio show, because Matt Sonzala & Zin's Damage Control (on KPFT, Wednesdays at midnight) has the market cornered on Houston's underground hip hop scene.

As last year's winners, the Studemont Project are very deserving of a nod this year (and they're good friends of ours to boot). Another one you might not have heard of yet is Lower Life Form - mixing vintage keys grooves and really clever lyrics. Other friends of ours in this area are Zin, Rebel Crew, and the artists of Cinque Entertainment.

And here's a strange one - while they're normally picked other categories, the Free Radicals have been getting closer and closer to hip hop, with many of the tracks on their new record featuring rappers and freestyle artists (one of the notable exceptions, ironically, is the track that Ian plays Rhodes on, "Eyebrows", which is the most jazz-like one!) The Free Rads DJ Fast4Ward is one of the best in town, too, which makes them a natural fit. Shake things up a little bit and vote them into the hip hop category!


As you might expect, our pick here is Drop Trio, so please put us down. :) Of course, lots of our friends in town play in this area as well, so we won't be hurt if you'd rather pull somebody else, like say Plump, Tru Sol, Little Brother Project, Zwee, Funkafangez, Slop Jar Jr., Vibe Committee, K'Monte, Collective Hallucination, Last Soul Descendents, Jeremiah David, Diva Karina, etc.


Mandy Smith is a great one on the roots rock side. Also, the Southern Backtones (Mike's alma mater) have traditionally fallen into this space, though they have a new EP in the works that has them jumping into a broader rock space with both feet. So you can put them into either spot.


Drop Trio! :)

Of course, there's a lot more jazz in Houston (especially traditional jazz, of which there is a great wealth around here). We invite you to go by JazzHouston.com and check it out. Some of our friends & mentors in this area are Joe LoCascio, Thomas Helton and Dana Rogers, so they deserve some votes too. And don't forget some of the other fresh young groups doing stuff in this space, like Ellipsis, The Defenestration Unit, The Rosta Jazz Avengers, and Stucco Fish. (And since there don't seem to be many other apt categories for Clouseaux, this is a good place to nominate them as well.)


No picks here, but check out MECA for a good resource into traditional Mexican culture in Houston.


How does Indie rock differ from regular rock? We're not too sure. Almost all of the rocker picks above are independent, so you choose. One I've been listening to a lot lately that's definitely in the "indie" camp is Modulator. So put them down for this one.


Chango Jackson are the ones we know best - they rock out and take no prisoners. Underground Nation also has dibs in this category.


We don't know many - go with Wes Wallace, from #s.


DJ Sun has nabbed this one for years running, and we're psyched about that. Another contender (who we're also down with) is DJ CeePlus, from Reprogram Radio and the Killers For Hire DJs. Take yr pick - king of the hill or underdog.


Norma Zenteno has been reigning this category for some time. Another possible pick is Ritmo Cha, with sometimes-Drop-bassist Adrian Zavala on bass, or Jose-Miguel Yamal (he's a very broad jazz player, but his latin chops are totally killer).


We'll assume that this category is meant to include Reggae and suggest that Dubtex gets a nod here. Also on the plate is Houston's venerable D.R.U.M. (last year's winner).


Sorry, we don't know any.


Us & Them has been wowing people in Houston with their near perfect Pink Floyd show for a while now, they deserve a win here. Also possible is Beetle, a terrific Beatles tribute band, and perennial faves the El Orbits. Another great unsung cover band in Houston is Dr. Jeff and The Painkillers, featuring producer Jeff Wells. And if you're looking for "out of the ordinary", Sketchy is a band composed of trumpet, trombone and drums that plays abstract, off-kilter versions of 80s hits. Really.


Dan Workman from Sugarhill Studios, a friend of ours, has taken this one home in recent years. He's a great pick. Another producer you might not have heard as much about it Mike Thompson, from Ivory Tower Realizations. Both worthy of some love. And if you've ever heard albums by the Mighty Orq, Mark May, or Matt Leddy, you've heard the production work of Jeff Wells, another great contender for this award.


We're not going to put any picks in here - think of your favoritist musician in Houston and put 'em in here. I'll divulge that I voted for Guy Schwartz, you can vote as you see fit.


There's a legend under everyone's noses here in Houston: Paula Chase, a jazz singer who had stints with Mel Torme, Don Russell, and Kenny Rogers. Other killer jazz vocalists are Dana Rogers, Sheri Lavo, Cindy Scott.
In the realms outside of Jazz, there are lots of other awesome singers out there - Karina Nistal is a very hot up and coming local diva who just released a new record out of LA. Along with Dionne Banks and Leah Moore, they make up the Last Soul Descendents.


Jerry Richard should be winning best Male Vocalist nationally, not just the city of Houston. Please give him your vote. If you're not a fan of R&B, a close second is Mr. Thomas Escalante from Clouseaux, who has some of the most killer pipes we've heard in a band for some time.


Marc "Princess" Reczek from Little Brother Project is our contender for this one. There might be others out there who can play faster or turn up louder, but Marc has a truly musical mind and knows what to play, and when to play it. Other great guitar players we've had the privilege of working with are Corey Stoot, Al Bear from Plump, John Ross from Zwee, James Reese, Ian Barry from the Buddhacrush, Teri "Glad To Be Visible" Greene, and the indefatigable Guy Schwartz.


Nino Batista - whose wife is having a baby any day now! Show the new dad some love.

(We've got a few other bass players in the lineup now as well, as you know: Patrick Flanagan, Thomas Helton, Marc Reczek, and Adrian Zavala).


Mike Blattel is the best drummer in Houston! Write him in as Mike, not Nuje, so they don't get confused. :)


Well, these are Drop Trio's picks, so we'd love a vote for Ian Varley in this category. He won it last year, though, so if you want to keep things fresh, put in your vote for Joe LoCascio (a teacher of Ian's and local jazz legend).


The killer horns of the Buddhacrush (Skeets & Dru) are very deserving of this award, as are the gang in Clouseaux. Also, The Defenestration Unit has got to have one of the coolest, weirdest, most creative horn sections around these days.


Big Dipper by Drop Trio.


How about Freedom by Solange Knowles and Drop Trio? Give it a listen and see if you agree. If not, throw in your vote for "I'll Pretend" by Arthur Yoria, which was the #1 song on Garageband.com (all genres worldwide) for 6 weeks in a row.


Arthur Yoria and Guy Schwartz were nominees for this last year, and we couldn't agree more. Also, many of the bands already mentioned above have lots of great original songs, so just pick your favorite one!


Some of the good ones we know of are Blue Corn, Iris Entertainment, and Dingo Gold Records (the originator of the hugely successful TexasJam / Outbound Music Houston showcase at SxSW 2004).

That about covers it.

We wish there were a category for other kinds of improvising bands (aka "Jam bands") - folks like Plump, Little Brother Project, Blendt, In Theory, Vibe Committee, Phuz, etc.? We'd sure love more ways for the active, original bands like these to get more of a voice in the local media.

As we mentioned, if you didn't see yourself in there and figure you should've, don't feel snubbed, just let us know and we'll remedy the situation.

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