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The Fourth Annual AMP Austin Music Pundits Awards
Chris Riemenschneider
Austin American Statesman; Austin, Tex.; Jan 4, 2001 

Take one look at them, and you know the Gourds will never be famous. They're as scruffy as Fred Sanford on a bad day and play instruments straight out of a 19th-century backwoods hoedown . As far as Austin critics are concerned, though, the Gourds are it. Not only did the roots-frolicking quintet land Album of the Year for our third annual local critics tally, the AMP Awards (clever acronym decoded: Austin Music Pundits), they also made strong showings with the No. 2 song of the year and a No. 2 entry as best live act. The Gourds aren't very sexy, and neither are this year's AMP Awards. The list is almost totally oblivious to, if not wary of, music with commercial potential. Of the eight local acts who released CDs on major labels this year, only two -- Fastball and Willie Nelson -- appear on the list of 25 best albums. And few of the town's top-drawing acts appear anywhere in this poll. Sorry, Bob.

Instead, the 2000 AMP list has the typical cast of atypical songwriters (Adam Carroll, Damon Bramblett, Beaver Nelson, Terri Hendrix); young-ish bands weened on adventurism (Lil' Cap'n Travis, Knife in the Water, Kissinger); veteran scenesters with almost as much daring (Barbara K, Michael Hall, Jimmie Dale Gilmore); and two legends who blessed us with new music from beyond the grave (Doug Sahm, Ronnie Lane). Apparently, even when it's dead, Austin music is as alive and unpretty as ever.

-- Chris Riemenschneider

The Pundits

John Conquest

Third Coast Music

Michael Corcoran

Austin American-Statesman

John T. Davis

Austin American-Statesman

Don Harvey

Jeff McCord

Texas Monthly

Jeremy Reed

Chris Riemenschneider

Austin American-Statesman

John Spong

Texas Monthly

Michael Toland

Pop Culture Press

Luann Williams

Pop Culture Press

Albums of the year

1. The Gourds

"Bolsa de Agua" (Sugar Hill) -- The Cajun-country-folk-rock hybrid's fourth album and first with stable U.S. distribution is less boozy but still a doozy. Appetizing songs like "O Rings," "Pickles" and "Meat Off the Bone" cap off a feast of styles and themes. Though scatterbrained lyrically, it's their most consistent musical effort. AMP points: 90

2. Doug Sahm

"The Return of Wayne Douglas" (Tornado Records) -- Not long before his death in November of '99, the great Sir Doug entered a studio in remote Floresville with some veteran players to revisit his Lone Star country roots. Tracks like "Beautiful Texas Sunshine" and the classic "Texas Me" inadvertently ooze with posthumous sentiment, but the overall effect is a reminder of Sahm's immortal versatility. 78

3. Adam Carroll

"Lookin' Out the Screen Door" (Down Hole) -- The 25-year-old East Texas native delivers on the promise of his debut "South of Town" with a second collection of Prine/Van Zandt-influenced country-folk songs that'll have you smilin' and cryin'. Hick, but far from dumb. 48

4. Damon Bramblett

"Damon Bramblett" (Lone Star) -- Stalled for more than a year but finally released commercially in August, the debut by this oft- covered country tunesmith brings him into his own, dusty light. 46

5. Fastball

"The Harsh Light of Day" (Hollywood) -- Austin's mod hitmakers take advantage of their hot-seat status with a dazzling sonic effort reminiscent of their '60s-'70s pop-rock heroes. Smart, catchy songwriting still prevails, though. 41

6. Michael Hall

& the Woodpeckers

"Dead by Dinner" (Aznut) -- The ex-Wild Seed frontman enlists some barroom blitzers for edgy readings of his quirky, eloquent story songs. 37

7. Barbara K,

"Ready" (Fire Sister) -- Her future still bright, the happier and groovier half of '80s one-hit wonder Timbuk3 offers a sunny, heartfelt and long overdue collection. 34

9. Jimmie Dale Gilmore

"One Endless Night" (Windcharger/Rounder)

Nelson plays Springsteen's little brother on his second CD, mixing rowdy rebel-rousers with barren, lovelorn gems. Gilmore emphasizes singer over songwriter on a gorgeous set of covers from Butch Hancock, Willis Alan Ramsey, John Hiatt and others. 33

10. Terri Hendrix

"Places In Between" (Wilory) -- The overalls-wearing San Marcos homegirl writes about simple things, in folky songs played with understated perfection by partner Lloyd Maines and other capable friends. 30

...15 more albums

11. Ronnie Lane, "Live in Austin" 28

12. Lil' Cap'n Travis, "Lil' Cap'n Travis" 27

13. (tie) Willie Nelson, "Milk Cow Blues"

Spoon, "Love Ways EP" 22

15. Joe Ely, "Live at Antone's" 21

16. (tie) Knife in the Water, "Red River"

Seela, "Something Happened"

Slaid Cleaves, "Broke Down" 20

19. The Wannabes, "Decade of Moral Fumbles" 19

20. Kissinger, "Charm" 18

21. (tie) Dewato, "Demonstration"

Blaze, "Blaze" 17

23. (tie) Gurf Morlix, "Toad of Titicaca"

Bad Livers, "Blood & Mood" 16

24. Reckless Kelly, "The Day" 14

25. Kimmie Rhodes, "Rich From the Journey" 13

Songs of the year

1. Slaid Cleaves, "Broke Down" 22

2. The Gourds, "El Paso" 18

3. Fastball, "Love Is Expensive & Free" 14

4. Sister Seven, "The Only Thing That's Real" 12

5. Dynamite Hack, "Boyz-N-the Hood" 10Honorable mentions: Damon Bramblett, Spoon and Gurf Morlix earned multiple votes, but not for the same songs.

Best new act

1. Kissinger 34

2. The Conrads 24

3. Dewato 14

4. (tie) Ephraim Owens; La Tribu 10

Best live act

1. Golden Arm Trio 28

2. The Gourds 26

3. (tie) Alejandro Escovedo; . . . Trail of Dead 20

5. The Conrads 14

Concerts of the year

Los Lobos, Damnations at Stubb's (Riemenschneider)

Kid Rock at the Austin Music Hall (Corcoran)

Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin at Erwin Center (Davis)

Joe Ely Band without Teye at the Conroe Catfish Festival (Conquest)

Kasey Chambers, Steve Earle at "Austin City Limits" (Harvey)

Ibrahim Ferrer at Bass Concert Hall (McCord)

Richard Buckner at Cactus Cafe (Reed)

Shane MacGowan & the Popes at La Zona Rosa (Spong)

The Bellrays at Hole in the Wall SXSW showcase (Toland)

The Math

Albums of the year were culled from the critics' year-end top 10 lists, with 15 points awarded for the No. 1 entry, 14 for No. 2 on down to 6 for No. 10 -- except for a few critics who chose to give each album 10 points . For songs of the year and best new and live acts, our participants submitted gave three entries, ranked at 8, 6 and 4 points. All tabulations and contestations of tabulations were performed in accordance with rules recently set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.


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