Vote the rock

Just call these the Old 97's Observer Music Awards

Cover Band: Emerald City. Hard as it is to believe, the Beatles, Stones, and Grateful Dead cover bands all came in way behind Dallas' rave-fave party band. Gives new meaning to the phrase Dead Thing, perhaps?

Songwriter: Rhett Miller (Old 97's). "My name's Stewart Ransom Miller/I'm a serial lady killer." Second-place finisher Bruce Dickinson didn't even come close.

Spoken Word: cottonmouth, texas. When Jeff Liles became Chate became cottonmouth, you knew the boy had a future in front of him; his deadpan drawls are like Dennis Rodman rebounds, feisty and unforgiving. That he won this category by some, oh, 600 votes is hardly surprising; that he's not a celebrity outside these awards is.

Album Release (1997): Steady on Shaky Ground, Grand Street Cryers. "Angie Wood" got them radio play when they were still Dead City Radio; now, it got them the best-album award--surprisingly, besting the Old 97's Too Far to Care by some 70 votes and Buck Jones' Shimmer by almost 100. The trick is to see how many people are still playing this record a year from now.

Single Release (1997): "The Information," Course of Empire. The best thing you haven't heard on radio, it whooped up on the 97's and the Grand Street Cryers, who may have the best record, but not the best single. Like any of this makes sense.

Producer: Chad Lovell. For the second year in a row, Course of Empire's Chad Lovell takes home the award for best knob-tweedler, outpacing David Castell, Matt Pence, Dave Willingham, and Sam McCall by a good couple of hundred votes. Interesting note: Included among the write-ins were Mark Elliott on the jazz tip and Ty Macklin on the hip-hop side of things. It ain't all about the rock.

Local Record Label: One Ton. It was a close one, but not close enough to make Aden Holt nervous: Eighty votes, which wasn't a lot in this cat-fight category, separate One Ton from Last Beat, with another couple of dozen between Last Beat and RainMaker. Two years and running, this is starting to become a habit.

Live Music Venue: Curtain Club. We'll never hear the end of it, and no, we didn't stuff the ballot boxes or rig the voting, but the Curtain Club did indeed crush the competition--Trees finished 107 votes behind, while everyone else might as well have stayed home. Hey, it's love at first sight--or first listen.

Radio Program/Local Music: "The Adventure Club," KDGE-FM (94.5). What a surprise that Josh Venable got more votes in his category than anyone else in theirs; no one else has the forum to beg like he does, trolling for votes between Smiths songs. But God love him, Venable's li'l rock and roll alternative does offer a safe haven for those of us who like to listen to new music-- homegrown or otherwise. Even if we do miss the Josh and Keven bitch-slapping show.

Club DJ: DJ Karl Fought. Karl mixed it up with EZ Eddie D, the second-place finisher, and was the last man dancing when the final votes were tallied, way ahead of the rest of the pack. Put the needle on the record, and dance, dance, dance all the way to the podium to collect your award.

Mazinga Whatever
Wanz Dover phoned last week to inform us that our Music Awards capsule on Mazinga Phaser wasn't entirely accurate: Dover says he was not kicked out of the band and that, contrary to statements made in this paper by MP singer Jessica Nelson, he will not be using the name Mazinga Phaser for his own band as well. Rather, Dover says his new project--or what he refers to as an "offshoot"--will be called Mazinga Zeta, which is still close enough for government work, but, we guess, not for legal action. (Mazinga Phaser, fresh off the success that was Abandinallhope, is in the studio finishing its third disc.)

Dover also takes issue with Nelson's assertions that Dover's departure was not an amicable one: "I've also been their biggest cheerleader, and I get along with them," Dover says. "I haven't talked to Jessica in months, but I'm on pretty good terms with the rest of them. I think she might have been talking before she knew what was going on...I was misquoted in The Met a couple of weeks ago saying there was going to be two Mazinga Phasers. I gave up the name peacefully. What's more important--friendships or bands? Friendships. I mean, no sense in making it into Melrose Place, which it's becoming, and it's silly. It was embarrassing. It makes us look like children instead of adult, grown musicians."

Now that that's settled--or isn't, let's move on: Dover actually has some less than thrilling news for those rock fans who've come to look upon the annual Melodica Festival as a vital addition to the Denton-Dallas-Fort Worth music community. (Indeed, bands such as Tortoise and Experimental Audio Research played the debut fest in 1996.) The annual psych-fest will take place May 14-17, with tickets going on sale this week--but, Dover says, it will not happen in its birthplace of Denton. Instead, the four-day event will move southward this year, to Austin's Electric Lounge.

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