2001 Dallas Observer Music Awards

Narrow margins remind us that everyone's a winner

So maybe the real formula for Avant-Garde/Experimental is to have fun. Whatever it is, we hope Captain Audio keeps doing it, though it doesn't look like they'll be doing it anytime soon. In the meantime, Chellew is recording a solo album for Last Beat under the name Chao, and Curtis and Garza have moved to Brooklyn and are working on other projects under The Secret Machines banner. All bets are off though on what new influences the three might bring to a new release. We'll be brushing up on our Latin and French just in case. --S.S.

Reverend Horton Heat
Winner for: Rockabilly/Roots

We are misunderstood. We are. I am. No, this is not a retreat, a reversal of position, a contradiction. It is a clarification, something we've, I've, always believed, but possibly, probably, have never said or written. We, contrary to popular belief and most of the things we've written in these pages in the past, like the Reverend Horton Heat, or used to anyway. (And most of you do, too--still do, in fact--based on the Rev's extermination of all comers with extreme prejudice.) We were fans, close enough to have bassist Jimbo Wallace kick us in the face with a beach ball at a long-forgotten New Year's Eve show. (Long story.)

Best Act Overall: The Old 97's; Male Vocalist, Songwriter: Will Johnson
Mark Graham
Best Act Overall: The Old 97's; Male Vocalist, Songwriter: Will Johnson

The Full Custom Gospel Sounds of...--and Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em, to a lesser extent--is a record that defined Deep Ellum for a time, and yes, still deserves a prime place in Dallas music history, with no complaint or apology necessary. It is one of those albums that managed the neat trick of being brand new and decades old, a disc that had something new to say and used familiar words to say it. It was Dallas music history, wrapped up in a dozen songs--from the Big "D" Jamboree to the Theater Gallery with not a single misstep along the way.

Where did we lose Jim Heath? Was it when he made the honest mistake of thinking Al Jourgensen could produce anything other than an ounce of heroin at 4 a.m.? When he hopped a trend and fell off? Or was it, more likely, when powerhouse drummer Taz Bentley left the flock? Who knows or cares at this point.

Fact is, we've gone into every record since Full Custom Gospel Sounds believing, knowing, Heath has another one in him, and we probably always will. More than a few of you, no doubt, are sure that Space Heater or Spend a Night in the box or It's Martini Time is that album, that the Rev (the band and the man) only gets better with age. And since, with these awards, the fans and voters have the floor, we won't disagree. No matter what we think, what we believe, Heath has earned at least that much respect. We'll save our opinions for the next album. Maybe it'll have the full custom gospel sounds we've been waiting for. --Z.C.

Sub Oslo
Winner for: Reggae

Sure, we could undertake the futile endeavor to school your sorry asses on the difference between reggae and dub, but that's a diatribe for a different day. However you slice it, the now Fort Worth-Denton-Austin-based Sub Oslo is one of Texas' truly original acts and arguably one of the only projects of its kind on any side of the Atlantic. And slicing it is one thing Sub Oslo knows how to do. Sometime back in 1996, this nine-piece--yes, onstage and behind the mixing boards there are nine motherfuckers constantly crafting and shifting and shaping the wall of percolating bass and rustling rhythms that wash over you at one of their shows--decided it had the audacity to create and play a style of Jamaican-born-and-bred music that was as synonymous with the island in the mid-1970s as rock steady was in the 1960s and dancehall was by the 1980s.

And they were going to do this in Texas. With local musicians. But before anybody had a chance to give these guys a clue, guitarist Frank Cervantez, drummer Quincy Holloway, sound mixer and engineer John Nuckels, percussionist Moses Mayo, multi-instrumentalist Alan Uribe, flute and percussionist Brandon Uribe, bassist Miguel Veliz, piano and synth man Ben Viguerie, and visual-mixer Paul Baker had gone off and perfected something that had as good a chance of thriving in North Texas soil as Washington, D.C.'s cherry trees. But blossom Sub Oslo has, regularly filling large rooms when it hits Austin, turning new ears onto the seasoned sound every time it plays an epic set at a Denton house party, or just blowing whatever Brit's mind that gave the band's latest album, 2000's Songs in the Key of Dub, the sort of glowing review in The Wire that the esoteric magazine typically reserves for European free improv or whatever John McEntire or Jim O'Rourke has touched that month.

It's easy to see why. Sub Oslo's sound isn't the sort of neo-dub low-end theories peddled by Bill Laswell or African Head Charge, but it's also not a straight dub roots approach. The band's added a different sort of twist to the cut-and-paste rhythm-is-the-rebel pyrotechnics of King Tubby and takes a modestly more modern avenue to create the mood and message than old-school legends such as Jackie Mitto, Joe Gibbs, Augustus Pablo, Dennis Bovell and Yabby You and the Prophets. Admittedly, hearing live dub in Dallas makes about as much sense as the Warren Commission's magic bullet, but at least when this shot hits its mark and takes the back of your head off, you get to go tell your friends about it. --B.M.

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