2005 Dallas Observer Music Awards

Case Solved: Killer musicians captured, thanks to your tips

Matt Pence
Best Producer

I've had a theory for a while now that drummers make good producers. Partly because they have to listen to more of the band than anyone else, partly because they have to keep the whole mess together, partly just because. I don't really know why. Just something about them. If you want to extrapolate on that theory, the best drummers make great producers, and that's where Matt Pence comes in. I stood next to the stage near where his drums were set up during his band Centro-matic's show in Austin during South by Southwest, and his playing was so tight, so mesmerizing, I barely noticed the rest of the band. Jason Garner and Jeff Ryan, both talented drummers themselves, stood next to me, more or less in awe as Pence turned each fill into a jazz solo without ever losing the beat. That said, maybe it makes more sense to give this award to one of the guys whose recording calendar has more local names on it--say, Paul Williams, maybe, or Stuart Sikes. But you can't really fault Pence just because his reputation has outgrown the confines of the D-D-FW area. So he's spent the last year recording bands that have to dial long distance to call home (like The Long Winters, Glossary and American Music Club). So what? Just be happy that people from outside our little scene (such that it is) are acknowledging the genius of someone in the thick of it. --Z.C.

Idol Records
Record Label
Erv Karwelis used to be virtually guaranteed to leave the music awards show with one of those 15-pound doorstops with the name of his company, Idol Records, on it. There weren't many other labels in town, and Idol was easily better than the ones that were. But then Idol's best-selling bands, Chomsky and The Deathray Davies, decided to ply their trade elsewhere, and a new crop of labels emerged--like Summer Break and, more recently, Kirtland--which gave Idol a run for its doorstop. But Karwelis circled the wagons successfully. Now Idol is arguably better than before, releasing the Best Album winner (Flickerstick's Tarantula), another disc that was just as deserving ([DARYL]'s Ohio) and a nice set by one of Dallas' up-and-comers (Black Tie Dynasty's This Stays Between Us). That's a pretty suh-weet year by anyone's standards, even the guy who (once again) finds himself 15 pounds heavier. --Z.C.

Lizard Lounge
Best Dance Club
Those thieves knew exactly what they were doing. On April 4, 2005, the Lizard Lounge fell victim to a massive burglary, and though we would never condone such behavior, it's hard not to credit the guilty parties for staking out the most consistent, star-studded dance club in town. In fact, the thieves allegedly camped out inside the Lounge the previous night after a packed Paul Oakenfold concert, and it wasn't the international DJ sensation's first appearance at the club, either. In the past year, Lizard Lounge has hosted an amazing number of dance and wax masters, including Richard "Humpty" Vission, Mix Master Mike and Fatboy Slim, and the downtown nightclub has also become a favorite destination for burlesque revivalist Dita Von Teese's Dallas appearances. Granted, the latter might have more to do with the club's twice-weekly "Church" theme nights, in which patrons dress in their finest bondage, leather and goth outfits and speakers pump vampire-loving songs, but it'd be easier to call the "Church" nights silly if so many people didn't keep on packing the place. Dita, Fatboy and Paul know this, and, apparently, so do Dallas voters. The club's safe may be gone, but the thieves can't take the Lizard Lounge's dance cred. --S.M.

Gypsy Tea Room
Live Music Venue
Gypsy Tea Room has consistently kicked out the jams for seven years now. And by "jams," we're referring to the venue's balance of high-profile national and international acts (Muse, Patti Smith, The Roots, ...Trail of Dead, The Futureheads, Robert Plant) and local talent (Black Tie Dynasty, [DARYL], Eisley, Burden Brothers, Jack Ingram). Its roster reads like the perfect mix tape, with equal opportunity given to each genre along with welcome slices of hometown flavor. Originally opened in 1918, the Gypsy Tea Room waited 90 long years for its ingenious 1998 reincarnation as one of the most impressive and beloved music venues in North Texas, with a plush décor and, more important, a perfectly mixed monitor and a competent sound guy. But the Gypsy offers more than just comfort and sonic superiority. Frank Campagna's murals, displayed on the Good-Latimer Expressway side of the building, not only call attention to shows but also suggest the venue really does give two shits about who's on the stage. Jimmy Eat World thought enough of the gesture to place a link to Campagna's Web site from the band's. Patti Smith photographed her portrait, and David Cross used the work in CD liner notes. Plus, GTR has something that's rare and sacred, something few other clubs have: clean and working restrooms. And that, my friends, is priceless. --M.M.

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