By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
So proud: Voting's still open one more week for the 2006 Dallas Observer Music Awards--we just cleared out some ballot stuffers, and that leaves more than a few categories up for grabs, so if you haven't voted, do it--but the 2007 awards' Best New Artist category is already heating up thanks to PPT. After being together for only two months, the trio--witty rhymer Tahiti, funk-crazy sing-rapper Pikahsso and newcomer producer Picnic--made a huge splash this week by winning the TexasGigs Dallas Mavericks Playoff Song Contest. Their anthem, "We're Rowdy, Proud and Loud," will blare from the American Airlines Center's speakers at every Mavs playoff game this postseason, and judging from the team's dominant Sunday night win, the Mavs will keep that song running for a while.
"When we won, I was like, 'Man, that's cool,' but I had no idea winning it would open all these doors," Pikahsso says. "I've had a lot happen in the past year, but the moment Mark Cuban said, 'You're the winner,' everybody started calling. 'Come do this show here,' 'come do that,' da-da-da-da, so that's real cool."
And he's right--this is a huge deal, but not even just for PPT, who already made a huge impression at March's SXSW. This is one small step for the trio and one giant leap for Dallas hip-hop-kind--mainstream fans finally have a piece of local hip-hop that's more compelling than some dudes barking about Oak Cliff being their 'hood.
"A lot of people may think [a basketball theme song is] silly or whatever, but it's for a good cause, and it draws a lot of kids into us too," Pikahsso says. "I'm cool with that...I'm not a negative rapper. I'm not here to say how many women I've been with, cars I drive, people I whupped. I'm not that kinda dude. I would rather be a good example. The whole city's watching."
The "new" trio (a misleading tag, if only because Pikahsso and Tahiti have been tearing up Dallas for years separately) is already making the most of their moment, putting the finishing touches on their debut album and playing some key gigs (including Tahiti's Free Agents at this weekend's Final Friday concert at the Gypsy Tea Room and a PPT spot in the Dallas Hip-Hop All-Stars performance at the DOMA Ceremony on May 9). Pikahsso knows the contest win won't change everything, but it's a start: "We're still humble. We're still broke. We've still got a lot of obstacles to turn. But once a guy with the power and magnitude of Mark Cuban...once a guy like that vouches for you, people listen."
Anyway, we had to nix some concerts from our itinerary last weekend, including Sunday's stellar TV On the Radio/Celebration bill at the Gypsy Tea Room (which was reviewed by Merritt Martin at Unfair Park, the Dallas Observer blog). But like any good addict, we needed a fix, so we loaded up on menthol cough drops and caught the opener at the Double Wide on Saturday, Cartright. If any new band around town is worth irritating your lungs for, this Denton quintet is it, culling the best of Americana in a rough-and-tumbling folk-rock set that would make South by Southwest crowds salivate. Admittedly, the group's green, but that unhinged quality worked in its favor. Songwriter Ben Cartright in particular stomped to the beat like a drunk hooligan and had a wonderfully haggard 20-packs-a-day voice, and the rest of the band played the kind of folk-not-folk that would make a perfect touring companion for the likes of Black Mountain or Akron/Family.
We then zipped over to the Barley House to catch Rose County Fair for the first time since lead singer John Pedigo announced the end of his other country-rock band, Slick 57. Pedigo didn't seem shaken by the loss, though, leading his relatively new quartet through an alt-country set that was willing to go all-rock one song and all-hick the next. Pedigo beamed through the whole show, even if the fratty crowd wasn't paying much attention--the post-Slick freedom to play whatever style he wanted empowered him, and the dude's voice was in the finest form I'd ever heard it, hitting high notes just as well as the growls. Solid, complex songs and killer guitar work sealed the deal--we're in love. Keep your eyes on both bands, folks...and if you hear us hacking away at a show anytime soon, we're sorry, really.