Our 20th Music Awards

1988-2008: Two Decades of DOMA

"Just to get nominated for a Dallas Observer award is pretty awesome," Tyler says. "I certainly can't complain about how good the reaction to my music has been."

Born in Alabama, Tyler has been a part of the Dallas scene for seven years. In that time, he's perfected his sweaty mixture of hard, electric blues and gospel-tinged, Southern soul. Hot Trottin', Tyler's debut effort came out last year and quickly garnered radio play on Austin's KLBJ-93.7 FM. Meanwhile, the album's lead single, "Gypsy Woman," has become a concert favorite as Tyler's flamboyant stage persona kicks the song into high gear when in front of a well-lubricated crowd.

"If you're a purist, you probably wouldn't call what I do the blues," Tyler says. "But I want to carry the baton for the tradition of the blues."

Salim Nourallah
Hal Samples
Salim Nourallah

Citing influences as varied as Hank Williams, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix, Tyler and his capable crew bring it all together with fire and panache. "When I saw The Rolling Stones, I knew what I had to do," Tyler says. "I know those guys are freaking old, but they do it because they love it." —D.S.


BEST METAL ACT
FAIR TO MIDLAND

Like System of a Down or Mars Volta, Fair to Midland often gets lumped into the metal category simply because the music is so damn loud. Progressive art rock would be a better descriptor as singer Darroh Sudderth and crew blend all sorts of influences into a complex and intimidating stew that consistently draws a large (mostly male) audience eager to relate to the stimulating proceedings.

"I don't know if I would say we're a metal act at all," says guitarist Cliff Campbell. "We don't want to get lumped into any meathead category."

Eccentric and dynamic almost to a fault, Fair to Midland can be maddeningly grooveless; yet the over-the-top spirit and ace musicianship save the day most every time. Winners of the DOMA Best Metal Act for two years in a row now, and with legions of fans across the country and across the Atlantic, Fair to Midland is a band already in the midst of the big time.

"The songs are really about the common man," Campbell says. "And with lots of blue-collar workers in Dallas, I can understand why we've done well."

Just back from a European tour opening for Serj Tankian, the band is set to record the follow-up to Fables from a Mayfly, last year's magnum opus. Certainly the new effort will continue the trend of intricate, long-winded epics like "A Wolf Descends Upon the Spanish Sahara" that somehow manage to live up to their titles. Not bad for a bunch of farm boys from Sulphur Springs. —D.S.


BEST INDIE ACT
DOVE HUNTER

After teasing area audiences with its impressive live show for the past two years, Dove Hunter finally got around to releasing its debut album, The Southern Unknown in late June. Now, a month later, the album's still right at the top of the local sales charts—and deservedly so, thanks to a jangly rock sound well-blended with healthy doses of roots influence and impressive songwriting.

It's vocalist/guitarist Jayson Wortham, a nominee for Best Male Vocalist this year, who pens the songs that bassist Chad DeAtley, guitarist Marc Montoya, drummer Quincy Holloway and pedal steel/banjo player Josh Daugherty sonically, and so absorbingly, dance around.

"We've gotten a great response from everyone," DeAtley says, before laughing: "Even from my mom and her friends—which I can tell is honest because they used to tell me they didn't like my other bands."

The reward? More demand. No worries, DeAtley says.

"We're just beginning to work on the next album, but we've already laid the foundation there," he says. "We're just gonna keep working on it and record as we go. We'd really like to capture the essence and excitement of it."

Given the live set, that's fine by us. —P.F.


BEST FUNK/R&B ACT
ERYKAH BADU

Damn right the accolade goes to Erykah Badu—one tough mother who, only last week, took to the Interwebs to shout down some anonymous message-boarders displeased with news of her latest pregnancy. Noted the self-styled ANALOGUE GIRL, unabashedly unmarried: "if i loose you as a fan because i want to continue to have children then FUCK OFF...WHO NEEDS YOU....CERTAINLY NOT ME." And best sign-off ever: "if this post is not clear kiss my placenta."

The lady's got brass balls, each one weighing in at 492 pounds, not counting afterbirth.

Then, it doesn't take the eyes to remind you what the ears already knew: Badu's fuck-you fearless, willing to take as much time as she needs in order to concoct double-disc doses of spaced-out space-age soul as out there as when the U.S.S. Enterprise shot at Warp 12 through a black hole.

Badu's latest five-year mission into the final frontier was New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War), released to universal, head-scratching acclaim in February. Equal parts old-school funk (opener "Amerykahn Promise," which sounds like it was recorded in a shotgun barrel, hit single "Honey" and shoulda-been single "The Cell") and sweaty, overwrought soul ("The Healer," "Soldier" and the epic, dirty "Telephone" call), it took Badu to parts both warmly familiar and profoundly foreign.

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