By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
But big upcoming things are in the mix for the duo as well. With a split EP reminiscent of Outkast's two-part opus in progress, Theodore and Coool are on track to do nothing but gain momentum en route to their second full-length release. Just don't expect them to run through the same routine this time around: They understand the need to progress; the EP was born from an exploration of a variety of styles that Theodore hints will find the band in new territory not seen on Hello World.
Thing is, either way, it's new territory: This group has managed to avoid most stereotypes of Texas hip-hop, side-stepping many conventions of the region and the genre. Maybe it's their infectious, danceable soundtrack. Or maybe they just get how to vibe with a city that has championed the group as its own. "Dallas has definitely been a blessing," Theodore says. "We're just gonna keep feeding 'em, keep feeding 'em new material." —Nic Hernandez
Well, Snarky Puppy did it again, and the band's been up to a hell of a lot since the group pretty handily won Best Jazz Act in last year's DOMAs. For starters, the band went on two two-month-long tours that took them around the States, up the East Coast and into Canada. During those tours, the band caught the ear of a rep/scout from Rope-a-Dope Records. Snarky Puppy ended up signing a contract, so, yeah, the band is now label mates with acts such as Charlie Hunter and The Harlem Experiment. Also this year, founder, bassist and primary composer Michael League moved to New York, leaving the rest of the band based in Denton.
But that hasn't hindered the group's progress: Earlier this year, the band released Bring Us the Bright, its third album and, by far, the band's most ambitious work to date. But, as ambitious as that last one was, Snarky Puppy's first album on Rope-a-Dope promises to be a doozy. League says the album (and its DVD companion) will be recorded at the famous Dockside Studio in Maurice, Louisiana, where artists as diverse as B.B King, Ani Difranco and Dr John have recorded. According to League, the studio is set "way out in the woods in an antebellum part of the state outside of Lafayette."
"We're going to gather together some of our closest friends and our biggest fans and record the album live," League says. —Daniel Rodrigue
Surprised that a DJ from Denton would get nominated (and then win) a DOMA for Best DJ? Well, you shouldn't be, because, in the last year, Joey Leichty, aka Yeah Def, has gone from playing Denton's house party scene to droppin' bangers at Dallas hipster haunts such as Fallout Lounge and The Basement at Suite. And, along the way, Leichty's earned some serious cred among his Dallas-based peers by dropping high-energy cuts that run the gamut from '90s hip-hop hits and Italio to chiptunes and electro.
Nowadays, the guy spins three to four nights most weeks, but Yeah Def first blipped on most people's radars by filling a vacancy (left by an Austin-bound Alan Palomo) in what was then Hailey's Wednesday-night weekly It's What We Get night with Jason Faries aka Females. Since then, Leichty been trying to bring hip-hop to Denton with his monthly Aight Yo! Hip-Hop Series. And he and fellow Denton-based DJ Ian Bangs have managed to officially bring the '90s back with their Tuesday-night residency at Hailey's.
After last week's showcase, Leichty said he was surprised by the nomination. "I never thought that something like this could happen in such a short a time," he says. "But I guess it means that people like what they're hearing. And, I guess I'll keep at it, because who am I to argue with people's ears?" Exactly. –Daniel Rodrigue
After conveying my interest in talking with one member of Tejas Brothers about being nominated for Best Tejano Act, Leah Lavine, publicist for the Fort Worth group, gave it to me straight. "The band doesn't consider themselves Tejano, so they don't want to be considered for the award."
Lavine continued: "They say that they sing all of their songs in English and that they should have never been in the category to begin with."
So it goes. Despite having a definite Tejano influence to its feisty take on country and soul, it would appear that Tejas Brothers wants nothing to do with a DOMA.
"This really puts me in an awkward position," Lavine says apologetically.
You and me both, sister. But whatever label the band may or may not want associated with its music, Tejas Brothers are one damn fine roots act. Chris Zalez writes some wonderful songs (such as "Doing a Real Fine Job") that bring to mind the spirit of the late, great Doug Sahm. Just don't call what Zalez does Tejano, or he may never talk with you again. —Darryl Smyers
This year's DOMAs are a special one for Chris Holt—and not just because he's winning the Best Instrumentalist award again.