By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Hope y'all are ready to rage this week. After all, it's a pretty big one.
Why? Well, 'cause this week we unabashedly celebrate the local music scene. Which, we hope you agree, is something that shouldn't just be a one-week-a-year deal. We certainly don't look at it as such. It's why we dedicate so many pages in this space to covering local acts week-in and week-out—and why we spend so much time agonizing over the smallest of details in the local scene on our music blog, DC9atNight.com.
But, sure enough, this week is an especially notable one—one that affords us the chance to champion local musicians as a whole, to celebrate their music and toast their accomplishments. This year, there have been many reasons to do so. Really: This year's been a banner one for the North Texas scene—the best I've seen since moving to town almost three years ago. By far, actually.
At this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards festivities, you'll be able to see proof of as much first-hand. And you'll have two chances to do so.
Your first chance comes on Saturday in Deep Ellum, where we've enlisted the services of 46 bands, six venues and an outdoor stage to show off the best this town has to offer. Wristbands to the event, which lasts from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m., cost just $10—which, for those who keep score at home, works out to just a buck an hour and less than 22 cents per band. Plus, we're bringing in some heavy hitters to play that outdoor stage—sort of icing on the cake, if you will. In addition to the DOMA-nominated Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights (up for the Best Group, Best Blues Act and Best Male Vocalist awards), that stage will also feature performances from a few outsiders: the Memphis-based alt-country icons in Lucero, Chicago's cooler-than-cool hip-hop duo The Cool Kids and the formerly Dallas-based brooding rock heroes in The Secret Machines.
Your second opportunity to celebrate the sounds of the scene comes on Tuesday at the Granada Theater, where we'll be hosting our 22nd Annual Dallas Observer Music Awards Ceremony. The cost of admission to this deal is, well, nothing at all, actually. But we're still packing this one deep with treats: Fifteen local acts will perform between the presentation of awards—and 10 of those DOMA-nominated outfits will participate in a first at this year's ceremony, sharing the bill with a fellow nominee and offering up a once-in-a-lifetime live mash-up performance of their songs.
All I'm saying is this: Get ready to be blown away. And get ready to be proud of what's happening around the region these days. But, like LeVar Burton before me, I ask that you not just take my word for it. Earlier this week, I asked a bunch of this year's nominees to tell me why they're so excited about the goings-on in the local scene these days and why they think local music is important. Later this week, on DC9atNight.com, I'll post all of the responses I received (and there were tons).
Check out a sampling of the best responses below. Then come party with us this weekend and see what you've been missing.
Jonathan Tyler (Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights): If a city has a boring music scene, chances are it's a boring place to be. North Texas is breeding great music in every genre. I love being able to two-step at Adair's to the King Bucks one night and the next trance out to True Widow at the Double Wide. Most cities lack the diversity Dallas boasts.
Justin Gomez (Leg Sweeper): North Texas and Texas in general has a real good thing going right now. We have seen more DIY groups of people making really special things happen. More people are starting to recognize the work ethics going into some of the bands and groups. If we keep it positive, anything can happen.
Dan Bowman (Fox and The Bird): It's something real that's being created here in Dallas—not just prefabricated radio drivel that's being pushed on us from some music Mecca like Nashville or Austin. The bands nominated for DOMAs are making the type of music that feels authentic and stands in stark contrast to the profit-driven, materialistic intellectuality that you expect out of Dallas. The thriving folk/roots music scene that's growing and taking shape in Dallas, driven in part by the Dallas Family Band and its related musicians, is great. But more than that, it's the interplay between the established rock scene and these new folk-influenced acts, the cooperation and the mutual self-respect, that shows Dallas is widening the scope of its music community.
Ryan Kimbrell McAdams (Sundress): I'm excited for the music scene in North Texas that it is finally progressing. People are finally starting to realize they can put down their acoustic guitar and rock out. And it's great to see the folk era dying. Bands like True Widow are a great inspiration.
Tami Thompsen (Kirtland Records): I really hate the "local" music qualification. Everyone is local somewhere. Music is important. I live and breathe it. For better or worse, it is my life. Sarah Jaffe's "Better than Nothing" or Smile Smile's "Truth on Tape" is why "local" music is important. And why I get out of bed every morning. Austin always gets all the credit, but really, what other city can bring you music as good and as diverse as Erykah Badu, Midlake (who just won best live act from Mojo) Sarah Jaffe, Ishi, St. Vincent, Secret Machines, Doug Burr, Seryn, The House Harkonnen, Eleven Hundred Springs, Dove Hunter and Toadies?
Wes Todd (Here Holy Spain): People are getting excited to be a part of their own community again. It's refreshing to talk to other bands and hear, "We just want to play with you guys, man!" instead of "Well, how much do you draw? What's the guarantee? Who would headline?" Barf.
Jamie Wilson (The Beaten Sea): I heard this anecdote somewhere about a famous artist—not sure who. Matisse, maybe? He drew a quick sketch of someone and the person asked, "How long did that take you?" And he responded, "My whole life." A lot of the time, we are exposed to music from people who have been working on it for years and years, but never get to see the process. Interacting with local musicians gives hope and encouragement that most good things come from hard work, and don't just develop out of thin air. I've realized over the years that the truly great creators of any art form are extremely humble. They know what they are doing is great, but also know that they can't take full credit for it. I'm excited to see this here, like I've seen in other cities, with the local musicians that I admire the most.
Jeffrey Liles (Kessler Theatre): To me, the most important thing about music coming from North Texas is that it stands as cultural representation of our way of life to people who don't happen to live here. You can hear a brass band and imagine they are from New Orleans, you can hear a Dirty South rap song and know that it probably came from Atlanta or Houston, and you can hear a Motown song and assume that it came from Detroit. I think the "Dallas" sound has always been so dynamic that it has always been impossible to pin down. We've contributed representations of almost everything to the national pop culture mosaic, but the one thing that most, if not all, of our artists have in common is extraordinary chops. Having both UNT and Booker T. Washington in the immediate area has, by default, raised the bar for our collective skill set.
Casey Hess (Descender): Why is local music important? Listen to any Course of Empire, Funland or Toadies album and this question will be answered. If you don't know who these bands are, buy their albums at Good Records. Bands like Here Holy Spain, Dead Twins and RTB2 are continuing their legacy... And people are giving a shit again—me included.