Frontman John Pedigo, or Sue-Ay if you're looking to point fingers, is a little amazed that they haven't lost any members along the way.

"Any normal person would've jumped ship long ago," he said, while admittedly nursing a wee bit of a hangover. "But we've realized none of us are normal."

"Not normal" is clearly an appropriate description for any band who can ably blend a Bob Wills classic with that beloved and not-so-innocuous Light Crust Doughboys call for pussy (for the uninitiated, it's literally, "Here pussy, pussy..."), and make it appeal to the beer-swilling masses—be they lovers of C&W or punk rock.

The Sues claim original songs too, though, and, according to Pedigo, more are on the way: The Sues' new album, Clown Country, is due out this fall. And ol' Sue-Ay hopes the Sues' technique of "write and record songs as quickly as possible" proves fruitful for the new album—which includes "Honky-Tonk Time Machine," a song title that would prove a death rattle for any band but the one who wins over packed houses with songs like "Honky-Tonk If Yer Horny" and "Light Beers Away." —Merritt Martin

Best Hard Rock Act

THe BAcksliders

Chris Bonner, guitarist for THe BAcksliders, doesn't really care what label is thrown his band's way.

In 2007, the band won a Dallas Observer Music Award as Best Blues Act. In 2008, it was another DOMA for Best Hard Rock Act. Now the band has won the Hard Rock award once more.

"I'm just happy to be appreciated by local fans," says Bonner. "I think people in Dallas are really expecting someone to break big, and that has created a lot of excitement."

And while Bonner isn't quite sure THe BAcksliders live up to the "Hard Rock" category, he's just happy to be in on the fun.

"There's just not a Rock category or a Pop category," says a bemused Bonner, "although there seems to be about 20 country categories."

Well, he's got a point there.

Regardless, however one wants to classify the sound, THe BAcksliders' energy and pop smarts continue to make the band one of area's most consistent concert draws. —Darryl Smyers

Best Alt-Country/Roots Act

Whiskey Folk Ramblers

This year, Whiskey Folk Ramblers shifted from the bluegrass- and gypsy-tinged traditional country of their 2008 debut, Midnight Drifter, and started melding swing, jazz, surf rock and spaghetti Western sounds for their sophomore disc, ...And There Are Devils.

But while he'd stock the new CD in the rock aisle, frontman Tyler Rougeux is cool with the Alt-Country/Roots Act label his band has earned—especially when it puts his band (a Best Country nominee last year and 2008 Best New Group winner) in the company of so many bands he's friends with and admires.

"I actually voted for Telegraph Canyon," Rougeux admits.

A broken-down van and repossessed trailer have delayed a planned West Coast tour for the Ramblers, so while they save up for new wheels, the band is actually already working on new material that Rougeux says is along the lines of Devils' sound—for now. Already, the Ramblers are throwing some new ideas around.

At this rate, there's no telling which category they'll fit under in a couple of years. Rock? Jazz? Perhaps Best Group will be most fitting. —Jesse Hughey

Best Experimental/Avant-Garde Act

Mount Righteous

When it comes to pigeonholing an act into a genre, few local bands are harder to pin down than Grapevine's nine-piece outfit Mount Righteous.

Self-described as "anti-orchestra," the band's current crop of high-energy songs blend elements of punk, rock and, yes, marching band sounds too, to form a sound that's capable of winning over even the most skeptical of music snobs and critics. And, though the "Mount Righteous sound" has grown edgier, more aggressive and less acoustic since the act's 2008 debut, When the Music Starts, the one element that has stayed consistent is the band's rollicking, get-your-ass-outta-the-bleachers live sets.

We caught up with the band's mastermind and bass drummer, Joey Kendall, just after his group's showcase performance this past weekend at Trees: "I thought it was magical," he said. "Half of us grew up seeing our idols play in Deep Ellum, and at Trees, whether it was local or touring bands, and we were just saying how rad it was that we were that band now. It was surreal."

Which, oddly enough, is usually the reaction Mount Righteous elicits. —Daniel Rodrigue

Best Punk Act

Spector 45

Spector 45's now-legendary pre-sundown set at last year's DOMA showcase on Lower Greenville ended with bass player Adam Carter's blood on the stage at The Cavern and on the sidewalk out front.

It was kind of a mess: Frontman Frankie Campagna and Carter spent the evening at the hospital. Then, 29 stitches and three days later, Spector 45 won last year's award for Best Punk Act.

Fairly impressive stuff. And though that bloody set will not be forgotten any time soon, neither, it seems, will the Deep Ellum-based band's triumphant set at Reno's Chop Shop during this year's showcase.

It's no wonder the greaser punk outfit has such a big following in Dallas (and in Deep Ellum in particular). And, whether Spector 45 was tearing through their own crowd-pleasing tracks like "Suicide Song" or rip-roarin' through a Johnny Cash cover, the act's offering at this year's showcase sounded tighter and more mature than ever.

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