In April 2003, I attended my first-ever Dallas Observer Music Awards. I'd just begun freelancing for the paper weeks earlier, a bewildered 21-year-old who lucked into a VIP ticket for the ceremony, and the party was my Dallas-rock equivalent of "Mean" Joe Greene tossing me a jersey.
Members of my favorite bands--Chomsky, the Deathray Davies, Centro-matic, [DARYL], Pleasant Grove and so on--milled about the Gypsy Tea Room that night, yet all I could do was hide in the corner behind handfuls of free sushi. How could I possibly talk to these people? I was but a lowly concertgoer, a guy who moved back to Dallas after graduating from college in 2002 partially because of the city's music scene, and I was in conversation's distance from superstars (in my eyes, anyway) like John Dufilho, Matt Pence and Marcus frickin' Striplin.
That mix of panic and excitement was all I could think of this past Sunday afternoon as I stood in front of the decrepit Dallas High School/Crozier Tech building downtown. In front of me were roughly half of this year's DOMA nominees on the old school's front steps, rounded up at the last minute (with the promise of free beer, of course) for our awards issue's photo shoot.
Dallas Observer Music Awards
Three years after that first awards show, in front of some of Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton's best musicians, I was cracking jokes and thanking everyone as they endured countless camera flashes. Before and after the shoot, I didn't even have enough time to talk to all of the nominees, most of whom I've met at concerts or interviews in such a short span of time.
The 21-year-old Sam would flip out if he knew I'd be chatting with the past, present and future forces in local music; shaking hands with Sorta, hugging Steve Austin, cussing at the members of Boys Named Sue and Hogpig like they were old pals. But here's the thing: After having this job nearly a year, I still wound up flipping out.
Granted, I didn't shake nervously and scream like a wildman at Chris Holt or anything, but I felt giddy when I saw so many cool bands come together to help with the DOMAs. Tahiti hung out with the guys in the Golden Falcons. Kristy Kruger gabbed away with Montrose. People from all kinds of bands were forced together, like a weird version of that terrible Judgment Night soundtrack, yet the cross-pollination wasn't awkward. It even led to some amusing photos, which you'll get a better look at next week.
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As the session went on, a teenage guy who'd been standing nearby tapped my shoulder. "This is a music thing, then? Are any of them in bands I'd recognize?" I started listing off names of some of the better-known nominees in attendance--the Happy Bullets, Record Hop, Salim Nourallah--and he gave me a blank look, explaining he'd come from out of town for a high school class trip to Dallas. He wanted to know the big names.
Well, damn, buddy. Hearing that was deflating at first, if only because it reminded me of how many people in Dallas have said the same thing (including DOMA co-presenters Pugs & Kelly, the 105.3 FM talk show hosts who admitted on the air a few weeks ago that they'd never heard of most of the nominees). Them's the breaks when you're dealing with the not-so-rewarding world of Dallas independent music, so it's nice when something like the DOMAs can gather some of the best musicians in town, picked from both a public nominating pool and an industry panel, and, well, reward them. Plus, we can always use a reminder that this city's music scene is plenty big, even if some teen jerkass from Washington doesn't think so.
Superstar nominees like the ones already listed, along with others like Midlake, Spitfire Tumbleweeds, Steve Austin, Bosque Brown, Rose County Fair, the pAper chAse, Fishboy and the Angelus are good reasons for both fearful newcomers and longtime local music fans to be as giddy as I was three years ago (and still am today). Furthermore, it'd be my honor and privilege if each and every one of you would see me make an ass of myself at the Granada Theater on Tuesday, May 9. We're throwing a pretty big party for all music lovers 18 and up starting at around 7:30 p.m. If you're late, you'll regret it.
Ex-Slobberbonians the Drams headline to show off tunes from their debut album, set for release on New West Records in a few months. Local bands the Theater Fire, Record Hop and Pegasus Now will also be on hand, as will a special set I've been dreaming about for a year now--the Dallas Hip-Hop All-Stars. All five nominees for Best Rap/Hip-Hop have agreed to perform a huge, unforgettable set together at the ceremony, so don't miss it. Free tickets are still available at the Granada Theater, Good Records, Tower Records, Drip Coffee and most local Hooters locations...no wings purchases are required.