Introducing the 2016 Dallas Observer Music Awards Nominees

Sam Lao leads this year's DOMA nominees with no fewer than five nominations.EXPAND
Sam Lao leads this year's DOMA nominees with no fewer than five nominations.
Kathy Tran

Last week the 2016 Dallas Observer Music Awards officially got a date, and now comes the important part: the ballot. For the 28th year running, the DOMAs are here to celebrate the artists, venues, promoters and everyone else who makes the Dallas music scene great.

Voting is open as of this morning, with candidates spread across 40 different categories.

Last year was dominated by breakout star Leon Bridges, who swept all six categories he was nominated in. But without a new album to promote, Bridges plays a lower-key role this year, while other serial winners like Sarah Jaffe, Blue, the Misfit and the Old 97's take a back seat as well. Which means there's plenty of fresh blood in the thick of things this time around.

Leading the way is rapper, singer and all-around powerhouse Sam Lao, who was nominated in five separate categories on the strength of her debut full-length album, SPCTRM, released in February. Lao, whose album the Dallas Observer picked as the best local release of the year so far back in July, goes head to head with Bobby Sessions' LOA, which took the end of year honors in 2015, having been released after last year's DOMA voting closed.

SPCTRM also goes up against In the Night by Charley Crockett, 2015's Best Blues Act DOMA winner (and recent Observer cover boy), who's right behind Lao in nominations with four. Crockett's in good company, as fellow Best Male Vocalist candidate Dezi 5 and 2014 Best New Act winners Party Static (both of whom up are for Best Live Act, among other categories) have also earned nods in no fewer than four different categories.

Charley Crockett goes to head-to-head with Lao for Best Album honors in 2016.EXPAND
Charley Crockett goes to head-to-head with Lao for Best Album honors in 2016.
Cal Quinn

None of those artists are strangers to the DOMA ballot, but there are plenty of first timers spread throughout the voting this year as well. Punk four-piece Loafers made a particularly big impression on the experts who helped assemble the ballot, as they were nominated in three different categories (including Best New Act), plus another two for singer and bassist Savannah Loftin. Fellow Best New Act candidates Siamese also see their guitarist, Teddy Georgia Waggy, get an individual nod of her own.

Speaking of experts, the candidates were selected by polling more than 200 members of the local music scene: journalists, photographers, promoters, venue owners and others who spend their days and (more often than not) nights in the venues and studios where live music takes place in Dallas.

Voting will be open from now until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, the night before the DOMA showcase takes place in Deep Ellum. Pre-sale tickets for the showcase go on sale a week from today on Tuesday, Oct. 11, for the low, low price of $10 for general admission. With more than 50 bands scheduled to perform, that's a hell of a deal.

The DOMA ceremony, meanwhile — well, you'll just have to wait on that one. Sorry, folks. For more on all things DOMA, however, visit the official website here.

But the ballot, and the folks who are showcased on it, are the reason for all the to-do of the DOMAs in the first place. So check out the full list of nominees at — and don't forget to vote!

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