If you build it: Sam Lao was the big winner at the 28th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards on Tuesday night.
If you build it: Sam Lao was the big winner at the 28th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards on Tuesday night.
Jason Janik

The 2016 Dallas Observer Music Awards Winners

You might not always get what you want in this world, but Tuesday night at the Dallas Observer Music Awards the Dallas music community got a whole lot of what it needed. As the Observer honored local artists for the 28th year running at The Bomb Factory, handing out awards in 40 different categories, those musicians gathered together to remind each other of the healing powers of music.

The seven nominees who took the stage at the awards ceremony all did their best to put an all around rough year behind us. Best Live Act winner Dezi 5 lived up to his billing on a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," Kirk Thurmond & the Millennials got an assist from legendary keys player Bobby Sparks on a funky rendition of Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothing," and Best Group Act winners the Texas Gentlemen assisted, well, just about everybody, eventually leading the group sing-along of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" that closed out the night.

At the end of 2015, the Observer declared that Dallas rappers had made the year's most important music in the city, and the 2016 DOMAs bore that out as rappers came away victorious in almost every category they were nominated in. Sam Lao had a big hand in making that possible, proving to be the year's breakout artist as she walked away victorious in all five categories she was nominated in, making her the winningest artist in any genre this year.

Lao, long considered a talent on the rise even though she hadn't claimed a DOMA before, finally broke through with the help of her first full-length album, SPCTRM. She recently told the Observer that hip-hop is treated as the "red-headed stepchild" in Dallas, but the voters who cast more than 35,000 votes this year seemed to know better. Lao swept most of the marquee categories as she added Best Album and Best Song to her Best Rap/Hip-Hop Act honors.

It wasn't just Lao repping for hip-hop. Buzzy up-and-comers Cure for Paranoia edged out a handful of rock bands to be named the year's Best New Act, Buffalo Black got the nod for Best Songwriter, and Lao's former band mate in the Brain Gang, 88 Killa, picked up his first-ever DOMA for the Best EP/Mixtape. Hell, Blue, the Misfit took a share in two awards that weren't even strictly rap related, with wins in the Best DJ and Best DJ Night (which he shared with John Stewart for their ALL/EVERYTHING night) categories.

But drawing divisions along genre lines is hardly necessary to see the good in this year's results. The 2016 DOMAs were as wide open as they'd been in years in 2016, thanks in part to serial winner Sarah Jaffe and last year's breakout Leon Bridges keeping lower profiles. R&B singer Dezi 5 made a well-deserved breakthrough with his first DOMA trophy, as did concert venue Three Links. Others who had their breakthroughs in 2015, like Charley Crockett, Jessie Frye, Kaela Sinclair and Sealion, proved it was no fluke by repeating last year's successes.

So while many people are ready to consign this year to history, in their own way the DOMAs offer reason (40 of them, in fact) to hold out hope. Hard work and talent can always win out, and if you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you deserve.

Best Album:
Winner: Sam Lao, SPCTRM

Bobby Sessions, LOA
Charley Crockett, In the Night
The Dividends, Far From Away Vol. 1
Jacob Metcalf, Fjord

Best Alt-Country Act
Winner: Old 97's

Danny Diamonds
The O's
The Vandoliers
Vincent Neil Emerson

Best Bassist
Winner: Aaron González

Sam Villavert
Savannah Loftin
Scott Lee
Zack Busby

Best Blues Act
Winner: Charley Crockett

Jim Suhler
Matt Tedder
R.L. Griffin
Stevie James Trio

Best Country Act
Winner: Madison King

Eleven Hundred Springs
J. Charles
Jake Paleschic
Paul Cauthen

Best Cover Band
Winner: Le Cure

Different Strokes
The Gorehounds
The Rich Girls
Straight Tequila Night

Best DJ
Winner: Blue, the Misfit

JT Donaldson
Sober
TX Connect
Wanz Dover

Best DJ Night
Winner: "ALL/EVERYTHING" at RBC

"Big Bang" at Beauty Bar
"New Math Mondays" at Off the Record
"Soul Funktion" at Off the Record
"War Club Wednesdays" at RBC

Best Drummer
Winner: Stefan González

Alex Poulos
Grady Don Sandlin
Jordan Richardson
Tristan Wagoner

Best Electronic Act
Winner: Ishi

Cygnus
iill
Teen Slut
Zhora

Best EP/Mixtape
Winner: 88 Killa, 88 BPM

FXXXXY, Cartel Shawty
The Outfit, TX, Green Lights: Everythang Goin'
Pageantry, Vicious Wishes
Party Static, Wasted Waster

Best Experimental/ Noise Act
Winner: Def Rain

Filth
iill
Orgullo Primitivo
They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy

Best Female Vocalist
Winner: Sam Lao

Ivette Colon
Kaela Sinclair
Savannah Loftin
Sudie

Best Festival
Winner: Oaktopia

35 Denton
Homegrown
Spillover
Untapped

Best Folk Act
Winner: Whiskey Folk Ramblers

Doug Burr
Fox & the Bird
Hares on the Mountain
Jacob Metcalf

Best Funk/R&B Act
Winner: Leon Bridges

Dezi 5
Friday's Foolery
Kirk Thurmond & the Millennials
Skinny Cooks

Best Group Act
Winner: The Texas Gentlemen
Cure for Paranoia
Native Fox
Pearl Earl
Sealion

Best Guitarist
Winner: Ryan Thomas Becker

Gregg Prickett
Nick Earl
Stephen Ketner
Teddy Georgia Waggy

Best Hardcore Act
Winner: Power Trip

Akkolyte
American Shit Storm
In Memory of Man
Tricounty Terror

Best Jazz Act
Winner: Snarky Puppy

The Free Loaders
The Funky Knuckles
Southpaw Preachers
Yells at Eels

Best Latin/Tejano Act
Winner: Supersonic Lips

Foco de Atelier
Mariachi Queztal
Mayta
Revolucion Oi

Best Live Act
Winner: Dezi 5

The Heavy Hands
Loafers
Party Static
Sealion

Best Male Vocalist
Winner: Leon Bridges

Charley Crockett
Daniel Hart
Daniel Markham
Dezi 5

Best Metal Act
Winner: Mothership

Cleric
Mountain of Smoke
Pinkish Black
True Widow

Best Music Video
Winner: Sam Lao, "Pineapple"

Daniel Markham, "Disintegrator"
Jessie Frye, "Big Bad Wolf"
Ronnie Hart, "Smoovie"
Sudie, "Schitzo"

Best New Act
Winner: Cure for Paranoia

FXXXXY
The Heavy Hands
Loafers
Siamese

Best Pianist/Keyboardist
Winner: Kaela Sinclair

Chad Stockslager
Daniel Creamer
Kwinton Gray
Sean Kirkpatrick

Best Pop Act
Winner: Jessie Frye

Dezi 5
Ishi
Native Fox
Sudie

Best Producer
Winner: Sikwitit

Beau Bedford
Donny Domino
John Congleton
Jordan Richardson

Best Punk Act
Winner: Sealion

Loafers
Party Static
Teenage Sexx
War Party

Best Radio Show/Podcast
Winner: The Paul Slavens Show, KKXT 91.7

The Local Ticket, KCTK 96.7
Rise & Talk, RiseandTalk.us
Sonic Assembly Power Hour, KNON 89.3
Tuesday Morning Blend, KNON 89.3

Best Rap/Hip-Hop Act
Winner: Sam Lao

Blue, the Misfit
Bobby Sessions
The Outfit, TX
-topic

Best Record Label
Winner: Hand Drawn Records

Dallas Distortion Music
DEFDISCO
Gitmo Music
Kirtland Records

Best Record Store
Winner: Good Records

Josey Records
Mad World Records
Off the Record
Spinster Records

Best Rock Act
Winner: Quaker City Night Hawks

Dead Mockingbirds
The Heavy Hands
Moon Waves
Pearl Earl

Best Song
Winner: Sam Lao, "Pineapple"

Charley Crockett, "In the Night"
Daniel Markham, "Disintegrator"
The Dividends, "Sign Off"
Party Static, "Exposure"

Best Songwriter
Winner: Buffalo Black

Doug Burr
Jacob Furr
Jacob Metcalf
Salim Nourallah

Best Talent Buyer
Winner: Moody Fuqua

King Camel
Margin Walker Presents
Parade of Flesh
Spune

Best Venue (over 500 capacity)
Winner: The Bomb Factory

Gas Monkey Live!
Granada Theater
The Kessler
Trees

Best Venue (under 500 capacity)
Winner: Three Links

Club Dada
Dan's Silverleaf
Double Wide
RBC

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