Best Bar to Stretch
a Dollar
Dallas Observer

The Cockpit has been an institution in the neighborhood north of Dallas Love Field for decades, but nowadays instead of serving the now (hopefully) outmoded stereotype of the hard-drinking airplane pilot, this neighborhood bar has become town square to some and a hidden gem to others. While the selection of craft brews and exotic liquors may be somewhat modest compared with most Dallas bars, The Cockpit makes up for its shortcomings with both atmosphere and price point. Like you've stumbled into an episode of Cheers, you see the clientele is largely local regulars looking to partake of the bar's $2.25 pints of beer and $3.75 wells between games of video golf and buzzing conversation. While The Cockpit isn't the best-known Dallas dive bar, it's definitely an overlooked gem that may leave you with a headache in the morning but plenty of cash left over for aspirin.

Best Place for a Post-Show Drink
Mike Brooks

Despite a bevy of changes that continue to alter the landscape of Deep Ellum, music remains at its core. As patrons file out of the numerous neighborhood venues, the Twilite Lounge serves as a shining beacon for those looking to keep the evening's festivities going. With a top-notch jukebox, a rustic outdoor patio and some of the most attentive bartenders in town, the atmosphere serves as a natural coda to any live music experience. The bar also doubles as a fine live music venue in its own right. Indoors, there's often a steady stream of singer-songwriters and jazz bands performing. On special occasions, the back patio opens up into a larger space that recently hosted the likes of Old 97's, Sam Outlaw and Erika Wennerstrom. It's been four years since local musicians Danny Balis and Jess Barr opened up shop, and their endeavor shows no signs of slowing down.

Best Metal Guitarist
Beth Shelby

Scott Shelby has been dominating the stage as a metal guitarist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the days of Rascals and The Tombstone Factory in the late '80s. As a member of Gammacide, he traded licks with guitar maestro Rick Perry, formerly of Warlock. He went on to perfect his chops in other metal bands such as Hammer Witch, Rotting Corpse and Null & Void before hooking up with Perry in Texas Metal Alliance, which later changed its name to Warbeast. Shelby has been called "the last man standing" after the untimely deaths of local metal alumni Dimebag Darrell Abbott Mike Scaccia in 2004 and 2013. Now, with lead vocalist Bruce Corbitt announcing the end of Warbeast, Shelby finds himself without a band, but it's never been a major concern for the "Beast." "The fact I've been able to put out records, play and tour, that's the biggest thing for me," Shelby once told the Observer. "I dreamed about it when I was little, and now I have records on the wall."

Dallas' Jim Suhler is known for his no-holds-barred approach to blues-inspired rock 'n' roll roots music as part of his band Monkey Beat. As the lead guitarist for George Thorogood & the Destroyers since the late '90s, he's helped to infuse classics such as "One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer" with Texas swagger. Buddy Magazine made him a member of the Texas Tornado Hall of Fame. Alhough his playing can become a swirling storm of licks, it's more precise than chaotic, blues picking at its finest from a local blues veteran who has shared the stage with Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons and Buddy Guy. Suhler once told the Observer that he didn't consider himself a "true blues artist," but he's spent most of his life playing the blues."There are blues Nazis, and I'm not one of them," he says. "The blues isn't for me to decide."

Best Rock Guitarist
Photo by Mike Brooks/Courtesy of Action! PR

Kelley Juett has been called one of the world's most underrated guitar players. But it's a title he's quickly shedding. As part of Dallas-based Mothership, a heavy rock band he started with his brother Kyle in 2010, the Dallas guitarist harnesses classic-rock-inspired riffs from legends like Angus Young from AC/DC. "Angus took over me whole world," Juett told Fret12.com in April. "I learned all of his stuff once I started jamming." He picked up his love of classic rock from his father, John "Big J" Juett, a drummer and music lover with an impressive collection of vinyl records from blues, classic rock, hard rock, metal and Southern rock artists. It's a foundation that helped to define Juett's style and eventually led to his signature guitar series from Boult Guitars called the Galaxy collection.

Best Metal Band
Jason Janik

Over seven years, Warbeast has gifted fans with three studio albums and an EP filled with pulse-pounding Texas metal. It's a local supergroup made up of metal veterans: vocalist Bruce Corbitt from Rigor Mortis; guitarist Scott Shelby, formerly of Gammacide; and drummer Joey "Blue" Gonzalzes from Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals, Superjoint and The Black Moriah. Warbeast offers music birthed in the legendary '80s underground Texas metal scene. Over the years, the band has had other members come and go. The latest lineup includes guitarist Drew Shoup and bassist Lyric Ferchaud, but the band's future was altered with Corbitt's recent diagnosis of Stage 3 esophageal cancer. But it released its magnum opus of Texas metal with its third full-length studio album from Anselmo's Housecore Records, Enter the Arena, in August. "I want people to feel like they've been hit with a sledgehammer 10 times in a row when they hear this," says Corbitt of the release. "As long as they feel strongly about [it], we've accomplished our mission."

Best Country Act
Cal Quinn
Rolling Stone recently listed Vandoliers in its New Country Artists You Need to Know. But Josh Fleming, John Pedigo, Guyton Sanders and Mark Moncrieff have been turning heads in Dallas for a couple of years as an alt-country band with punk roots and songs that cross the musical spectrum from mariachi and country to folk and punk rock. "It's always fun to get into a genre that you know nothing about because then you don't have a bias," band founder Fleming told the Observer in May. The band's latest release, The Native, takes the country genre far away from bro country and red-dirt country and offers fans something fresh. "It's Texas music played by Texans," Fleming says. "But we're not saying anything about dirt roads. We're not talking about farms because we don't live on them. We love and respect the people who do. I'm just singing about my life."

Now that Mötley Crüe is retired, it's up to tribute bands like Dallas' Crüed and Tattooed to take fans back to the late '80s. But these guys and lady don't just sound like Mötley Crüe rehashing old classics like "Shout at the Devil." They also kind of resemble them from a distance. Mike Crue (Vince Neil), DieTrich Thrall (Nikki Sixx), Jay Patterson (Mick Mars) and Nikki Heimann (scantily clad backup vocalist) dress in similar fashion as their Mötley Crüe counterparts onstage. Crued and Tattooed drummer Matt Cayer even jams onstage strapped to his drum kit and spinning like Tommy Lee from the Girls, Girls, Girls tour. "Crüe is the reason I bought my first guitar, got my first tattoo, got into hard rock," Patterson says.

Best Rock Act
Messer on Facebook

Messer recently came in third place in Metallica's Hit the Lights local band competition, but it's no loser. Formed in 2009 in Dallas, the group creates a synergy when it goes onstage, a kind of magic that propelled bands like Drowning Pool to stardom in the early 2000s. It's called a "cutting-edge modern rock sound," and it can be addictive. The band — Dereak, vocals; Javier, guitar; Kenn, drums; Maddox, bass; and Donnie, guitar — quickly became a favorite in Deep Ellum when it formed in 2009, but it didn't take long before it hit the road to bars and venues outside of Texas. The band recently completed its self-titled debut album and made an appearance onstage with Local H on Metallica's 2017 Worldwired tour. Local H members may have simply felt like douches for winning the Hit the Lights local band competition when they were, in fact, a signed band.

It was the contest of a lifetime for one local band: a chance to play 30-minute set openings on a partial leg of the Metallica Worldwide tour, it sounded like a pipe dream come true. And two Dallas bands — Mothership and Messer — made it to the final round. Fans voted online, and the two Dallas bands were nearly neck and neck, with Mothership appearing to be the winner. The WTF moment happened when Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich announced the winner was Local H, an alternative grunge band from Chicago with eight studio albums, two greatest-hits albums, a live album and three concert films. Radio disc jockey Cindy Scull from KEGL-FM (97.1 The Eagle) said it best: "Maybe we didn't read the small print, but if signed bands were up for this, then we could have had a myriad of Dallas-Fort Worth bands that would be awesome, starting with Drowning Pool. Please, they would have obliterated Local H in a national vote."

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