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Hard Night´s Day
Best Cover Band

When the dust settled and the votes were counted, we noticed a few DOMA categories were hotly contested, but none as much as the... cover band category? People love cover bands, sure, but two fan bases fighting for the tribute vote seems like the plot for a half-baked mockumentary. In the end, 12-year-old Hard Night's Day won yet again, defeating the Boys Named Sue by a margin of four votes.

But the Dallas quintet (yes, it takes five mere mortals to re-create the Fab Four) has certainly earned the honor this year; when they weren't re-creating the earliest, rock 'n' rollin' half of the Beatles catalog and helping Dancing Bob get his groove on, they were getting Club Dada back on its feet. With the help of investors, the band has put the Deep Ellum institution back together, but they've done more than sign a deed. Their concert calendar is trying its damnedest to mix happy-hour fare with some of the area's best up-and-coming talent. If "Happy Just to Dance With You" gets more people to listen to the likes of Fishboy, Doug Burr and Voot Cha Index, then we say bring on 12 more years of Hard Night's Day. --S.M.

DJ Merritt
Best DJ

In years past, you could find DJ Merritt spinning his inherently danceable mixes on any given night at one of Dallas' top dance clubs. Now, he's harder to find. "I've kinda quit doing all of my residencies, so I've been excited to go out and hear local music," the newlywed says. "In all honesty, it's been awesome. We go everywhere. The Cavern. The Landing. We'll even go see, what's his name?--you know, that crooner--yeah, Ricki Derek. I like to expand what I hear."

But that doesn't mean the local legend has been unproductive. In the past year, Merritt has produced releases on U.K. and U.S. labels, written and produced music for television soundtracks (including a couple of HBO pilots), had his mixes played on XM and Sirius and worked with his latest production group, Datguy. Oh, and he still cranks out Edgeclub from midnight to 3 a.m. every Saturday night on 102.1 The Edge, his sets progressing from "song-based electronic music" (Royskopp, Goldfrapp) into his inimitable dance mixes.

For more than two decades, he's been known for his guru-like mastery of the turntables, but Merritt has recently branched out into the (more) electronic world. "I've been incorporating my trusty Mac--doing stuff on the fly," Merritt says. "It's a new dimension to DJing. Do the same thing for 20 years, it gets old. [The laptop] is a breath of fresh air." And that ability to evolve, to keep his sets and mixes fresh, is what keeps DJ Merritt a fixture in the DOMAs year after year. He's energetic, ever-changing and, most important, always looking for new sounds. Get ready for your remix, Ricki. --Merritt Martin

The pAper chAse
Best Experimental/Electronic

"We're not the friendliest band,"

vocalist/guitarist/songwriter/producer John Congleton says, explaining how his band, the pAper chAse, differs from the typical sell-yourselves pop-rock outfit. "We try to be entertainers. But we're also not the kind of artists that say that the art speaks for itself and just buy the album--we actually like to play for people."

For each concert and album, the pAper chAse proves this devotion with a level of energy--and perfection--that's incomparable to many bands. They leave it all onstage, from Congleton's one-armed guitar assaults to bassist Bobby Weaver's possessed (and very bearded) stage prowl during "plugged-in" shows to the orchestral sound that comes from the trio of pianist Sean Kirkpatrick, cellist Kris Youmans and Congleton during intense acoustic sets. "There's pretty much never a show we play that I don't feel completely annihilated afterward," Congleton says.

For the last year, the pAper chAse has been working on yet another effort to scare the shit out of their fans--Now You Are One of Us, set for release from national label Kill Rock Stars in June. "We're always focused on our sound and trying to do something that sounds interesting to us, so last year was no different in that regard," Kirkpatrick says. "We spent the first half of the year working out the arrangements for the songs that would wind up being on the album. Then we spent the fall driving around the country, going to different studios for the sounds we wanted." The pAper chAse then continued to offer up live shows last year when most bands would hole up in studios satisfied to just be recording...proving that indeed, these unfriendly bastards actually like to play for you people. --M.M.

Fishing for Comets >br>Best Folk/Acoustic

Though Fishing for Comets isn't in the same category as Fair to Midland, Mugzu or even the Deathray Davies, folk or acoustic it ain't either. The band does, however, have a mandolin player and an accordion player, so you know how that goes. Add lead singer Camille Cortinas' easy vocal melodies and Sam Romero's subtle electric guitar work and it's clear why Fishing for Comets has captured the Folk/Acoustic award every year the band's been in existence (that'd be twice). The eclectic instrumentation and matter-of-fact vocals at times recall 10,000 Maniacs, but Fishing for Comets' songs are smaller, cuter and less worldly--and that's a good thing.

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Noah W. Bailey
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Andrea Grimes
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Jesse Hughey
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Geoff Johnston
Sam Mackovech
Merritt Martin
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Darryl Smyers
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