The Ranch in Las Colinas
October 7, 2010
Getting back into the swing of things after a week away, I was treated to a kickass night of tunes as a judge for last night's semi-final round of this year's Shiner Rising Star competition, hosted by KHYI 95.3 and Shiner Bock Beer.
Joining me at the judges table inside of The Ranch in Las Colinas, were KHYI afternoon DJ, Brett Dillon and the owner of Shiner Records, Joshua Jones.
And each band's 45 minute performance showcased an outfit that understood what was at stake.
First up last night were Four Left Turns.
It wasn't exactly tough to know who the couple of hundred people in attendance were really there to see, as the cheers were raucous when the four-piece was announced. Showcasing a pedal steel--that instrument has been a surprisingly rare artifact over the course of this competition--that acted more or less as the lead guitar through the first few songs, the Burrito Brothers-flavored country-rock was pleasant and distinctive. And, as has been the case so many times in recent weeks of competition, such a flair displayed yet another dynamic side of country music that is being played every weekend in the North Texas area. While they covered Whiskeytown's "16 Days" effectively, it was their other cover choice that seemed to really nail their overall perspective. Near the end of their set, the guys performed Arlo Guthrie's drug-smuggling classic "Coming Into Los Angeles," effectively adding a satisfying dose of bar-room psychedelia into the mix.
Second up, The Will Callers would close out the night, if to much quieter applause.
Boasting a beefed-up, lick-heavy sonic, their brand of southern rock was in full effect. Such was the case even more so than when they were victorious in their first-round set a few weeks ago. The first few songs displayed a twangy, Rolling Stones vibe to them.
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Hey, people sometimes forget that the Stones were a serious honky-tonk band. But not these guys, evidently.
When they slowed down the pace just a tad, a soulful, bluesy vibe made itself known, too, giving their set a bit of a break from the hard-charging, southern-fried rock. After hearing their cover choice, "16 Days," played in the previous set, The Will Callers opted to return to the Buddy Miller tune they performed a few weeks ago, "Hole in my Head." They nailed it this time, just as they did last time. Even better sounding than last time, however, was the infectious rocker "Eighty-Seven Miles to Go." This track was but a day or two old when I first heard it a few weeks ago, but, last night, it sounded tight and seemed to be a regular song in the band's rotation already.
Even with the crowd giving their energy to Four Left Turns, it was The Will Callers who won a ticket into the finals. Now just two weeks away, the final night is shaping up to be just insane with talent that deserves a bigger stage.
Next week, The Chris Miller Band and Shutdown Town will fight it out for the last spot in the final night.