For 25 years we here at the Dallas Observer have celebrated local music by offering an award that not only highlights are awesome local talent but also allows you, our readers, to decide the winners. It's a nerve-racking month as we prepare for the award show, write the articles and tally the votes -- we'll hand out 2013's awards tomorrow night at House of Blues.
And while the winners often leave a trail of dust for future nominees to blaze, other nominees appear on the list in various categories year after year yet never take home a Dallas Observer Music Award. Texas icons, blues legends, local legacy bands: no one is immune to the DOMA snub. It's a mystery we've yet to solve.
In honor of the DOMA's 25th anniversary, we've delved as far back as the DOMA's humble beginnings in the late '80s when a pencil and a stamp were required to submit your ballot, searching through dozens of archives to find the five nominees who should have won but, due to a strange twist of fate, never did.Ray Wylie Hubbard
In the '90s, Ray Wylie Hubbard was nominated in the Country & Western category on four different occasions but never snagged the DOMA.
Writing tunes such as "Snake Farm," "Screw You, We're from Texas" and "Conversation with the Devil" earned this Texas icon disciples across the country. Charlie Shafter, Liz Foster, Drew Kennedy and other young artists have embraced his words. "Knowing him has made me a better songwriter, performer and person," Hayes Carll told Dallas Observer writer Kelly Dearmore in a 2012 interview.
Since his DOMA nominations, Hubbard has been writing in earnest and recording a string of critically acclaimed albums. He was also inducted into the Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame, and in 2012, he released The Grifter's Hymnal, a collection as fearsome and insightful as anything he's ever written.Gammacide
In the late '80s, thrash metal dominated stages across Dallas/Fort Worth, with local bands such as Morbid Scream, Rotting Corpse and Pantera wowing fans with aggressive picking, fast guitar solos and lyrics that roared from the speakers.
Rick Perry's Gammacide were as talented as any of them. They found themselves appearing on our DOMA nomination list three times for Best Metal Act but lost every time to Rigor Mortis, an act that at one time opened for Perry's original band, Warlock. In '89, a year after losing his first DOMA for Best Guitarist, Scott Shelby joined the lineup, and they released Victim of Science, an album that road the death wave of thrash metal toward its shore of broken glass. "Endangered Species," "Chemical Imbalance" and "Walking Plague" showcase Perry's talent for aggressive picking and grueling riffs.
"The album came out a little too late," he says. "Thrash metal had hit its peak, and death metal was already becoming the flavor of the month."
Shopping their '91 demo to different record labels proved Perry's fears were well-founded. Record producer after record producer all told him what he already knew: Death metal was the flavor of the month.
The band disbanded a year later, but their contributions to thrash metal endure.Jim Suhler
This legendary Texas bluesman was first nominated in '93, when he faced off against Mike Morgan, Joe Jonas and the late Bugs Henderson, who won the Best Blues DOMA. His run continued on and off until 2009, when he lost to the late Pops Carter and The Funkmonsters.
Jim knew Pops, though. He'd jammed with him at a few clubs across the DFW area. "He comes from that old school of being an entertainer," he says. "I learned a lot from guys like him, who had that authentic connection to this area."
Jim's connection to Dallas music is as deep as they come. Blues historian Don O of KNON-FM 89.3 called him "one of the toughest slide players around." He's also a great Dallas blues tour guide.
"Unlike a lot of guys that do a real straight blues thing, I'm not afraid or ashamed to mix rock with blues," Suhler says. "I love Charlie Patton and Johnny Ramone. I don't see any difference in it."
Since his first nomination in the early '90s, Jim has played all over the world, recorded six albums with George Thorogood and the Destroyers and released 13 albums with his band Monkey Beat. In 2014, he'll release his 14th album, Panther Burn, on Underworld Records.Anson Funderburgh and Mike Scaccia
Dallas blues legend Anson Funderburgh and metal legend Mike Scaccia both appeared as nominees for Best Guitarist on several occasions and lost to other guitarslingers who's qualities were just too hard to differentiate.
Since his nomination for Best Guitarist in '88, Anson has become one of the most important bluesman to come out of Dallas. And with the late Sam Myers fronting his band from '86 until '06, Anson won nine W.C. Handy blues awards (the Blues Grammy) and produced eight albums, proving Dallas is still home of the Texas blues.
"I've just always liked music," says Anson. "It's just hung with me."
Anson's first real guitar was given to him by a lady who worked in the cafateria where his mother worked, but she also gave him a box of 45s from some of blues greatest masters, including Freddie King. He learned the Jimmy Reed rhythm and discovered the blues.
"It's just something I must have came here with because it just struck a chord with me," he says. "It's just always done something for me.
In '91, as his former band Rigor Mortis was snagging the DOMA for Best Metal, Mike Scaccia was making music with Uncle Al in Ministry, a band credited with creating the industrial music revolution. His background in aggressive riffs took the band's music into a dark mind-blowing realm. It was only natural for his name to appear on the Best Guitarist list.
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"Mike was so fast you wouldn't even see his hand moving," says Rick Perry. "It would be like a bee's wing."
Although he didn't win the DOMA that year, he's since immortalized his legacy with Ministry's platinum-selling album Psalm 69 and its smash hits "Jesus Built My Hotrod," which features Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers, "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix."
Today, Anson is busy taking the Dallas blues on the legendary blues cruise and to Europe with his band The Golden State Lone Star Blues Review, and Mike is jamming with the ghosts of other rock stars like Randy Rhodes, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn while Ronnie James Dio, Bon Scott and Kurt Cobain take turns singing the hymnals.