Leading up to our November 10 showcase, we'll be getting you familiar with some of our Dallas Observer Music Awards nominees, either via past features we've done on them, or new ones. You can vote for your favorite acts, venues and more right here.
Best Americana/Roots Act
J. Charles & The Trainrobbers J. Charles and the Trainrobbers busted out a great full-length debut, Upon Leaving, a few weeks ago. The album's stories of despair and life's dwindling options make for compelling theater. Case in point are lyrics from "Mercy Killing": "A bullet here for me, a bullet here for you, only problem is we love each other too damn much to shoot."
Danny Rush & The Designated Drivers Denton's Daniel Folmer has produced some high-quality singer-songwriter albums in the past, but in his current role as Danny Rush, along with his band, The Designated Drivers, he assumes a ramshackle persona that's a great deal of fun on latest album Brown and Blue.
Josh Weathers There's been a good-natured joke circulating through the North Texas music community regarding how many stages Josh Weathers will play and how often he will play them. The Fort Worth guitar hero has already won a few Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards for his powerful voice, and any stage he brings his soulful tunes to is better for it.
Telegraph Canyon More than any other act in this category, chamber-folk vets Telegraph Canyon stretch the boundaries of Americana the most. Sure, Chris Johnson bangs out a mean banjo and they have some violin thrown in, which helps them lean in a rootsy direction. It's just tough to categorize an engrossing wall of sound once the organ joins in.
Boxcar Bandits This Denton outfit has been playing Dan's Silverleaf and Adair's on the regular for the last couple of years. They refer to their acoustic sound as "skunkgrass." That's fair, as their inventive take on bluegrass indeed warrants a distinction that sets them apart from the traditional and conservative sounds of Bill Monroe's invention.
The O's With two stellar albums under their belts as the banjo and kick-drum happy The O's, John Pedigo and Taylor Young currently play in more bands than most artists will in their entire lives. While their other projects are noteworthy, it is this duo that's seen them become perhaps the most beloved roots act around these parts in recent years.
Best Folk Act
Clint Niosi Clint Niosi's tunes, especially the ones from his recently released For Pleasure and Spite, were made for late- evening listening. Even though a large array of typically ostentatious instrumentation, including the sax and French horn, are present, Niosi's dusky, slightly boozy vocals find themselves shining under the lone streetlamp, working on a musically dark night.
Ronnie Fauss 2012's country-folk kingpin, Ronnie Fauss, has had a hell of a run since the release of his excellent I Am the Man You Know I'm Not. Touring much of the Western section of the great 48 and seeing success on various Americana charts has been a just reward for a songwriter that's patiently waited for this moment to arrive.
Hares on the Mountain So, Ryan Thomas Becker and George Neal are in another DOMA nominated act, huh? Shocking? Not really. And if it were almost anyone else attempting to be in so many bands, such ambition wouldn't likely meet with success. Here's the great part: the gypsy folk of Hares on the Mountain is great enough to be their only project.
Vanessa Peters The globe-trotting Vanessa Peters writes a really damn good song, as evidenced by her beautiful new LP, The Burn the Truth the Lies. When she pairs "drenched with sweat" with "never forget," the imagery is striking but simple, thanks to a dedication to telling a story the right way.
Jacob Metcalf As a key member of the bearded collective The Dallas Family Band, Jacob Metcalf has been in the middle of a quality folk boom in North Texas. He was also a member of Fox and the Bird last year, on their fantastic album Floating Feather. Once his 2013 solo LP drops, it's not a stretch to think he'll be back in this DOMA-intensive spot.