Welcome to our 2011 Dallas Observer Music Awards breakdown, wherein we'll use the weeks leading up to the DOMA showcases on Saturday, October 15 (which is also when voting ends), to explain the nominees in each category Today, we look at the nominees in the Best Solo, Best Country, and Best Alt-Country/Roots categories and see how each of these nominees got to this point. Read up on them, follow the links to hear their music and, if you're impressed, shoot the band some support in the first of a text vote sent to 61721 (see codes for each band below their names).
Text Your Vote:
Why He's Here:
Nicholas Altobelli keeps pretty quiet. His melancholy, acoustic folk numbers ramble sweetly, recalling Nick Drake, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan.
Ryan Thomas Becker
Text Your Vote: DAL8
Why He's Here: Ryan Thomas Becker might be the most versatile nominee in this category. He can play a wide array of instruments and styles, and he's prolific enough to be the sole songwriter in several projects, all while playing in a good handful of other artist's bands.
Text Your Vote: DAL9
Why She's Here: If anything, Denton songstress Jessie Frye is smart for enlisting producer John Congleton to produce her 2011 EP Fireworks Child. He was able to draw out Frye's best work yet, a collection of emotive, melancholy songs.
Text Your Vote: DAL10
Why She's Here: Sarah Jaffe won this award last year, but it doesn't mean she can't do it again. In the past 12 months, she's really come into her own, the evidence of which can be heard on her recent The Way The Sound Leaves A Room EP.
Text Your Vote: DAL11
Why He's Here: Mount Righteous' Joey Kendall's folky side project is just as quirky as the band he helped turn into an area sensation a few years back. It's just toned down, chilled out, and a little more textured in this setting.
Text Your Vote: DAL12
Why She's Here: Madison King is a relative newcomer in this category, but her blend of country and folk talks of a hard road in days gone by. Plus, if you've ever driven of strolled through Deep Ellum, you've seen her face painted on the side of Deep Sushi.
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Why They're Here:
Eleven Hundred Springs is one of those acts who are married to the road. That's why, every two months, when they come back through town, they look a little road weary. That's also why their music is so good. Never trust a jovial country band.
Grant Jones & The Pistol Grip Lassos
Text Your Vote: DAL44
Why They're Here: Grant Jones & The Pistol Grip Lassos play the kind of burned out, whiskeyed up country you hear in the bar around closing time. It's great drinking music, and Jones has established himself as a solid performer here in town.
John David Kent & The Dumb Angels
Text Your Vote: DAL45
Why They're Here: John David Kent once landed a massive record deal as a teenager with his former band, Radish. Now, interestingly enough, he -- like Radish's former lead singer, Ben Kweller -- is making country music. Kent's brand of country has already found a home on CMT's rotation.
The King Bucks
Text Your Vote: DAL46
Why They're Here: The release of The King Bucks' new record, Bar-B-Que Drugs, proves once again that they like to have a good time. They sing about incest, serial killers and girl-watching, all the while inspiring listeners to get up and dance.
Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward
Text Your Vote: DAL47
Why They're Here: Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward are more rock 'n' roll than they are country, but somehow the country tag fits. Their most recent record, The Lonesome Dirge, sounds like the band recorded a bunch of gritty country songs in Led Zeppelin's recording studio. It's huge.
Text Your Vote: DAL48
Why They're Here: The Tejas Brothers' music is a result of many influences. The band blends Tejano, country, and polka for the most unique sound in this category.
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Why They're Here:
Bravo, Max takes an energetic, sincere approach to their music. It's evident on their debut album,Dogs Lights
, which was released earlier this year. Plus, the band's instrumentation is broader than just the traditional guitar, bass and drums combo. They often add xylophone, clarinet and other axillary instruments to the mix.
The Naptime Shake
Text Your Vote: DAL50
Why They're Here: The Naptime Shake bills themselves as a "sophisicountry" act. You'll find it's a pretty accurate description when picking out the band's country and soul influences, ranging from The Gourds and Townes Van Zandt to Otis Redding.
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Text Your Vote: DAL51
Why They're Here: The O's have managed to take the instrumentation of a band that you would usually see relegated to a dark corner of a bar and create a headlining act out of it. Not at easy accomplishment with just an acoustic guitar, a banjo and a bass drum named "Thunderdog."
Text Your Vote: DAL52
Why They're Here: Fort Worth act The Orbans have often been compared to Ryan Adams, but the songwriting prowess of lead singer-songwriter Peter Black deserves its own spotlight. Some of the area's best hooks have come from songs like "Like A Liar" and "Were Her."
Text Your Vote: DAL53
Why They're Here: Somebody's Darling lead singer Amber Farris can really belt it out, which is part of the reason that her band has found so much local success over the last few years. Songwriting is another reason: The band's great melodies and arrangements blend mellow country and fast rock for an impressive live show.
Whiskey Folk Rambers
Text Your Vote: DAL54
Why They're Here: Whiskey Folk Ramblers blend bluegrass and folk for foot-stomping, beer-guzzling fans all over North Texas. There's even an element of gypsy music involved. It's hard to run into anyone at a Whiskey Folk Ramblers show that isn't having a good time.