Listen Up, Write In

Cranky singer-songwriter James McMurtry once dismissed Pleasant Grove, his opening act, from the Sons of Hermann Hall stage, calling the band's music "Seattle alt-country bullshit." He claimed if you wanted the real deal, you'd be best served checking out Deadman instead. Huh. While it's a good idea--we'd even say it's a great idea--to consider McMurtry's misguided rant against Pleasant Grove (again: his opening act) as little more than a tiresome tirade from a grumpy bastard (technical term), you can't fault his alternate. Fact is, McMurtry was close to hitting a point, until he stubbed his toe trying to wedge his foot in his mouth; Pleasant Grove and Deadman are both miners in the same shaft, both sharing space in the portion of the musical Venn diagram where rock, country, soul, whatever collide. Which is not to imply that the two are interchangeable: That's like saying size-12 boots fit the same as a pair of size-9s. Yet they are close enough that no one, especially McMurtry, can paint Pleasant Grove with a derisive brush without getting some acrylic semi-gloss on Deadman as well.

That said, Deadman's new Paramour is markedly different from Pleasant Grove's recent Ausculation of the Heart, mainly because of Steven and Sherilyn Collins' codeine-coated communal vocals, something along the lines of X's John Doe and Exene Cervenka remixed by DJ Screw. (Or, if we weren't trying so hard, Lou Reed and Nico, minus the needles and pinned eyes.) Paramour is so subtle at times, it's like looking at a cloud of smoke through a handful of gauze, but that's kind of the point, or at least most of the pleasure. You can see how it translates onstage, when Deadman performs April 12 at Sons of Hermann Hall. Until then, find a copy of Paramour. We're allowed to tell you what to do because, unlike McMurtry, we aren't laboring in the shadow of a much more famous father. Our pop's smarter than us, sure, but we dealt with that a long time ago...

"Burn him in effigy."

"To hell with that--let's burn him right here."

OK, so we fucked up. We could use nicer language, but that's really the only way to describe what happened. What exactly did we screw up this time? The 2002 Dallas Observer Music Awards, that's what. We won't try to excuse what happened or give you a long list of reasons and explanations--we're taking this one for the team, no questions asked. (Fine, an explanation or two might sneak in somewhere.) Deal is, a few club owners and booking agents are irritated with us, and for good reason. Seems that the nominating committee--the musicians, club personnel, record label folks and others--that decides which names appear on the DOMA ballot isn't as egalitarian as it could be, that too much of one taste is represented and not enough of the other. (Some would say none of the other side is represented.) This was all brought to our attention recently, and every bit of it is, sadly, true. We humbly and sincerely (for once) apologize to all those people who should've been given a chance to voice their opinions. Not enough nominating ballots made it into the right hands.

All we can say is this: It was not intentional. (Stupidity never is.) When putting together the music awards on top of getting a fact-filled and fun paper out each week, well, a few things are overlooked, the small details that mean the most. People get lazy, problems arise. Point is, nothing was done out of spite, no one is trying to rig the election, none of it involved backroom dealings and secret pacts. (Not that we know of, at any rate.) Again, we're not excusing this. No one feels worse about this than we do. OK, maybe a few people do.

While it's too late to fix any of this now, we do have a suggestion: Vote your conscience, not anyone else's. We're not advocating stuffing the ballot box, but if your favorite band (or maybe your favorite club or DJ or whatever) doesn't happen to be nominated in a category, feel free to write them in yourself; that blank space at the bottom of each category isn't just for show. If you think that Jibe is the best band in town (really?), by all means, write it in as Best Act Overall. Don't like the records up for Best Album? Find a different one. Never set foot inside the Gypsy Tea Room, but spend Thursday through Sunday at The Rock? Tell us so. Point of all this: If you vote, you can fix our mistakes. (Most of 'em: Don't know what turning in a ballot can do for our drinking problem.) And if you still want to bitch about how we've mucked things up--and we're sure you will, and yes, you're entitled--just stop calling us "Wilonsky." He hasn't done this job in three years...

Sucking in stereo: We failed to mention the 25th anniversary of David Card's Lower Greenville fixture, Poor David's Pub. Other clubs come and go like an old man's memory, but Poor David's has stuck it out, consistently featuring some of the best singer-songwriters to come through town (Jay Farrar, recently), as well as providing a home to the locals. Sorry for the snub, David. Stop by and offer congrats: Full week, as always, including Terri Hendrix on March 30.

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Zac Crain
Contact: Zac Crain