Odds & Ends

Last Thursday, the nomination ballot for the 2005 Dallas Observer Music Awards went online. Since then, I've had several conversations like this:

Me: Have you voted yet?

Them: What are you talking about?

Me: This year, we're letting readers pick the nominations for the Observer Music Awards.

Them: That's interesting. Wait: Why would you do that?

Me: [Slugging back drink.] It's complicated.

Them: Hey, that's my beer.

So in case you haven't heard: YOUR vote determines the music nominations this year. If you haven't voted yet, go to www.dallasobserver.com and do so now. I mean it. Now.

Are you done? OK. Let me explain a few things. For years, the Observer has been accused of handpicking nominees and winners; we never did, but the complaints raised a concern. Our readers didn't feel ownership of the awards. We needed to crack open a window, to let in a stiff breeze, and this seemed like the best way to do it. It's exciting, really. We have no idea how this will shake out.

That said, I'm worried. I'm worried people won't vote. I'm worried the people who do vote will be bored kids with nothing better to do than ballot-stuff. I'm worried the terrific bands that are underappreciated in the local scene won't promote themselves and they won't get nominated, and this will make me sad. But even the least cynical among us would admit that marketing is a reality in today's music scene; if bands won't help themselves, what can I do?

By the way, we do expect bands to campaign for this. Send out e-mail reminders to your mailing list, get your street team on it. I want as many people to vote in this nomination process as possible. That's the only way we'll get a representative cross section of the Dallas music scene.

You're always telling us we're wrong. Prove it. (Voting lasts till February 16.)

Local spinners have till February 11 to enter their mix CD in the Dallas Observer's Ultra contest. The top five contestants will be announced in next week's issue, and they'll face off in a competition at Minc on February 18. The winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to spin at Miami's Ultra Festival this spring. This is your last reminder. Send CDs to me at: P.O. Box 190289, Dallas, TX 75219.

Critics haven't exactly been tripping over themselves to applaud Hide and Seek, the new thriller starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. Our movie reviewer Luke Y. Thompson dubbed it Hide and Suck. Still, that hasn't kept audiences away--the movie debuted at No. 1 when it opened in late January. That's good news for Dallas- and L.A.-based Kirtland Records, which has teamed with 20th Century Fox to release the original score, composed by John Ottman. The CD will be released on February 22.

SXSW has released its preliminary lineup, and 21 D-FW names made the cut. We'll dispense with the obvious (yes, The Deathray Davies are playing) and offer instead some nice surprises: teenage garage-punksters The Strange Boys, rappers Money Waters and Bavu Blakes, Denton's exquisite South San Gabriel, lovely acoustic stylists Deadman, rockers Max Cady and a couple of bands we've never heard of, including Terminal and Best Fwends. Congratulations, all. A complete list can be found at www.sxsw.com/music/festival/. See you in Austin.

Forever proving he's a good man, not just a good musician, country singer Max Stalling plays three benefit concerts for the Make-a-Wish Foundation this weekend. The road show starts in Houston on February 10, moves to San Antonio on February 11 and ends in Dallas on February 12 at the rarely-open-to-the-public Three Teardrops Tavern. Tickets are available at www.frontgatetickets.com.

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Sarah Hepola