Well, shucks. The Dallas Observer Music Awards are over. It was fun while they lasted, and now, a few days removed, we're still recovering. We spent the past couple months highlighting some of the awesome North Texas artists that were nominated for this year's awards in the run-up to the ceremony, which took place this past Tuesday at Granada Theater.
But even thought the DOMAs are over, we haven't forgotten about the nominees. So we're forging ahead and continuing to highlight all the nominees. This morning: the Best North Texas Blues Acts. This fine state is steeped in the blues, so the talent pool is bound to be a deep one.
Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch play dirty, high-energy blues rock. This band has chops and they absolutely click. Elmore's incisive guitar work along with Mike Talbot on drums makes for one heck of a first impression. But there are other elements at play here: The band is well-versed in countless specific subsets of the blues, often switching things up to suit whichever venue they are playing. Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch also surprise audiences with some incredibly good vintage soul music. Appropriately for a singer-songwriter, Elmore is also known to play solo acoustic sets. With Hoodoo Witch he has released two successful albums and toured all over the USA, Canada and Europe.
Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights
At seven years old, Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights already seem like Southern rock veterans. They have toured nationally, thrilled crowds in cities all over the state of Texas and played just about every Dallas venue. JTNL always manage to bring the house down with that impeccable piano and guitar. This is blues rock that makes you want to clap your hands and sing along. Tyler is a sophisticated songwriter and that is apparent within the first few seconds of each song. He has transcended all influences and created a sound that is his own. As a singer, Tyler has remarkable range, effortlessly switching from raspy shouting to vocals that are slow, high-pitched and intimate.
The Lance Lopez Band play balls-out, anthemic blues. This is music to shout along to, a fusion of blues rock and hard rock. The songs that rock less are not slow so much as they are surprisingly funky. The Lance Lopez Band is unquestionably proud to be from Texas; just checkout the lyrics. But what's striking is that this music could be from St. Louis, Chicago, Mississippi or Tennessee. Lopez seems to try to bridge the geographical gaps between blues scenes both historical and contemporary. But taking all those things into consideration, it is still Lopez's ferocious guitar that really turns heads. He has been a professional musician since he was 14-years-old and it really shows.
Miss Marcy could appeal to anybody. She has an irresistible bad attitude, a powerful voice capable of well-worn toughness or disarming sweetness, and those vintage dresses. Anyone who says they are not a fan of blues music should be handed a copy of her debut album, Miss Marcy & Her Texas Sugardaddy's, a masterful mix of blues old and new. Miss Marcy knows how to put a band together and find a killer sound. I don't even like harmonica but it sounds great on "Stand by Your Man," a song with a big sound that showcases a band with no apparent weaknesses. And yet, Miss Marcy with just a piano works great for the opening of "Move On." If you haven't seen Miss Marcy perform or heard her album, you should fix that immediately.
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Steve James Trio
Stephen Ketner AKA Stevie James is actually a 26-years-old guitar player and singer with an incredible knowledge of blues and jazz music. Strangely, his interest in blues came via grunge when he saw Nirvana's Unplugged performance on MTV 11 years ago and was particularly taken with the group's cover of a Leadbelly song. The Stevie James Trio have been around since April and can be seen at The Free Man on Wednesday nights playing an eclectic mix of music, anything from Louis Armstrong to John Mayer. On Tuesday nights at The Free Man, James often sits in with The Free Loaders, a group of Dallas jazz musicians.
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