Story and photos by Mark Bickham
Blacktop Outlaw met 121 North on the Gilley’s Dallas stage Thursday night (Oct. 11) to battle for the chance to advance into Round 3 (the finals) of the Shiner Rising Star contest. It was a tough battle, said spectators and crowds, with the bands each displaying uniqueness and considerable talent. But, when it was announced on sponsoring station KHYI the next morning, 121 North found out they will be moving on forward.
Judges for the evening were KHYI’s Allan Peck and Brett Dillon, and Overdrive Entertainment’s Tip Jones. Also sponsoring the contest is Shiner Beer and Shiner Records. After both bands’ performances, the judges provided a critique, hoping, they said, to provide the bands with good information in advancing their careers.
Of 121 North, Peck said a strength was Justin Till’s original songwriting, and it was obvious theyd had been together as a band for a good while. “Not just a guy trying to win a contest,” Peck said. Jones was also impressed with the originals and Dillon said, “That’s Texas rock n roll. We would play it on the Range.” He said he hated Nashville but loved their Big n Rich and Jason Aldean cover songs. (Each band is required in Round 2 to perform two cover songs.) Those in the band are Johnny Pope on drums, Wade Kilgore on guitar and vocals, Till on guitar and vocals, and Max O’Neal on bass.
Blacktop Outlaw, although a newer band, showed itself proud, according to the judges who each said, upon critique, “wow.” Peck told them not to tune on stage, Jones said the band was great, and Dillon said the harmonies were “killer… you could play that on any radio station in the country.”
Blacktop Outlaw consists of Travis Emerick on drums, Danny Dillon on lead vocals and guitar, Lucas Pittman on bass and vocals, Ethan Dorsett on lead guitar, and Ryan Hall on harp and rhythm guitar.