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Well, it’s all over but the final round — the winner of the 2012 Shiner Rising Star will be determined Thursday, Nov. 1, at Love & War in Texas, Plano. The bands that have progressed into the final round are: The Bigsbys, 121 North, New Old West, and the Kerry Davis Jr. Band.
Thursday night’s final competition for Round Two was at Southern Junction and between Rhythm n Roses and New Old West. Both bands showed themselves at their best, and dancers hit the floor for both bands’ music. Judges this week were Big Gus Samuelson and Allan Peck from KHYI (one of the sponsors for Shiner Rising Star) and former SRS winner Merrol Ray.
Rhythm n Roses, with focus around the family members Tammy, Justin and Jennifer. This 7-piece group gave a rousing pop country performance, complete with harmonies and several boss instruments.
Critique: After each band’s set, the judges hand them a critique, hoping to help them advance their careers. Big Gus opened saying he was a fan of their original tunes. But, two critiques on the vocals followed. “Justin, on ‘Maybe’ it sounded in the start like it wasn’t in your key.’ That being said, “Jennifer and Tammy set the standard really high, too.” The two women are mother- and daughter-in-law, but Gus said Tammy sounds as if she could be the daughter, because the harmonies are so perfect.
Samuelson also suggested that the band, and every band, should close out their set with a song that would “blow everyone away.” He also complimented Justin’s rhythm guitar talent, saying, “You carried the whole band, kept everything really steady.”
Ray suggested that “You might want to move the women to the front. You are missing a lot of the energy by having to watch them on the side.” He compared their harmonies to those of Blacktop Gypsy, and spoke well of their orginal songs.
Peck commented, after acknowledging that the guitar picker had been speaking with the sound man during a song or two, “This is a show, and things like that should wait until the end of the song.”
After a 15-minute break, Jon Beaumont’s New Old West hit the stage running, bringing out about twice as many dancers to the floor as the first band had. New Old West is a house band at Southern Junction, and so many of those there simply for the incredible steaks they serve stayed to listen.
Critique: Samuelson began the critique by saying he could tell the band “knew this was a competition, and most people understand you are a working band. You don’t get to play your original music as often, and so tonight you did. Your originals are a hell of a lot better than the cover crap you play,” Samuelson said, speaking as a true lover of Texas and original music. “You brought it.”
Merrol Ray told the band, “You kicked ass, everything you did was tight. Some bands practice five nights a week and don’t get that tight.” Every musician in the band, he said, was good.
Peck said the band’s treatment of one song reminded him of Zac Brown’s treatment, but at the same time, it was New Old West. “Good job, we enjoyed it.”