Stories and photos by Mary Jane Farmer — Click on the links at the end for all the photos
The covers were each unique to the three bands that put down some amazing sets at the Shiner Rising Star’s Round 1, Week 4 contest Thursdy (Aug. 22), held at the Grapevine Love & War in Texas’ venue.
Competing were Sean Russell, Cody Joe Hodges, and Ellee Morris, and when the announcement came Friday morning on KHYI, it was revealed that Cody Joe Hodges and his band would be moving on into Round Two.
Judges for the week were KHYI’s Chuck Taylor, L&W co-owner Ty Phelps, and AMP artists promotions company’s Dawn Gardin.
Shiner Rising Star is sponsored each year — and this is the 10th anniversary of the contest that provides one band with a recording contract — by Shiner Records, Shiner Beer, and Americana radio station KHYI, 95.3. The winning band also takes home more prizes, including new band equipment from KONO Guitars.
Sean Russell open the night up, and his cover (each band is required to perform one cover song along with all their own original songs), was a Ryan Bingham song. Judges, at critique time, complimented the band, saying they had good harmonies, sounded like Neil Young, overall a tight band, but one that could look at using bridges more often and work to bring a larger crowd to support them.
Cody Joe Hodges band followed, throwing in “The House of the Rising Sun” as their cover song. Cody Joe said he didn’t grow up around that sort of folky, swamp blues, but has learned to love it from being around others in his band. At critique time, the judges stressed that he seems to know the importance of a hook, that they liked the fiddle in the band and that Hodges does his own lead guitar work, and that it appeared that, even though they came the farthest distance for the contest, they brought the largest crowd.
Ellee Morris brought only one musician, a bass player, to the stage with her, and she played guitar and kick drum. Her cover was one of the many songs featured on the television series, “Nashville.” That impressed the judges, with one of them a little less favorably by calling it a “coffeehouse” style song.
Another thing the three bands had in common was that all three quit with an average of 9.5 minutes left in their respective sets.