Judges Dawn Gardin, (AMP); Chuck Taylor, (KHYI); and Tip Jones (Overdrive Entertainment) collectively selected the Straw Hat Society to move into Round 2 of Shiner Rising Star 2014. Straw Hat Society beat out The Matt Nix Band and Blacktop Outlaw.
Hat Tricks in Lewisville hosted this Round 1, Week 2 contest between the three bands, and Tony Avezanno’s crew there did a bang-up good job, even served a special menu using Hatch Chili Pepper recipes.
These bands are vying for a recording contract with Shiner Records, plus some other nice, career-enhancing prizes, and Shiner Rising Star is sponsored by Shiner Beer, Shiner Records, and Dallas radio KHYI 95.3. Each band in Round 1 (there were 24 to start with and the round will end up with eight going into Round 2) have 30 minutes to get on stage, plug in, sound check, perform originals plus one cover song, and get off, without going over the 30-minute allotment. Then, they return to the stage together for critiques from the various judges.
Blacktop Outlaw, consisting of Lucas Pittman on bass and lead vocals, Cody Pope on guitar and vocals, Dallas Durham on guitar and vocals (plus serves as the band’s management), Ryan Brown on guitar, and Steve Howell on drums, opened. They kicked it off by covering Tom Petty’s “Last Dance With Mary Jane,” then kept the vibes going with their Texas country/rock originals.
Critique: The judges recommended that the band provide more introduction to their songs, pick a different cover song and be cutout about use of their set-up time. They also commended the band for putting on a good show.
Second up was Straw Hat Society, made up of Rags O’Hooligan on vocals and guitar, Mike Donahue on guitar, Justin Longorio on washboard and kick drum, and Waylon Whitaker on ukulele. This band, which said later they have been together 13 days “in this configuration,” plays with all of them barefoot, but only one wearing a straw hat. Their cover was Todd Snyder’s “Sideshow Blues.”
Critique. Judges recognized that the Straw Hat Society band had thanked the sponsors and hosts, said that the band was different “and cool,” did a good job of talking about their songs, seemed to be having fun, and were Americana in nature.
The Matt Nix Band, another who has entered the contest in the past, has six members: Matt Nix on lead vocals and guitar, Bryant Canzoneri on guitar, Chris Reeves on drums, Emily Webb on harmony vocals, Ryan Jarrell on bass, and Colleen Cribbs on violin/fiddle. This band supplied the judges with lyric sheets on all their songs, including their cover of Mel McDaniel’s “Louisiana Saturday Night,” and even added a verse to bring it closer to home — Texas Thursday night at Hat Tricks.
Critique: Judges were positive and “constructive” in their remarks: high energy level, tight and polished
band, took critique suggestions from previous year and applied those, harmonies, good cover, and appreciated the lyrics sheets and the original twist on the cover song.
Next Thursday, Aug. 21, will have Whiskey Prophets, Aaron McDonnell, and Levi Cobb bands competing at Southern Junction in Rockwall/Royse City. Music starts at 8 p.m., and SoJo has the best steak dinners around.