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Well, this 11th year of Shiner Rising Star is quickly moving toward its final round, with Round 2 Week 3 (Oct. 23), having Straw Hat Society and the Derek Anthony Band returning to the stage to compete for the chance to move into that final round. Friday morning, fans learned that it would be the Derek Anthony Band making the journey.
The three judges were KHYI’s Allan Peck, Overdrive Entertainment’s Tip Jones, and singer/songwriter Matt Caldwell.
The Straw Hat Society, all barefoot on stage, performed first, opening with a John Prine cover song, and later covering one by Bob Dylan, both of which were very Fred Eaglesmith in their delivery. All other songs were original. Rags O’Hooligan, lead singer and songwriter, introduced his songs by saying he, “made this one up,” and then gave some background. Also in the band are Mike Donahue on guitar, Justin Longorio on washboard and other percussions, and Waylon Whitaker on ukulele.
Matt Caldwell opened the critique of the band’s music saying he liked the style and looks of the group, the (folk) music in general is so different, accented y the use of uke and washboard. On the negative/constructive criticism side, he advised the Rags and band to look at the audience when talking and to enunciate the words a bit clearer. “It’s hard to understand everything you are saying.”
Tip Jones said he loved the striped down sound of the band and that none of the musicians played over the others. He was a fan of the cover songs, too.
Allan Peck said he liked many of the songs, and praised Rags’ professionalism when he lost one of the strings on his guitar. “You maintained the professional level. You kept on keeping on.” Peck also agreed that Rags and the band need to pay more attention to the audience and suggested they add some more harmonies to their songs. “Any one of them lends itself to more vocals.”
Derek Anthony, the lead singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitar play for the 6-piece country band, was joined on stage by Gary Cox on vocals and guitar, Tim Georgeff on vocals and keyboard, Johnny Rhoads on drums, Kyle Lewis on bass, and Decter Row on fiddle. Three boss instruments…
This band, too, opened their set with a cover, a very fast version of “Oh, Lonesome Me,” and the dancers got up pretty quickly and stayed out most of the set. Derek’s own “Give It To Me Strait” clearly showed the influence to his music. As Rags did before him, he introduced all the members of his band.
Tip Jones opened the critique, calling the band a “pretty good group of musicians. I thought you guys were tight. You guys are country as hell, almost too country for Texas. Great Job. You came out of the gate fast and kept people out on the dance floor.”
Matt Caldwell got the band laughing when he said, “Your band is ridiculous. What stood out were the harmonies. I thought that was great.” On the constructive criticism side, he, again, commented on the need for better enunciation/delivery of the lyrics. “It’s imperative you can the lyrics where we can hear what you are saying, “It’s imperative you sing the lyrics and we can hear what you are hearing.”
Allan Peck mentioned the need for better enunciation, saying, “Without the lyrics, here in Texas, if the audience cannot relate and hear the lyrics, then it’s a lost cause. That said, thumps up on your “Pontiac” song. Peck also suggested taking the instrumentation down about two decibels and increasing the vocals about the same amount, two decibels up. “It’s in the balance.” Peck also said he was impressed with the band’s flow from one song to the next.
Thursday night’s contest was at Dodie’s Place in Fairview/Allen. DB Music of Sherman, with Marcus Rasor setting it all up, provides basic band equipment, then Rasor ran sound as well; and KHYI’s Lauren Evans did most of the coordination for the evening. Not to even mention — but let’s do mention — the great wait staff at Dodie’s for good hospitality. They have the best cup of coffee in Texoma, bar none.
Next week, Oct. 30, the contest will move to City Tavern in Dallas, and it will be Whiskey Prophets challenging the Cole Risner Band for the chance to move forward. Music starts at 8 p.m., and each band will have 45 minutes on stage.