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A panel of judges, made up of Zak Waddell, The Os, and KHYI’s general manager Joshua Jones, picked Cole Risner and his band to move into Shiner Rising Star’s finals, to be held Thursday, Nov. 13, at Love & War in Texas, Plano. Risner’s band beat out another great band, Whiskey Prophets, in the final week of Round 2. That was held on Oct. 30 at City Tavern in downtown Dallas.
Cole Risner Band will compete for the final prizes, including a recording contract with Shiner Records and a spot on the 2015 Texas Music Revolution fest, against Buffalo Ruckus, Derek Anthony Band, and Tyler Rogers Band.
These two bands had 45 minutes to perform their originals, plus two cover songs, on the City Tavern stage. Afterward, the judges critiqued both bands. Jones MC’d the night.
The Whiskey Prophets drew the first-on-stage spot. They opened with the song that is receiving radio airplay, “My Love Ain’t Enough,” from the soon-to-be-released CD Recoil. They took a couple of risks, including the performance of a brand new song, “Into the Hope,” written just for the contest; and in choosing a non-country song for one of their covers. That was A U-2 song, and their second cover song was the Chris Knight “Highway Junkie.”
Whiskey Prophets includes Brad Roberson on vocals, acoustic guitar, and songwriting; Mike Norris on drums; Jeremy Ailes on bass and backup vocals; and Matt Hinchey on electric guitar and backup vocals.
Critique: Both bands received attaboys on the sizes of their fan crowds.
The Os — (one vote, one voice for the duo) — Good voice, but wouldn’t have done a cover song with the same 1-5-6-4 progression as one of the originals; the band has the swagger, but that could have started sooner in the set.
Zak Waddell — Band put on a good show, and Hinchey could be seen blushing even underneath the red stage lights when told “loved the lead guitar.” “You have an Irish soccer hooligan type thing going on… keep that going.”
Joshua Jones — Opened his notes by asking “Who called each other and said ‘Let’s wear a vest tonight.’” He then got more serious, saying he felt like there were two bands on stage, the first starting off awkwardly and the better on at the end. “I’d like to see you get the energy in those cover tunes into your originals,” Jones added. He did also suggest that (Brad’s use of mild profanity) be kept off the stage. You want to be a professional at all times, and the winner will be a KHYI ambassador.”
Cole Risner leads this band on lead guitar, and vocals, was joined in the band by Chris Norwood on lead guitar, Mark Oswalt on bass, and Cory Phifer on drums. This DFW-area based band opted to cover the Waylon Jennings hit written by Jim Alley, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line,” along with a Chris Stapleton song. They, too, presented a new song, “Gun Barrel City.” Their set was relaxed, as if ‘just another gig,’ and so was able to harness much of their natural stage presence.
Zak Waddell — “It’s almost like this gospel choir in your head. You guys were so bright, able to somehow in every single song bring hope.”
The Os — “You started off strong as hell, a few flubs on the bass… guitar was great, would like to hear more nailing the heck out oif it… and Chris on backup vocals… and I’m gonna steal your cover of ‘Only Daddy’… you are the real deal and going to go very far.”
Joshua Jones — “I didn’t take any notes — I was really caught up in the performance and my only comment, and I hate to say it, but it’s ‘Wow!’”
The finals begin at 8 p.m. Nov. 13, at Love & War’s Plano location, NE corner of U.S. 75 and Plano Parkway; no cover charge for this contest, and each band will go back to having 30 minute-sets with one cover among their originals. In addition to KHYI sponsoring this yearly contest, Shiner Beer and Shiner Records also contribute to make it happen… 11 years now!