Recap and photos by Mary Jane Farmer — Go to links at the end of this recap for more photos.
Shiner Rising Star 2014 finished up its 11th year Thursday night (Nov. 13) with 17 musicians making up four bands, the four who made their way to the final contest out of an original 120 who applied to be in the contest and out of the 24 who made it into the contest three and a half months ago. Shiner Rising Star is sponsored annually by Shiner Beer, Shiner Records, and Dallas Americana radio station KHYI, 95.3 The Range.
At the end of the night, KHYI General Manager Joshua Jones announced that the 15 judges that night had selected Buffalo Ruckus as it’s top band. Those who also hit the Love & War in Texas stage, and hit it hard, were the Cole Risner, Tyler Rogers and Derek Anthony bands.
Buffalo Ruckus will now receive a recording contract through Shiner Records and play Texas Music Revolution in 2015, also produced by KHYI. There’s a few other prizes, too, all career-enhancing.
Buffalo Ruckus joins a long line of great musicians who have taken the SRS title:
2013-Green Light Pistol
2010-The Will Callers
2009-Grant Jones & The Pistol Grip Lassos
2007-Trailer Park Junkies
2006-Miles From Nowhere
2005- Lost Immigrants
2004-Darryl Lee Rush
Judging Thursday night were KHYI’s Brett Dillon, Chuck Taylor, Joshua Jones, and The Os; Overdrive Entertainment’s Tip Jones and Jason “Fuzzy” Smith; movie star and the ‘voice’ of KHYI, Burton Gilliam; recording artist Woody Lee; Twang Nation’s Baron Lane; and past winners Merrol Ray (Miles From Nowhere), Alex Smith and Russell McClendon (The Bigsbys), and Brook Wallace and Chad Fincher (Green Light Pistols).
Joshua Jones and Chuck Taylor talked ahead of the contest about their yearly fundraiser for the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, called Canvas For Kids. This involves original paintings from various musicians, all of whom donate their works. Taylor said that, so far, Cody Canada (The Departed) has already sent his painting in, and Aaron Watson is working on his. Replicas of these are put on Ebay for auction, and all money raised goes directly to the CAC, they explained.
Each band had 30-minute sets, which included all originals except for one cover song of their choice. After their sets, each band returned to the stage for a quick critique. These notes are compilations of those critiques.
Cole Risner — Cole on lead guitar and vocals, Chris Norwood on lead guitar, Mark Oswalt on bass, and Cory Phifer on drums.
Critique: Being the first band, got off to a tough start, but kicked it in quickly… music was incredible, we should be playing it on The Range… leads on lead were so tasty… good songwriting… it was good… heated up the room and gained fans… would like to work with you guys in the future.
Bufffalo Ruckus is made up of Jason Lovell on songwriting, rhythm guitar and lead vocals; Brad Haefner on lead guitar, mandolin and harmonies; and Michael Burgess on bass and harmonies.
Critique: You boys are tight… originals are good… Brad is bad to the bone on mandolin… Cat Stevens meets Grizzly Adams-that sound works for you… you have a natural God gift, vocals is totally amazing… being tight on top of being great is a receipt for success… you owned it… great voice, would sound great on a really big stage in front of a lot of people… awesome…. Masters of your instruments, perfect for KHYI, edgy enough to fit right in… I gave you the highest score I’ve ever given any band…. You sing with soul and command the attention of the audience.
Derek Anthony Band was a 6-piece group with Derek on vocals and acoustic guitar, Tim Georgeff on vocal and keyboard, Gary Cox on vocals and guitar, Johnny Rhoades on drums, Kyle Lewis on bass, and Dexter Rowe on fiddle.
Critique: May be too country for this competition… like to see you up at Gilley’s… I can see you opening for George Strait… tremendous job, old country… the keys really jumped out at me, set you guys apart… lots of energy… polished, but good-timing country… wonderful showmanship… a bunch of A players… keep doing what you are doing.
Tyler Rogers Band consists of Tyler on guitar and vocals, Chris Medrano on bass, R.J. Medrano on drums, and Tiago Mauro on lead guitar. This group brought the largest and most active group of fans.
Critique: Good job… good choice of cover (a Dire Straits)… Tiago nailed those guitar licks… crowd participation, but sometimes that is a detriment because they blocked the entire view of the band to us… rocked my world… that’s the right stuff there… one of the tightest bands in the competition… you filled up the place… best player since Cody Shaw… confidence on stage… drummer ‘kept stuff in the pocket’… that’s my favorite cover ever…
When the final scores were added up, Joshua Jones called all the bands back onto the L&W stage and named them off until he announced it was Buffalo Ruckus who took the win.
All band members were enthusiastic about their own sets and places in the finals, and all were supportive of one another, both on stage while names were called out and afterward while milling around the L&W patio. A hard-fought and talent-filled contest from beginning to this great ending.