Shiner Rising Star, KHYI, 2011, Rd 2 Wk 2, 9/29, City Tavern in Dallas

| October 4, 2011

Story and Photos by Mary Jane Farmer,

Shiner Rising Star is closer to the end of the 13-week contest than it is to the beginning, and with the advancement comes tighter competitions. Round 2, Week, of Sept. 29 was prime example of how tight it has become. Blackbird Sing drove up, and brought a crowd with them, from their homebase in San Antonio, and vying against this 5-piece band was Texoma’s Twisted Pistols, also there with supportive fans.

In this round, each band is given 45 minutes on stage and must cover two songs, then complete their sets with all original music.. Judging were KHYI’s Joshua Jones and Brett Dillon, singer/songwriters Deryl Dodd and Kate Miner.

Blackbird Sing drew the opening straw, and got on the stage at City Tavern in downtown Dallas. Robert Salinas, James Magallanez, Daniel Magallanez (brothers), Andee Salazar, and George Ransom  electrified the dimly-lit stage. Salazar had his corner of the stage, first behind keyboards, then switching back and forth between horn and electric guitar. Others kept momentum with bass, lead and acoustic guitars, drums, and other percussion instruments.

They re-performed the Bruce Springsteen/Jerrod Medulla song “I’m on Fire” as one of their covers, and stumped the judges on the second one.

Dillon opened critique time by calling the band 100% original “Great voice, great connection with the crowd. You did the DJ thing by letting people know when more people came in.”

Dodd said their performance made it well worth having been there that night.

“You had me from the git-go,” Deryl said, and then repeated the single-syllable rhythm Blackbird Sing had opened with. They then answered back with the opening lines. Dodd called the members of the band “young guys with old souls.”

Jones spoke more about how the band could improve. “I love the keys, great song and harmonies, but one to say I am a guitar tone snob Yours is kind of thin. I want you to bring some raunchy ass -kicking guitar tone (if you come back). None of this girly stuff. Hand on your hearts and promise me… I want it to be crunchy cool.” Jones offered other criticisms delivered constructively.

Miner gave the band a “10” score for “most overall band hotness,” she said, “on behalf of all the girls in the room.” She said the bass player is the glue, with good tone and a good teammate with the drummer. To another she said, “I loved everything you did, harmonica, and such.” Miner said the band’s last song was its best, “and if that could be where you start all the rest of your songs.” To the lead singer she said, “I don’t think you have found your voice yet, and thee’s more to you than what you are giving”

Blackbird Sing pix, Moving On

The Twisted Pistols opened with their first cover, “Counting Flowers On The Wall,” because, lead singer Zach Hendicks said, their practice hall has flowered wallpaper. Lead guitarist Johnny Wilson moved back and forth between finger pickin’ and use of a slide to keep his guitar talking its own talk though the songs. Justin Boren on drums and Spencer Wylee Whitney, the newest member of the band, kept it steady on bass and drums.

The Twisted Pistols also incorporated the Twitter suggestion which Jones puts up every Thursday morning, as an incentive to earn a few more points. This week’s suggestion was to create a joke around the words “California surfing cop.”  Wilson did that, wish I could remember the joke. The band finished out with the Radney Foster cover song, ”Folding Money”

Dillon recalled first hearing Zach years ago, before he had developed a band, and said, “You’ve come a long way.” Great originals, Dillon said about their songs, “Texas Grunge.. Steve Earle started like this. On the (Foster) cover, “Folding Money” is a big song to cover, and I thought you guys killed that.”

Double D asked the band if they had fun, and every one said definitely, they did have a good time. “You have (to Wilson) great guitar tones and you play great.”  To the whole band he said, You guys have got you musicianship together, there’s a lot of power in the song.”

Jones remembered the Twisted Pistols having competed in Rising Star three years ago, and said they have improved.” He also said, “Hats off to the two covers. It’s good to hear The Statler Brothers.   Also I appreciate the sponsors’ plug in the beginning.” On the criticism side, Jones told Hendricks it looked like he had taken a Xanax before getting on stage. “If  you are going to be a lead singer of a red dirt Texas country bad-ass band, you have got to give me some energy. You guys have confidence, but I want to see a little swagger.” Jones said he did give them 5 extra points for that Hollywood surfing cop punch line. “The vocals wee there, but it’s negated by the lack of energy.”

Kate also gave this band 10 points on the hot-band scale, she said. She added that she disagreed with Jones, that the band was intriguing and fascinating. “I loved it. From the git go, from the first chord out, you had a matuity and confidence that made me relax. I would buy your record.”

Twisted Pistols pix

Just some fun pix

To view videos from this week, and all weeks, go to The producer also sells DVDs of each night’s performance on scene.


Shiner Rising Star is a band competition with prizes that include a recording contract through Shiner Records, an opening spot on KHYI’s 2012 Texas Music Revolution festival, full-band equipment outfit from Kona Guitars and GP Percussion, and a feature article in Alternate Root, an American music magazine. Dallas American radio station KHYI, Shiner Beer, and Shiner Records are the sponsors.

The next week, we received a press release from Blackbird Sing’s publicist, and it states:

The Bexar County bad boys refuse to be stopped.  On September 29th, Blackbird Sing  travelled the long road to the City Tavern in Dallas, Tx for another trial in their quest to beat the best in the Shiner’s Rising Stars contest.  At this stage the only game left is the “A” game; those who bring it will be victorious but anything less means instant elimination. Now, the only San Antonio band to enter the competition remains standing as one of the few bands to make it far enough to have a shot at taking the whole shebang.   Robert Vito and crew hit the trail with a legion of loyal supporters, strapped on their six strings, and left it all up there on the stage, reminding music lovers everywhere that it’s not how you play but what you play, Blackbird Sing emerged victorious and now prepare for the ultimate finale in October that will crown only one band as 2011’s Shiner’s Rising star, complete with exposure and a recording contract with Shiner Records!  Let’s congratulate our hometown heroes as they 
prepare for the last battle against the toughest competition yet and check for updates for the next round!  Congratulations Blackbird Sing and thanks for putting the Alamo City back in the spotlight! 

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