Story and pictures by Mary Jane Farmer
Hat Tricks in Lewisville again hosted Shiner Rising Star, its staff hospitable, friendly, and efficient. Judges this week were Big Gus Samuelson, Kelly Dearmore, and Coach Joe Avazano.
Competing and bringing large crowds with them were (Winners) Saille Branch & The Big Benders v the Robert Donahue Band.
Coach Joe declared the two covers Robert performed, songs by Gary Stewart and Hank Williams, as “kick ass.” Dearmore and Samuelson both asked for more diversity and dynamics within their songs, and meant that as constructive criticism to the Robert Donahue Band. Gus said he has seen them come 500,000% in the past three years. Harmonies were great, and rhythm sections declared to be great, as well. KHYI is one of the stations which has been playing a Robert Donahue song, “Ten Penny Wine,” and Big Gus commented that it spoke well of Donahue not to rely on it during that set.
About Saille Branch’s band’s performance, which included a bit of country, rock, blues, and a punk closing, Coach Joe seemed at a loss for words as he repeated “You made me like you” several times. Dearmore commented, “There’s a lot more to Texas music than just country, and you guys brought it.” One of Saille’s covers was a fairly unknown Hank Williams song, hard to believe any would be unknown, but it was, and that pleased the judges. Big Gus’ comments compared the Big Benders with some of the best underground bands to achieve greatness. Again, Coach Joe, “You just made me like you, man!”