John D. Hale takes 2016 LJT Showcase.

| April 17, 2016 | Reply
John D. Hale

John D. Hale

For the last four years, on the near-eve of the Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival, a winner has been chosen from the LJT Songwriter Showcase to play the festival. John D. Hale from Jackson, Missouri, took the crown this year, but his competition gave him a run for it.

Just a little background on the Showcase: There are four weeks of preliminary rounds and two semi-final rounds. Taylor has the option of choosing a wildcard artist, or to use The Voice terms — a come-back artist. One of those two semi-final rounds consists of second-place winners and is called the runner-up round. The winner of that round moves on to the finale, which pits him against all of the first-place winners.

This year, there were 130 applicants who wanted to partake in the Showcase, only 24 made it into the contest. And, Taylor says at the beginning of every Showcase event, “As far as I’m concerned, all of these guys and girls that are here have already won and they can do whatever they want to in the music business as long as they want to. They’ll just have to work their @$$es off.”

Kaitlyn Butts

Kaitlyn Butts

͟Week One determined Kaitlyn Butts as the first place winner and Randall King took second. Both of these artists are young, innovative and fresh. Butts, an Oklahoma City native, has recently taken the scene by surprise with her electric vocals. She recently released an EP produced by Mike McClure. King, from Amarillo, Texas, (but calls Lubbock his home base) is an up-and-coming young George Strait. His vocals captivate the audience with hints of old-country greats. He is also a sound guitar player, though not your typical chicken picker. He can actually play the guitar and at the same time couples his instrumental abilities with a strong body of work. Randall had this to say about his experience in the Showcase, “The showcase has been a humbling experience from the git-go. I have learned a lot

Randall King

Randall King

about myself as a musician and as an entertainer. For a kid from the Panhandle, this has been an eye opening and unforgettable experience that I will carry with me as my career moves forward.”

Week Two featured the now-champion John D. Hale as the first place winner and Buffalo Ruckus in second place.

John has great poise and presence while on the stage, is also a fantastic guitar player and is ultimately a singer songwriter. As an entertainer he is able to involve the crowd with dashes of humor and hints of seriousness.

Buffalo Ruckus, duo, which hails from Denton, brought intensity and sweet, yet crushing, sound to T-Birds Garage Pub when they were on stage. The duo is made up of Jason Lovell (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Brad Haefner (lead guitar and mandolin). Lovell, a native of Leesburg, Georgia, (now a Texan by choice) brought his memories of his home state to the

Buffalo Ruckus, Jason Lovell and Brad Haefner

Buffalo Ruckus — Jason Lovell and Brad Haefner

watchful listeners in the crowd. In a review of their self-titled album and released in the late summer of 2014, Mary Jane Farmer (writer with Scene In Town and Buddy Magazine) said that “Lovell’s vocals and signature southern Georgia phrasing add dimension not heard on other Texas music CDs.” She is correct. If ever there was to be such a band that covets a sound that can match or be close to the Allman Brothers Band mixed with Pure Prairie League and some new age Texas Country, Buffalo Ruckus would be it.

James Cook and Stephen Wright

James Cook and Stephen Wright

The Showcase’s third week had James Cook as the first place holder and Jackie Darlene as the second place winner.

Cook, native to Wichita Falls, Texas, and winner of the Rattle Magazine Singer/Songwriter Competition, was powerful and energetic on the stage with his trusty side kick Stephen Wright on the fiddle. Both of them did a great job at projecting the tone of the story that Cook orchestrated. While giving it all to the crowd, they played together beautifully.

When I asked Cook about how he felt during the drive down for the showcase, he responded with, “You get a chance to go and meet a lot of other great musicians at these types of events, but I did not

Jackie Darlene

Jackie Darlene

know that this would have so many great musicians in one spot. The talent that came on the stage was top notch from the beginning to the end. This was an awesome event to be a part of.”

Jackie Darlene, from Waco, Texas, is one of only a handful of new up-and-coming female artists that will shock-and-awe the masses in the years to come. As long as she takes care of her precious vocal abilities, she will probably be seen and heard a lot in the years to come. For now, though, at the Showcase, when she played, she played like every song was her last. Jackie was able to hold and carry notes in her music that was so powerful that it gave the listeners chills. But, like most of the artists who played this Showcase, her feelings prior to being on stage were, “I felt so nervous before I got on the stage to play my set. I was very emotional and I feel that my emotions transpired in such a way on stage that the crowd began to feel what I was feeling. It was a humbling and yet eye-opening experience.”

Kensie Coppin

Kensie Coppin

The fourth and final preliminary round had singers with a wide range of interesting, yet powerful, sets. Kensie Coppin of Austin, Texas, took first and Buck Fuffalo, a Stephenville, Texas, native, took second.

When Coppin took the stage, she had a calm, but strong demeanor about her. She was confident in what she was projecting to the crowd, yet comfortable enough with her old-school style of vocals to entertain the crowd. From a young age, Coppin knew that being a professional musician was in her cards for her future.

“When I was eight years old, I finally got up the courage to tell my parents that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Thankfully, they have been there for me from day one.”

Buck Fuffalo

Buck Fuffalo

Buck Fuffalo brought intensity to T-Birds that to most would seem unconventional. With songs titled “Fluffing Funky Buck Fuffalo Party” and “Howling at the Moon,” one can imagine the types of hilarity and yet sincerity that Buck Fuffalo gives to the crowd in a youthful yet eye-popping delivery style. Buck said it best, “I know I’m an OK musician, but first and foremost, I’m an entertainer. I am there specifically to tell a story, get my point across, and if the crowd is laughing at my jokes and listening to my song, that’s a big win for me.”

The fifth week of the showcase hosted the second-place finishers, to duke it out for a spot to play in the grand finale only a week away. Buffalo Ruckus, Jackie Darlene, Randal King, Cody Jasper (who was Taylor’s chosen wild card) and Buck Fuffalo were on the docket for the silent judges to debate amongst themselves who would earn that opportunity to play in the Final round. Unlike most

Cody Jasper

Cody Jasper

showcase runner-up rounds in the past though, the judges couldn’t put their finger on one artist that showed them what it takes to move on and possibly win the next round. So for the first time in Larry Joe Taylor Showcase history Jackie Darlene and Randall King were selected as the co-winners of the runner-up round.

The final round consisted of six artists for the first time in Showcase history: Kaitlyn Butts, Randall King, James Cook, Jackie Darlene, John D. Hale, and Kensie Coppin. Sadly though, Jackie Darlene was unable to compete because she had lost that chilling voice.

In the end, John D. Hale won the marbles. His excellent presence and poise while on the stage coupled with his singer/songwriter style helped him secure his victory.

John D. said about winning the Showcase, “I’m excited. I didn’t know what to expect. Really, you know, it’s one of them things I jumped into and didn’t know what would be the outcome of it. There were a lot of great songwriters. I’m just happy to have had the chance to be a part of it.”

Pretty humble words for a young man from the state of Missouri who in recent years has started to make waves in the Texas music scene. Though, he was able to write from his heart and soul, his true craft came from his ability to visually tell a story through his vocals and excellent instrumental showmanship. Every note that he hit or played had a purpose to the song he was playing. Out of all of the competitors, Hale showed consistency in his abilities as a songwriter and good control in his presentation to the watchful eyes of those who were listening. When asked for a word or phrase that best described his experience throughout the showcase process and ultimately his victory, Hale responded simply by saying his entire experience was pretty humbling. He then went on to say, “I didn’t expect to come in and win you know. It’s like I said it, it’s not my personality. It puts a lot of faith and years and years of writing songs ,and then you finally make it happen. And that’s what it takes and one crowd at a time is fine by me.”

John D. Hale is the fourth of the LJT Singer/Songwriter Showcase, sharing honors with past winners. Luke Wade, Dalton Domino, and Parker McCollum.

John D. Hale will play at the LJT Texas Music Festival on Saturday, April 23.

 

Tags:

Category: *- Features, 2016

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply

banner ad