Three bands kicked off the 2012 KHYI/Shiner Beer/Shiner Records‘ yearly contest, Shiner Rising Star. The contest has 24 finalist bands competing for a recording contract with Shiner Records, and for a few more prizes including a spot on the Texas Music Revolution main stage in March 2013. Each week, three bands compete against one another during Round 1, and these are at various venues around the Metroplex. They will be listed here weekly, and on KHYI.com to make it easier to not miss a single night of great music.
Round 1 Week 1, July 26, kicked off the contest with the style that Texas music is so well known for. Miller Row from East Texas, Matt Ingram Band from the Denton area, and New Old West, led by Jon Beaumont, from around Dallas each took the Love & War in Texas (Plano) stage for 30 minutes of original music, interspersed with one required cover song.
Judges this week were KHYI’s Brett Dillon, songwriter George Ducas, and Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson. EAch one was tasked with critiquing the bands at the end of their performances.
New Old West stepped up first, and Friday morning learned they would be moving on into Round 2. Backing Beaumontup
were Jerrell Baker on base, Danny Walner on lead guitar, Patrick Dougherty on drums, and Steve Owens on keys. They had a set list planned with five songs on it, but in the middle of all that, threw in a Happy Birthday round for one young lady in the audience, playing long enough for her to be escorted onto the dance floor. Others who hit the dance floor were Shy Blakeman, songwriter and performer who recently took the “Live at Billy Bob’s Texas” CD recording contest, and Dukas.
New Old West brought by far the largest amount of fans to the venue, and “crowd response” is one of the 10 criteria each band is being judged on each week. Their cover was from the Zac Brown Band, “Keep Me In Mind.”
At critique time, Dillon commented first that “I know it’s hard to be first in Week 1 Round 1, but you guys weren’t nervous at all, you are pros.” He commended them on the songwriting, calling it “great.”
Ducas‘ first comment was on the audience’s support of the band. “Fans help the adrenaline,” said the songwriter who also fronts his own band. “It feels great when you have a bunch of people singing every word to every song.”
Ducas also said he loved the enthusiasm apparent in the band. “When a band has everybody who loves it on stage, it shows, and those are the kind of guys I want playing with me.” He told Beaumont, “You have got some hits (songs) in you, for sure. You probably haven’t written most of them yet, but you will.”.
Nelson, too, was impressed with New Old West’s songwriting. “It knocked my socks off. And you put yourself out there with the Zac Brown (song) and that is not easy to do and you nailed it.”
Matt Ingram Band was second up, and they came out with more songs in their 30-minute allotment. In this band were Matt on guitar and lead vocals, Tony on lead guitar, Mike on bass, Taylor on keyboards, and Mitch on drums.
At critique, Dillon said the “drummer dude was awesome, phenomenal. He said the band has a college sound, very Texas Americana Bluesy Rock-n-Rolley.
Ducas called the band “tight,” saying “you are bad, keep it together, you are so frigging tight man, it’s awesome. You have played a block together.” To Matt Ingram, he said, “You have stage presence. When I look at you I think of some cats in Nashville, and and you could be doing like Randy Houser.” He, too, commented on the Matt Ingram Band’s R&B, blue sound. On the more critique angel, Dukas said he thought they could work omore on their songwriting.
Nelson spoke last again, his hands in motion all the time he spoke. “No offense to Nashville, but this is what makes Texas the greatest musical state in the nation. You guys kick butt.”
Miller Row, who was invited in when the band Concrete Hillbilly had to opt out last week, consisted of a keyboard player, drums, bass, and lead guitar. Their cover was Jackson Taytlor’s “Cocaine and Whiskey.” This band is Mike Miller on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Jon Morrow on bass guitar, Thomas McKinney on drums, and Tom Reber on lead guitar.
Dillon commented during critique that the band’s first song got off “a little bit shaky, and then the cover, but from then on you rocked and rolled.” Dillon liked the songwriting, the band’s power and energy and the comfort zone they exhibited on stage.
Ducas also told the band it did a great job, “Fantastic,” and addressing the crowd added, “Come on, give it up,” and the crowd did for the Miller Row. Ducas’ comment was more in general when he said, he wished he had the lyrics to the songs being performed.”You had a lot of fun with the blues stuff. And that was your go-to, build on that.” On the advice side, Ducas suggested the band work on more interaction with one another. “You are a band of brothers up there, show that.”
Nelson cut to the chase, “I am a coach and will give it to you straight. You got something, there is something there, and the special thing about this competition is you get to throw yourself in the fire. Go home, work on your game, and come back next year and kick ass.”
This upcoming week, Aug. 2, pits the Twisted Pistols against Parallel Play and Jackson Eli, and this will be at 8 p.m. at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Dallas.