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Shiner Rising Star, the band contest holding as its ultimate prize a recording contract, completed its fourth week contest Thursday night, and when the votes were tallied, the Lewisville-based band led by Kerry Davis Jr. learned it would be moving into Round Two.
Thursday, Aug 16, pitted the Kerry Davis Jr. Band against Lord North from Durant and the Jeremy Powers Band from the Red Oak area. And it was no walk-away win, as all three bands, which were extremely different in their styles, were all top-notch in their styles.
Judges for this round were KHYI’s Brett Dillon, Smith Music Group’s Dawn Gartin, and Shiner Rising Star year-one winner, Darryl Lee Rush.
Davis’ band opened with a bluegrass-flavored original, and continued accenting his originals with Pat York on the harmonica and guitar, Hillary Early (Hank) on the pedal steel, Matt Riley on bass and harmony vocals, Aaron Burklin on lead guitar, and Lucas Albann on drums. Kerry, himself, plays rhythm guitar and handles the lead vocals.
In keeping with requirements, the band completed its set within the allowed 30 minutes, and then returned to the Hat Tricks stage to be critiqued.
Rush led off, commenting first on the steel, “That steel playing was phenomenal,” he told Hank. About York’s harmonica, Rush noted that York used it to harmonize with Kerry’s voice. “You don’t see that every day.” Rush said he was also impressed with the songwriting, the lead guitar work, and the “locked in” rhythms between the bass and the drums. “And all else was icing on the cake.”
Gartin commented on a statement that Davis had made during the set, announcing that he would be getting married soon. “You are a good-looking kid. Don’t tell the ladies in the crowd…” Gartin suggested and got a laugh from the audience. “I know this is a special week, and so…,” she added. In all, she was impressed with the songwriting, saying it sounds like the band has done this forever.
Dillon spoke first to Davis, saying he was complimenting Davis by saying he was looking more like Mark McKinney all the time. He also compared York to Delbert McClinton. In all, it was great musicianship, Dillon said.
Jeremy Powers and his band hail from the Red Oak area. The band is Jeremy on acoustic guitar, vocals, and songwriting, Paul Byrd on electric guitar and vocals, Pete Miller on bass, Luis Rodriguez on drums. This band chose a Stevie Ray Vaughn cut from “The Promise” album for its cover song, required along with the remainder being originals.
All three judges seemed to be in agreement on two things. One was that the band might have chosen to start off with the song it finished with. And, they all agreed that one original song, they dubbed ‘the telephone song,’ was stunning.
Dillon said, “It’s a great band with good songs and good songwriting. The tunes you picked were great, but that last song set the stage for something.
Rush agreed, saying the band did an outstanding job. “Your songwriting is very good, that’s your strength, and the telephone song was great. It affected me personally. “ Rush commented that the rhythm section was tight, “rocked in the grove.” The moment, too, he commented on, saying, “I would have started a little harder, then brought it down in the middle, and back up in the end.”
Gartin’s comments were simpler, “You look great, sound great, you are awesome.”
At the end of the critique, Powers took the time to thank the judges and KHYI for the opportunity to be in the contest.
Lord North, from the Durant area, presented an unusual set, from hard rock to slow solo, spiced with quiet vocals in the background. Their last song opened with drums, then all instruments kicked in as they did the Buddy Holly “Not Fade Away,” for their cover song.
The band’s lead started it off by thanking Shiner Beer, the Range (KHYI 95.3), and Gartin opened the critique, saying, “We love your music, love, love, love.” There was some good-natured ribbing from the judges’ table about the attire, saying there were two barefoot beach boys, one Where’s Waldo, and a 1980s leather jacket. “All perfect for the downhome surfer sound. Great songwriting. We enjoyed it.”
Rush commented on the band members’ continual tuning, “When you first started tuning on stage, I though maybe you need to get a tuner, but then, when you did it between every song, it became cooler and cooler until it became part of the experience. You guys rocked hard. You are loving it and rocking hard. You did very very well.”
Dillon agreed, “Great job, you guys.”
This coming Thursday (Aug. 23) will have Blacktop Outlaw against Shotgun Jimmys and Fishing With Dynamite, competing on the Hard Rock Café on Houston Street in Dallas. Music starts at 8 p.m., and there is no cover to attend the contests. Winners are named the following morning on sponsoring station, KHYI (95.3), 9 a.m.