Thursday’s night’s bands that competed in the Shiner Rising Star’s contest at Southern Junction were as diverse as the Texas music scene is in itself. Manny & The Gringaderos, who will be moving into Round 2, had a commercial sound to them, which one of the judges addressed; Tim Platt & All That Is Beautiful, had big-band, Austin vibes; and Andrew Wade and his band brought listenable country music through Wade’s resonating voice and through lyrics that spoke to the listeners!
Shiner Rising Star, now in its 9th year, is sponsored by Dallas radio station KHYI (95.3), Shiner Records, and Shiner Beer. One the three judges Thursday night (Sept. 6) had the first year’s winner, Darryl Lee Rush, joining KHYI personalities Brett Dillon and Allen Peck as judges. Twenty-four bands are being whittled down to eight which will move into Round Two, and the main prize is a recording contract through Shiner Records, coupled with other prizes for the Round Three, or final, winner. There are other prizes, too, such as new guitars from Kona Guitars and a 4-day gig — paid — at Dallas’ Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill
Manny Trevin and his band, The Gringaderos, opened the night’s contest and one of his original songs was about Shiner Beer, and he held a Shiner in his hand as he moved from song to song. The band’s required cover song was a Steve Miller original, and those two, along with the remaining original songs dealt out during the allowed 30-minute slot, and got the judges’ attention big-time.
Dillon called the Gringaderos’ set “The coolest vibe I have heard you do. It’s a cool Americana vibe thing.” Dillon told Trevin he had always considered the musician “among the best songwriters.” Rush agreed with that, then added, “I enjoyed you more tonight than ever.” One thing that grabbed Rush was, he said, that the band started the set with the fiddle, and then started the drums on high hat and added from there. Darryl Lee also commented on the harmonies, especially on certain songs, and the fiddle and harmonica added their own harmonies.
“Everything sounded phenomenal out here,” Rush said from the judges’ table across the dance floor. Some of the songs, Rush said, had more Americana than Texas music sounds, and “That gives you a broader appeal. I’d call it a midwestern sound.”
Peck nodded to all of the previous comments, and then added his own about the bands’ arrangements. “You varied the tempos, and that provided all kinds of sounds necessary for commercial music. And if music isn’t commercial, you might as well stay in the living room. Tonight, we were on the receiving end of some very very very good music,” Peck complimented.
Joining Trevin as Gringaderos are Lindsey Duffin on fiddle, Justin Lea on drums, and Kevin Bach on upright bass.
Stepping up next was Tim Platt and his band, All That Is Beautiful, seven musicians led by Platt on songwriting and vocals, and with David Wade on flute and sax, Joe Cannenato on guitar, Josh Jones on drums, Melisa Platt and Nicholas Duvall on backup vocals, and Riyad Elmasri on bass guitar.
Dillon’s first comment was to Elmasri .“You did some stuff on that bass I’ve not seen before.” He commented that Tim Platt is the Texas Jethro Tull. “The music was superb and songwriting out of this world. I feel like I witnessed a 2012 invasion of the Beatles. There is a national appeal about you guys, and I would not be surprised to see you on Letterman.
Dillon was the first to mention that the band’s music, while “very original” may not fit into the Texas music scene. The other two judges agreed with that observation.
Rush opened his critique by saying “What you guys are doing is very original.” He commented on Platt’s songwriting, citing lyrics from one song, which basically were “Let’s stop standing in line, passing time…” He was also a fan of the band’s chord selection, calling it “cool and unpredictable,” and the musical bridges that dotted the arrangements. “You belong on a national or international stage.”
Peck said the band’s musicianship was second to none. He was a fan of Wade’s saxophone. “You all have a future in front of you. The arrangements and musicianship shows you have spent time time in deep thought.”
The Andrew Wade Band drove to the Rockwall venue from Fort Worth to compete, and what this 5-piece group brought with them was the life and breath of inspiration. Wade was on lead vocals and guitar, Brian Tipton on lead guitar, Steven James on rhythm electric guitar, T.J. Girt on bass, and Mitch Reuther on drums. Wade’s smooth honky tonk voice, Dillon described as, “…outstanding vocal, strong, powerful.” Dillon also commented on the band’s choice of a cover song, saying, “Something happened to you guys when you did Prince’s Purple Rain. You really kicked it in, and the following two songs were among the coolest I’ve heard in a long time.”
Rush kept his comments short, too, saying he appreciated the band’s “bringing that Texas rock up here.” I enjoyed especially the
last two (songs), probably the most marketable of your set.”
When Peck talked, he asked if KHYI had been given a copy of those songs, calling them “marketable.” He also called Wade’s vocals at having “quality, tones. We’d like to have you heard beyond these four walls.”
This Thursday night’s contest marks the end of Round 1, and will be held at Smitty’s Bar & Grill in Denison. Music begins at 8 p.m., and there is no door charge for attending any of these contests.
This was also the first and only band to bring dancers onto the dance floor.