For those who didn’t attend the Dallas Observer Music Awards, you missed a wonderful opportunity to hear great music for a very low price. The showcase did have its flaws to be certain. The sound quality at some of the clubs was lacking; only The Cavern and Gezellig are accustomed to having live bands. In some cases, the sound of the band next door would seep thru the walls. Lower Greenville is not an ideal environment for such a showcase; the majority of the clubs specialize in Top 40 music for what I would call the “pretty people” crowd. Unfortunately, short of someone reopening Trees, Club Clearview, and Gypsy Tea Room (and I don’t mean The Door taking its place), I don’t foresee Deep Ellum being able to handle such an event. Also, a note to Gezellig: air conditioning is a wonderful thing. You should try using it sometime.
While sound quality and environment may have been lacking, most of the artists I saw were played solid sets. One of the first artists I saw Doug Burr at The Cavern. I was blown away by his abilities as both a performer and as a songwriter. Songs such as “Promenade” and “Slow Southern Home” should only cement his reputation as one of Dallas’ finest singer-songwriters.
I also got to see PPT for the first time live, and while I’m not usually a big hip-hop fan, I could easily become one if there were more artists like PPT. If you’re looking for songs disrespecting women and promoting the gangsta lifestyle, you’ve come to the wrong place. PPT shares more in common with De La Soul and Run D.M.C. than G-Unit or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Their music is always fun, funky, and it not only reminds of what rap once was, it gives me hope for what it can become.
While I don’t have the time to do a full write-up on every band, there are a few other artists I feel are worth mentioning from the showcase. THe BAcksliders rocked What? Bar with songs from their upcoming CD. Johnny Lloyd Rollins put on the best show I’ve seen by him yet, and that’s saying something. Rose County Fair never ceases to impress me, and their performance at Suede Bar was no exception. Oh, and Calhoun’s set at What? Bar confirms my belief that Tim Locke may be the most underappreciated musician in Dallas.
The surprise gem of the evening, however, was the Inner City All-Stars’ set at Gezellig. The members of the band entered thru the front door, playing their brass instruments and making me forget for a split second that this is Dallas and not New Orleans. Once onstage, what followed was a strange blend of hip-hop lyrics set to music that falls between soul and jazz. As strange of a combination as that sounds like, it grabbed the audience and got everyone on their feet, including myself. It didn’t matter that the Gezellig was hotter than Hades. Who cares about heat when you’ve got a band of talented musicians producing the perfect soundtrack to a par-tay? This is a band that knows the importance of a good live show. Not only are all of the members extraordinarily talented musicians, they know how to work an audience and get them pumped. Normally, I would end this with an audio clip. However, you lose half the joy of the experience when you lose the visual aspect of the performance. So instead of offering an audio clip, I leave you with a video of Inner City All-Stars performing at the Wildflower! Arts Festival. The clip doesn’t do the band full justice, but it’s a start.