Standard playlist disclaimer: any artists, record labels, etc. who do not wish to be on the playlist for any reason whatsoever, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly remove the track. And if you'd actually like to be on the playlist, you can use the same email address to email me your mp3's. If I like the song, then odds are it'll wind up on a playlist.
- Salim Nourallah/Chris Holt/Rahim Quazi/Nicholas Altobelli (March 26 - Kessler Theater)
Song Selection: "Dalton the Prophet", Nicholas Altobelli
All four artists put on a fabulous set, but the true star of that evening was not any individual performer, but the venue itself. This was most people's first musical experience in the Kessler Theater, and I don't know a single soul who had a complaint about that evening. The sound quality was great, but what impressed me the most was that this venue brought out an audience intent on listening to the music. It is rare to find audiences where the main goal at a show is paying attention to the music, and that is even more true in the case of acoustic music. Yet during all the sets, including the set of Nicholas Altobelli, you could have dropped a pin during the set and everyone would have heard it. Sadly to say, I haven't been back to the Kessler since. Perhaps that needs to be my New Year's Resolution.
- Ghost of Blind Lemon Showcase: The Roomsounds/Cocky Americans/Pale Horse (May 7 - The Cavern)
Song Selection: "Young & Reckless", The Roomsounds
Yes, I'm biased on this one. Sue me. But seriously, it was my first Pale Horse show, and they were their usual awesome selves. Cocky Americans always put on a truly solid set, and The Roomsounds ended the night with their high energy rock country blend. All in all, it was a fun night of music.
- Homegrown Fest (May 22 - Main Street Garden Park)
Song Selection: "Pastel Lights", Ishi
Wow, I don't even know where to begin on this show. First of all, to pull off a festival of essentially all local music and get a turn out of such a large proportion, that borders on being a local music miracle. My props go out to John Solis and Josh Florence for organizing this event and booking such quality acts as Air Review, Somebody's Darling, RTB2, The O's, and Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights to name only a few. But my most memorable moment of the night was dancing in the mud to Ishi's "Pastel Lights". Yes, Ishi does know how to bring the party.
- Dallas Observer Music Awards Showcase (July 17 - Various Deep Ellum Venues)
Song Selection: "The Message", Dem Southernfolkz
This showcase of music was hot, both figuratively and literally. Kicking the show off outside at 5 PM in a Dallas summer was not the most pleasant way to start a show. I probably would've skipped the opening outdoor act had it not been Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights, but they made the show work in spite of the heat. Fortunately, the other venues in Deep Ellum were nicely air conditioned, and there were plenty of good musical choices. Of all the performances that night, however, it's Dem Southernfolkz's gig at The Prophet Bar (small room) that stands out. Their performance was energetic, the musicianship was dead on, and the lyrical skills and content were spot on. That night DSFZ became my new favorite local hip-hop band.
- Rahim Quazi/Katie Carroll/Emmeline (August 21 - Opening Bell Coffee)
Song Selection: "So In Love With You", Katie Carroll
There were two other out of towners on the lineup, and I sadly do not recall their names. Still, this night was all about the local. Yes, I will admit more bias here, as I booked all the locals as sort of a pre-birthday celebration. I was lucky enough to snag a way too rare performance by the lovely Katie Carroll, whose Paper Girl CD is filled with lovely ballads that bridge the gap between Camille Cortinas and Sarah Jaffe. The icing on the cake for me, however, was when Ms. Carroll tossed me a flower in the middle of "So in Love With You". Made me feel kinda special and stuff.
- Pale Horse/Little Black Dress/Charlie Shafter and the Gnomes (August 27 - Double-Wide)
Song Selection: "You're No Good", Pale Horse
Pale Horse was part of the lineup for three of the listed shows, more than any other act. This night was the release of their Future Dimensions EP, and the band confirmed to me that the first rate performance given at the Cavern show was no fluke. The band even debuted a new song that night ("Your Heart Is A Wild Drum Beat"), and you would've thought they'd rehearsed the song a million times to get it so perfect. I would've posted that track if I had it, but you'll have to settle for "You're No Good", my #1 track of last year.
- Spector 45/The Phuss (August 28 - LaGrange)
Song Selection: "I Love You", Spector 45
For the record, I created this list late last year, and was not biased by recent tragedies. I'd seen Spector 45 before, but this night was the night that, for lack of a better way of putting it, I "got" the band. Yes, I'd liked them, but this performance was the one where I finally understood both the energy and the songwriting skills of Frankie and the rest of the crew. This was also by far the most fun crowd of ANY show I did last year.
- Whiskey Glass Eye/The O's/Scott Riegel (September 25 - Bryan Street Tavern)
Song Selection: "Billy Prichard", Slobberbone
Say, wasn't "Whiskey Glass Eye" a Slobberbone song? Yeah, much in the same way Old 97's have gone under the pseudonym Satellite Rides, Whiskey Glass Eye is nothing more than Slobberbone under a different name. It's fun to watch Slobberbone at a larger venue like Granada, but they really shine the most at a smaller, lower-key venue like Bryan Street Tavern. Add some brand new O's songs to the mix and the talent of young Scott Riegel, and it adds up to a great night.
- Chris Holt (October 9 - LaGrange)
Song Selection: "Aim High", Chris Holt
I think it says something when by the time the CD release show hits, the entire audience seems to know all the words to your album. That's exactly what happened at Mr. Holt's CD release show for A Cosmic Joke. Contrary to what the Observer thinks, this album was an intelligent, heartfelt collection of masterfully written songs. The band did a fabulous job of bringing life to Mr. Holt's artistic vision. And on a completely unrelated note, it was a blast to hear Holt and company jam to the "Layla" outro while Goodfellas played on the LaGrange screen. Admit it, you loved it if you were there, and if you missed the show, you're kicking yourself now after hearing that, aren't you?
- Cystic Fibrosis Benefit Featuring Rhett Miller/Ben Kweller/The O's/Doug Burr (November 6 - Granada Theater)
Song Selection: "Big Brown Eyes", Old 97's
Raving about Rhett Miller seems almost too easy. I admit to a very strong Miller/97's bias, and an average show by either eclipses over half of Dallas bands on their best nights. It would seem almost unfair to count this show, except for the fact that this show featured my favorite concert moment of the year, and one that'd probably go on my top ten of all time list. Rhett had just played the intro to "Big Brown Eyes", and before he uttered the first line of the song, the audience took over for him. It was a "had to be there" moment, but it was amazing to see the crowd take over the song, and to be a part of it.
- Emmeline/Josh Cooley/Steve Jackson (November 26 - Times Ten Cellar)
Song Selection: "A Hundred Years", Emmeline
Over the past year that I've been following Emmeline, I feel as if I've watched her bloom as a songwriter and as a performer. Her CD release show for Early Morning Hours was Emmeline at the top of her game. Never before have I seen her perform with such confidence and command the attention of the entire room. When she closed the show with "A Hundred Years", I would have been willing to stay in Times Ten Cellar that long if she would've kept playing. Alright, maybe just 99 years.
- Ghost of Blind Lemon Showcase: THe BAcksliders/Pale Horse/The Black & Blues (December 10 - The Green Elephant)
Song Selection: "Talk To My Heart", THe BAcksliders
Not that I haven't liked other lineups, but if I had to choose my favorite lineup of any GOBL showcase, this would be it. Whether it be the psychedelic progressive soul styling of Black & Blues, the surprisingly cool BRMC style stripped down Pale Horse set, or the usual full octane BAcksilders rock show, this night was as good as it gets.
- Seryn (December 18th - Wellhouse Co. House Party)
Song Selection: We Will All Be Changed", Seryn
Sometimes when critics start buzzing about a particular act, I confess I can be rather skeptical. Although I liked "We Will All Be Changed", I wasn't certain if the Seryn show would live up to the hype. It didn't live up to the hype; Seryn exceeded the hype by leaps and bounds. Perhaps the intimate setting helped; there's nothing quite like watching a band in a person's home with an audience of only about fifty or so. Still, the band's skill on their instruments and perhaps the best harmonizing in Dallas, their set left me in awe. I am left now anxiously awaiting the release of their album this year. Even if it's only half as good as the performance last year, it'll be guaranteed a spot in the ten best local albums of '11.