Feature: Wednedday, June 13, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
2002 Music Awards

By Anthony Mariani

There is a revolution going on. The Big Five record labels are losing their stranglehold on the industry as consumers and bands are doing things themselves, for themselves. “Independent” usually means “local,” and these types of bands are packing clubs and selling lots of records without any commercial radio airplay or mondo-label sponsorship. If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely part of this movement.

We got more than 2,000 votes in our music awards competition this year — a response that was inspiring both in quantity (more than last year) and quality. Four of us — including two who were a little hung over from the Music Awards showcase the night before — spent Sunday morning counting ballots.

For one thing, it renewed our faith in the Weekly’s readers (they have good taste, after all). Tony Dukes? Easily this year’s biggest vote-getter. We vote-counters, ever cynical and frankly a little miffed with the ballot-stuffing on behalf of Aggressive Christine, wanted to accuse Dukes’ fans of trying to take advantage of us — but the ballots were coming from all over the area and signed by lots of different people. One big surprise was that Live at Caravan of Dreams by Bertha Coolidge won album of the year — incredible, not because it’s a bad album by any stretch (it’s pretty friggin’ awesome), but because the awards themselves, like the local music scene, are heavy on the alt-rock. The record received about 75 votes.

Most musicians who won said they were honored just to appear on the ballot, constructed with the help of a nominating committee made up of local club owners, record label execs, commercial radio personnel, and other area musicians. Though Dallas-heavy, the ballot is a pretty good reflection of the North Texas scene. Now, onward and upward with the winners.

Album of the Year

Live at Caravan of Dreams 030201 by Bertha Coolidge

There’s a little bit of everything on Live at Caravan of Dreams 030201, Bertha Coolidge’s self-produced, award-winning c.d. Ballads, outside playing, straight-ahead gems. It’s all in there. And, boy, does it sound good.

To hear it told by Aden Bubeck, Bertha Coolidge bass player, he and the other guys in the quartet had been dying to get something recorded for posterity (and for sale, of course). They had been playing the now-defunct Caravan of Dreams for a while; when they learned that the once-famous venue was on its way down Cemetery Road they felt more compelled than ever to get something down on polycarbonate disc there. “We wrote a bunch of new material,” said Bubeck, “and we knocked it out in two sets on one night.”

The sound is right up in your speakers. Joey Carter’s vibes twinkle like bright stars, every snap of Rick Stitzel’s drums or gentle brushing of his cymbals comes through clearly, and Paul Metzger’s sometimes-crunchy tone floats above it all. Bubeck’s electric bass, meanwhile, resonates deeply in the background (and in the foreground too, as on “Hot Walk”). Rod Borbolla, Scott Douglass, and Mike Daane are to thank for the record’s fine polish.

Bubeck said they’ve already been through an initial pressing of the c.d. and are contemplating another. You can get Live at Caravan of Dreams 030201 at most Borders and Barnes & Noble stores. The Weekly’s award will do more than just help sell the disc, the bass player predicted. “It might open people’s eyes that may not listen to jazz,” he said. “They might unknowingly start to appreciate jazz.” — AM

Artist of the Year

Sara Radle (Lucy Loves Schroeder; Fred Savage Fan Club)

Song of the Year

“Dragon Lady,” by Lucy Loves Schroeder

One of the reasons Sara Radle was “elected” artist of the year this year, no doubt, is that she’s one of the hardest-working people in the Metroplex music scene. She plays in both Lucy Loves Schroeder and Fred Savage Fan Club, two distinctly different outfits with two almost-as-distinct fan bases. The logical assumption: This 23-year-old is a split-personality with a rock ’n’ roll jones.

Of course, Radle is a relatively normal, soft-spoken woman who just happens to look like a model and can rock her ass off. She started Lucy Loves Schroeder about six years ago in San Antonio. The moment the scene there began looking dire, she and her bandmate, bassist Andrew Binovi, relocated to Dallas. That was about three years ago. The scene in North Texas “was what we expected,” she said. “We’ve been really lucky. It’s been really good for us.”

Radle wrote song of the year “Dragon Lady” about a year ago. It’s a rocker about a nosy person who doesn’t know when to let up or mind her own business. “I wrote it about someone I used to work with,” Radle said. “I don’t like snobby people. I was inspired by that.”

Compared to Lucy Loves Schroeder, Fred Savage Fan Club is a recent inspiration. “It’s a curiosity,” she said. “I had a bunch of songs that weren’t right for Lucy Loves Schroeder; they sounded different.” Radle then recorded what she thought was merely a demo but what would become an official release by She’s Gone Records in Denton in December 2000. After Jellybeans with Bellybuttons came out, Radle formed a band to gig around playing FSFC tunes. And once Lucy Loves Schroeder returns from a Los Angeles mini-tour, Radle said, Fred Savage Fan Club will be occupying most of her attention.

Whatever she’s doing, Radle said she’ll be going full-throttle — gotta live up to that “artist of the year” tag. “It’s kinda weird,” said Radle, “that I even got nominated [for artist of the year].” — AM

Best FEMALE Vocalist

Rene West

On stage, Rene West batters her old acoustic to the point where you expect the thing to explode or crumble in mid-song. Over such unbridled enthusiasm rides a strong, full voice — part Janis Joplin, part Lucinda Williams, part West’s own style.

Pigeonholing West’s sound as “country” or “singer-songwriter” is too easy and incomplete. She labels what she does as “American music,” but the mix of country, rock, blues, and waltzes renders even that label useless. She’s played in all types of bands, from the punk outfit Grey Area (which opened for the Dead Kennedys in 1985) to an experimental industrial band. Those influences come through, however subtly, in her current work.

West discovered music early; she owned her first guitar at age 12. “As a child, I’d hear my great-grandmother singing songs like ‘Down In The Valley,’” West said. “I thought she wrote them, so I began writing my own songs.”

After studying art, which she still practices and teaches, West took her music back to the basics of guitar, voice, and songwriting. “I no longer consider my art and music separate,” she said. “They are the same.”

With about 40 originals and some covers in the bag, West and bandmate Glenn Milam quietly built a name for themselves in the area. They’re now planning to record a full-length c.d. Success in music is a gamble, but watching West perform makes you realize she could one day reach the popularity level of Lucinda Williams or Gillian Welch. Seeing her now may shortly mean being able to say you saw her when. —Matthew Smith

Best MALE Vocalist

John Price

To win this award, you gotta have at least some vocal range — though, looking at our list of nominees in this category, you can easily see that range alone isn’t what sets these guys apart. The intangible qualities of being a frontman, of being the guy who’s actually up on stage communicating directly with audiences, also count for a lot. Range doesn’t mean shit if the singer doesn’t inhabit his lyrics.

John Price could sing names from the phone book and still make you believe he’s intimating some heretofore-hidden insight. Sometimes a screamer, sometimes a whisperer, Price is always inside his lyrics. It’s hard to ignore him. And that’s probably why you think he’s the best.

Price has been writing songs for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Houston and moved to Fort Worth to attend TCU a few years ago; that’s when he began gigging full-time, playing country music to lots of bibulous college folk around Berry. The singer-songwriter stuff he plays now, which doesn’t draw as well as the country did (but still draws big), comes from Price following his muse instead of bowing to trends. A c.d. he’s been working on for the past seven months will be coming out in the fall. It’s called Little Pieces of a Little Piece of Something Small, and was recorded at Base Propulsion Laboratories in Dallas. It’s amazing that Price, at only 23, has already discovered his voice.

“I had no training, and I actually started exploring my voice over the past year and a half,” he said. “It used to be throaty, but then you discover your own voice instead of somebody else’s. So I’m just exploring everything.” — AM

Best Rock

Bowling For Soup

Best Songwriter

Jaret Von Erich

Pop? Certainly. Rock? Most definitely. Punk? A little. Emo? Yup. Even a bit of that’s in there too.

So with pop, rock, punk, and emo stylings all mixed together, why does Bowling For Soup get to wear the crown of Best Rock Band for a full year? Simply put, they are just that good.

Their self-described sound of “pop-rock with loud guitars and three-part harmonies we can pull off live” is refreshing at a time when overproduced junk fills the “rock” sections of music stores everywhere. But maybe more importantly, the band’s hard work, grueling tour schedule, and incredible live shows have helped Bowling For Soup become one of the area’s top bands — if not the top outfit.

One of the keys to the band’s success lies in its simplicity. Musically, the group is not trying to break any rock boundaries. If anything, they steer themselves away from boundaries altogether and stick with the simple three- and four-chord arrangements that got Bowling For Soup where it is. Lyrically, they follow the same plan. Lead singer/guitarist and primary songwriter Jaret Von Erich’s self-described “self-taught, borderline retarded” version of songwriting is perfect for the band. His almost comical approach to relationships gone bad is not only novel in the wake of a huge uprising in suicidal-ish emo songs, but intelligent enough to act almost as therapy for those with broken hearts. No matter how sad and disheartened you feel, Von Erich can always manage to bring a smile to your face with his lighthearted point of view.

While Von Erich’s sincerity-filled songwriting can make the depressed feel a little bit better about themselves, a Bowling For Soup live show can make even the most uptight tight-asses chuckle. The boys in the band tell jokes about each others’ moms or sometimes pretend that the power has gone out — just as an excuse for them to take off their pants. It’s a shtick that could go over well at improv night at the comedy club but one that also seems right at home in a place like the Ridglea. Without sacrificing a speck of musical credibility, Bowling For Soup will also take requests (from the Diff’rent Strokes theme song to Poison to Pink). Basically, if you haven’t seen them live (and they play about 250 dates a year), you haven’t seen rock ’n’ roll in the Metroplex. —Vic Drabicky

Best Hard Rock

Baboon

“Hard rock” is an interesting classification. Every angst-driven, dyed-black-top, Korn-worshipping teen in the world not only loves it, but for one reason or another, feels he should try his hand at it. Unfortunately, the result is far too often hideous. But every once in a while, a band like Baboon comes along and takes the easy-to-do-but-hard-to-do-well hard-rock genre to new levels of respectability.

Described as everything from “The Butthole Surfers meet The Cure” to “Henry Rollins meets the Beatles,” Baboon has been wowing audiences for more than a decade with its trombone-infused version of hard rock, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Not only is the band’s live show jaw-droppingly energetic, but its collection of top-notch releases leaves the group at the top of a very short list of respectable local hard-rock acts. Baboon’s 25-minute, six-song 1999 release, We Sing and Play, remains one of the best local discs in the past five years. The group surprisingly found a way to seamlessly mix the headbanging insanity of its first release, Face Down in Turpentine, with the darker, more introspective moodiness of the band’s 1997 cut, Secret Robot Control. In a couple of words: Brutally brilliant.

Whether it’s crippling an audience with an energetic live show or being blown out of home stereo speakers, Baboon remain the area’s top hard-rock act. — VD

Best Country

Eleven Hundred Springs

Steve Berg, who formed Eleven Hundred Springs with Matt Hillyer in 1998, describes the band as “straight-up country,” which he said some listeners find weird because the members are on average only about 27 years old.

Straight-up country in this case means old-school honkytonk instead of Nashville pretty-boy pop. Berg’s influences go deep: Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard. The band’s sound is simple, really. It’s classic country without the bullshit.

With four c.d.’s under their belt, Eleven Hundred Springs now depend mainly on originals to win over audiences; covers are few and far between. Soon they plan on recording new material, with Kim Pendelton of Vibrolux lending vocals on some tracks. (The link is no doubt Springs drummer Bruce Alford, who used to play in Vibrolux.)

Berg said the band was “pleasantly surprised” to win the award. “I didn’t know you guys knew who we were,” he said. For those who still haven’t heard of Eleven Hundred Springs, Berg said they play about three times a week, everywhere from the Wreck Room to the Gypsy Tea Room and lots of places in between. If country is your bag, then catch them live or visit www.elevenhundredsprings.com for more info. — MS

Best Blues

Tony Dukes

Tony Dukes may not be a familiar name to most, but the names of his friends certainly are. Over his career, Dukes has played with everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughn to ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons to fellow Fort Worth Weekly blues-award nominees Rocky Athas, Pops Carter, and Holland K. Smith. The guy has also opened for Muddy Waters and Son House. And as proprietor of Parker Music, he has sold guitars to Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and the Eagles and served as chairman of Gibson’s advisory board on vintage guitars.

Hell, the guy took legendary rock scribe Lester Bangs out hunting. He also worked with Ted Nugent, though he says he had nothing to do with the name of Nugent’s early band Amboy Dukes; everyone assumes he did.

“I grew up in West Texas listening to Wolfman Jack’s Black and Brown Soul Special, and got hooked on blues through Big Joe Turner and B.B. King,” Dukes said.

Although he plays blues, rock, swing, and various Tex-Mex genres, Dukes said the early blues of Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy remain his first loves. “I keep going back there because I think the first emotional transfer of any art form remains the truest and best,” Dukes said.

Dukes appears regularly at the 6th Street Grill and Red Star Lounge, among other places. Catch his set of sweeet Texas blues. Afterward, if you’re lucky, he may pass on a few stories from his rich musical past. Truly, a guy who’s seen and done it all. — MS

Best Cover Band

Hard Nights Day

Let’s be honest. Bands come and go so quickly these days it’s hard even to remember some of their names. A lot of the groups that get written about in the Weekly fit this pattern. How refreshing it is then to see Beatles cover band Hard Nights Day (that’s no typo) top eight years with no signs of slowing down.

“We like the music, and we’re doing it for fun,” drummer Doug Cox explained. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. But we take the music seriously.”

The band has remained a quintet since its conception at Dallas’ Club Dada in March 1994 (where HND has been holding a weekly gig ever since). Cox said having five people makes the live experience more like what fans are used to hearing on those classic John-Paul-George-Ringo recordings. Cox said Beatles cover bands that employ only four players have a hard time recreating live those signature Beatles double-guitar parts and piano fills.

Every member of HND is involved in other musical projects, but as HND they can gig constantly — and generate revenue. Their goal, said Cox, isn’t monetary as much as it is personal: They love the Beatles and they want to bring the best Beatles sound to fans. Hard Nights Day has played everywhere from Fort Worth to England — but, said Cox, they’d still like to do a few more Fort Worth dates. Cheers to that. — Adam Woodyard

Best Live Band

The Riverboat Gamblers

Using a name no one would instantly associate with punk, The Riverboat Gamblers make no excuses for their brand of Texas rock. The boys in the band just wanted something “classy lookin’,” vocalist Teko said, to act as counterpoint to all that nasty rock ’n’ roll they play.

The Gamblers, whose members also include Tuffy, Spider, and Colin Ambulance, have been gigging around Fort Worth the past four years, but Teko said it’s only been in about the past year and a half that things have really started to take off. Bands they’ve played with have just kept inviting the Gamblers out to cities farther and farther away, and, Teko said, “The idea of drinking somewhere else sounds appealing.”

An atomic fusion of rock and punk (always a dangerous mix at a live show), the Gamblers’ sound delivers lots of sweaty aggression. Teko said experiencing the Gamblers live might even change a body’s outlook on life: “They’ll leave with a little more rock ’n’ roll in their soul.”

The Riverboat Gamblers have a self-titled album out now on Vile Beat Records, but the show remains The Thing (as any true rocker will tell you). Either way, the clubgoers of Fort Worth must know what they’re talkin’ about.

See The Riverboat Gamblers Saturday, June 22, at Spider Babies in Dallas, with special guest Electric Frankenstein. — AW

Best Experimental

Sub Oslo

There’s probably a fair portion of North Americans who don’t know that, in the beginning, some creative souls (in Jamaica, rumor has it) yanked the vocals out of songs, played up the bass lines and rhythm tracks, and looped additional beats over the result, for what has become a very complex musical experiment called dub.

In the past few decades, dub hasn’t gone anywhere — or you could say it’s gone everywhere. In late 1996, what would become Sub Oslo began as an idea in far-from-Jamaica Denton. The two-headed rhythm section met their future mixer in a dark and crowded bar. (Don’t all good adventures start out in a dark and crowded bar?)

From that core of three — mixer John Nuckels, drummer Quincy Holloway, and bassist Miguel Zeliz — the experiment has since grown to eight members — nine, if you count video projectionist Paul Baker, which they do.

Sub Oslo’s first full-length c.d., Dubs in the Key of Life, was released in 2000 in the United States on 2 Ohm Hop Records. It has since been re-released on sister labels in Europe and Japan; this allowed the band to tour Tokyo in the summer of 2001. “It’s a patient, ethereal sort of sound,” Holloway said of the band’s sonics; he also called them, “galactic skank.” It’s “the kind of music the Rastafarian in Neuromancer listens to.”

Sub Oslo is currently at work mixing its next full-length, tentatively titled The Dubs Remain the Same. — AW

Best Classical

Fort Worth Classical Guitar Society

The newest winner in this category is an old one. The Fort Worth Classical Guitar Society took the honors in 1998 and 1999, then was beaten out for the last two years by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. This year, the Guitar Society is back on top. “The symphony does three concerts a week for a couple thousand people, while we do five concerts a year for a few hundred people, so people must think that guitars are groovy,” said the Guitar Society’s Christopher McGuire. On a more serious note, he added, “We have consistently brought in, over seven years, the very best internationally touring concert artists, and then we also have two world-class ensembles that are in residence here [the World Guitar Trio and the Fort Worth Classic Guitar Quartet]. Hopefully, we’re developing a reputation for high quality on a smaller scale.”

Guitar fans can expect more of the same next year, plus a few new features. The society will be featured on WRR-FM on the first Sunday of every month next season, playing material from previous or upcoming shows. The society will also take a page from the Van Cliburn Foundation and host an international guitar competition for new artists. The best from this top-flight organization may be yet to come. — Kristian Lin

Best Jazz

Johnny Case Trio

A few weeks ago, in talking with a big Fort Worth jazzbo, jazz pianist Johnny Case’s name came up. The jazzbo paused, sipped his water, and then said matter-of-factly, “We all worship Johnny Case.”

Hard to argue with such reverence. It’s been well-earned.

Case began his musical career in the 1950s as a child performer, singing and playing guitar with his older brother Jerry Case. The duo played old-timey country-western music on regional tv shows, radio programs, and in front of live audiences around Fort Worth and Dallas. Then, when he was about 15, Johnny discovered budget jazz LPs — Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Dave Brubeck — and jazz piano. “I knew at that distinct moment that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “From that point on, I had focus. I was fortunate, I guess, to learn at a young age what I wanted to do in life.”

Johnny taught himself piano and played the instrument in Jerry’s assorted western swing bands throughout the 1960s and ’70s. Johnny honed his jazz chops on the side. In the mid-1970s, Johnny began Priority Records, his own independent jazz label. “It was just an outlet for me and brother and other guys we admired. We put out about 10 or 12 albums. We didn’t expect them to sell well, but we got them out there and distributed and reviewed in some national and international jazz magazines.”

Johnny landed his first six-night-a-week jazz gig in 1980 at JR’s Place off Camp Bowie. He played there for about a year, and then freelanced until 1983, when he scored his current nightly spot at Sardines. (That’s 19 years with one place!)

“I’m pretty content the way things are,” Johnny said. “It makes me happy to have that recognition. I’ve been doing it at Sardines for so long. It means a lot to me. I appreciate everybody who voted.”

Johnny’s most recent c.d., Creative Explosions, is available at Record Town on University. — AM

Best Folk

Lori Dreier

Lori Dreier is a farm girl, born and raised in Newton, Kan. Only recently, however, did this singer-songwriter begin exploring her idyllic life on the plains.

“A lot of stuff is pensive and thoughtful,” she said. “But I wanna write happier — happy but still meaningful.”

The way Dreier sees it, life on the farm could be a metaphor for life in general. You could say hers at this point is all Green Acres.

She’s working on new material with a full band, Compulsive Jamming Disorder, while also churning out songs for her folk-acoustic solo project, which she keeps separate from the rock stuff. Wherever she plays, audiences immediately warm up to her soft voice and charismatic stage presence.

The moment she arrived in Fort Worth from Nashville, where she had been living for a spell, she almost immediately began gigging. “I asked the manager of Four Star Coffee Bar if I could play there,” she said. “I really stepped out and swallowed my pride and started playing. I was just trying to get comfortable.” She recorded her first c.d. in April, and is planning on starting an independent record label. You can catch her live show at Four Star or CoffeeHaus. — AM

Best Hip-Hop

Sandy Redd

Sandy Redd is only 14 years old, but ... wait a minute. You don’t have to be an “adult” to rap anymore these days. (Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Romeo anyone?) Still, Sandy Redd is an anomaly if only for her gender. It’s hard enough breaking into the rap game as a woman. But as a high school freshman? You might say stardom is an especially steep uphill climb for this young Fort Worth native with no apparent industry connections (Lil’ Romeo is Master P’s son, by the way).

No matter. Sandy Redd raps with an authority way beyond her age. She’s in the studio now putting the finishing touches on I Got Next, her first full-length c.d. Her teen-age friends, she admits, will get a little bugged-out hearing about how Sandy opened for R&B crooner Jaheim a few weeks ago in New Orleans or hearing about her other adventures in the spotlight. Still, they take her popularity all in stride. “I think they get a kick out of it,” she said. “They don’t treat me no different, though. I got good friends.”

You won’t hear any rap about drugs or sex in Sandy Redd’s music. It’s all about having a good time — because that’s why she does what she does anyway. “It’s all fun,” she said. “Touring isn’t a problem for me. When it’s my turn, I wanna get out there and do my best. I always like to do my best.” — AM

Best Latino

Latin Express

Carlos and Leo Saenz grew up playing the same traditional Mexican music their father played on the accordion, and before they even got out of high school, Carlos had launched Latin Express. That was in 1975, and today the Latin Express is still going strong.

“Now we have our kids playing with us,” said younger brother and horn player Leo Saenz, who joined the band in 1979 at 14. “We’re real close, real tight. It’s like going camping with your family every weekend.”

The multi-generational act is a hit at festivals around the state and throughout the Southwest. It has also extended its reach even further during the past two years. They’ve headed as far east as Florida, and last year played at George W. Bush’s inaugural bash.

“The first time they called me, I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke on me,” said Saenz. “So I hung up on them. But they called back and said they really were with the inaugural committee, so I looked at the caller I.D. and it said ‘U.S. Government’ so I knew it was for real. So we went there and played our little hearts out.”

And that’s exactly what Latin Express does each time it hits the stage — something that just might explain the group’s popularity. — Paula Felps

Best Christian

Rhythm

As the sons of a preacher, brothers Reggie, Tim, and Phil Scott always thought they would land in front of a congregation sooner or later. They just didn’t know it would be a lasting gig. But for the past six years, the brothers have been working as half of the Christian band Rhythm, which performs at churches, Christian festivals, and conferences nationwide.

“When your dad is a pastor, you’re bound to be on stage one way or another, but the next thing we knew, we started touring,” said Reggie. “We’ve played with a lot of national bands, like Altogether Separate, Newsboys, Fusebox ... almost anyone you can think of in Christian music.”

The band is working on its third disc, which, like the previous two, will contain original songs penned by the band. Like many contemporary Christian bands, Rhythm creates a righteous brand of pop-rock that is a far cry from hymns and the e-z listening pop long associated with the scene.

“I think that’s due to a lot of Christian artists who’ve not felt the call to be in the Christian scene,” said Reggie. “A lot of artists before us have been very mainstream, and that allows us to be able to produce good, mainstream music with a positive message. We’re not pushing God, we’re not preaching, but we are giving a positive message.

“If it’s good music, people want to listen to it, whether they’re Christians or not.” — PF

Best New Act

Aggressive Christine

With a little more than a year under its belt, Aggressive Christine already claims a following that is as diverse as its sound.

“My sister’s still in high school, so all her friends have our c.d. and listen to us,” said frontwoman Tiffany Rebstock. “I’m in college, so we get people from there, and my mom and dad bring their friends out to our shows.”

She admits a stronger following in the 17-to-25-year-old bracket, which isn’t surprising given the alternative sounds created by this quartet.

“We started out as a pop-punk band, but we’ve changed our sound to more of an alternative-emo thing,” said Rebstock, adding that Aggressive Christine still pulls out the poppy punk material onstage. “We’ve had a lot of discussions trying to figure out what [sound] we are, but we just call it flat-out alternative rock because that covers everything.”

The band, which also includes bassist Judah Cade, lead guitarist David Stuckler, drummer Austin Green, and rhythm guitarist David Moran, has released one c.d., This Photograph, and plans to head back into the studio in the fall. Until then, fans will just have to be content to catch the group’s energetic stage antics at places like the Ridglea Theater and Dirty Perches. — PF

Best Producer

Virgule Marshall

These days it’s an advantage to know your way around a mixing board, especially if your specialty is R&B or hip-hop. Producers like Swizz Beatz and Mannie Fresh have become as well known as the rappers they provide beats for. Fort Worth’s Virgule Marshall could then be seen as part-Swizz Beatz, part-Brian McKnight: He’s got the technical know-how to craft some unique beats and the soul to give those beats life. The 27-year-old has been working as a musician for about eight years and as a producer for the last three. It’s only been recently that he has started to believe his time is coming.

“I hang around with some big players,” said Marshall. “They all recognize me, and I can hang with them. I don’t know where it came from. It had to be God.”

Marshall, who said he’s released at least four albums’ worth of singles over the years, is fine-tuning his first full-length c.d. while producing beats for Sandy Redd (Best Hip-Hop) and Latino pop singer Paloma.

“I wanna be the greatest, baby,” said Marshall. “I’m doing a lot of work, and I’m listening to the industry and, man, I’m needed. I’m not boasting or bragging, but I see myself at the top. Who else?” — AM



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