The amount of musical talent found in Texas is as vast and diverse as the people and landscape that make up the state. Legends such as Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Van Cliburn are just a handful of famous musicians who have called Texas their home. DFW’s music scene showcases a range of musical styles — from Pan-Atlantic to distortion pop — including these 2012 breakout acts that are on their way to the top.
If you’re not familiar with the Blackstone Rangers, then it’s just a matter of time before you will be. This distorto-pop group has received a lot of buzz since winning the award for the best new act at the 2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards and releasing its debut EP, “Into the Sea” this past summer to rave reviews. It’s also been invited to perform official showcases at Austin’s 2013 SXSW music festival. The way the band transforms sound into a fusion of energetic rhythms and melodies comes from the desire to create music with an edge. “ I want music that makes me act out … it’s cleansing,” says guitarist and vocalist, Derek Kutzer, who along with vocalist Ruth Smith on the keyboards and drummer Dan Bornhorst, make up this talented trio. The Blackstone Rangers wants to blow people away with its music, and considering its huge following and the many accolades it’s garnered in just a year’s time, it’s evident it’s accomplishing its goal.
Mix a bit of country with a dash of pop, rock, plus some rhythm and blues and you’ll end up with unique sounds from a group that’s recently been gaining a lot of national attention. The group’s success stems from five years of hard work, as well as the talent of song writer and vocalist Amber Farris, whose powerful voice has been compared to Janis Joplin’s. “This is not an easy hobby or for the faint of heart; you really have to commit your life to being in a band and I think for us it’s already paid off,” Farris said. Along with Farris is the rest of this talented group including lead guitarist David Ponder, drummer Nate Wedan, Michael Talley on the keyboards and Wade Cofer on bass. Farris says other performers stimulate her creativity. “Seeing live music helps inspire me to write and be a better musician all around,” she said. Since 2007, the group has played national venues, recorded a debut EP and won the 2008 Shiner’s Records’ Rising Star Competition. However, the recent win for best country act at the 2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards, along with their critically acclaimed new album “Jank City Shakedown” and an invitation to perform at the 2013 SXSW music festival has made Somebody’s Darling everybody’s darling in the music industry.
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With a range of styles and sounds that span the globe, this Fort Worth quartet is becoming a musical force to be reckoned with. Describing its sounds as Pan-Atlantic, its music is a unique mix ranging from jazz, blues and ’60s pop to bossa nova, tango and French new wave. Guitarist Paul Boll says the band tries to have a cinematic sweep and bring back the meaning of “heavy” to music. Boll’s background in composing music for film and TV lead to his fascination in guitar styles from various cultures. “I became very influenced by film scores from all the classics and especially started getting into European and South American cinema associated with the styles of music I heard in those films,” Boll said. Along with Boll is bassist Paul Unger, of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, drummer Dennis Durick and sultry singer Angie Cassada. The October release of its debut album “The Great Iridescent Glory” and a nomination for best jazz group in the Fort Worth Weekly 2012 Music Awards has further proved this talented gathering of musicians has the right stuff to continue onto bigger things in the near future.
Known for his raspy voice and poetic ballads, Americana songwriter and singer Ronnie Fauss has been around the country music scene for several years now, performing solo acts and putting out a string of EPs. Fauss says his inspiration is steeped in the old guard of American songwriters such as Steve Earle, John Prine and Gram Parsons. “Those guys’ music has gotten in my blood over the years and my natural response to immersing myself in their music has been to make my own,” he said. This past spring, Fauss decided to form a band and go to work on his first full-length CD, “I Am The Man You Know I’m Not” that was released in October, promptly propelling him into the international spotlight. Since then, Fauss has received nominations at the Dallas Observer Music Awards for best folk and best solo act, an invite to perform at the 2013 SXSW festival and countless praise from many national and international music publication sources.
The Hanna Barbarians
This psychedelic, blues rock band has been a favorite on the local Fort Worth music scene for several years — filling up music venues to full capacity with its enthusiastic cult-like following of fans. In 2009, the band consisted of a group of guys writing music and performing gigs around town. However, since 2011, the Hanna Barbarians has matured into a full-fledged rock group, recording the well-received album, “Syzygy,” in 2011 — and earning it the 2012 Rock Band of the Year award by Fort Worth Weekly. The group includes lead singer and harmonica player Blake Parish, guitarists Raef Payne, Alex Zobel and Kris Luther, bassist Chis Evans and Tyler Fleming on the drums. With sounds reminiscent of the Doors, Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead, it’s no wonder this sextet is making headway on the local music scene and with the first of its four-volume release in November of the “Spaceway Sessions” album, the band is sure to see its star rising on the national scene very soon.
Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas. Ilene enjoys writing about a variety of topics, ranging from food, fitness and travel, to kids, pets and senior care. You can find some of her work at Examiner.com.