2017 is over and it’s time to look back and pull out some highlights and then see what 2018 has to offer and what I am looking forward to. So, my usual list of awards are usually one-offs and kinda strange, but it wouldn’t be me if it were anything else now would it?
So, in no particular order of preference, here are my 2017 awards as I come up with them and name them on the fly. I’ll also sneak in a look at 2018 for a local band that is about to make some serious noise nationally.
Most interesting e-mail
Zoe Friedman from Thrilldriver. Needless to say we get many submissions a day. When we were working with Reverb Nation we were flooded with requests for airplay and to listen to their music. You build up walls doing this and getting through them isn’t easy. Zoe found a way by doing something very strange so few do. Paid attention. It showed very well in her e-mail filled with humor and references to us and what we do. She did it to our site, to our articles (especially the one where we say what can turn off someone very quickly in the submission process – and I do forgive her use of skulls. J) and more importantly, she listened to our stream. She heard what we play and the style we represent and she fit. Man alive did she fit. Seeing her and her band Thrilldriver is now on my bucket list as she has the most amazing voice I’ve heard in quite a while. Word is I’m pre-approved for a photo pass.
Comeback of the Year
Jibe. Hands down. It was 2003 when Yesterdays Gone hit the music world by storm and catapulted Jibe into a brighter national spotlight. Everything was about to happen and they were the legitimate “next big thing”. In June 2004, that all ended as frontman Joe Grah got into his car and drove from Dallas to LA and didn’t tell anyone for 3 days. You can refer to the Wiki page for details on the story but the past isn’t why I’m talking about Jibe, today is. The reunion show was in fact in 2015 to a sold out Gas Monkey live and an incredible experience all around. It was literally a “who’s who” of music for the stage *and* audience. It wouldn’t be until July 8th of 2017 when the CD release was available and once again, Jibe packed the house at Gas Monkey Live and Epic Tales of Human Nature was available and Yesterday returned a long lost band back to us and they are on fire tearing up the charts once more. Welcome back, guys. Now go tear it up all over again!
Most Fun to Watch on Stage
This is a tough one. You see a lot of bands doing a radio station and photography but some people simply stick out for any given reason. They have a presence on stage that just allows you to see them in their home element and they simply live the moment on stage; and man does it show for some. For 2017 I’m going to give the nod to Catt Murtis of Blacktop Mojo. I’ve only seen them a few times but when they hit the stage during the Jibe CD release show, it was certainly a moment I had been waiting for as they seldom play Dallas (gotta work on that guys) and I can’t get out much unless it’s on the weekends anymore. But the intensity came through and his ability to connect with everyone pull them into the show is amazing. Can’t wait to photograph this band again on a major stage soon.
Newcomer of the Year
Blacktop Mojo. I’ll just stick with this band a bit longer here. With Matt James on vocals there doesn’t seem to be much this band can’t do or accomplish. From driving original songs to covering Steven Tyler on Dream On you will sit mesmerized in the vocals and their southern grunge rock style of music is a sure winner. With 2 releases out to date and a US tour under their belts, the arrow points up for this band and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. If they cover Black Sabbath Paranoid nearly as well as Aerosmith, the audience would lose it. I know I would and I’m not even sure what I’d be losing but I’d not care it was gone. If they would add Underneath and/or Prodigal to their set it would certainly be a change of pace but it would also show the wide range of talent this band does in fact have.
Still Kicking Ass Award
Joey C Jones. This is one driven artist who simply refuses to stop doing what he loves for no other reason than the love he has for music. The Joey C Jones band will have an original song out in 2018 and after hearing it live when they shared the stage with Lita Ford recently, I can’t wait for the finished product. As always, Joey turns in an amazing performance and keeps moving along in an industry that has changed all around him but has never changed who he is in the process. He was able to end 2017 in the most epic of ways at the Whiskey; certainly a home away from home for him. The question now is, will 2018 be the year Joey and I finally sing on stage together? Keep watching, we’ll see.
Yearly Reunion Tour
Monkeyshyne. Nuff said. Barring death or worse, there simply will not be a show I don’t attend if at all possible. Those guys were a large part of Renegade Radio in the early years and a bigger part of my own life by being the first time I ever did sing on stage with any band at all. Hell, at all. Check out the video from the show at Curtain Club and if you’re in Dallas this December, check and see if they’re added to the list. Wow. i didn’t mean to embed the video but I’ll leave it. It was good work. 🙂
Non US Band I want to see in the US
Deaf Havana. I’m continued to be blown away by this band. The lyrics, the showmanship, and most importantly, the music. I won’t go into a lot of details here because if you follow me or this site at all, you’ll know I’ve pimped them pretty heavily already. If they make it to the US I’m game to hit another part of the country to see them. I’ll *make* it happen and ensure I’ve got a photo pass as well. Many of these bands songs I simply relate to on a personal level and understand maybe too well. Come on over, guys. Dinner on me.
Most Accessible Musician
This one is a slam dunk to me. While most return calls, e-mails, and will work with you, so few do it on the level of Patrick Kennison. Currently on tour with Lita Ford (check the day, this is one busy man and his schedule is enough for a fleet of musicians, much less just him) he’s always been active in replies to support his music and the scene in general. I think that’s the Texan in him. But he’s always been around to interview, talk to, and help a dude get a photo pass. His band Heaven Below recently (well, 2016 recently) put out a concept album, Good Morning Apocalypse, and you can find the review right here on Renegade. He’s one of my few “an evening with” interviews and he doesn’t hold back his answers or short people on time. How he does it I’ll never fully comprehend, but I’m glad he does. BTW Patrick, I need a mailing address so I can send you a custom shirt. J
Looking to 2018 Award
Messer. I’ve seldom seen a band work so hard to get a release right as Messer has done with their latest self-titled effort due out this April. “Make This Life” Is the single released recently and made it’s Renegade debut Jan 5th on the icehouse and will be in our rotation shortly. Won’t go too much into Messer as I will wait for the release to do a full review, but certainly looking forward to what these guys have to offer.
There you have it. Keep on rocking and seeing all the live shows you can out there. It means just as much to the musicians as their music means to us. Speaking of which, I just snagged some Eric Gale Band tickets for this weekend. What are YOU going to do this weekend? Whatever it is, make it music.