Monday, March 26, 2012

The Winners!

Well, in my book nominated or not, you're a winner for all you do to support and showcase Texas music.

That said, the 10th Annual Texas Music Awards took place last Saturday in Linden TX... the official home of the Texas Music Triangle. Aside from an awesome line-up of nominations, there was plenty of great music to be heard. The links below will take you to the artists' webpage. In some cases, you'll also have a link to their My Texas Music page where you can listen to snippets of their music and order their albums. You can also go to My Texas Music, look up the artist by the alphabetical list and it will take you to their MTM page.

Here are the award recipients this year:

Male Vocalist: Dave Fenley

Female Vocalist: Pauline Reese

Duo of the Year: ShAnnie

Rising Star Award: Brad Boyer

Band Musician: Coby Tate (guitar) for his performance on 'There is No Fun in Funeral'

Studio Musician: Brad Davis - multiple instruments

Song of the Year: Monahans (Justin Haigh- People Like Me)

Singer/ Songwriter: Michael Hearne

Record of the Year: All My Best Friends (are behind bars) Justin Haigh

Entertainer of the Year: Pauline Reese

Disc Jockey: Roark Smith (KPFT-90.1 Houston)

Broadcast Radio Station: KHYI 95.3 The Range - Dallas TX

Popular Cover: "Minnie the Moocher" (off High Price of Low Livin) Randy Brown

Award of Distinction: Learning as I Go- Michael O'Neal

Historical Significance: Jim Stricklan

Palmwood: Dillon Steen

Gone to Texas Award: Slim Bawb

Congratulations to all the nominees! A BIG Texas Thank You to everyone who played a part in making sure the 10th Annual Texas Music Awards was everything it should be and more.

I'll be off the next couple of weeks spending time with my granddaughter but will be back here on April 16th to kick off spotlights on some of the artists we didn't get to meet prior to the TMAs.

Country Blessings!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Results are In!

And although I don't have a full list yet, I can tell you (according to her tweets) our Female Vocalist of the Year is Pauline Reese.

It looks like Linden TX was the place to be last night. I'll be back in on Monday for our own After-Party!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Today's the Day!

Good morning, everyone!

Today's the Day! The Texas Music Barn as well as the Bowie- Cass stage on the corner of Kaufmann and Rush streets on the square, and the Tin Star Stage will be showcasing awesome Texas talent and handing out awards.

Pauline Reese has already been tweeting. You can hook up with Pauline or John Arthur Martinez on twitter. I'm sure they'll be keeping us posted on the day's events.

If you're lucky enough to be attending the festivities today, I'd appreciate tweets. Circumstances beyond my control prevent me from attending this year, and I'm pretty bummed. So I'm counting on all of you to make me feel as if I'm there!

Good Luck to all of our nominees and we'll see you Monday with the results

Country Blessings!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Entertainer of the Year Nominee- John Arthur Martinez

I've already told you about Pauline Reese, one of the nominees for Entertainer of the Year. So for our final nominee in this category, we look to Marble Falls, TX.

I’ve been hearing the name John Arthur Martinez for years. Among the many who have played weekend gigs with Mike Blakely, John was the first name I came to know. Aside from the two of them doing an album together back in 2007, ‘Blakely-Martinez’, they’ve also appeared on ‘A Texas Hill-Country Christmas’ and ‘Austin’s WB – Holiday Songs Benefiting the Austin Children’s Center’.

John Arthur Martinez has a velvet tone to his voice. The lyrics wash over you, creating a sense of peace. Whenever I hear him sing, I want to be sitting next to a camp fire somewhere with friends. Where the stars shine bright above, the beer is cold and the music makes you content to be just where you are… in that moment.

John made his first appearance in 2005, winning Record of the Year (‘Home Made of Stone’). The song can be found on his ‘Lone Starry Night’ album, which also features ‘The Armadillo Song’ – the official song of MTM Armadillo eZine. He was also nominated for Entertainer of the Year.

He took home the Entertainer of the Year award in 2006 beating out, among others, his buddy Mike. In 2008, John and Mike were nominated as Vocal Duo/ Group for their ‘Blakely-Martinez’ album. Another nomination was not forthcoming until 2010, when he won Record of the Year for ‘Utopia’, from his ‘Purgatory Road’ LP.

This year he’s back in the Entertainer of the Year category and up against Mike. Will this year be a repeat of 2006 for John? Whatever the outcome, I know one thing for certain. We are going to be enjoying his music for a long time.

Country Blessings!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Entertainer of the Year Nominee - Susan Gibson

Susan Gibson knows how to write a song. The CMA award-winning songwriter (“Wide Open Spaces” by the Dixie Chicks spent 4 weeks at the top of the country charts) has spent the past fourteen years playing and promoting the Texas- Americana- Folk music she loves with her own personal style.

She also knows how to sing them. Her debut album, Tightrope, features songwriting pairing such as the ever-talented Michael Hearne. Both Susan and Michael are also nominated for Singer/ Songwriter of the Year as well as Song of the Year for ‘Evergreen’. Susan has a unique quality to her voice. It’s a tone you think you can place yet it’s uniquely her own.

Producers seem to have fallen into a rut of putting out what they think they can sell. They give you a ‘canned’ voice. Where it seems as if every female voice on the radio sounds like the one played before. This is not true of Susan. It’s refreshing to know when you hear a Susan Gibson song on the radio you’ll know by the voice – not the name of the song – who you’re listening to.

I will be surprised if this multi-talented woman doesn’t walk away with at least one award on Saturday night. Good Luck, Susan!

Country Blessings

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Entertainer of the Year nominee - Randy Brown

Today I’m shining the spotlight on Randy Brown. I apologize for the lack of a picture. I’m still building up my files. But the lack of a photo doesn’t make him any less important on this list, or any less talented.

Randy is no stranger to the Texas Music Awards. He first appeared in 2007, when his song ‘The Johnny Bush School of Country Music’ was nominated for Record of the Year. 2008 gave him FIVE nominations including Entertainer of the Year and a win for Male Vocalist of the Year. In 2010, he reprised his appearance in this category. Can ‘third time’s the charm’ be on Randy’s playlist? 'My Days Are Numbered' is nominated for Song of the Year.

On Randy’s current album, 'High Price of Low Livin’, he does a beautiful version of Thomas Michael Riley’s ‘In The Garden’. Their voice qualities are similar, fitting the emotional richness of this song. The title track showcases Randy’s classic country style, while ‘Minnie the Moocher’ will transport you back to a jazz club in 1931.

Randy’s voice is immensely versatile, taking you places you didn’t even know you wanted to go. But I guarantee, you’ll be glad you made the journey. Good Luck, Randy!

Country Blessings

Monday, March 19, 2012

Entertainer of the Year nominees - the list begins

Because we are on the final countdown to Saturday night’s festivities, I’m going to spotlight the nominees for Entertainer of the Year.

This does not mean there isn’t awesome talent in the other categories. There are! And as this blog grows and I’m able to get into the nominees earlier, my ultimate goal is to give every one of them their turn at the Country Angel Spotlight. For now, let’s begin this week’s roll call in the order by which they are posted on the Texas Music Awards nominees’ page.

Today, we’re talking about Mike Blakely. Y’all know how I feel about Mike. He has been a dear friend for over twenty years, long before I realized what a pull Texas music had for me. By spotlighting Mike today, I’m also going to be able to touch on some of the nominees in other categories because Mike has worked with so many of them over the years.

Let’s start with the fact he has worked with nearly every veteran in the Texas music industry. In fact, he has worked with two out of his four competitors for this award. Pauline Reese served up harmony vocals on the Ghost Town Council CD… a compilation of several multi-talented artists. The other is his buddy, John Arthur Martinez. Mike and John have co-written together several times and were up for Vocal Duo in 2008 for their ‘Blakely- Martinez’ album.

Another from the list is Jeff Posey. Jeff is nominated for the Academy Award of Distinction for the Mighty Rider album.

Growing up, my mom always told me “you’re judged by the company you keep.” If that’s true, than Mike is keeping company with some of the best in the business and is being judged accordingly by repeatedly joining them on the Texas Music Award nominations list.

Country Blessings, my friend.

Final Female Vocalist Nominee- Pauline Reese

Pauline Reese is not new to the Texas Music Triangle. She has been nominated multiple times since her first appearance on the list in 2006 when she was nominated for Record of the Year. She followed that up in 2007 as a nominee for Female Vocalist of the year (Austin) and Entertainer of the Year as well as winning Album of the Year for ‘Too Texas’. She was nominated again in 2008 (site does not tell us in which category). In 2010 she came back strong being nominated for Entertainer of the Year again – and was the first female to win the coveted award!

If you missed last year’s write-up about Pauline, you can check it out HERE.

This year, she is up for Female Vocalist of the Year for her powerful crystalline voice on the title track of her current album, Just Getting Started. The album is also nominated for Album of the Year. And finally, you’ll find Pauline Reese under the nominees for Entertainer of the Year. Wow! Her producer, Justin Pollard, is nominated for Producer of the Year for his work on the Just Getting Started album. Can she make it a Home Run?

Pauline is one of the hardest-working, multi-tasking artists I’ve had the pleasure of covering and I wish her the best this year.

Country Blessings!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kathy Street

When we think of categories like Male or Female Vocalist of the Year, we usually think of an individual artist. Not this time. Kathy is part of the Byrd and Street Duo, sharing the stage with her long-time musical partner, Tommy Byrd. They are nominated for Duo of the Year again this year. Their first shot was back in 2009. This year, Kathy is also nominated as a soloist for her contribution to their current album, ‘Close Your Eyes’.

Kathy has been creating music since the age of nine. Though it would be a few more years before she would actually do something with her talent, Kathy has since been singing and participating in stage productions… all while raising a family. That’s quite a list of responsibilities. She also takes care of the business side of Byrd and Street. But through all of this, Kathy has subliminally showcased something very important. Don’t give up your dream.

Her vocal style lends itself nicely to the folksy/ Americana style she cut her vocal chords on. If you close your eyes and listen to ‘Close Your Eyes’, you can picture Kathy on a nightclub stage in the 1940s. The soft, sensual undertones will draw you in, making it crystal clear why, though part of a duet, Kathy Street deserves to be nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year.

Country Blessings!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Female Vocalist Nominee - Lou Ann Petty

Lou Ann Petty is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year for her performance on the title track of her debut album, I’m Falling. The bluesy tone with an edgy undercurrent showcases her crystal clear voice with a rich traditional country sound. Her hit single, 'Sugar Cane', is one of thirteen tracks on the album. Whether it’s the bluesy notes of ‘Southern Man’, the toe-tapping ‘I Don’t Know Why’ or ‘Jackasses Need Not Apply’, every song will draw you into her world.

Grammy Award-Winning guitarist and producer, Brad Davis, describes Lou Ann best.
“…‘Don Williams meets Alison Krauss meets Tanya Tucker.’”

Lou Ann teamed up with Brad, at the 2011 CMA festival. Aside from both being from Texas and extremely talented, they share the same management company out of Nashville. I would say Blanchard Management Group (BMG) knows talent.

If you go to Lou Ann’s website and click the MEDIA button, you’ll find links to five outstanding YouTube videos, including her performance with Brad at the CMA festival on the GAC stage.

Seldom does an artist make me want to click the BUY IT! button. If you aren’t buying Lou Ann’s album, I’d love to hear why.

Country Blessings, Lou Ann, on your nomination!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Female Vocalist nominee - Courtney Reed

How many of us have at one point or another grabbed a hair brush or created a microphone from something and pretended to be a popular singer? Come on, you know you have! If you have music flowing through your veins at all, you wanted to be the next big recording star at some point in your life. Dreams are an important part of our growth. Whether we actually achieve our childhood dreams or create new ones as we grow older doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we DID DREAM!

Some of us, like Courtney Reed, went on to turn those dreams into reality. Over the years, while she worked to make her hearts desire a career, Courtney has been influenced by a wide variety of artists. Early on she was drawn to the sounds of Bonnie Raitt, the Judds and Patsy Cline as well as male vocalists like Willie Nelson and and Stevie Ray. She admits that as her style and voice has matured so has the well of inspiration to include Susan Tedeschi and Patty Griffin. The key element she hears within their sounds is the ability to connect with their audience and make a difference in someone’s life. If she can do that, than she is fulfilling her dream.

Her debut album, Somewhere Down This Road showcases some of her influences. From the soulful edge of Bonnie Raitt on the title track to something with a bit more Judds style on Stand Up and Face Love. Not only will you notice the nuances of those who’ve come before her but you’ll also hear Courtney Reed in her own passionate style. And it’s her passion that has brought her as a nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year.

Good Luck Courtney!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Welcome the Female Vocalist Nominees

The first of the five women we’re going to showcase is Cori Lynn. Cori is no stranger to performing and I’d say this recognition is long overdue. Peforming in the Ft. Worth area where she was born since the age of 7.

Her debut CD, Make It Easy For Me showcases Cori Lynn for who she is and where she is going in this business. People are taking notice. Her sound is sensuous and breathy on tracks like You Make Me Who I Am and Walk Through Walls with a undercurrent of a rock edge similar to Pat Benatar on the title track or Thirteen.

If you check out her website you can watch the full video for Make It Easy On Me.
Cori Lynn is a perfect example of what I’ve been saying all along. Texas music isn’t necessarily cowboy or country music. The roots of those things are there, but don’t try to sell it to me as ‘country’. Texas music is all about the talent that grows deep in its heart… and all the varied sounds it fosters.

Cori Lynn has a sound that would do well on the current country charts. My hope is she’ll stick with her Texas roots and allow someone whose heart is in Texas music to keep her grounded. I think her grandfather, Barry Corbin can help with that. But that’s another profile.

Best of luck at the awards, Cori Lynn.

Country Blessings!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Like Father, Like Son

Last on the list of nominees for Male Vocalist of the Year, but certainly not least, is Ryan Murphey. Aside from being the son of cowboy’s living legend, Michael Martin Murphey, Ryan is a talent in his own right. For years, he has been honing his skills as a producer… a practice that garnered him the nomination and win for Producer of the Year at the TMAs in 2010. He was nominated again in 2011.
In 2011, Ryan released his debut CD, New Old Song. This is a CD you want playing in the background while you enjoy an intimate dinner with your partner. Or maybe you want to shine the buckles as you move across the dance floor of some place like the Tin Roof Tavern. Ryan’s crooning voice will lull you into a total state of pure relaxation.
Like his dad, Ryan brings his own style to a traditional sound. I believe with this CD, Ryan will no longer be known only for his producing skills. He’s joining the ranks of one of the most romantic voices in Texas music.
Welcome to the front of the stage, Ryan.

Country Blessings!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meet Justin Haigh

It seems every time I click on the ‘Listen Here’ button over at My Texas Music I get a treat. It’s like a bottomless Easter basket. The contents are as inviting as a colored confectionary egg and usually as smooth as that solid milk chocolate bunny I can’t wait to bite the ears off of. Today was no different. In fact, that chocolate bunny was sweet enough to make me crave more. And if you click that link, you'll enjoy the same dreamy sensation.

I’m talking wanting more of Justin Haigh. If you click on his name, it will take you to his website where you are in for a definite treat. To the left of the page there’s a video of his current single, All My Friends Are Behind Bars. If this guy doesn’t open for people like Brad Paisley, someone isn’t paying attention. Not that I want him playing in the Nashville arena, mind you, but when you check out the video you’ll understand where I’m comin’ from with this.

Justin is up for Male Vocalist of the Year as well as Song of the Year for ‘Monahans’ from his debut album.

With a bit of Leroy VanDyke to his voice and the charismatic style of Brad Paisley, you can hear tradition in every note he sings. His debut album, ‘People Like Me’ (written by the talented Kevin Higgins), is exactly who he sings it for… people like him who appreciate traditional country music.

Unlike many who think the road to country music success leads to Nashville, Justin followed music roots and headed for Texas in 2006, from his home state of South Dakota. Soon after, he signed with the Apache Ranch label. If this album is any indication of what we will see more of from Justin, I’d say he’s in good hands… and vice versa.
Sending best wishes to Justin and…

Country Blessings!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Next in line.... Sammy Fox

One of the first things I noticed about Sammy Fox is he doesn’t sound a thing like you might expect when you first look at him. If he were on The Voice, I guarantee every one of those judges would hit their button to turn around. Then their face would show total disbelief at how the voice and the body just don’t match! But that’s what The Voice is all about, right? To not have any preconceived notions and take an artist strictly on their talent, not their appearance.

If you check out the video of his new single, Love Drunk, on his website, you’ll see lots of ladies in the audience attracted to both. The other thing you’ll see first-hand in the video is the polished talent garnered from years of plying his trade in different venues and music genres. At only twenty-six, Sammy is a self-taught musician. His list of instruments include bass guitar, piano and drums. He also writes his own material and endorses Custom Drums.

Sammy's music is classified as Alt- Country. To me, only one song on his 5-song CD leads me down that road. Everything else showcases Sammy coming into his own as a Texas country artist.

Aside from being nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year (MVY), he, along with his band ‘The Intervention” is up for Live Band of the Year, and Song of the Year (Love Drunk). When you’re checking out the video on his homepage, you will see a link to download ‘Love Drunk’ FREE on CD from CD Texas. Remember, you can pick up Sammy's CD, 'The Intervention EP' at

Country Blessings!