Two young, guitar-slinging rockers named Casey James hail from these parts.

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Only one got sent home from a singing competition last night.

Fort Worth’s Casey James performed well and will certainly remain in the American Idol competition after tonight’s televised vote.

As for Denton’s Casey James…sorry but no cigar.

The less known Casey put up a good fight in his battle against Dallas’ Four Left Turns at last night’s 5th Annual Texas Music Showdown at the White Elephant Saloon, hosted by KHYI-95.3 The Range.

Four Left Turns played a tight, original, and heartfelt but safe set of songs that spoke to the songwriters on the judges’ panel.

It had to be daunting to perform original songs in front of  judges that included such lofty songwriters as Keith Sykes (he wrote the Jimmy Buffett classics “Volcano” and “The Coast of Marseille”); Deryl Dodd (“Pearl Snaps”), Larry Joe Taylor (“Third Coast”), and Tommy Alverson (“Uno Mas Cerveza”).

The Casey Damn James Band — he added the Damn after Idol‘s Casey James captured a national spotlight — started off miserably with a maudlin and poorly sung opener. The band quickly recovered and jumped into a cool groove with “Loretta,” and by set’s end the band was playing balls-out R&B with reckless abandon, and the crowd was on its feet.

Afterward, the judges had a tough job (the panel also included Bret Dillon of KHYI-95.3 The Range, White Elephant Saloon owner Chef Tim Love, and yours truly little ol’ me). I’ve helped judge about a dozen of these contests at White Elephant over the years, and none took longer to decide than last night’s debate.

After 30 minutes of haggling, the judges finally chose Four Left Turns.

The Casey Damn James Band brought more fans with them and they were a rowdy bunch, but their fans showed class after the winner was announced. Very few boos were heard.

Afterward, Four Left Turns took the stage again to play more songs, and frontman Trevor Pulver invited James to strap on his electric guitar and sit in.

Larry Joe Taylor appreciated the sportsmanship.

“That’s cool; I like that,” he said as James and Pulver traded guitar licks on an improvised, raucous version of “Johnny B Good” that again drew the crowd to its feet.


  1. I was at this show. Indeed, it appeared that CDJ had the deck stacked with audience numbers and audience reaction but it became really very obvious who the real song writer was in Trevor Pulver of Four LEft Turns. Casey’s band was hot, Four Left Turns was just a tad reserved but quite polished. Enjoyed the show immensely

  2. I was there. No offense to FLT, but CDJ DID kick butt.

    I don’t know what Tom Watkins was listening to, but Watching the Lines is a great tune. It was NOT miserable. It is fantastic music.

    Were the judges both deaf AND blind? Did they not see people dancing and singing to CDJ? They weren’t to FLT, exceept for the “solid gold dancer” (you had to be there to understand that one).

    When do the fans not count? They obviously supported CDJ Band. Is that not who listen to the radio and buy the CDs? Come ON! When does reserved beat hot? I mean HOTTTTTT! The desicion was a travesty.

  3. The “solid gold dancer” that Tanya refers to is a woman who dances by herself in the most unusual way. Imagine an elderly sugarplum fairy on a honkytonk dance floor, tiptoeing in circles by herself and moving her arms and hands as if she’s sprinkling gold dust on invisible cherubs.

    I was talking to a regular customer that night and asked if the woman was mental, drunk, or just really colorful. Here’s what he said: “I’ve talked to her before and she can be articulate and intelligent. But she’s also kind of different. This guy asked her one time why she was dancing alone, and she said, ‘I’m dancing with Jesus, motherfucker!’ ”

    Anyway, the judges knew that picking Four Left Turns would be unpopular with the majority of the crowd. It was clear that Cody Damn James played the loudest and fiercest, presented themselves as the shizz, and brought in the most fans to yell for them. The seven judges weren’t deaf or blind. The vote was 4-3 in favor of FLT. A slim majority of judges thought FLT’s lyrics and melodies were better. And even though Trevor Pulver is not as flashy and loud as CDJ, most thought him the better guitar player that night. Nothing personal, I’m just giving you some insight into the decision. The judges thought both bands were good, but we had to pick a winner.

  4. So after reading this review there are a few details that were left out.

    Justin, the bassist and harmony section of the 4LT’s, wasn’t there for the set since he was out of town on business. He’s a big part of their sound and was noticeably missing (no offense to the sub bassist who played extremely well with little rehearsal). AND the CDJ Band flew in a backup guitarist and harmonica player to try and clutch a win. So a suped up CDJ was still beaten by a weakened 4LT.

    Yes CDJ had more fans there. Yes CDJ played a great set. Yes CDJ was HOTT. But it’s a music competition and not a popularity contest. The 4LT’s are just better musically and lyrically. They have more range in their sound and are just a tighter foursome.

    As far as Tanya’s comment about the dancing: If you had taken the contest out of the show there would have been just as many people dancing for the 4LT’s as the CDJ. But since it was a contest the CDJ fans sat in their chairs until their band went on. Once it was all over and the 4LT’s played their encore with CDJ (an awesome show of sportsmanship) there were plenty of people on the dance floor. Come out to a 4LT show at Adair’s sometime if you want to dance Tanya.

    Both bands played their hears out and that was obvious. There has to be a winner and loser. But i don’t think that CDJ will have any problem getting gigs.

    VIVA EL 4LT!

  5. It doesn’t speak well for 4LT when the bass player skips out on the finals and leaves his band twisting in the wind. It says a lot for CDJ that he took the time to bring another talented musician into the mix to improve their sound for the finals. Thats just more proof that CDJ deserved to win.

  6. First of all, the judges named the colorful dancing woman “the solid gold dancer”, not Tanya. As far as the contest goes there is not one winner, CDJB won as well. They were Hot and didn’t bring fans with them. Their fans came because of the Show CDJB provides everytime they play, and to support their music! That’s what matters. Four Left Turns were “good” but a slighty boring and barely made the finals. According to one judge, they weren’t picked to go that far. It is what it is but I support all New Texas music, especially CDJB. I also enjoyed most of the other participants in this music showdown.

  7. Casey Damn James Band was exciting and full of energy and totally rocked. Four Left Turns was just plain boring. Couldn’t even understand them.

  8. I don’t think CDJB fans sat in their chairs and didn’t dance to help Damn James, I think people would have danced to anything except FLT that night!!!!

  9. Four Left Turns were great! I was also at the competition…Four Left Turns songs were creative, musically challenging and tight! You could clearly understand the words. CDJ at times was screaming at the audience, although the dude can play a mean guitar…
    Not sure why someone would say they barely made the finals??

    Four Left Turns were and still are the WINNERS!

  10. Congratulations to Four Left Turns. They won in a close, split decision, according to Brett Dillon. This shows that both bands were excellent. According to Mr. Prince, the vote was 4-3. How is that possible with 6 judges?

    Obviously, each band’s fans support them tremendously–a wonderful thing. There is room in this world for more than one group or artist. Neither band will have trouble getting gigs.

    One of the judges said that he did not pick 4LT to go that far. Several blotchers are being verbally attacked for repeating what judges said. Not fair. We all have opinions and are entitled to them. Mr. Prince definitely has stirred a hornet’s nest with his article.

    Congratulations to both bands for being finalists in a tough competition and to 4LT for taking home the cigar.

    As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing CDJ at Texas Motor Speedway when Nascar comes to town.

  11. There were seven judges, not six:
    Judges were Tommy Alverson, Larry Joe Taylor, Deryl Dodd, Keith Sykes, Tim Love, Brett Dillon, and Jeff Prince.

  12. I attended teh show and have to say that 4LT had some good songs and they were sincere performers. CDJ thought he was too cool for school. his band was pretty good but kind of sloppy. It was fun I enjoyed both bands but the right one won.

  13. I enjoyed watching this competition and was impressed with the “posse” that CDJ brought from my hometown of Denton. I came to watch a great dual and was not disappointed. I listened objectively and could not believe how long the judges took to reach the decision, but was first to call the upset correctly. I am a fan of many types of music and both bands represented their styles well. At the end of the day, congratulations to the sponsors, bar, both bands, and the fans who got to participate in this event. The follow up shows and music should keep moving us to the next event to show support for our local talent! Keep kickin ass FLT and CDJ!

  14. 4LT don’t have many fans, I wonder if that means anything these days. I mean they won, but Casey Damn ‘s the coolest band coming out right now in my opinion. Time will tell who really shouldv’e won!! CDJB!!! bleep bleep…

  15. casey needs to stick with the SRV covers thats what he does best his song writing ability is pretty weak and after listening to the 4LT he was clearly beat by the better band

  16. 4LT was painfully generic. Yes, the “safer” choice for filling a slot at LJT, but not at all a standout band. CDJ takes chances with their music rather than sounding exactly like what’s already out there, and I say that from a songwriter’s perspective as well, It’s discouraging to see such negative feedback just because they don’t sound like everyone else. Isnt that what Texas music is all about??? 4LT is not a bad band, but they are forgettable. CDJ was the right choice.

  17. what’s so chancy about doing a poor man’s version of stevie ray vaugn and remaking old blues songs like st james infirmary?