You know the competition is fierce at a battle of the bands contest when a three-piece band rocks its ass off — complete with onstage acrobatics — and still comes in third.
Dallas’ Rodeo Clown Dropouts opened last night’s grand finale of the 7th Annual Texas Music Showdown at the White Elephant Saloon with a raucous rockabilly that was fast, mean, edgy, and sloppy in a good way.
The Rodeo Clown Dropouts’ wildness overwhelmed a few judges, who were seeking a band to appear on KHYI 95.3 The Range with deejay Brett Dillon and to play at the Larry Joe Taylor and Tommy Alverson Texas Music festivals. (Joining Dillon, Taylor, and Alverson as judges were Winding Road Music executive Rick Lovett, singer songwriter Jesse Simms, and myself.)
Next on stage was another Dallasite. (Dallasite? Get a rope.)
Tom Cheatham sports strong vocals and a tight band featuring a fast and clean lead guitar-slinger.
Once Fort Worth’s own Left Arm Tan took the stage it quickly became a two-band race for the gold.
If the winner were picked solely on band name, Left Arm Tan would have won. And they almost won anyway. It was another really close vote.
After a long debate in a back room, the judges were pretty evenly split. Judges liked the musicianship of both bands and so it boiled down to which frontman stood out most that night, Cheatham or LAT’s Troy Austin.
A few beers and many bad jokes later, the judges picked Cheatham by a hair.
But, hey, there are no losers when everybody has a good time, right?
And you know everybody had a good time since Tejas Brothers frontman Dave Perez was in the crowd. Perez makes a splash wherever he goes — last night, literally. The jovial musician likes to give a hug or two and he lost control of a beer glass during one exchange and it crashed to the floor.