It all starts with a ballot. Well, actually, it all starts with listening to a lot of local music, but let’s say that’s implied. To compile the ballot every year, I solicit write-in votes from a gaggle of local movers-and-shakers: venue owners, talent buyers, my writers, other North Texas writers, veteran musicians, and others. I tally their votes, add a few of my own, and –– viola! –– we have ballot.

The next step is where it gets a little tricky. I’ve got to book at least 10 nominees at Eagle Audio Recording to lay down live tracks for our annual charity compilation CD and 48 nominees for our annual Music Awards Festival. Confirming the lineups requires only a pencil, a chart, a sextant, a telescope, a crystal ball, and lots of caffeine and alcohol.

The whole time, my writers and I are also working on the issue in which we break down all of the nominees. On the sales side, associate publisher Michael Newquist, marketing manager Dana Crumbliss, and their in-house crew are rounding up sponsors. In the production department, manager Scott Latham and art director Bonnie Mays are lining up images and laying out the issue and the handy-dandy pocket guide. (Thanks to photog Vishal Malhotra for his great snaps and to Corporate Image on Brentwood Stair, Eagle Audio Recording on the Near Southside, and Miss Molly’s Hotel in the Stockyards for allowing him to shoot some pics on location. Thanks also to Fort Worth artist Cody Soape for the dynamic, colorful cover art.)

(SMTX)FTW-300x250-NOV17Holy Moly. The five punk-influenced country boys swept every category they were nominated in, including Artist of the Year, beating out the night’s second biggest winner, Quaker City Night Hawks, who took home every other category they were nominated in, including Best Band. A few Panthys went to other familiar faces: the Rock category again to The Hanna Barbarians, Heavy Metal to Southern Train Gypsy, Singer-Songwriter to Scott Copeland, Cover Act to Big Mike Richardson, Venue to Lola’s Saloon, and Rap to Rivercrest Yacht Club. The RYC’s victory sent a couple-a supposed hip-hop fans to social media afterward to dismiss the Yacht Club as a mere “comedy act” and argue on behalf of Fort Worth’s allegedly more serious, allegedly more active rappers. Neither seriousness nor diligence automatically equals high quality, but the fact that the RYC won this category for the sixth time in nearly as many years points up an important aspect of the Music Awards, one that bears repeating –– again. They’re. Just. For. Fun.

Probably the most interesting category every year is New Artist, considering there rarely is a clear frontrunner. This year’s winners, The Royal Savages, were among several other first-time Panthy recipients: Green Audio Productions’ Ben Napier for Producer, Leon Bridges for Blues/Soul, and Un Chien for Indie-Rock Album of the Year (Un Chien).

As part of Sunday’s shenanigans, we welcomed four more folks into our Fort Worth Music Hall of Fame, a virtual pantheon that counts among its inductees Vaden Todd Lewis, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Stephen Bruton, Robert Ealey, Delbert McClinton, and dozens more. Congratulations to our 2014 class: former Moon owner Chris Maunder, former Basement Bar owner Todd Osborne, and Pam and Billy Minick of Billy Bob’s Texas. During his acceptance speech, Billy promised to incorporate local rock ’n’ roll into the regular programming at The World’s Largest Honkytonk, generating easily the biggest ovation of the night. We can’t wait to see what happens with that.

Thanks again to all of our other sponsors –– North Texas Chevy Dealers, Number Juan Tequila, The T, Forty Creek Whisky, and The Art Institute of Fort Worth, Uber –– and also to Rush Olson Creative and Sports for the superb promotional videos, Weekly editor Gayle Reaves, proofreader Margaret Allyson, publisher Lee Newquist, and, last but not least, interns Kenney Kost and Melissa Wylie.

I’d also like to thank you, the most awesome, most active, clearly best-looking Fort Worth music supporters on Earth. Until next year …

Full list of winners, here.