Music is the answer. Just ask Beto. Vote Tuesday! Courtesy The London Times

Voting, amirite? Election time is upon us, and we have a lot to say about former punk musician turned politician Beto O’Rourke in the front of this week’s paper. Back here, we’re talking Music Awards, baby!

Actually, we’ve been talking about ’em since August, so I was surprised that some locals were upended by our ballot that went live on Sun., Oct. 2. We said what we were going to do, and then we did it. We made it all readers’ choice this year.

We haven’t done Music Awards in a couple of years, since 2019, before the pandemic. The traditional awards of old, with tons of categories, multi-venue showcases, and compilation cards passed out like free candy, are just not feasible in our smaller, post-pandemic Weekly world. We are small and mighty, for sure, but superheroes, we are not.


In preparation for Best Of 2022 a couple weeks ago, we had an idea. As we were already asking our readers what they thought about tons of other things, why not music? We decided to pick a few categories and let the readers write in their choices during that process. The top five readers’ choice winners from Best Of 2022 moved on to the MA22 ballot. It’s that simple.

Did we accidentally leave off 20 award categories? No. These are the 16 we intended. Is this a perfect list? No. For example, Mandy Hand is not a folk artist, though many readers voted for her in that category. While we missed that finer point during Best Of — the most chaotic time of our year — for the Music Awards ballot, we removed her from Folk and added her as a keyboardist nominee. As Editor Anthony Mariani commented recently, “Our ballot was not created by local experts but by our readers, and we thank them kindly for their pitching in.”

While some of the musicians on the ballot are quite recognizable, others may be more obscure. Since our readers’ choices in Best Of never include write-ups, we’ve added URLs to the list below for you to investigate further. For a great rundown of all the artists and samples of their work, we also suggest you check out the Oct. 9 episode of the Funkytown Podcast (

Artwork by Ryan Burger

Best Blues/Soul nominees include James Hinkle (YouTube: search “James Hinkle”), JZ & Dirty Pool (FB: @DirtyPoolMusic), Michael Lee (, Holland K. Smith (FB: @HKSmithBand), and Buddy Whittington (FB: @BuddyWhittingtonBand).


Best Country nominees include Summer Dean (FB: @AmeriTonkMusic), Jesse Jennings (, Cody Jinks (, Joe Savage (, and Squeezebox Bandits (


Best DJ nominees include DJ CV Fields (Connor Fields, IG: @CVFields), DJ Databass (IG: @DJDatabass_FTW), DJ Dogstyle (Michael Sherman, IG: @DJ_Dogstyle), DJ Reckless1 (Ross Cardona,, and DJ Technic (Ryan Cerda,


Best Folk nominees include Jacob Furr (, Charles Milton Gaby (, Keegan McInroe (, and Cameron Smith (


Best Rap/R&B nominees include 88 Killa (, Lil Sick (, Lou Charle$ (FB: @LouCharlesTx), SageModeWrex (, and YMG Yolo (


Best Rock nominees include Celestíal L’amour (, Jaybirds (, Novakain (, Royal Sons (, and Uncle Toasty (


Best Tribute nominees include Ashmore (, Chasing Rent (FB: @ChasingRent), The Dick Beldings (FB: @TheDickBeldings), Poo Live Crew (, and Rise Against the Machine (


Best Bassist nominees include Josh Brantley (Jaybirds,, Panda Cuenca (Phantomelo,, Dylan Kain (Novakain,, Dustin Schneider (Uncle Toasty,, and Joe Tacke (Mean Motor Scooter,


Best Drummer nominees include John Bereuter (Novakain,, Jeffrey Chase Friedman (Mean Motor Scooter,, Matt Mabe (Arenda Light,, Connor Mullen (Jaybirds,, and Mike Surdel (Uncle Toasty,


Best Guitarist nominees include Rowdy Carter (Arenda Light,, Kyle Kain (Novakain,, Sammy Kid (Uncle Toasty,, Darrin Kobetich (, and Matt Tedder (


Best Keyboardist nominees include Rick Fulton (Cortez,, Steve Hammond (Chet Stevens Band,, Amanda Hand (Big Heaven,, Justin Pate (JZ & Dirty Pool, FB: @DirtyPoolMusic), Chris Watson (Retrophonics, FB: @RetrophonicsMusic), and Eric Webb (Cut Throat Finches,


Best Vocalist nominees include Sammy Kidd (Mean Motor Scooter,, Celestíal L’amour (, Blake Parish (Royal Sons,, Nick Tittle (Arenda Light,, and JP Walsh (Jaybirds,


Best Album nominees include Let It Break (Jaybirds,, The Oh No! Unknown (Novakain,, Pipeline (Cool Jacket,, Praise & Warships (Royal Sons,, and Uncle Toasty (Uncle Toasty,


Best Song nominees include “Away from Dead” (Arenda Light,, “Butcher of Burundi” (Uncle Toasty,, “Honey Bee” (Jaybirds,, “I Don’t Care” (Novakain,, and “Shark Attack” (Phantomelo,


Best Open-Mic nominees include Black Dog Jam (Scat Jazz Lounge,, Lazy Daisy Coffee Bar (, McFly’s Pub (FB: @McFlysPub), Pinky’s Champagne Room & Velvet Jazz Lounge (, and Playtown Blues Jam (Lola’s Fort Worth, FB: @PlaytownBand).


Best Venue nominees include Billy Bob’s Texas (2520 Rodeo Plz, 817-624-7117), Lola’s Fort Worth (2000 W Berry St,, Magnolia Motor Lounge (3803 Southwest Blvd, 817-332-3344), The Post at River East (2925 Race St, 817-945-8890), and Tulips FTW (112 St. Louis Av, 817-367-9798).


As for hearing these bands IRL, the  #MAF22 Showcase will be the evening of Sun, Nov 13, in District 90 at Lola’s Fort Worth (2000 W Berry St, and Smokestack 1948 (2836 Stanley Av, 817-201-4709). Nominees Royal Sons, Arenda Light, Squeezebox Bandits, Celestíal L’amour, Novakain, and more are already slated to play. Stay tuned for lineup details and the December awards ceremony announcement.