The thump of a stand-up bass resonated from the boot-worn wooden floors to the bare tin roof of Gruene Hall as the inaugural Lonestar Music Awards began Sunday night.
A crowd of people filled the oldest dancehall in the state to celebrate the achievements of artists associated with the Texas music scene. The Tejas Brothers performed a set of Tejano-inspired country to kick off the night of awards and live music.
Artists nominated for awards and the fans who voted for them mingled throughout the dancehall. Adam Carroll, nominated for Best Original Song, leaned against the bar at the back of the hall with both hands stuffed into his pockets, nodding his head to the music.
Carroll explained the inspiration for his nominated song, “Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler,” was one of the legends of the “outlaw country” movement.
“I wrote the song as a tribute to Leon Russell. At least, he is the guy I had in mind when I wrote it,” Carroll said. “It’s kind of a made up song about a real guy,”
Carroll said he was excited about the prospect of the awards becoming an annual event.
“I think this whole thing is pretty cool,” Carroll said. “Having an event like this really gives everybody a chance to appreciate everybody.”
The Tejano Brothers finished their set, and the broadcasters of the event then announced people were tuned into the awards show in every U.S. state of the and in 22 countries around the world via the live online stream at www.radiofreetexas.org.
The first award of the night went to Nate Van Dyke for Best Album Artwork for his work on Reckless Kelly’s album, Bulletproof. The hardware handed out to winners was an electric guitar customized with the Lonestar Music Awards logo.
Brady Black, fiddler in the Randy Rogers Band, was the second winner of the night for Best Musician. Black rested one arm on the smooth bark of a tree growing outside the hall minutes after accepting his guitar trophy.
“It’s kind of surreal. I don’t think you could really rank the best musician because there are so many good people playing our kind of music,” Black said. “I mean there are thousands of people driving in tour vans across the country who deserve this award more than I do. It’s very humbling — very awesome.”
Black said he thought the Lonestar Music Awards was a positive addition to the Texas music scene.
“I think (the awards show) is great. I’ll speak for the band — we’re really happy to be a part of it, especially on the inaugural year,” Black said. “It’s definitely a step up for our kind of music, our fans and all the people who love this brand of country we put out.”
An acoustic set with singer/songwriter Brandon Jenkins continued as the evening lineup. Two more awards followed Jenkin’s ensemble of songs. Wade Bowen snagged Best Vocal Performance for his singing on his latest album, If We Ever Make It Home, and Randy Rogers, Southwest Texas State alumnus, was voted Best Songwriter.
Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward kept the amplifiers blaring with a half-hour set of country music before the next two category winners were announced. Austin-based group, Band of Heathens, won Best Emerging Artist and Cross Canadian Ragweed took home the prize for Best Live Act.
Half-finished Shiner Bocks were raised into air as Randy Rogers and Brady Black took the stage to perform several of their songs acoustically.
The crowd quieted as Black’s fiddle punctuated the balmy spring night. Rogers’ voice filled the dancehall while ceiling fans oscillated lazily above the crowd and smoke dissipated around the turning blades.
Rogers related a personal vignette to the crowd.
“I have a picture of me standing on this stage when I was 12 years old,” Rogers said. “I never imagined I’d be where I am today.”
Rogers and his band were nominated in 7 of the 8 categories, the most of any artist.
Rogers grinned at the end of his last song and said, “Chase your dreams, kids.”
The final two awards included Best Song going to Jason Boland for “Comal County Blue” and Best Album to Wade Bowen.
Wade Bowen hopped onstage to accept his second guitar of the night.
“Thanks everybody, you’ll never understand how much I appreciate each one of you,” Bowen said. “It sure is nice to be recognized for your hard work.”