The Winners of the Second Voice Media Group Music Writing Awards

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William Michael Smith (left, photo by Chris Knight) and David Thorpe
The 11 alternative weeklies of Voice Media Group are responsible for a tremendous amount of music writing: This year, we produced thousands of pages of printed stories and tens of thousands of blog posts. We're proud to present the very best of that work in the second-annual Voice Media Group Music Writing Awards.

Each of the 11 music editors around the country selected his or her favorite articles from 2013 in two categories: blog posts and print stories. A judging panel composed of Senior Music Editor Ben Westhoff, Houston Press Music Editor Chris Gray, and me (I'm music editor of the Dallas Observer) then voted to pick the winners, who will get a cash prize.


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Bill Muter Is Here to Show the World That Tubas Are Cool

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Brent T. Williams
Experimental tuba: Two words you don't see side-by-side very often.

The big bulky brass instrument conjures up images of lockstep marching bands, or smoky New Orleans jazz joints, but never anything remotely new or avant-garde.

Set all you preconceived notions about the tuba aside, and get ready for Boca Raton born and bred musician Bill Muter to blow your mind with the beast of brass. Seriously, Muter emits sounds out of the tuba that are simply perplexing. Bending, molding, and shifting the notes of the lowest pitched brass and producing head-scratching noises that resemble guitar strums, keyboard bleeps, didgeridoo fizzes, and more.

He also tips and taps on the oversized horn at the same time, recreating the pitter-patter of drums. The real showstopper is when Mutter starts beatboxing out of the thing, a little boom boom biff hip-hop throwback emitted out a symphonic instrument leaves the crowd like putty in Muter's hands.

See also:
- A Practical Approach: At Only 27, Bill Muter Writes the Book on Playing the Tuba


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Ask a Failed Musician: Success Is Influence

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Black Flag: Very influential, not always critically praised.
Welcome to Ask a Failed Musician, in which I will help struggling musicians make sense of their careers and even offer some advice. Whether it will work, who knows? It obviously didn't work for me. But then again, I was on Kimmel once, so there's that.

A musician responded to my previous column by asking what success in music is. He wrote:

"I gather your discussion really focuses on commercial success, which I don't think is everyone's view of success. I think some of us are just happy to put out music and have a few people enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to turn down a million dollars if it came my way but I never expected that in the first place. So, my definition of success is just, 'Hey, we made a good record,' and, 'Oh, look, some small genre-specific zine in Europe likes us. Well, that's nice.' But more often than not, success isn't simply a rehearsal space fridge filled with beer."

See also
- Ask a Failed Musician: Go Where the Successful Musicians Go
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