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2020-2021Industry Awards

Best Local Label
Chicken Ranch Records

Chicken Ranch Records owner Mike Dickinson told Chronicle writer Greg Beets in a 2007 profile he preferred "eclectic music."

"I like bands that aren't afraid to do their own thing," admitted the affable record man.

That's certainly what he had in mind when he moved the label with him to Austin in 1996, two years after its start in his native Ruston, La. Back then, he merely envisioned putting out wax by the punk band he drummed for, the Habitual Sex Offenders.

"We basically just wanted to put out a record with our name on it," he said. "Then it became a real label."

Austin's self-proclaimed "sixth most popular indie label" kept busy since, issuing all manner of solid senders. Recent releases include the superb live Townes Van Zandt sampler, Somebody Had to Write It; contemporary country troubadour Chris Canterbury, including his exceptional 2017 LP Refinery Town; the debut "Voice of Memphis" 45 from tragedy-stricken Afropunk colossus Negro Terror; a live LP cut at Sun Studios by hillbilly punk terrorists the Legendary Shack Shakers; and several releases apiece from twin signature acts: Japanese cartoon punks Peelander-Z and cabaret rockers Mr. Lewis & the Funeral 5. – Tim Stegall

RUNNERS-UP: Holodeck, Insect, Modern Outsider and Spaceflight

Best Radio Personality
Laurie Gallardo

photo by John Anderson

"Connection."

So resounded Laurie Gallardo's one-word explanation for radio. Graciously coiffed, eyes alight, protective tenor bobbing, weaving, and jabbing same as it transmits Monday-Thursday, 1-5pm, on KUTX 98.9FM, the afternoon deejay sent a depth charge through the early morning UT class this January.

Goosing Zoom constitutes a near miracle in our new day and age, but Gallardo crackled and popped for a journalism course titled Covering Performance, which in-person should've met three floors above where she broadcasts. Most college students can't name more than a couple of Beatles tunes since they're busy standardizing tomorrow's trends today, but they knew her. Via a technological beacon still integral to mankind – particularly in a disaster area – we all do.

Anchoring the days and weeks and now years since KUTX's 2013 musical spinoff from university frequency KUT, Susan Castle and Jody Denberg helped make KGSR "The Sound of Our Town." That transferred with them on-campus where they mix and match with Paul Carrubba, Michael Crockett, Jay Trachtenberg, Taylor Wallace-Reigel, Confucius & Fresh, Soundfounder, and many more as the capital's BBC, an all-in-one transmitter. In September, when Wallace took over for local radio superstar John Aielli and Gallardo returned on-air after a pandemic pause, KUTX restored at least one key tributary of the live music capital.

For the latter, winner of Best Radio Personality for five straight years now, "Connection" isn't simply a 1967 Rolling Stones ripper. – Raoul Hernandez

RUNNERS-UP: Suzanna Choffel, Kevin Connor, Aaron "Fresh" Knight and Taylor Wallace

Best Radio Station
KUTX 98.9FM

photo by John Anderson

(Sponsored by BMI)

"Connection."

So resounded Laurie Gallardo's one-word explanation for radio. Graciously coiffed, eyes alight, protective tenor bobbing, weaving, and jabbing same as it transmits Monday-Thursday, 1-5pm, on KUTX 98.9FM, the afternoon deejay sent a depth charge through the early morning UT class this January.

Goosing Zoom constitutes a near miracle in our new day and age, but Gallardo crackled and popped for a journalism course titled Covering Performance, which in-person should've met three floors above where she broadcasts. Most college students can't name more than a couple of Beatles tunes since they're busy standardizing tomorrow's trends today, but they knew her. Via a technological beacon still integral to mankind – particularly in a disaster area – we all do.

Anchoring the days and weeks and now years since KUTX's 2013 musical spinoff from university frequency KUT, Susan Castle and Jody Denberg helped make KGSR "The Sound of Our Town." That transferred with them on-campus where they mix and match with Rick McNulty, Paul Carrubba, Michael Crockett, Jay Trachtenberg, Taylor Wallace-Reigel, Confucius & Fresh, Soundfounder, and many more as the capital's BBC, an all-in-one transmitter. In September, when Wallace took over for local radio superstar John Aielli and Gallardo returned on-air after a pandemic pause, KUTX restored at least one key tributary of the live music capital.

For the latter, winner of Best Radio Personality for five straight years now, "Connection" isn't simply a 1967 Rolling Stones ripper. – Raoul Hernandez

RUNNERS-UP: KVRX 91.7FM, ACL Radio 97.1FM, Sun Radio 100.1FM and 101X 101.5FM

Best Record Store
Waterloo Records

photo by David Brendan Hall

March 11, 2020, Austin Music Awards night at the Moody Theater: Waterloo Records takes home Best Record Store as it has every single year since the category debuted on the Austin Music Poll in 1982. To many that Wednesday evening, the show proved their final live musical attendance for the year. Five days after Mayor Steve Adler and South by Southwest dropped the news heard around the world ("canceled"), the event also provided a novel excuse for at least one attendee to stop at the actual store on the way home from another history-books ATX prom night.

Forty-eight hours later, the city shut down.

Like other fundamentalists around the capital – Antone's, Breakaway, End of an Ear, Half Price Books, et al. – the 'Loo initiated curbside service faster than a 45 spins. Soon, even that seemed unsafe: "We were doing curbside service until we thought it safer for our staff and customers to just close," wrote in one manager.

Back up and running shortly thereafter, the music emporium spearheaded a local council of record stores, which decided to stay closed even after state government lied over and over again about gathering safely. Only on Sept. 7 did that aforementioned panic drop-in become the beta testing appointment shopper at the Sixth and Lamar landmark.

Since then, I've been back to stock up on further essentials. Call them the bare necessities. – Raoul Hernandez

RUNNERS-UP: Antone's Records, BLK Vinyl, Breakaway Records and End of an Ear

Best Recording Studio
Arlyn Studios

photo by John Anderson

Yes, Arlyn Studios boasts immaculate microphones, amps, audio gear, and a behemoth mixing board born out of grafting the vintage Neve from Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio with an equally covetable API console. Still, glorious equipment alone doesn't make a studio special. Environment, space, vibe all add up to magic.

The 7,000-sq.-ft. space on Academy Drive, occupying onetime Austin Opera House territory, remains a creative nexus of South Austin: an elite facility that feels like a communal living room. The studio's eminent enough for superstars from Foo Fighters to Frank Ocean to drop in, yet accessible to homegrown artists working with Chief Engineer Jacob Sciba. Fans, meanwhile, witness intimate performances inside the homey Studio A: raging South by Southwest parties, nonprofit fundraisers, TV tapings from Willie Nelson and Gary Clark Jr. – the latter having recorded his last two albums there.

Arlyn's a family affair for Freddy and Lisa Fletcher. Son of Sister Bobbie Nelson, Freddy spearheaded the facility in 1984 at the behest of his uncle Willie and named it after his father Arlyn "Bud" Fletcher. Following an Aughts-era lease to the Media Tech recording school, the studio reopened commercially in 2012 with partners Will Bridges and the late T. Murphey. A home for gold records past and future. – Kevin Curtin

RUNNERS-UP: The Bubble, King Electric, The Orb and Public Hi-Fi

Best Texas Recordings
Best 2020
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