By Noah Hubbell
By Leslie Simon
By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
Maybe it was the complimentary Coors everyone was sucking down. Or perhaps it was the savory slabs of roast beef and turkey that folks were shoving into their gullets. Ultimately, I wasn't sure exactly what had put everyone in such high, ahem, spirits this past Monday night at the twelfth annual Westword Music Showcase Awards, but I wasn't about to question it. There was a palpable sense of camaraderie at the Bluebird -- and it was refreshing, especially considering all the bile and vitriol that's spilled on the scene on a daily basis, both on message boards and in passing. But here, handshakes and hugs were being passed around like a backstage fatty on the Up in Smoke tour. And this was before the awards presentation even got under way.
That presentation was hosted by yours truly, and it was dependably entertaining or sadly lackluster, depending on whom you ask. So far, the post-awards feedback has been as varied as the bands that participated in the Showcase, from several folks positing that the ceremony was the best one yet, to my friend Marcia Kent Davis writing that "the awards themselves went quickly and were rather dull." Not sure what Marcia was expecting -- fire-breathing midgets on unicycles, or pyro accompanied by a breathtaking laser light show, perhaps? -- but all things considered, I'd say the evening was a success. It was precisely what it was supposed to be: a celebration of the best local musicians.
I'll never forget the sincerely elated expressions on the faces of folks like Melissa Ivey, Tempa Singer and Rhett Lee -- and their bandmates -- who were stunned to win top honors in the Singer-Songwriter, Blues and Roots/Americana categories, respectively. Other memorable moments centered on the genuine graciousness displayed by winners. DJ Lazy Eyez, who was voted the top DJ in the Hip-Hop Club/Turntablism category and gave an acceptance speech that recalled Garth Brooks's infamous oration at the 1996 American Music Awards -- the one where he declined to accept the award for Favorite Artist of the Year and respectfully left the trophy on the podium, saying that the other nominees were more worthy. Lazy Eyez invited the other artists nominated in his category -- DJs Low Key, Sound Supreme and Vajra -- to join him on stage, then proclaimed that the award really belonged to them. It was a true Kodak moment.
Members of Love.45, meanwhile, gave props to Meese for its most recent album and offered commiserations to Rubber Planet, noting that the band had become the Susan Lucci of the Showcase. Born in the Flood members took note of their great company in the Indie Rock/Pop field, and said they'd urged Photo Atlas to come on stage, too, but to no avail.
Neil McIntyre of Yo, Flaco!(winner in the Hip-Hop -- Group division) and Chad Aiman and the Cocktail Revolution crew (voted best in the Jazz/Swing category) also expressed love for their fellow bands, and the majority of the evening's recipients were just as generous with their praise. The notable exception was P-Nuckle, whose members audaciously proclaimed "We deserve this" as they accepted the award for Reggae/Ska. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and in a belated effort to make it clear which side they stood on, the Nuckleheads followed up with a speech about how the scene doesn't have any categories and how it's all about pulling together and finding strength in numbers -- and then led the crowd in a chant of "Ole, Ole, Ole."
Ole! Overall, it was a wonderful night of holding hands and singing not just "Ole," but "Kumbaya." And though all of those who were nominated for awards and/or attended the ceremony were winners in my book (awww...who wants a hug?), the voters had the final say on which musicians took home trophies this year:
Rock: Rose Hill Drive
Indie Rock/Pop: Born in the Flood
Metal/Hard Rock: Ion
Jazz/Swing: Cocktail Revolution
Hip-Hop - Group: Yo, Flaco!
Hip-Hop - MC: Black Pegasus
DJ Dance: Hip Hop/Turntablist: DJ Lazy Eyez
DJ Dance: Electronic/Non-Traditional: Josh Ivy
Avant Garde/Eclectic: DeVotchKa
Singer-Songwriter: Melissa Ivey
Blues: Tempa and the Tantrums
Funk/Soul: Opie Gone Bad
Country/Alt Country: Railbenders
Roots/Americana: Ten Cent Redemption
Gothic/Industrial: Project 12:01