All right, so the biggest thing I learned on my summer vacation — er, I mean, at the Westword Music Showcase, which, though always a trip, is far from a retreat for me — is that it's truly impossible to categorize all the disparate factions of the local scene. While we strive to include the entire music community, even adding new categories every year, just when we think we've finally got it nailed, we inevitably leave out some folks or never quite place each of the artists in a category on which everyone agrees (Beatdown, May 17).
But the fact is, Denver bands are all over the place, straddling genres, slicing and dicing at will. And that's a good thing (even if it gives me fits when I try to assemble the Showcase ballot), because it means the music being generated locally is not one-size-fits-all. One fan's idea of metal is another's idea of pop — or pap, depending on his level of cynicism. As I've said countless times before, diversity is our strength.
This point was driven home even more definitively this past Monday night, when I hosted the Westword Music Showcase Awards ceremony and ran through the list of nominees in each category, listening to sound bites from each of the acts nominated in a total of 23 categories (check out the clips on our website). It seems as though the scene keeps getting more exciting and vibrant — and disparate — with each passing day. The awards ceremony is a chance for us to get together once a year, musicians and fans alike, and enjoy the camaraderie. It's invigorating to see cats leave all of the opportunistic, cut-throat, back-biting bullshit of their everyday, dog-eat-dog existence at the door and just bask in the celebration of the art that their friends and neighbors have created.
Music Showcase Awards
And that's how it should be. Personally, I don't view music as a competition. To me, it's art and should be judged and appreciated on its own merits. However, if you're going to recognize the individual artists creating the art — which I'm a huge fan of, BTW — it's to do it at a party where everyone gets to eat and drink and listen to the music, a week after the entire town has gotten to party and listen to the music. Long before I worked at Westword, the Showcase meant a lot to me as a fan and musician, and I relish the opportunity to be a part of it each and every year. And as much as I've resigned myself to the fact that it's impossible to please everyone at this garden party, I'm always trying to make it better — and looking for your suggestions on how we can improve things next year.
I've already collected some good ideas from a few folks, and can use more. Should we narrow down the categories and have more nominees in each category? (Fewer awards, but less confusion.) Or should we go in the opposite direction and add even more categories? (If so, which new genres should we consider?) Ultimately, the Showcase belongs to this town's music fans, so let us know what you think.
We're all ears.
And before I give props to this year's winners, I want to extend a very heartfelt apology to Joshua Novak and the Potcheen Folk Band, two names I neglected to mention at the awards ceremony as nominees in their respective categories. Rest assured, this egregious oversight was a product of the ineptitude of the night's orator (uh, that would be me) and not a reflection of either act's artistic merit. Very sorry. Now, on to this year's Showcase winners, decided by a vote of the fans. Congrats go out to:
Rock: Rose Hill Drive
Indie Rock: Born in the Flood
Indie Pop: Hot IQs
Singer-Songwriter: Angie Stevens
Metal/Hard Rock: Black Lamb
Punk/Hardcore: Planes Mistaken for Stars
Hip-Hop: The Pirate Signal
Country/Alt-Country: Drag the River
Roots/Americana: Slim Cessna's Auto Club
Jazz: Ron Miles Quartet
Blues: Otis Taylor
Funk/Soul: Future Jazz Project
Art Rock/Avant-Garde: The Skivies
Goth/Industrial: Forged in Violet
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Ambient/Electronic: The Life There Is
World Music: DeVotchKa
DJ Dance: Electronic/Non-Traditional: Sara T.
DJ Hip-Hop: Club/Turntablist: DJ Psycho