After months of stumping up and down the Front Range, it's finally over. The fine folks of Mootown got out and rocked the vote -- and despite some recent hostile and unfounded chatter on a local message board, Dubya once again emerged victorious. Relax, Michael Moore sympathizers and put the cyanide tablets back in your breast pocket. Because I'm not talking four more years of the incumbent Commander and Chief, I'm referring to Denver's very own Dubya: Wendy Woo.
At last Thursday night's awards ceremony for the tenth annual Westword Music Showcase, Woo registered her fifth win in the singer-songwriter category. Unfortunately, the chanteuse wasn't on hand to collect her statue; she was up in Fort Collins helping dreams come true as part of a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. But by becoming a five-time Showcase winner, Woo's undoubtedly answered the wishes of some of her fellow singer-songwriters: Under our rules, her number will be retired -- thus relinquishing the stranglehold that Woo's had on the category for the past few years -- and her jersey will now hang on the rafters alongside those of the musicians who preceded her into the Showcase Hall of Fame, namely Hazel Miller, Brethren Fast and Blister 66.
Woo and everyone else who wasn't at the Bluebird missed yours truly trying to channel the spirits of Billy Crystal, Chris Rock and Andrew Dice Clay as I hosted the event and filled the role of resident jackass. They also missed Isaac Slade's speech on behalf of the rest of his bandmates in the Fray (during a reception that preceded the ceremony, co-frontman Joe King was apparently 86'd for trying to sneak underage drummer Ben Wysocki through the side door), which took top honors for best rock band. That upset shocked many, myself included, who'd thought that Rose Hill Drive would win by a landslide. And this wasn't the only surprise of the evening. In the DJ: turntablist/hip-hop category, DJ Idiom received more votes than any of his counterparts -- a stacked cast that included Vajra, this year's DMC winner; runner-ups Cysko Rokwel and Shake; and DJ Bedz, from the Radio Bums crew.
Some of the other award winners were as predictable as the plot lines from You Got Served. Members of Love.45 graciously accepted the award in the pop category -- a foregone conclusion, considering all that's happened to the band in the past year -- with their customary humble demeanor. Likewise, it was no surprise that String Cheese Incident won in jam, a genre of music it helped pioneer, and Otis Taylor took top honors in blues.
Neither group showed up, although Tommy Nahalu and some other music fans in the crowd craned their necks as if they were expecting the winners to walk up the aisle at any moment. Another no-show was Hemi Cuda, winner in the punk category, whose members are currently on tour -- no doubt assaulting the eyes and ears of unsuspecting masses across the country with their hot pants, afros and incendiary, sonic come-ons.
But there were still moments of hilarity to spare. When I announced that Ion had won in the hard rock/metal/aggro category, the band headed for the stage but couldn't quite figure out how to get up there -- even though Ion has performed at the venue countless times. But Ion's members had it down a few minutes later, when Erik Dyce and Jay Ruybal from the Denver Division of Theaters and Arenas called them back to the stage and announced that the band had been chosen as the opener for the Coors Light Mountain Jam, set for August 14 at Red Rocks. Dyce and Ruybal also honored Rubber Planet, which didn't win a trophy, but was chosen to represent Mootown when our sibling paper in Kansas City, Pitch, hosts its music showcase.
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That's a sister-city project I can get behind. Ditto for all the new acts that got some props. In another upset, Future Jazz Project beat out Ron Miles and other worthies in the jazz/swing category -- and as they accepted the award, the humility of Paas and the rest of Future Jazz could have given Love.45 a run for its money. Ground Zero Movement seemed confident yet stunned to win the hip-hop category. Still, no one was more stunned than DJ Sara T, who bested veteran DJs Ivy, Nutmeg, Ty Tek and Wyatt Earp in the DJ: dance/electronic category. She also delivered the best acceptance speech of the night, giving kudos to Ivy and Nut, and explaining that she'd stood in the shadows for years, watching and learning from the masters.
My man Mike Jones, the sole member of Yo, Flaco! in the house, gladly accepted the group's award in the funk/soul category. (His colleagues were in the studio working on new tracks). Nor were all the members of DeVotchKa available to accept the avant-garde trophy: Jeannie Shroeder, Shawn King, Tom Hagerman and Miriam Vonnahme, "a seven-year-old, non-union replacement" for missing lead singer Nick Urata, accepted on behalf of the band. But all of the Railbenders were there. Since they couldn't make the Showcase itself (the band had opened up for the Charlie Daniels Band on June 26), the trio made a point of attending the awards -- and were able to give thanks for their second consecutive win in the country/bluegrass/roots category.
All in all, a great time. While I'm no Sid Pink or Bob Rupp, hosts in years past, it was a night to remember -- or forget, depending upon how much Coors Light you drank.
Upbeats and beatdowns: This Friday, July 23, Five Style Fist, Step Short, Boondok Saints and Optimal Frequency get dialed in at the Gothic Theatre; Judith Avers and You Call That Art? drop by the Blue Mule; and General Populace takes stock in Dulcinea's 100th Monkey. On Saturday, July 24, Joshua Novak celebrates the release of his new platter with George & Caplin and Hobbs NM at the hi-dive; Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots and A Dog Paloma warm things up for Jolie Holland at the Larimer Lounge; Cabaret Diosa stops by the Fox Theatre; the Railbenders, Fong Jones Band, GT & the Sidewinders and Cars and Trucks crash into Herman's Hideaway; Felisa, Midas, Sense One and Brown Bombers set it off at the Soiled Dove; Ion, Orbiting Nubs and ESP read minds at Cricket on the Hill; Love.45, My Sick Friends and Ike Reilly Assassination shoot down to the Toad Tavern; and Battery Park returns with Soma and Blvd at the Blue Mule. Then on Sunday, July 25, Assisted Suicide Assembly, Switchpin, Stitch and Pacify rile things up at the Bluebird Theater.