Featured Music: Wednesday, May 22, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
I’d Like to Thank ...

We’re not sure what our Music Awards mean, but we do know we like excuses to party.

By ANTHONY MARIANI

I’m not sure how many Fort Worthians actually give a shit about the Weekly’s arts and entertainment section, but I’m glad some Cowtowners care enough about local music to hit clubs regularly and, more importantly, to show up at musical events bearing the Weekly banner. Case in point: Our 6th or 7th annual Music Awards, held this past weekend at Ridglea Theater. The place was packed, and, from the looks on people’s faces, the fact that awards were going to be handed out was probably incidental to the music, with a bill filled with Pablo and the Hemphill 7, Latin Express, John Price, and Flickerstick. I’m not saying there weren’t any folks in the crowd who voted and knew what was up; I’m just saying that there were a lot of people there who — again, by their quizzical expressions — were clueless. But what do we Weekly folk care? We’re whores just like any other businessmen. And if one person walked away from the show with a newfound interest in what amazing journalistic feats of strength this little rag can pull off, I’m probably a bit less stricken with self-loathing than I was the day before. (And so is our fearless publisher: More readers equal more porn-and-alcohol advertisers, equal more crumbled dollar bills retrieved from the backseats of musky Caravans, equal more staff writers, equal better stories, equal more readers, equal ... the cycle goes on ad infinitum — we hope.)

It’s good that a lot of you yokels care about local music, because being involved in the arts — high, middle, and low — civilizes us. It makes us better, more humane people. Think about it: When’s the last time, say, a principal ballerina effected ethnic cleansing on a segment of an Eastern European country? When’s the last time a painter (a real painter, not an aficionado like Hitler) exacted a pre-emptive strike on a “rogue” nation? When’s the last time a bass player instituted martial law in his neighborhood? The point is: If you think you’re helping speed the West’s descent into decadence by going to watch Brasco perform at the Wreck Room, you’re wrong. Every time you see Brasco (or any other local band), you are — not to put too fine a hippie point on it — expanding your consciousness while shrinking your intolerances. This is fact, people.

So, the Weekly Awards. For this latest installation, we took a Grammy-esque approach: Announce a few winners, let a band play, announce a few more winners, let another band play, etc. The story on the performances: top-shelf. Our first band, Pablo et al., disabused the notion that reggae sounds best only in small settings. The group sounded better than ever. Now Latin Express, our second band, was built for a cavern like the Ridglea. With all that brass and all those booming percussion instruments, Salsa Family Saenz not only want you to shake your ass, they expect you to. (A body can’t rightfully get jiggy with it in a shoebox, ya know.) The highlight of their set, for me at least, was watching our critic-at-large Ken Shimamoto sit in on guitar. (For those of you worried about a journalist muddying the lines between objectivity and subjectivity, don’t sweat: As Ken’s boss, I gave him a raft of shit for sitting in ... well, not really, but I withheld donating a cigarette to him until after he bought me a beer ... which actually never materialized, but I gave him a smoke, anyway.) So by the time John Price, our third performer, took the stage, the place was just about full. Of course he didn’t disappoint: He began the set with the best song in the world, “Closer,” and by the time he finished 45 minutes later he had the throng that packed the space between the foot of the stage and the auditorium seats pretty fired up for our last band, Flickerstick. Their set was unplugged but no less energetic or, at times, bombastic. They made me wish the Grammys were as frickin’ enjoyable.

The story on the awards themselves was that there were few surprises. Flick collected two awards, for Best Rock and Artist of the Year, and lead singer Brandin Lea took home the Best Male Vocalist mantle. Black Belt Jones won Best Hard Rock. The Audiophiles, Best Live Band. Sub Oslo, Best Avant-Garde/Experimental. Johnny Mack, Best Blues. Nuwambae, Best Hip-Hop/R&B. Bertha Coolidge, Best Jazz. Brad Thompson, Best Folk/Acoustic. Heather Morgan, Best Vocalist (Female). Scott Copeland, Songwriter of the Year. Matt Pence, Best Producer. “Questionably Red” by John Price, Song of the Year. And Collin Herring was clearly the Norah Jones of the bunch: The singer-songwriter won Best C&W and Best New Artist, and his debut c.d. Avoiding the Circus was voted Album of the Year.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the awards work, let’s review. As in past years, the Music Awards begin taking shape about two and a half months before the contest is ever mentioned in the paper. The whole process starts with my sending blank ballots to the local industry folk who make up our nominating committee. These record producers, publicists, managers, label honchos, and other well-entrenched know-it-alls give us their top three to five picks in, if not every category, then at least in the categories our experts are most familiar with. (It’s understandable, after all, that one of our hip-hop nominators isn’t gonna be too familiar with, say, local country-western bands.) I add up the nominations in each category and arrive at the ballot, like the one you likely tore from the pages of this magazine, filled out, and sent in. This year, counting your votes (more than 5,000) was done by hand, as it always is, over the course of four days by a crew of Weekly staffers — namely, editor Gayle Reaves, Latin Express hanger-on Shimamoto, administrative assistant Casey Jones, resident Efficiency Expert Emeritus Stephanie Fanning, a few funky-fresh interns aglow with enthusiasm, and me. Local artist Jesse Hernandez was recruited to hand-paint the winners’ names on the awards (lead bomb casings, which looked like, ya know, real bombs — they fit our visual theme this year of militarism, apropos of the current social climate). Bada-bing, bada-boom, the next thing we all knew we were handing out awards, quaffing brew, and, in those brief moments of introspection, dreading work the following day. It was a school night, after all.

So the plan for next year is to make the event even bigger and badder. I’m not sure how that’s gonna happen, especially since we’ve now already played our Flickerstick card. I guess I’ll just have to wait until after Christmas to see what I’ll have up my sleeve. Oh, wait. I wear sleeveless shirts. Any ideas?


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