The end of voting season for the San Diego Music Awards is in sight – it closes Monday, Sept. 15 to be exact. And while I devoted a much bigger section to this last year, this year seems to have snuck up on me. So this Friday Find is dedicated to some nominees (and snubs) that myself and fellow SiSD writers would like to recognize. Check out the tunes and dates to see the bands – some of them will be popping up this weekend for San Diego Music Thing.
Best New Artist – The Matt Smith Neu Jazz Trio – by Sandy Myskowski
Looking at the nominees this year for the San Diego Music Awards, there are some tough decisions to make. One for me however, is pretty easy: Best New Artist. While I adore more than one band on this list, I’m casting my vote for The Matt Smith Neu Jazz Trio. So for this week’s Friday Find I’m featuring my favorite tune, “Pack Your Bags,” off their album “Shorthanded.”
These talented local boys, each musically trained in SoCal, show how well the Left Coast jazz scene can hold its own in the genre borne over a thousand miles away. Drummer and front man, Matt Smith, paints an elegantly complex backdrop with each stroke on those skins. While Ed Kornhauser’s sway of sweet piano melodies tickle eighty-eight keys, with a touch as strong and tender as the man. And Mack Leighton’s five-finger runs through the frets of his bass could steal and steady a heart’s beat along any road.
Matt Smith’s polyrhythmic compositions are stunningly executed in this trio’s sophisticated, synchronized groove, creating delightful modern jazz that inspires a mind seeking adventure and a spirit willing to dance.
Best Live Band – The Burning of Rome – by Jen Van Tieghem
I must concur with Sandy that some of these categories make for terribly tough decisions. Best Live Band is an interesting category in that there are so many different genres in the mix. The mesmerizing qualities of one nominee (see enchanting jazz/soul singer Whitney Shay) are diametrically opposite another (see wild campy surf/rock theatrics of The Creepy Creeps, who look to repeat after winning last year’s prize).
This year my money is on The Burning of Rome- the band put out a killer album in May, have been touring at a break-neck pace with some big name artists, and pour out their heart, soul and blood (the lattermost, literally) at live shows. With the most nominations overall, they better be taking home a few of these suckers – this one has their name all over it. It’s nearly impossible for a video to do the band’s charisma justice, but I’m fond of this recent snippet from The Troubadour which captures the climactic finish of “Animal” from their latest “The Year of the Ox”:
In reality you should really just see them live if you haven’t (Adams Avenue Street Fair, anyone?) and if you have…. well, you probably already voted for them. HIGH FIVE!
Best New Artist – Viva Apollo – by Jen Van Tieghem
I don’t envy the group that puts these nominations together, and yet here I am questioning their choices. The Best New Artist category has some great selections, but one topping my list would be Viva Apollo whose EP Skeletons showcases a wide-range of talents of a band on the brink. More on that here. Take a listen to “Earthquake” with all its haunting power:
After you write this band into your ballot catch them at The Merrow on Tues. Sept. 16 with a couple other great bands, Saint Diego and Social Club.
Best Live Band – Tough call… – by Natalie Watson Webber
Tough call to be sure,-there are so many amazing, talented, high energy, engaging bands that perform here in San Diego night after night. Some of them are:
While others were tragically omitted such as The Touchies, Shake Before Us, The New Kinetics, Gloomsday, Badabing, duping the public, The Mittens, Uniform Victor, Chess Wars, Neighbors to The North, Transfer and one of my all-time SD faves The Baja Bugs.
Now, I get that this can’t be a catch-all category and it can’t be a million nominees long but if it really *is* “an honor to be nominated” then this is the category to open the barn door for- in my opinion.
From what I gather musicians do what they do because they love it. While some shine in the studio, some are lovely lyricists and some are masters of melodies- during live performance is when the magic happens.
From what I’ve seen the process to get to the stages takes a lot of hard work in rehearsal, getting the gigs, and then you’ve gotta convince folks to actually come out and see you. After you promote, promote, promote and create the right set list you gotta knock it outta the park musically and win over audiences with charisma and passion. If that weren’t enough while you’re at the gig you need to worry about how to get patrons to stay for your set if they’re on their way in or out from seeing their friend’s band. (I probably haven’t even scratched the surface but I hope I did some justice to all the hard work you all do.) Finally it’s in the magical moment when the artist shares their creations with the rest of the world when it *now* becomes all of ours.
Tragic is the band that are masters in the studio, but fail to enrapture an audience and get them up on their feet or let alone tap their toe (*hint to you guys: don’t quit the day job). Live performance is where casual listeners turn into, not only fans, but advocates for your band. It’s where first love blooms, old love is given a second, third, fourth chance, it’s why we’re all out there to be a part of something that is just a bit more than guitars, a bass and a drum, keys and an amazing “frontperson”.
We’re all in it for the magic that music makes us feel when it is shared with family, friends, strangers, or even strangers who may come to feel like family someday. And these feelings of community and serendipity only happen live. There’s an intangible give and take, an ebb and flow, a unique energy that sparks between performers and audience members that makes us all hunger for more, which is why we care, why we support our scene. It’s why this category is tough because we’re lucky in this town,-we’ve got a lot to be thankful for- we’re blessed with wordsmiths and people who are craftsmen at their instruments and have charisma to spare. San Diego is brimming with talent.
This “live” stuff ain’t easy and each genre has it’s own super stars I’m sure of it. Why not have sub categories like they do for all the others? Can you see any point in comparing say Joshua White’s genius at the piano with the blunt-hurricane-force that is Pat Beers (Schitzophonics) on his Stratocaster of mass destruction? Yeah me neither.
But I still voted and you should too and don’t stop until Monday, Sept. 15! Click here to do so. If you’re looking for inspiration check out any of the bands that I listed above- you can’t go wrong.