Room for Improvement

Ways to make the Orange County Music Awards better

Photo by Jeanne RiceDUMP THE PRESENTERS
One of the big complaints of this year's OCMA show, held at the Grove of Anaheim on March 29, was that the show ran way too long—as if award shows are ever short. Still, four hours is a lot to ask of anyone's ass cheeks, even if you're spending half the show at the lobby bar. One of the most obvious ways to cut fat is to ditch the presenters, who always annoyingly wind up plugging some godforsaken non-OCMA-related thing anyway (or thanking founder Martin Brown, which, put together, probably took up 10 minutes alone this year). As for celeb presenters, nobody cares about Billy Zoom unless he's fixing your amp or gripping a Gibson, and nobody really cares about actors who were in BJ and the Bear, either. Have whoever hosts the show hand out all the awards instead. Also, whittle the show down to five performing bands or musicians max, no more than two songs each.

RESPECT THE ESPAÑOL
If there are no Latin or Latin alternative categories next year, the OCMAs will look like it's purposely ignoring what's soon to be the largest ethnic group in OC, if they're not already. Make an effort to spread the word about the awards to Spanish-speaking communities. And don't even think about shoving it under the "world music" umbrella, either. GIVE LOVE TO THE LBC WHILE DROPPING THE BEST OUT OF COUNTY CATEGORY
Long Beach has tons of great bands and some really great clubs, especially since Koo's Art Café will soon be reopening downtown. Long Beach could probably mount their own music awards, but until that happens, at least show California's fifth-largest city and OC's next-door neighbor some love by giving it a category all its own. Use the Best Long Beach Band/Musician slot to replace the current Best Out of County category because all that really means is Los Angeles, and seriously, fuck LA. They've ignored OC and Long Beach for years. The enemy of our enemy is our friend. Other categories we'd like to see: Best DJ (club and selector), Best Record Store (they still exist, for now), Best Club and Best Phil Shane. LOSE THE BEST INTERNATIONAL CATEGORY
If there aren't Latin categories, it really makes no sense to give an award to a band like Flood, who are from stupid fucking Wales. BETTER DEFINE OTHER CATEGORIES
What is it that makes some bands "rock," others "pop rock," others "electro rock" and still others "indie rock"? Couldn't pretty much all the bands that use electricity fit these strange pigeonholes? The only thing we knew for sure was that the Best Male Performer nominees probably all had wobbly parts between their legs, though we never bothered checking, so even that's suspect. TRUST THE JUDGES' JUDGMENT
People were heard grumbling in the lobby—mostly people who were nominated but lost, mind you—that since it's Martin Brown's award show, then Martin Brown ultimately decides who wins. I was a judge this year, so I can vouch that's not true. But Brown's system of judging was odd, since the judges never knew the names of the musicians and bands they were voting for or against, an attempt to keep them focused on just the music. Brown burned 28 CDs with all the entrants' songs on them and handed copies to all 14 judges, who were then asked to listen to and grade each track on a scale of 0 to 100—we're talking close to 500 songs from some 250 bands. Brown assembled the nominee list and the winners using the songs with the highest point totals. Still, I found it annoying not knowing the names behind the songs, and in the case of well-known tunes from Wonderlove and Scarlet Crush, the attempt at secrecy was pointless. Contrary to what people think, I can be open-minded, even when it's Ashley Bee I'm hearing. AXE THE $25 SUBMISSION FEE ALL BANDS MUST PAY, THOUGH MARTIN BROWN'S REASON FOR HAVING IT SEEMS KINDA LOGICAL
"The main reason we do that is because we start the process in September, when we have no money, and sponsors aren't going to kick any money in that early," Brown explains to us. "We have to have money to start the whole thing going, and the submission fees allow us to do that. Our phone bills alone are astronomical. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to eliminate that fee, but right now, it's an unfortunate necessity." IGNORE PEOPLE WHO SAY VOTING SHOULD BE OPEN TO THE PEOPLE
Democracy won't work because not only would the nomination process be rife with ballot stuffing (ensuring that Flaming Scabies will end up winning an award because they're Mormon and have 10,000 relatives), but it'll also cheapen the awards by turning it into a popularity contest for people who can only name four OC bands: No Doubt, the Offspring, Sugar Ray and Lit. And the idea of Sugar Ray winning an award for anything should scare everyone to death. ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS
If a band's drummer lives in OC but the other members don't, are they an Orange County band? Should only music recorded during 2003 qualify for next year because, theoretically, couldn't Scarlet Crush keep submitting a new song from the same album every year for the next seven years and still win? Will the OCMAs ever be cool enough so the Weekly doesn't have to start our own awards? We'll be watching. . . .
 
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