Better Than a Grammy

HumphreyPhotography.comNo hipster worth his vintage Miles Davis vinyl would 'fess up to wanting anything like a mainstream-y pat-on-the-back award, but Michael McFadin, co-owner of Newport Beach's Ubiquity Records, says his recent honorarium was better than even a Grammy.

Ubiquity was voted the Best Label of the Year in December by nearly 25,000 listeners of the BBC's Worldwide program hosted by fab DJ Gilles Peterson. This was no Austin Powers' Brit-pop geekfest: Peterson is famous for eclectic playlist compilations of house, jazz, soul, reggae and Brazilian, a little—or a lot—like Ubiquity's tasty soul, Cuban, house and avant-garde electronica freak-outs.

"It's a group of our music peers," McFadin said. "It wasn't people who just started listening to our music. It was people who were into it when we started."

The start of this story was Orange County. McFadin and his wife, Ubiquity co-owner Jody, moved from the Newport Beach area to San Francisco to become club DJs, and instead, they ended up starting a label that specialized in acid jazz in 1990. And the beat is getting stronger at Ubiquity, at least financially. McFadin said sales were up 23 percent in December, a time when record retailers typically edge out niche labels from store racks in favor of crowd-pleasing mainstream hits. Could the award have anything to do with Ubiquity's rising tide of sales? Probably not, but then again, 25,000 Gilles Peterson fans can't be wrong.

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