Huzzah! Huzzah!

Photo by John Shearer

Orange County Music Awards
Galaxy Concert Theatre
Saturday, March 30

Yeah, the guy who appeared to be in charge of seating everybody was overstressed and rude. And the scripted asides that award presenters were forced to spout—mostly variations of "I'm kinda busy here"—were beyond unfunny. And too many winners didn't bother showing up to collect their trophies (Walter Trout, we heard, was off in Europe, but what of Tim Moyer, Common Sense and Limbeck?). And the 10-minute intermission was more like 25. And the video clip of person-on-the-street interviews flashed during the intermission, when a parade of not-very-bright hanger-outers along Huntington Beach's Main Street cited as cool places to see bands the Glass House and the Showcase—both of which are not in OC!—was unintentionally humorous. And several names were cringingly mispronounced. And the categories themselves were confusing (separate awards for Best Pop/Rock and Best Rock? And Best Rap/Blues/R&B, melted together under one heading?).

Allah knows we've got a slew of suggestions and advice for Martin Brown and the organizers of the Orange County Music Awards, which this show was the first of what's planned as an annual shindig. Still, it's seldom anything like this flows right the first time, and Brown himself has promised that the event will improve as the years drift by. The notion of an award show spotlighting the best of OC music had been kicking around in various circles (including the Weekly) for at least a decade. That Brown was the first to actually pull the thing off deserves nothing less than a healthy round of huzzahs. Huzzah! Huzzah!

We were, on the whole, impressed with the way the entire evening went off. Amiably hosted by Wing Lam of Wahoo's Fish Taco and Allison Badger of KOCE-TV's Sound Affects local music show, the first Orange County Music Awards orgy was a packed-to-the-gills affair—even the Galaxy's Palm Room was busy, absorbing the overflow from the main room. Brown hurried about, dressed in his unassuming frock of black jeans and black OC Music Awards T-shirt. Reps from Borders Books, one of the sponsors, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County, who were benefiting from the evening's admission charge, spoke some words. The list of presenters included such local celebs as Chain Reaction's Tim Hill; Linda Jemison; Dan Bradley and Chris Fahey of the Detroit Bar; Tilo and Thadius of All Rise Records, OC's only hip-hop label (Tilo was annoyingly in a hyperkinetic wassup!-yo!-yo!-yo! mode); Reel Big Fish's Aaron Barrett; and surf-guitar icon Dick Dale, who handed out a Lifetime Achievement award to Galaxy/Coach House owner Gary Folgner (Folgner had to be coaxed out under the ruse of co-presenting an award—apparently he's just too humble, though recent near-death experiences can make you like that).

Interspersed with all the trophy-giving were live sets from Scarlet Crush (the night's big winner with two awards); Wonderlove (the night's other big winner, also with two); blues- and horn-soaked Savage City; Best Indie Rock nominee the Jay Buchanan Band; Best Female nominee Kerry Getz; Best Rock nominees Full Frequency, who turned the Galaxy into the old Club 369 with their fog machines and skanky, corset-wearing girl dancers who writhed about the stage and dry-humped the decorations (the band's music was even worse); Pop/Rock nominee Nice; Best Live Band nominee Slugg-O (great T-shirts, kids, but flattery will earn you no love from our ink-stained hands—people at our table were guffawing loudly at your front man's horny chimpanzee antics); opera singer Carrie Theodossin, who made even the people at the bar shut up—for about a minute, anyway—during her selection from La Boheme. The biggest, most boisterous response of the night was for Central/South American folk band Alturas and their Spanish guitars and pipes (they even got an encore and a standing ovation); and a closing set from 17-year-old singer/songwriter Angelina Rae, who didn't appear to be nominated for anything, but by then, everyone was drunk, so it didn't really matter.

Awards? Oh, yeah, awards! The list of winners: Best Female Performer, Ashley Bee; Best Blues/Rap/R&B, Walter Trout; Best World Music, Common Sense; Best Jazz, the Rare Form Band; Best Male Performer, Tim Moyer; Best Punk/Pop, Limbeck; Best Roots, the surf-happy Reventlos, somewhat of an upset over Chris Gaffney (though perhaps there'll be a Best Country award next year); Best Rock, Project 86; Best International, Flood; Best Out of County, Boomer McClennan; Best Live Band, Wonderlove; Best Indie Rock, Wonderlove; Best Pop/Rock, Scarlet Crush; Best Song, Scarlet Crush, "Something to Say."


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