With the MTV Video Music Awards a mere two weeks behind us, and images of decadent hotel bashes complete with live hip hop and rock still coursing through our respective brains - not to mention the comatose "comeback" of Britney Spears (spare me), and Kid Rock and Tommy Lee engaging in fisticuffs (mildly intriguing at best) - the 2007 San Diego Music Awards were a breath of fresh air -literally and figuratively - in today's gaudy, self-righteous music scene.
Held at the Viejas 1,500-seat outdoor arena in the mountains of Alpine, the awards show commenced at 7pm Monday, September 17th 2007, and despite a biting chill in the air, presenters, performers and even attendees maintained an upbeat demeanor throughout the night. There were, of course, those who arrived ill-prepared for the cooler climes; some of whom opted to shiver through the three-hour event, while others simply turned to booze for warmth.
The San Diego Music Awards began rewarding the musical contributions of San Diego artists back in 1991. Since then, countless local musicians have graced the various stages as performers, presenters and award recipients.
This year's show included a veritable who's who of the San Diego music scene. From local up-and-coming bands such as Pierce the Veil (think pre-pubescent Used) to more established acts the likes of Reeve Oliver and even major-label recording artists along the lines of Jason Mraz, the event was a hodgepodge of genres running the musical gamut from screamo to folk rock.
The beloved Lady Dottie and the Diamonds kicked off the show with a pair of tunes showcasing the band's eclectic blend of rock and blues, with Lady Dottie taking the helm and piloting her troupe not only through a soulful and inspiring performance, but also to the podium in acceptance of the band's Best Blues award.
Reeve Oliver powered through their tracks "Sunshine" and "I Want Burns" in the band's signature Weezer-meets-Jimmy-Eat-World sound San Diegans have come to embrace since the band released its 2001 EP entitled Yer Gonna Win. The band was also nominated for the Best Rock award, but local rockers Dirty Sweet managed the most votes to take the category.
Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman showcased his side project, affectionately dubbed The Real Sean Jon thanks to Foreman's collaboration with Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek. The band's sedate sound, while an achievement in and of itself, seemed conspicuously tame even when compared to the subdued undertones of the event as a whole.
Whether the cold kept the partying at bay or it was merely a case of the Mondays, by 8:30pm, the SDMAs needed a swift kick in the arse.
Fortunately, the next two acts to perform did indeed throw a bit of fuel on an otherwise flickering flame.
Buck-O-Nine livened up the festivities with a couple of tunes off their latest release, Sustain. Having not released an album in over a decade, it was refreshing to see the boys hadn't strayed a bit from the ska sound which had essentially defined them as a band.
The Truckee Brothers took the reigns at around 9pm, and sustained (pun intended) the energy of Buck-O-Nine's set and then some. Their dirty, gritty blend of rock and roll, complete with go-go dancers made for both an aurally and visually entertaining performance.
Jason Mraz finished off the night in, well. . . Jason Mraz-style. His pop-infused folk rock brought the vibe established by the previous two bands back down to a more appropriate level for winding down the evening.
Of course, the SDMAs were not entirely about the live performances, though they happen to be the show's most endearing aspect. The event is first and foremost an awards show, so in that vein, here are this year's winners:
Public Awards (voted on by the public):
Best Cover, Tribute or Bar Band - Cash'd Out Best Blues - Lady Dottie and the Diamonds Best Jazz - Peter Sprague Best World Music - B-Side Players Best Americana or Country - The Grams Best Hip Hop - MC Flow Best Pop - Get Back Loretta Best Alternative - Grand Ole Party Best Acoustic - Molly Jensen Best Rock - Dirty Sweet Best Hard Rock - Cattle Decapitation Best Club DJ - Gabe Vega Best Electronic - The Album Leaf Best New Artist - Kemistry Artist of the Year - As I Lay Dying
Academy Awards (voted on by members of the San Diego Music Academy):
Best Pop Album - Get Back Loretta, Over The Wall Best Rock Album - Dirty Sweet, Of Monarchs and Beggars Best Alternative Album - Bloody Hollies, Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love Best Hard Rock Album - Earthless, Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky Best Hip Hop Album - The Knee Highs, Rise & Shine Best Blues Album - Lady Dottie and the Diamonds, Livin' It Up Best Jazz Album - On The One, Live at the Knotty Pine Best Americana or Country Album - The Coyote Problem, California Best Local Recording - Gregory Page, Knife in My Chest Album of the Year - Switchfoot, Oh! Gravity Song of the Year - Greg Laswell, Sing Theresa Says
The after-hours event at Viejas' Dreamcatcher Theater picked up where Buck-O-Nine and The Truckee Brothers left off, stoking the party fire by doling out ample drinks, dancing and debauchery for those party-goers looking to make the most of their Monday night.
See the local stars for yourself with the exclusive San Diego Music Awards photo gallery
Photos by: Bradley Schweit