The official finalists for the fourth annual Madison Area Music Awards were announced live at the Brink Lounge on Monday night in a fundraiser for local youth music education.
Emceed by photographer, comedian and The Urban Theater host John Urban, the celebration featured live music by Harmonious Wail, silent and live auctions, and a raffle directed by Cherry Pop Burlesque. All proceeds from the event are to support music education for local children.
Following the announcements on Monday night, the third and final round of voting for this year's MAMAs begins on April Fool's Day and runs through the end of that month. The awards show will follow less than two weeks later on Saturday, May 12.
Live-blogging of the nomination ceremony and party follows.
The party begins
The Brink Lounge is already lively as the festivities start shortly after 6 p.m. A string quartet is performing near the fireplace in the main room of the multi-roomed lounge. Wine tastings are set up near the coffee bar, goods up for auction and the raffle prizes line the wals, and a spread of hors'd'oeuvres is planted in the center of the room next to the bar.
Numerous Madison music and media personalities are present as the partying start, many speaking with MAMAs founder and organizer Rick Tvedt, the publisher of the sorely-missed local music publication Rick's Café.
"Tonight we're going to raise money for a good cause," says Tvedt, "and that's to put instruments into kids' hands. The MAMAs maestro is speaking with John Urban, who will be emceeing the announcements portions of the event later in the night. Urban jokes with Tvedt about the free food and drinks to be had at the party this evening.
The noshing, networking, and silent auctions are scheduled to run until 7:30 p.m., at which point the nominees will begin to be announced.
"We've got a very important job, we're taking care of the raffle," says Olive Talique of Cherry Pop Burlesque. Several members of the company are circulating throughout the room, selling $1 and $5 tickets for a variety of prizes. These include an iPod, dinner for two at the Edgewater, two tickets to the Barrymore Theatre, a UW tailgating kit, and a massage for two at the Oasis Day Spa. It's the proceeds from this raffle, along with other portions of this fundraiser, that will be donated for children's music education. "You know what," Talique says, "if you don't play, you don't win."
Will there be any sign of the approaching spring elections at the party? Perhaps. Madison mayoral candidate briefly walked through the party, on his way to meet with building owner (and Common Council candidate) Curt Brink if the offices adjacent to the lounge. Allen says he thinks the event is "great." Will Mayor Dave or any other candidates show up later?
"There's a very eclectic group of people from the Madison community here tonight," says Roy Elkins, the chairman of the MAMAs and the founder and CEO of Broadjam, a Madison-based online community of independent musicians and charitable sponsor of the awards.
"No matter what your background, you love music," Elkins continues. "We put instruments into kids' hands, and help them get lessons, and maybe someday we'll give them a scholarship." He points to the threatened budget cuts for Madison schools as yet another impetus for their program.
"I read in the paper this weekend that fifth grade strings is at risk next year in the public schools," Elkin notes, following the cutting of the fourth grade program last year. "It's beyond my comprehension why this happened," he continues. "Study after study shows that kids who participate in music grow up to be more successful, yet we continue to cut these programs. That's why the MAMAs exist."
Elkins also notes the award finalists to be named later in the evening. "I'd like to mention the great musicians who will be nominated for Madison's premiere awards tonight," he says. "Every genre of music is going to have multiple representatives at the May show at the Barrymore."
The announcements approach
As the appointed hour of 7:30 p.m. approaches, preparations for the nominee announcements begin. The five members of Cherry Pop Burlesque rehearse their entrance on the spiral staircase descending from street level, party attendees and members of the media start to filter into the room, and the food disappears more quickly from the platters at the other end of the complex.
"I have no idea who is nominated," says Tvedt, who is set to take the stage in mere minutes. He, like most of the other people at the party, have no idea which Madison musicians are going to be finalists for the awards.
All three years of Madison Area Music Awards winners are listed here; they may be interesting for purposes of comparison when this year's finalists are revealed.
Madison music teachers
Allison and Ben Jaeger are both music teachers at Madison middle schools, Jefferson and Spring Harbor respectively. The state of music education in the district is "terrifying" and "bleak," they say, citing the threatened fifth grade strings program like Elkins. "It threatens to filter into the middle and high schools until the strings program is completely killed," says Allison.
"For us, we're young, we just started teaching and spent all these years in college learning to be band directors," says Ben, who is also the guitarist for It's not all gloom and doom, though," he continues. "I've been at Spring Harbor for six years, and the parents are very supportive. It's the city as a whole, the money that we get from downtown is what's constantly in jeopardy." Ben Jaeger will be speaking during the ceremony. He asked the MAMAs for musical instruments, and subsequently received 10 acoustic guitars, one electric guitar with an amp, and two electric basses. "I'm here to talk tonight about what a great gift that was," he notes, "because many kids now have an opportunity to learn on what's becoming America's folk instrument." "The livelihood of our school music programs is wholly dependent upon donations and fundraising," she concludes. The ceremony begins Jaeger thanks the MAMAs for their instrument donations to Madison middle schools. "Since last summer, the benefits have already been seen," he says, explaining how the schools have put the instruments to use. "Remember," Jaeger concludes, "an investment in music is an investment in your community." And the nominees are... Classical
John Urban kicks things off a few minutes before 8 p.m., hinting at the nominations, and introducing awards chairman Roy Elkins. Elkins in turn speaks about the MAMAs mission of providing instruments for children, and introduces Ben Jaeger.
Katy Sai -- formerly of WISC and currently launching
It's not all gloom and doom, though," he continues. "I've been at Spring Harbor for six years, and the parents are very supportive. It's the city as a whole, the money that we get from downtown is what's constantly in jeopardy."
Ben Jaeger will be speaking during the ceremony. He asked the MAMAs for musical instruments, and subsequently received 10 acoustic guitars, one electric guitar with an amp, and two electric basses.
"I'm here to talk tonight about what a great gift that was," he notes, "because many kids now have an opportunity to learn on what's becoming America's folk instrument."
"The livelihood of our school music programs is wholly dependent upon donations and fundraising," she concludes.
The ceremony begins
Jaeger thanks the MAMAs for their instrument donations to Madison middle schools. "Since last summer, the benefits have already been seen," he says, explaining how the schools have put the instruments to use. "Remember," Jaeger concludes, "an investment in music is an investment in your community."
And the nominees are...
- "A Little Bit of You" by Jessi Lynn
- "Stay" by The Getaway Drivers
- "Chasing Memories" by Frank James
- "RC" by Laura Day
- "Bittersweet Letdown" by Sarah Pray
- "City of Stars and Light (Anonymous Mix)" by The Dorothy Heralds
- "Shiver" by Jai Bird
- "Things" by Brian Daly
- "Won't Ask Why" by The Getaway Drivers
- "kill me with your sunshine" by flame shark
- "Too Young" by The Sharp & Harkins Band
- "Singing at the Moon" by Laura Day
- "C Me" by Barb Cheron
- "Boo's Blues" by Barb Cheron
- "Bistro" by Barb Cheron
- "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" by The Stellanovas
- "Chandelier" by Mike Droho
- "Carry It Around" by The New Kentucky Quarter
- "We May Fall" by Lucas Cates
- "Oh Trudy" by The Getaway Drivers
- "the sling blade" by Know Boundaries
- "What I Know" by Horton the Irrelevant & August the Creep
- "I'm Down" by Felicia Alima
- "Know Me" by Felicia Alima
- "See the River Rise" by Sunshine for the Blind
- "Carry It Around" by The New Kentucky Quarter
- "Monte-Ray" by Oxford
- "No More Suffering" by Sunshine for the Blind
- "I Fall Down" by subvocal
- "Think About Your Troubles" by The Stellanovas
- "Ocean View" by The Sharp & Harkins Band
- "Thing" by Jack Sayre
- "What U Get" by Keygal
- "Wave" by Steven Meyer Plays Guitar
Rick Tvedt says that the remainder of this year's list of finalists will be released in coming days.
While the reading of MAMAs nominees is complete, there are still many awards being handed out for the evening. These include the raffle winners, the top bidders in the silent auction, and finally, the live auction.
A drumstick signed by the "Fifth Beatle" Pete Best goes for $70, while a Fender Stratocaster autographed by Robert Cray sells for $300, pushed up thanks to a little encouragement from the stage by Urban. Hanah Jon Taylor kicks off the bidding for a pair of airline tickets, and eventually takes them home for $525. A football signed by Brett Favre sells for $150, meanwhile, and a monster guitar package from Good'n'Loud Music goes for $325. With this, the party turns to its musical portion with some tunes from