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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Who will win at tonight's OEA Awards show?

The Omaha Entertainment Awards (OEA's) annual award show is tonight at The Holland Center. If you can't afford a ticket, you can watch it unfold at home (if you have Cox digital cable and aren't glued to the national championship game) by tuning into Cox 120 at 7:30 p.m.

I’ve been told the show will undergo a few format changes this year. Among them:

-- The program is scheduled to run only 90 minutes – if only the Oscars were so brief. If they stay on schedule, I'll be home in time for the second half.
-- The lobby bar will be closed during the ceremony. Last year, as you may recall, there were as many people (or maybe more) in the lounge drinking their asses off as there were watching the actual event in the Holland auditorium.
-- More work has been done to dovetail the categories in an ill-fated attempt at keeping people from leaving right after their award has been announced -- always a problem. Last year the auditorium floor was filled at the beginning of the ceremony, by the last performance two-thirds of the seats were empty.
-- In an effort to “spice things up” or maybe to “show solidarity in the music community” or maybe to “give a nod to those who came before us,” nominated musicians have been asked to perform together as “mash-ups” (which is the wrong use of that word). So, two (or more) nominees will appear together on stage to perform a song by a singer/songwriter/performer from Omaha’s past. My personal take: most people at this awards show don't know who these nominees actually are. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the nominees play their own songs so that this new audience could be introduced to their music or at least have a better understanding why their music is being honored? Turning Omaha’s singer/songwriters into cover artists for the evening is only going to keep their music a mystery. We’ll see how it goes tonight.

On top of all that, they're handing out awards. So, like last couple of years, here are my predictions as to who will win, and -- in the interest of full disclosure -- how I voted (I am, after all, an "Academy Member" ya know):

Best Adult Alternative/Singer Songwriter: I voted for Brad Hoshaw & Seven Deadlies, with Kyle Harvey as my alternate (We had to provide a “preferred” choice and a “second” choice). There were a lot of obvious people missing from the list of nominees in this category, not the least of which were Conor Oberst, Dan McCarthy, Simon Joyner, Jake Bellows/Neva Dinova, Joe Knapp, Talking Mountain, Capgun Coup, Baby Walrus, Mal Madrigal, well, let’s just say anyone on Saddle Creek or Slumber Party Records rosters.

Nominees are selected by a public voting process, so the lack of the artists mentioned above could mean:

1) Voters think Saddle Creek artists suck,

2) Despite touring nationally and appearing in the national press, folks around town still don’t know who Creek artists are,

3) Creek artists don’t do enough to promote themselves locally or for this event,

4) Creek artists need to play weekly shows around town to get nominated,

5) Creek artists are being boycotted/blacklisted by the people who participate in the OEA’s,

6) The majority of those casting public ballots have shitty taste,

7) The majority of those casting ballots view the OEA’s as a way to give more exposure to artists that they feel need it rather than honor the very best in the music community.

That said, even if all of those Creek/Slumber Party folks had been nominated, I would have voted for Hoshaw, who will win this category.

Best Alternative/Indie: I voted for Conor Oberst. Waitaminit, the guy who’s on a number of national critics' "best of" lists for '09 wasn't nominated. That being the case, I actually voted for The Faint, followed by Tilly & the Wall. The Faint will take this one home. Wonder if someone from the band will even be there?

Best Ethnic: Based solely on their OEA showcase performance from two years ago, my vote went to Mariachi Luna y Sol followed by Mariachi Zapata. The winner will be Rhythm Collective.

Best Hard Rock/Metal/Punk: I voted for Bloodcow, and Bloodcow will take home the crystal shaft.

Best Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Roots/Americana: Geeze, the only thing they left out of this category description was "jug band." For whatever reason, Conor Oberst was one of the nominees here, though he doesn’t really fit the genre. Oberst is more singer/songwriter than country (no real country-loving KXKT listener would mistake Oberst for a C&W artist). Had I been able to write-in a nominee, it would have been The Filter Kings. Instead, I picked Oberst, because even in the wrong category he’s the best songwriter/performer, followed by Hoshaw and his band (also not Country). The winner will be Oberst.

Best Jazz/Standards: Despite the fact that most people only know him from his luncheon gigs at The Dell or his appearances at Mr. Toad, and know nothing about his celebrated past, Luigi, Inc., will win. He got my vote, followed by Steve Raybine.

Best Hip Hop/Rap: I voted for Articulate, followed by Breathless. Breathless will win.

Best Blues: I voted for Kris Lager Band even though I don’t like his music. At least what he does seems bluesy (rather than just sounding like a cover band). Second pick was Sarah Benck and The Robbers, which isn’t a blues band. Sarah will win.

Best New Artist: The thing everyone brings up about this category is that most of the nominees aren’t new at all, but they must fit whatever guidelines the OEA has that define someone as “being new.” My vote went to Malpais even though I’ve never heard their CD . I’ve seen them perform live a number of times last year. My alternate was Shiver Shiver, who I think will actually take home the trophy.

Best R&B/Funk/Soul: Like last year, I voted for Satchel Grande, who blows away everyone in this category. That said, the winner will probably be the 9’s, who have a lot of friends among the academy members and have been around for years.

Best Rock: Of course, my background is indie music, and indie music is rock music, and the best indie rock band among the nominees is Little Brazil. But other than playing live, LB didn't do much last year (next year is a whole 'nother story). The Whipkey Three got my vote, but really, they fit in better in the Americana or singer/songwriter category. That said, the winner will be Chris Saub.

Best Cover Band: This is a category that doesn’t belong in an award show. Regardless, here it is. My vote, of course, went to Song Remains the Same. Second choice was Secret Weapon. Song Remains the Same will win.

DJ/Electronic: I voted for Brent Crampton, who is the central artist that drives Omaha’s DJ scene. Brent will win unless people construe this category as meaning "best live elecxtronic band," inwhich case The Faint will win. I have no idea why "DJ" and "Electronic" are in the same category.

Local Album of the Year: Conor Oberst again is nominated, this time for his self-titled solo debut. He also got my vote – easily the best album of all the nominees. My second choice was The Faint’s Fasciinatiion. The winner will be Oberst.

Artist of the Year: The winner will be determined by how the academy interprets what the category means. Is the "Artist of the Year" the best performer or the performer who accomplished the most? To me, it means the performer from Omaha who accomplished the most on a local and national scale. With that yardstick in mind, Oberst should win (again), but he's not nominated, so I voted for The Faint, followed by Tilly and the Wall. Considering the make up of the academy (that I know of) the winner will be Midwest Dilemma.

See you at the show.

--Got comments? Post 'em here.--

posted by Tim at 10:46 AM

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