The show was entertaining enough even for the dry, but more on that later. Now it's time to announce the winners:
Blues: Billy Ebeling and the Late for Dinner Band
Country/Roots/Bluegrass: Split Lip Rayfield
DJ/Dance: DJ Sku
Female Vocalist: Kim Anderson (Flee the Seen)
Folk/Singer-Songwriter: Old Canes
Hardcore/Metal: The Esoteric
Jazz: Malachy Papers
Latin: Son Venezuela
Live Act: The Esoteric
Male Vocalist: Matt Pryor (The New Amsterdams)
New Act: Flee the Seen
Pop: The New Amsterdams
Punk: Flee the Seen
Reggae/World/Ska: The Elders
Rap/Hip-Hop: Mac Lethal
Rock: Shots Fired
Soul/R&B: Ida McBeth
Some of the awards were easy to call, but there were still a few surprises. The biggest was probably that rookie band Flee the Seen won in every category in which the flamethrower-throated, chick-fronted punk-metal band was nominated. Also somewhat shocking was that Matt Pryor and the New Amsterdams won yet again, even though it's well known that the former Get Up Kid can't pop a boner at his house without knocking over a PMA trophy from some previous year. And though I would easily accept any of the nominated club champions as personal DJ slaves to soundtrack my life, it was nonetheless exhilarating to see upstart hip-hop DJ Sku win for best spinner.
Every year, questions flood our offices about how these awards work, especially from artists and promoters seeking to secure a spot on the ballot. Here's the process, in a nutshell:
1. A band, musician, yodeler, etc., rocks the town all year.
2. The wise and discerning magistrates on our nominating panel notice some acts and vote them onto the ballot.
3. Readers notice them, too (or maybe just dig their names), and vote for them.
4. After a live showcase in which about 25 of the nominees usually perform, the winners are made known at a reception-slash-concert.
This music showcase, which took place on Thursday, August 4 (see the August 11 Wayward Son), signaled the last stretch of the voting, but -- this year, at least -- the showcase, though it was a blast, didn't help too many of the nominees; only three of the bands who played that night walked home with awards a week later. This is not to discourage anyone from playing or attending the showcase -- it's easily one of the best nights of the year for live music in Kansas City. The statistic merely reinforces the truth that it's not what bands do during the voting weeks that counts but rather what they do in the months (or even years) preceding any given round of PMAs.
In terms of suspense, though, the awards ceremony (most recently, last Friday at the Uptown Theater) is the climax of the process. The bands who agree to play the 15-minute sets between the piecemeal revealings of the winners have no idea whether they're going to win -- some take the stage in uncertainty, others in disappointment. That's why we needed a charming, entertaining master of ceremonies like Brodie Rush. In his debut as awards ceremony host -- assisted by a trio of cheeky, wiggling burlesque babes -- Rush kept things light, campy and raunchy all night. Even previous host Shawn Edwards gave Brodie his stamp of approval, telling me, "I like this guy. He's like a cross between Adam Sandler and the drunk guy at the party."
It also helped that we booked the best live act in town, the Marching Cobras, who are truly too amazing for any meager Pitch award. In an inspired stunt, this swinging, tribal drum corps made up of loose-limbed teens invited a couple of dudes from the audience to briefly join its front line. Belly laughs ensued from the audience as nominated musicians John Bersuch and Mike Myers, plus Kevin Winston, road manager for E-Vent, tried awkwardly to heed the call of the cobra.
The other problem with the awards show is that the nominated bands don't always show up. There's not much we can do about this, except hope that Ben Grimes and Harry "Not the Guy From Night Court" Anderson of the Golden Republic will spring into action when nobody appears in the spotlight to accept an award. The two Golden Republicans, along with a rotating cast of extras, made excuses for many of the Lawrence bands who didn't show up or didn't bother sending anyone to claim their awards. The affable but devious Grimes explained that Best Pop winners the New Amsterdams were filming X-Men 3 in New Jersey and that Best Folk winners the Old Canes were recording in Spain.
In the end, the PMAs are about celebration, not competition. No event in this area brings so many different musicians and fans together for two nights, and even though some bands walk away feeling a bit shortchanged, rejected, or beaten with a fence post by heartless voters, the chance to represent the best of Kansas City to Kansas City is too rare not to be enjoyed. Even the Losers This year's Pitch Music Awards showed how to succeed in local music just by having a good time.