The 14th annual Modesto Area Music Association Awards program showed no signs of teen angst, only ageless fun as it celebrated the best in local entertainment Wednesday night.
The event honored the year’s most popular music and entertainment as voted online by fans. Trophies were handed out in 20 categories – from rock to pop, metal to acoustic and more – at the State Theatre. This night’s biggest, and oldest, honoree was Don Maddox of the pioneering country-western act Maddox Brothers and Rose. The fiddle-playing Maddox, who turns 91 in December, flew down from his Oregon home to accept his award and play a few tunes.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came,” said Maddox, who wore a colorful suit, the kind for which his group was known. “But this feels great.”
Maddox Brothers and Rose got its start in Modesto in 1937. MAMA co-founder Chris Murphy said the band helped develop the slapping-bass sound that became the boogie-woogie backbeat for rockabilly and was also used in the formation of rock ’n’ roll. At the awards, country hitmaker Marty Stuart delivered a special taped video presentation heralding the group’s status as musical architects and called Maddox “America’s newest, oldest singing sensation.”
Before presenting him the Lifetime Achievement Award, Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh read a proclamation honoring the city’s rockabilly past and Maddox Brothers and Rose.
Maddox, who traveled to Modesto with his 72-year-old “teenage bride,” remained humble about the hoopla over his place in music history. “I don’t know what I’m doing up here, anyway,” he said. “Well, I’ll get my fiddle out and do the best I can with what I’ve got.”
Maddox was backed by a local rockabilly performers and ripped through a short set including classics like “Orange Blossom Special” and the Modesto-based single “Thirty-Five Dollars and a Dream.”
Maddox also will play a special free show at 7 tonight at The Brewhouse at Hero’s at L and Ninth streets in downtown Modesto, along with several other area rockabilly groups.
The night also was a chance for some of the area’s new and veteran groups to get recognition from fans for their hard work and tireless performances. This year, more than 4,700 votes were cast for the some 200 nominees. Votes came from as far as London, Miami, Vancouver and Hollywood.
Winners like Best Blue Collar Band-winning frontwoman Teresa Beaton, of Mother Teresa & The Sinners, took inspiration from Maddox’s performance.
“Geez, after seeing Don up here, I guess I have another 40 years of doing this ahead of me,” she said while accepting the award.
Other newcomers to the music scene seemed content to soak in the experience. Best Youth Band winners Breaking Chainz featured real teenagers who were really happy to win. “So, first of all, this is amazing,” said 15-year-old Blake Smith with trophy in hand.