It’s been 15 years since MAMA first started playing favorites, and she’s ready to do it again, with a little help from the public.
Nominations have been announced for this year’s Modesto Area Music Association Awards, and online voting is open. There are more than 230 artists, events, promoters and venues in 20 categories up for the MAMAs, which will be handed out during an invitation-only ceremony Oct. 14 at the State Theatre in downtown Modesto.
The awards are geared to celebrate Modesto’s thriving live music and event scene, which has seen ebbs and flows over the years, MAMA co-founder Chris Murphy said.
“Every year, the talent gets better ... and we’ve seen a resurgence of people wanting to see live music,” Murphy said, noting that there was a period when live local music was discouraged “for whatever reason” in downtown Modesto. Now, people again “are seeing live music is of value.”
“It’s something that’s really quite unique, to have as much musical activity in a town as we do in Modesto,” he added.
This year’s lifetime achievement award will go to the band Kent Whitt and the Downbeats. According to Murphy, the group, which formed for a Modesto High School dance in 1958, was the first rock ’n’ roll band in Modesto.
The group played across the region and even performed for U.S. troops in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War on a USO tour, Murphy said. “Then, they all got their draft notices and broke up,” he added.
Most of the band members will reunite for a performance at the MAMA Awards show (one member has passed away and another who lives out of state can’t make it to the ceremony), the first time the group will have performed since 1964, according to Murphy.
Kent Whitt and the Downbeats will be one of 12 live performances at this year’s show, where awards will be handed out to a diverse field of nominees that includes genres from rock and pop to Americana and hip-hop, alternative to jazz and blues, heavy metal to rockabilly, as well as DJs, comedians, youth bands, cafes, popular festivals, other events and more.
Added to the awards categories this year are reggae and punk, two genres that are getting a lot of attention in the region right now, Murphy said.
“That’s what we love about the show, is that the music really evolves over the years,” he said.
The MAMA Awards were started by Murphy and event promoter Chris Ricci, who were looking for a way to celebrate the music and talent in the greater Modesto area. The first Modesto Area Music Association Awards were held at the DoubleTree Hotel’s Club Max in October 2000 with only six categories of nominees.
The categories and nominee lists have grown each year since, and the awards ceremony has turned into a black-tie event – black tie meaning different things to different musicians, Murphy pointed out – with performances by many of the nominated artists. Tickets to the MAMA Awards are for nominees and invited guests only. But the show will be live-streamed on http://modestoview.com during the event. Last year, about 20,000 people watched online, Murphy said.
To vote, go to www.modestoareamusic.com and click on the “Vote for MAMA” badge. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Oct. 12.