In this contentious election season, it's nice to know we can pretty much all agree on one thing.
Everyone loves their MAMA.
The Modesto Area Music Association is back for its ninth annual awards Thursday at the State Theatre.
"I'm really happy that it has become part of the regular fabric of the community," MAMA co-founder Chris Murphy said. "It has established a good track record and history. This is all about the music and the performers."
The awards honor the best in the area's music, events, promoters and venues. This year features the biggest slate of nominees yet, with 120 bands, artists, DJs, presenters, clubs, restaurants, festivals and the like competing in 15 categories.
After nearly a decade of celebrating the Central Valley's music scene, the event has grown to feature a diverse array of performers, promoters and businesses from nearly every corner of the entertainment spectrum.
Trophies are being handed out in everything from pop to indie, blues and Americana, urban and dance. Those on stage and behind the scenes will have their chance to shine equally.
New this year is the category of best dance promoter, with eight producers vying for the honor. MAMA organizers said the category reflects the area's growth and dominance over the dance scene in the valley.
"The talent is unreal in the DJs and dance clubs," Murphy said. "I think the DJ scene has really evolved. These DJs and dance promoters are out there promoting it. That's where the energy is right now."
This year, the awards move back to the State Theatre, the event's longtime home. Last year, the awards were held at the Gallo Center for the Arts as part of the venue's inaugural year. But organizers said the State's more casual atmosphere was a better fit for its eclectic crowd.
The street in front of the theater will be closed this year for red carpet arrivals, a performance stage and merchandise sales.
While the event is open by invitation only, the public can watch a live stream at www.modestoview.com/mama. "Good Day Sacramento" reporter Alan Sanchez will repeat as master of ceremonies.
This year's performers include the event's trademark hodgepodge of nominees from various categories. They include best R&B/Funk nominees Not 4 Nothin, Blues/Jazz nominee Johnny Valdez Band, P3 (pop-rock, pop-punk, power-pop) nominee Nadine, Blue Collar nominee Aquanett and Alternative/Indie nominee Travis Vick.
In between awards and performances will be new videos by current and past nominees, including Solar Powered People, Peech and Anthem.
The night's one honor that is not voted upon, the Lifetime Achievement Award, will go to Marie Gallo. As president of the Gallo Center for the Arts board, she spearheaded the project throughout its development and was instrumental in finally bringing the center to fruition last year.
"I don't think there is a bigger champion for the arts than Marie Gallo," Murphy said. "She can marshal the resources and the people like no one else. A city that has strong culture is a creative city. With the Gallo Center going into its second year, this was just perfect timing."
The remainder of the awards are decided entirely by online voting. The public can vote until polls close at 11:59 p.m. Monday at www.modestoview.com/mama.
As in years past, nominees have been busily campaigning via MySpace, Facebook and e-mail lists in an effort to get out the vote among fans.
"The excitement is out there," Murphy said. "The beauty of the MAMAs is that it's not just its own little thing. This includes everyone all in one big pile."