Arts Desk

Same Ol’ Same Ol’ at 25th Wammies Awards

Bob Mould moved to San Francisco in 2009, and did not release an album in 2010 (let alone one featuring him as an “electronica” vocalist) but that didn't stop him from winning two electronica Wammies at the 25th anniversary WAMA Awards show at the State Theatre in Falls Church Sunday night. Late Monday afternoon, the Washington Area Music Association posted the winners on its website. Mould was joined in the winners category by Baltimore’s Charm City Devils, who took home the modern rock group award. The Junkyard Saints, led by Baltimore’s Brian Simms, won best roots-rock group.

Some folks from the Washington, D.C., area won awards, as well. Blues-rock singer Mary Ann Redmond won a WAMA award for the 17th time, and country/roots-rock singer Ruthie Logsdon took home her 40th and 41st  WAMA awards. Al Williams, known mostly for smooth jazz these days, took home a jazz musician trophy. Roots-rocker Janine Wilson won the album of the year category.

With the long-troubled Wammies, the artists who do not win or even get nominated are as important as those who do. WAMA leaders have said they sometimes consult "experts" to fill out the nominations slots, and in recent years they have, indeed, reached out to Washington City Paper writers (including me). But they've then largely ignored those suggestions.

Despite pleas from D.C. Blues Society members, WAMA for the second year in a row chose not to select any old-school blues or soul artists for its hall of fame. As previously noted, WAMA also left out all metal bands, traditional D.C.-based Ethiopian, Haitian, and mariachi musicians, new indie-rock labels, southern soul groups, and many more. While those artists have received media and public attention here and elsewhere, the dues-paying, voting members of WAMA are apparently not interested or aware of them.

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  • Greg Berger

    What is the alternative music association in DC that one can turn to?

  • mary morris

    The live performances were wonderful. Julia Nixon was powerful singing Etta James, Rosa Lamoreaux and Tina Chancey were mesmerizing, aforementioned Charm City Devils were devilishly charming, Faycez U Know shook the rafters, Rhianna LaRocque was sweet and lovely, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen were delightful, Hula Monsters gave a loving tribute to Dave Giegerich, what a treat to see Tom Paxton commanding the stage in such great seasoned form, and the pit band Seth Kibel & the Wire Choir were great, upbeat, infectious.
    Yeah, I'm a WAMA member. I love the Wammies. It's a perfect template for scenes to honor their own if they so desire. It's really easy to bitch about its flaws, but what a great idea it is in its conception. The real shame, imho, is that scenes don't take advantage of the opportunity to use it to honor their own.
    I appreciate that year after year, WAMA undaunted by its critics still tries to make the ballot relevant.
    Congratulations on your 25th anniversary, WAMA!

  • mary morris

    Also fun was the opening video from the 1st Wammies in 1985 at Lisner Auditorium with footage of Emmylou Harris, Chuck Brown, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Jonathan Edwards, the Seldom Scene, the Nighthawk, and many others. (Rootboy Slim!?)

    I enjoyed seeing WHFS honored, and the Stonemans (never heard of them but was glad to learn about them), and the WAMA founders including Michael Jaworek who came up with the idea of the Wammies (in commemorating their first 25 years).

    It was touching to see Dave Giegerich's wife Pam (who lost her husband in December to illness) with her daughter by her side accept his Special Recognition Wammie.

    Music is such a tough business - the artists and everyone work so hard. WAMA is a way for at least some to have their work publicly acknowledged and celebrated.

    How nice it is that there was a way for Dave Giegerich's contributions to the DC area music community to be honored.

    WAMA, from my observations, is a labor of love comprised of people who genuinely love and wish to be supportive of DC area music and musicians and who selflessly volunteer a lot of time and energy. The ones I've had the honor to meet are heroes to me.

    WAMA suffers, imho, not from unenlightened leadership but from scenes that don't understand that they themselves could help the Wammies reflect their realities. It's the way its always been but they cheerfully keep trying to get the word out that you, me, everyone who appreciates good music, could make a good idea work even better.

    Also it was cool to see what Bob Madigan, Michel Wright, and Robert Aubry Davis look like (they were the hosts).

    And it was cool hearing Ron Goad (if I remember correctly) encourage everyone to go out to and enjoy a show outside their genre this year.

    Sorry to say so much but there was so much good stuff to remember about this night that wasn't being said. :)

  • Ron Weinstock

    Steve, we both sound like a broken record.

    "WAMA undaunted by its critics still tries to make the ballot relevant."

    Really, Sharon Clark was not nominated for Jazz vocalist, Bobby Parker not nominated in blues. That is a relevant ballot? WAMA doesn't even get the ballot right and folks votes for friends, not the most deserving as some of the results suggest. I have received emails, and facebook posts, asking folks to nominate them and vote for them.

    The FACT is WAMA is irrelevant to a significant portion of the Washington music community and its not a shame that these music scenes do not participate, but rather that WAMA does not seem to care.

  • Herb Smokewitz

    Unfortunately, I attended the 25th Wammies because of a few nominations. I'm not affiliated with WAMA in any way though, so there was no chance of me winning. The voting members are so out of touch with the current music scene, that people like The Charm City Devils are winning the "Modern Rock" category, even though they are essentially a watered down 80s hair metal band who in my opinion, suck and are comical in appearance by today's fashion standards. Really? And Al Williams, love the guy, is not the Jazz instrumentalist of the year. I follow the DC jazz scene closely, and there are about 20 guys I can think of who are not only out-playing, but out-gigging all of the supposed nominees. Guess what? If you really followed the current scene, you'd actually know who the major players are. There's people making serious art out there. It is obvious to me that the board is old, out of touch and too self absorbed to recognize real talent, or even notice that there are younger cat's out there really doing it. It's very unfortunate.

  • mary morris

    the complaints are Same Ol' Same Ol', too. :o)

    WAMA never claims to be better or wiser or smarter than anyone else or to have a perfect system - they get accused of that every year like they set themselves up on a pedestal or something but they don't. it's a volunteer organization that works hard to support DC music and they always get slammed but they deserve respect for honest effort, imho. please get involved if you think you have information they should know. :)

    in case anyone's interested here are a few amateur video clips (sorry they're not better, especially the Tom Paxton/Debi Smith one - wow, shaved off the tops of their heads!):

    faycez u know

    julia nixon

    hula monsters

    tom paxton + debi smith

    charm city devils

    seth kibel + wire choir (clarinet)

    seth kibel + wire choir (sax)

  • Guido

    Apparently Mary is one of the asshats running WAMA. What a shocker. Shortly, the other members of this irrelevant organization will be coming out of the woodwork to argue in support of their annual Circle Jerk.

  • mary morris

    naw, Guido, i'm just a member and i mostly just vote in one category. sure i'd like it if some of the artists i nominate (as a regular member) would actually win, but i understand that the problem is that not many people in my scene have been interested in joining WAMA - and if they don't, the artists they want to win won't get the votes, simple as that. simple arithmetic. that's not WAMA's fault!

    i love the Wammies on general principle. it's not like the Grammys - it's not like the Wammies have a big headquarters and big staff and big budget. it began as an idea that it would be good to have a way for DC area artists and professionals to get appreciation for their contributions, and they found others who were able to set aside their individual agendas to support that idea, and they found good-hearted like-minded people who were happy to chip in. (i know this from having interviewed Mike Schreibman and Marco Delmar in the past, and because before that i'd met Michael Jaworek and thought well of him)

    these people are trying to do something positive for DC music scene. unless whoever is complaining is offering a better way to do this, i feel compelled to stick up for the Wammians. i speak up to offer some balance. :P