It's no coincidence that both the Madison Area Music Awards and the organization that hands them out, the Madison Area Music Association, are known as MAMA. The acronym's easy to remember, but it also signifies a grander mission: nurturing the local music scene by recognizing performers and equipping local kids with instruments, scholarships and music instruction.
Whether Madison-area musicians consider MAMA their musical "mother" is up for debate, but one thing's for certain: The organization's awards show is an event many locals look forward to each year. The 2010 MAMAs, which take place on Saturday, May 8, are no exception. With a handful of new award categories, a jam-packed list of performers and a fancy new location, there's reason for folks to be excited.
MAMA cofounder Rick Tvedt is particularly jazzed about this year's awards. He should be, since he helped start the organization, but there's more to it than that. He remembers the way the awards used to be.
"We didn't have online voting for the first two years, so everything had to be brought to us on discs," he recalls. "We'd make six copies and distributed them among a selection committee of 20 people or so. That got pretty complicated pretty fast."
These days, the public get almost the entire month of April to vote for their favorite nominees via the organization's website, and an advisory board oversees the process. The board is made up of local people engaged in various aspects of the music business, from performing to recording to selling CDs.
This year, the board got to vote in each award category, a change that could determine who comes home from the 2010 awards with a trophy.
"This means that there are 20 or so more people voting in every category," Tvedt explains. "The [board members'] votes don't carry extra weight, but we think they could sway some of the outcomes for the artists that might win based on a fan vote. A lot of times, it's only a few votes separating first and fourth place."
In other words, most of the nominees will need to impress not only their fans but board members who may prefer an exceptionally talented performer to one with a ton of friends or a successful marketing campaign.
Tvedt doesn't participate in the selection of winners but predicts that Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo, who are nominated in six categories, will come away with at least one title.
"I think his album is terrific, and he's just the nicest guy in the world, Tvedt says. He's really lived a life of music. If there's any good karma in the universe, he'll walk away with an award."
MAMA seems to have some good karma of its own. This year, the organization won a grant from the Community Arts Access Program, which allowed it to move the awards ceremony to the Overture Center's Capitol Theater.
Tvedt says the new digs will make this year's ceremony seem like a real red-carpet affair.
"It's just such a beautiful room, being a turn-of-the-century theater with a balcony and a nice stage, and the backstage area is huge, which means we can think about doing more theatrical stuff with the show," he says.
More than a dozen local artists will play on that stage, including dumate, Sunspot, VO5, Whitney Mann, the Lucas Cates Band, Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo, Madison County and six skillful youth performers. In addition, the MAMAs All-Star Fusion Band, featuring Hanah Jon Taylor, Clyde Stubblefield, Biff Blumfumgagnge, Louka Patenaude and Gary Chin, will perform an original composition, and Jimmy Voegeli will tickle the organ keys as John Urban hosts the event. In addition, many of these artists will perform for MAMA after parties at four local venues: the Brink Lounge, the Annex, the Alchemy Cafe and Inn on the Park.
According to Tvedt, it's the biggest slate of performers the show's ever had - and something that would make any parent proud.