Does anybody in Madison really care about the WAMIs? Perhaps as much as the WAMIs care about Madison. Maybe that's not fair, but it's a widely held attitude in town towards the Wisconsin Area Music Industry.
Founded in 1980, WAMI is a volunteer and membership-based organization that purposes itself "to educate and recognize the achievements and accomplishments of individuals in the Wisconsin music industry." Every spring, the organization bestows awards to the "Best" bands and musicians of varying types in the state, known as the WAMIs. The group announced its 2008 nominees on Sunday.
There are 35 total WAMIs, each with five nominees apiece. That makes for 175 nominations across the board. Roughly 5% of these are for music folks from around these parts.
Nine Madison-based musicians and businesses were nominated for WAMIs last year. None were among the winners, though the popular local country group Madison County did win one of four regional People's Choice Award for "Best Band/Artist of the Year."
There aren't as many 2008 nominees with at least a nominal current connection to Madison. These include Blueheels (Americana/Rockabilly), Ladies Must Swing (Big Band), Moon Gypsies (Folk/Acoustic Group/Artist), Figureheads (R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop Group/Artist), Mighty Short Bus (Rock Group), Maximum Ink (Print Media), Justin Perkins (Producer), and Smart Studios (Studio). And as with every year, there are the four regional People's Choice awards.
Congrats to the nominees, but this paucity of Madison nominees isn't surprising. The WAMIs as an institution isn't really a presence in this area. It has regional committees in Milwaukee, Kenosha/Racine, and the Fox Valley, with meetings and parties generally held in these same cities. As in previous years, the awards show will be held in Milwaukee, on Monday, April 28 at Turner Hall.
Madison music fans needn't be concerned with this longstanding state of affairs, though, thanks to the MAMAs. The Madison Area Music Awards were founded in part to compensate for the situation in fact, and raise the profile of the Madison music scene from its home base. The group is celebrating its fifth birthday this year, continuing its dual mission of recognizing local musicians and supporting music education since being founded by Rick Tvedt in 2004.
The MAMAs are already well into this year's awards process, which is detailed in a FAQ about its mission and operation. After months of nominations by organization members, the first round of voting started on February 15. All MAMAs members are permitted to vote for the nominees of their choice, with this initial cycle running through March 27. The 2008 nominees will subsequently be announced during a party at the Brink Lounge on Monday, March 31.
Round two of the MAMAs then begins on April 1, and will run through the whole of the month. Over this month and next, meanwhile, are a trio of fundraisers (on March 8, April 11, and April 16) for the organization and its charitable mission. Then on Saturday, May 10, the Barrymore Theatre will play host to the fifth annual MAMAs awards show, which will feature performances by Pale Young Gentlemen, The Jessi Lynn Band, Profound with Lil' Braugh, Dear August, Stephanie Rearick, Westside Andy and Mel Ford Band, and The Motorz.
So don't worry about no WAMIs, Madison, you've can still play a part in the MAMAs.