SO SUE ME: It's very easy to sit back and criticize, disparage and dismiss the work of others. I know, because I've done my share of it, including on this job when I sometimes forget that people make music, not faceless monolithic corporations. Sometimes I'll slam a band because they aren't making the music I want to hear, forgetting they may make a few others, sometimes millions of others, quite happy listening to it.
I see those same tendencies in some local musicians, club owners and music lovers in town when describing The Weekly's TAMMIES (Tucson Area Music Awards) efforts. As everyone who reads this section of the paper knows, we presented our TAMMIES Showcase Shuffle a few weeks back.
Complaints I've heard center around the competitive nature of the event, as well as the fact that some artists weren't included on the ballot and showcases and that some venues aren't ideal for showcasing local talent.
Let's address the first two issues right away. The competition fostered between artists is an aspect of the TAMMIES I'm not totally sold on myself. I understand when musicians complain art shouldn't be made into a competition--it's probably better suited to sports and politics.
The rebuttal to that argument is basically this: All of life is a competition. The business of making music is already highly competitive in Tucson and everywhere else. Bands jostle for gigs, label attention, audiences and lots of other things, so what's wrong with a harmless competition to see who readers of this paper pick as their favorite musician in different categories? People in our culture like keeping score and anointing "winners," so it's no big deal to do it in the TAMMIES. No one's hurt by not emerging as the leading vote-getter in a category, and some musicians may find the title useful in their press kits or in conversations with recording companies.
Second issue: Some artists are excluded from the TAMMIES ballot and showcases.
That's a logistical problem we'll all have to live with. There simply aren't enough venues in Tucson to hold every single musician who wants a showcase gig. And frankly, we want to present musical acts we think are good enough for showcasing. Not every band or solo performer is ready for that.
Also, certain musicians don't want to be part of the TAMMIES because of the competition aspect, so they don't send in an application and are left out because of it.
Third issue: Some venues don't treat musicians with even a minimal amount of respect.
OK, here we have to dig into a little dirt. There were undeniable problems at Jaime's, 536 N. Fourth Ave., that pissed off musicians and music patrons alike. On Friday, March 31, employees at Jaime's pulled the plug--quite literally--in the middle of Joy Bones' last set.
"The bottom line with Jaime's is we had a contract to use the venue for both nights of the TAMMIES Showcase Shuffle," says Jeb Schoonover, executive producer of the TAMMIES. "In the 10 years I've worked in the music business, I've never, ever heard of a band getting cut off. It's the rudest thing I've ever heard of. And it's sad because people were dancing and enjoying the music.
"I just wish Jaime (Moreno) had fulfilled his obligation to the TAMMIES. Every other bar, club and venue fulfilled their commitment to us, just as we did to them. If he didn't think it was successful, then he could have chosen not to participate in it next year."
"I would never participate in it again," Moreno said in a short telephone interview I conducted last week. "It was a fiasco."
He refused to elaborate and demanded that neither his name or the name of his club be used in any story connected with the TAMMIES.
I explained his "fiasco" comment was on record (I had identified myself as a music writer for The Weekly before he made the statement) and therefore I had the right, and a duty, to use both names in the paper.
He responded that he "didn't give a fuck" about my job and that if I used the names I'd hear from him.
Note to Mr. Moreno: The Weekly's phone number is 792-3630 and my boss' name is Douglas Biggers.
It's obvious to me, the organizers of the TAMMIES and to many musicians I've talked to that Moreno isn't interested in helping the Tucson music scene grow. That's fine--as long as you don't legally commit yourself to an event dedicated to that very cause.
My question to both the lovers and makers of music who grumble about the TAMMIES is a simple one: Would Tucson be better off without the TAMMIES, or does the event enhance our local scene?
An aside to grumblers: We want to hear your complaints so that we can improve the event, but remember this: You may help kill an event designed to help you and make life in the Old Pueblo more exciting. If you think The Weekly only does this to make tons of money, then you should know this, too--this paper has yet to make a dime from the TAMMIES. We're in the red on the event for each of the three years we've done it. If we'd made dough this year it would have been plowed right into next years TAMMIES to make it bigger and better.
POSITIVE NOTES: I saw a number of genuinely exciting performances by talented musicians in my own tour de TAMMIES Showcase Shuffle.
My favorites: Greyhound Soul at O'Malleys and The Resonars at the Downtown Performance Center.
I heard lots of good music both nights but those two really stood out. Lead singer Joey Pena of Greyhound Soul absolutely riveted the audience with his commanding, evocative vocals. Lead guitarist Larry Vance delivered nothing but scrumptious, understated riffs, licks and fills in their country-shaded pop storms and ballads. You really need to hear this band.
The Resonars' '60s-style pop revitalizes the pop-rock genre by recalling American and British heroes of the era without resorting to cute retro formulas. Their songs are clean, tough and crisp; filled with insinuating melodic lines and hooks and plenty of infectious harmonies.
My bottom line: I hope The Weekly can continue to invest in the TAMMIES because I think it's an overwhelmingly positive addition to our musical communities. People have the opportunity to get exposure to artists and venues they might not normally hear or visit. What's wrong with that?
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