On the validity of local area music awards

I've been a supporter of the Madison Area Music Awards since its inception because I believe in its mission. The shameful lack of support for the arts in our country in general, and the lack of awareness of local and regional arts is a constant point of alarm for me. Organizations like the MAMAs fill a void that our federal, state and local governments refuse to fill (at our own peril in my opinion).

With this in mind, I find myself bitterly disappointed with local artists (read: musicians) participation, and ultimately respect, for organizations like the MAMAs and their efforts.

If I hear or read one more comment, article, blog or tirade about the pointlessness of local arts awards shows, I don't think I'll be able to contain myself. I've met too many "artists" that regurgitate the same criticisms of events like the MAMAs, claiming some "artistic" higher ground because of some perceived inequality in the event. It makes me sick to my core to hear people tear down the MAMAs, or some other organization that does perceivable good in our community, while doing nothing to change the situation.

I won't even go into the economic benefits local music gains from the MAMAs and their kin. What never ceases to amaze me is that we're given a chance to build a stronger community, and rather than participate (democratically) people choose to launch into verbal and written assaults. Rather than recognize the achievements of their peers, musicians in our "community" (and I use that term very loosely) choose to dismiss the work of others in the community and the meager recognition they receive.

Charles Ives once said that "Awards are badges of mediocrity", and I agree in many ways. But if awards of questionable merit are the only option for a rallying flag then I say, in our present situation, get on board, do something to change it or shut the hell up.

I hope that this is the last pointless tirade I feel compelled to write on this subject. I recommend that any musician or artist that reads this join the MAMAs and contributes. They do music and the arts more good than harm, which is more than I can say for most musicians and artists.


Holidays and Notes

I've suffered from a temporary work stoppage this week due, in part, to the Thanksgiving holiday. I was lucky enough to have TWO Thanksgivings this year. Thursday with my best friend, Sara, in Milwaukee. And Friday with Les, Patty, and Bill, whom I also love dearly. I spent the rest of the weekend with Les and Patty in Black Earth, which was a welcome reprieve from my daily routine.

This week also ends my five year run subsisting solely on my income from music. I started a new job at APS in Madison on Tuesday. I'll be focusing on developing their online dispatch system which should prove to be a good challenge, as I'm the only developer AND the project manager.

Also, I've rededicated some time daily to actually practice! I'm focusing on developing my improvising skills over standard jazz changes. As well as finally integrating some ideas that I've been developing for the past few years into my playing.

As far as the Nostalgia project (I need a snappier name for this), I'm spending some time exploring the subject in personal writing, and in my sketchbook. I'm beginning to consider what a performance and/or document of the work should look like. I think this will at least help in determining how I orchestrate the results of these experiments.

I've also begun writing for a new project. Something a little less "serious" than the Nostalgia project. I'll be talking with some people this weekend about participating. Maybe I'll get things together quick enough for a January or February gig. Also, I'll be performing with Danielle Brittany on Dec. 30th. Come out and hear what happens when I play real pop music!