There will be 27 categories ranging from “Best Electronica” to “Best Tribute Band” decided on the night, with performances from a slew of local heroes, including P.O.D., Unwritten Law, The Euphoria Brass Band, Hills Like Elephants, Dead Feather Moon, The Howls, Hyena and The Mattson 2. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient will be jazz pianist Mike Wofford.
The event is open to the public, with proceeds going to the Taylor Guitars for Schools program to bring music back into the area’s classrooms following years of budget slashes. More than 60 schools have participated to date, with nearly 35,000 students being given access to music education, thanks to the program.
As important as the event is to local youth, it’s also a big deal for the musicians nominated. Beyond the opportunity to hear great artists, the event is an incredible opportunity to network with most of the area’s performers, producers and promoters. One never knows who might be in attendance or presenting an award. Past surprises have included John Entwistle of The Who, Wayne Kramer of the MC5 and 1960s icon Johnny Rivers.
The value of the awards gala is espoused by 2011 Best Acoustic Performer winner, Scottish-born trouba-dour Colin Clyne.
“It definitely boosts your career,” he said. “Winning it last year, I was offered gigs, interviews, TV and various other radio stuff.”
He notes the worldwide impact of the event.
“The offers were particularly strong back in Scotland as well,” said Clyne.
Hard-rock guitarist Taz Taylor, nominated in the category of “Best Rock Album” for his album “Straight Up,” relocated to San Diego from his native Britain and considers his nomination to be a nod of acceptance from the local music community.
“It’s absolutely an honor to be nominated,” he said. “It’s nice to feel like part of the San Diego music scene which, to be honest, we always feel we are on the fringes of. We sell way more CDs in other parts of the world. [So] being nominated for this makes us feel like we are part of the ‘in’ crowd,” Taylor said.
For Hocus Lando Martinez, being nominated was a vindication of sorts.
“Working hard for three years, playing everywhere from Hot Topics to 4th and B, it is megacool to be recognized,” Martinez said. “Also, being unsigned with no management and yet to be noticed is a great feeling of achievement. We feel it’s a plus for our career and great milestone.”
Dan Luko, guitarist with Neon Cough, nominated for “Best Pop Album” for its disc “Dracula’s Mixtape,” agrees.
“As a band with no manager, publicist, producer or record label, it’s nice to be recognized as part of San Diego’s music community for doing what we love just for the sake of our own enjoyment,” Luko said.
For New Kinetics guitarist Brian Reilly — whose album “Contact” is nominated for “Best Alternative Album” — his favorite thing about the awards show is meeting some of the area’s musical pioneers.
“I guess I get pretty starstruck with the lifetime achievement guys,” Reilly said. “I trip out when I meet cats that have had a box seat in San Diego music history. It’s like flipping through a hardcover first edition with no set text. Just an account with no boundaries. It’s then that you realize that when you ignore time that the gray little man in a baseball cap standing in front of you once stood on the four-foot stage at The Roxy on Cass Street, swinging a 12-pound Strat like a sped-out hurricane to a full house. And for that moment, you’re not talking to some old cat, you’re talking to the king of the moment.”
Celtic fiddler Patric Petrie, nominated for “Best World Music Artist,” agrees.
“It’s the biggest, bestest party in San Diego,” Petrie said. “Everywhere you turn, you’re surrounded by celebrities and fantastic musicians. It’s the best opportunity available to mingle with fantastic musicians who I may have heard, but never had a chance to meet in person yet. Look, if I weren’t nominated, I’d still be there.”
JP Balmat of the Euphoria Brass Band, which is nominated in the category of “Best Americana Album,” is also the music director at Mission Bay High School. He’s seen firsthand the difference that bringing kids and music together can make, so he said he is particularly thrilled to be involved in this year’s event.
“My favorite thing about the San Diego Music Awards is that it brings so many talented musicians from various genres together,” said Balmat. “It celebrates our thriving music scene in San Diego. And it gives back to our local schools, growing the next generation of music lovers and musicians.”
• The San Diego Music Awards take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 13, at Humphreys Backstage Live, 2241 Shelter Island Drive. For more information, visit www.sandiegomusicawards.com.