OC Music Awards showcase series revealed
The competition kicks off Jan. 8 at Detroit Bar.
The next OC Music Awards ceremony is still four months away, but since the last one ended the event’s producers have been hard at work on the 2013 edition – including the annual free showcase series at local venues that leads up to the March event.
After receiving hundreds of entries in numerous genres over the past month, 35 artists have been selected to participate in a just-revealed eight-week long agenda.
“I’m really excited this year just to see all of the bands, honestly,” says OC Music Awards producer Ashley Eckenweiler. “There are a lot of new names in our series, which I think is important. I’m excited about how diverse it is and I think it’s going to be just a really great season.”
The program kicks off Jan. 8 with Fellow Bohemian, Alabaster Stones, Flying Sparks, Robert Jon & the Wreck and the Field Trip. After that, every Tuesday night at a different O.C. venue the series continues with different acts, until the finale.
- Jan. 15: Annie McQueen, Becky Holt, Cherokee Fade, Alice Wallace and Justin Soileau perform at the District at Tustin Legacy.
- Jan. 22: Anna Vexa, Snakebit Drifters, Friction Reform, Beneath the Buried and Death Hymn Number 9 play the Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen in Fullerton.
- Jan. 29: Nilu, Golden Afternoon, Lowly Spects, Preacher’s Sons and Moonsville Collective will be at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana.
- Feb. 5: Solution, 80 Proof, Seven Year War, Headshine, Wheeland Brothers compete at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa.
- Feb. 12: Breach the Summit, the Devious Means, Jeramiah Red, Standing Hawthorn and Midnight Hour will play Founder’s Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.
- Feb. 19: Brother C & Sister J, Electro City, the Kettle Drivers, Time and Energy and Decode Radio will be in the upstairs room at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana.
- Feb. 26: The five finalists from the showcases will perform at House of Blues Anaheim.
All showcases are free to the public, though some venues are 18- or 21-and-older only.
Since 2009, showcase winners have used the honor to springboard toward some modest success. The Union Line and Corey Case scored best live band and best live acoustic, respectively, that year. Folk/Americana artist Billy Kernkamp nabbed best live acoustic in 2010, while now-defunct Dusty Rhodes & the River Band received best live band that time.
The Steelwells, who opened for Irvine-spawned mainstream smash Young the Giant at its sold-out homecoming at Pacific Amphitheatre this past summer, as well as folk artist Micah Brown, who has recently recorded and performed with the Dirty Heads, took home titles in 2011. Heavy rockers Railroad to Alaska, which just announced the departure of bassist Justin Morales, won best live band earlier this year; smooth grooving act Allensworth earned the best live acoustic crown.
Unlike previous series, when showcases were split into those two categories, this year all artists will compete for one title: best live band.
The winner will receive a generous prize package, to be revealed soon. In the past, that haul has included recording and rehearsal time at Red Bull Studios, gift certificates for gear and instruments, four dates on the summer Vans Warped Tour and various other performance opportunities, including a spotlight at the OC Music Awards itself. (The 2013 ceremony will be held March 9 at City National Grove of Anaheim.)
Each showcase will be hosted by a DJ from partner KROQ/106.7 FM, with artists judged by a small group of industry professionals (yours truly not included), who will score on musicianship, originality, song composition, stage presence and crowd size. In selecting which 35 artists get to compete, Eckenweiler says her crew pays close attention to how active each has been throughout the year.
“We look to see if they’re performing regularly, if they have a good following online and if they’re active out in the community doing promotions,” she says. “We basically can gauge how hard the bands seem to be working throughout the year.
“We also try to bring on a broad spectrum of genres – everything from indie to alternative rock and metal, world and acoustic music. There are a lot of great bands in Orange County that are working hard right now and moving in the right direction.”
Aside from cutting down the competition to just one category, Eckenweiler points out that the series continues to fulfill an aim of adding new venues as hosts, this time including Founder’s Hall, the upstairs spot at the Yost and the Mouse House at Downtown Disney.
Also, the increasingly recognized event has added two new categories, best tribute (for cover songs) and best music producer, bringing the total to 27.
Visit the official site for more information about the series, including set times, addresses and age restrictions.