Everything you need to know about the CAMMIES

Best New Act

Best New Act

CAMMIES: Your questions answered Every year, as we barrel into spring riding high on our giant Chico Area Music Awards season (see here), the Chico News & Review and Arts DEVO (who adds a promoter hat to his Energy Dome during CAMMIES) receive questions and concerns (and plenty of compliments—thanks, friends!) that we do our best to respond to as they come up. With the 2014 nominees newly announced, let’s get the most common questions out of the way so we can focus on rocking out:

Who chooses the CAMMIES nominees? Each year, we ask 50-or-so people who have been actively involved in the local music scene for the past year to be on our selection committee—promoters, bookers, soundpersons, music fans, radio DJs, music-store employees, club owners, music writers, and musicians from every genre. (Note: Musicians on the committee are still eligible for nomination; they just can’t personally nominate any act they’re a part of.)

Why do you keep the identities of those on the selection committee a secret? We want those on the committee to feel safe to choose the musicians who they think deserve a nod, not those who are simply popular or who are their friends. Being anonymous frees them up to do so, and it protects them from undue influence and any sass from jerkfaces.

How can my band get nominated? Play lots of shows and let people (friends, other bands, the media) know that you’re playing them. If you’re putting energy into both your art and the sharing of it, chances are the wide-cast net of our selection committee will catch your vibe.

Don’t the CN&R writers just pick the bands they want nominated? Do you see She Fetus, Danny Cohen or Mint Shekels & the Treif Stars on the list? Then, no, the bands I want are not automatically nominated. Like it or lump it, we go with what the committee chooses as a whole. If an act is active, it’s fair game for nomination. On a whole, the committee has done a great job every year.

But isn’t it just the same bands that get nominated every year? Yes and no. If you measure from one year to the next, then the majority of the nominated acts are the same. But Chico is a small town, and the favorite local acts just aren’t going to be replaced in large numbers over a 12-month period. Active, popular bands like Surrogate and Three Fingers Whiskey are going to continue doing comparable work for years. Nonetheless, if you map it out over time, there’s actually an average of two new nominated bands per genre per year. This year, the new blood is at about 20 percent, with a dozen first-timers on the list: Lisa Valentine, Mandalyn May, The Growlers, Mark “Porkchop” Holder, Sofa King, The Persian Skirts, The Rugs, Sorin, Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy, Sisterhoods, Playboy Smooth and KO-DE-AK. Plus, there are bunch of new names on the open-to-all punk-nominee list for 2014.

Aren’t the CAMMIES just an excuse for the Chico News & Review to make a bunch of money? We wish! The cold facts are: The CN&R has just broken even or lost money every year producing the CAMMIES. The sponsors pay for the production and promotion, and the venues pay the bands (yes, the bands get paid!). So, why do we continue to do it? To have fun, and to support and stay connected to the local music scene.

But art shouldn’t be about competition. Maybe not, but competition can provide a good spark. The nominations, the voting and the awards are tools we use create a buzz. And it works. But in the end, for those who attend the packed shows—and this is something that’s re-proven for me every year—it’s not the winners we remember, it’s the fun we had at the roaring parties.

I’ve taken off my promoter hat to write this column, so I can say that I have never liked the voting/popularity-contest part of the CAMMIES. And my personal feelings and concern for the health of the music community are a big reason why the people’s-choice portion of the awards show is shoved into the last 30 minutes of the day-long finale—almost an afterthought. We tip our hats to those who worked hard and to the fans who voted for them, but we reserve the bulk of the event for just rocking out. I think we can all live with that.