Ballot of the bands
“It's always been an issue that local musicians don't get the recognition they should get, let alone the appreciation they should get,” said Bill Woody, manager of Musician Rehearsal Center in Sparks. “And that's true of all performing artists.” Woody is one of the organizers of the Forte Awards, an event slated to debut this fall to honor the region's performing artists. (“Forte” is an acronym for “Fans of Reno-Tahoe Entertainment.”)
When Woody says “performers,” he's talking about tap dancers, pole dancers, comedians, actors, rock groups, country groups, Latin groups, metal groups, punk groups, magicians, pretty much any act that performs live on a stage or, in a few cases, not on a stage. The geographic parameters are almost as wide as the genre spectrum. Contestants may reside in Reno, anywhere in the Lake Tahoe region, Carson City, Truckee, Susanville, the Mammoth Lakes area or “as far east as Wendover.”
Here's how it works: Performers can register for free or be registered by a fan, friend or family member. There are 45 categories in which to enter. In July, a selection committee comprised of local performing arts veterans will narrow down the contestants.
“We wanted to make sure qualified, deserving people are nominated,” Woody said.
On Aug. 8, the list of official nominees will be announced, and the public will be invited to vote for the winners. Voting guidelines and procedures have not yet been announced. Organizers recommend checking the website later in the season.
The process is scheduled to culminate at an awards gala Nov. 3 at the Grand Sierra Resort's Grand Theatre. Woody can already envision the event.
“It's going to be like a Hollywood awards show,” he said. He's planning on having “celebrity presenters” from local business, media and government and also performing artists who've left Reno to pursue their careers nationally.
Steve Funk, one of Woody's collaborators on the event, added, “Our goal will be to put a real glitz and glam on the whole thing. Fashion is a big part of it.” Woody and Funk picture a velvet-rope-and-red-carpet atmosphere in which country acts in cowboy boots rub elbows with classical musicians in tuxedoes, metal bands in leather, and actors in their finery.
Woody said he'd like the honorees to include both long-standing favorite acts with established followings and as-yet-undiscovered talent.
“We have a lot of nominees because we want to recognize a lot of people,” he said. “And that could be somebody as young as 13 years old, that excels at dancing or playing a guitar or singing. … There are unbelievable guitar players that are 13 or 14 years old that may not even be in a band.”
Each performing act who'd like to join the running will need to supply a bio and some demo materials, but new acts are welcome, even if they don't have a tour, album or show under their belts yet—or even a polished MP4.
Steve Funk said, “They [may] have a bedroom video on YouTube that's maybe gotten a lot of hits.”
Woody said, “This is about showing appreciation, recognizing our established talent, and finding new talent.”
Registration is open through June 30.