Hear ye, hear ye

The annual Sacramento Area Music Awards are months away, but the pre-Sammies gossip has begun. Although the list of nominated bands won’t officially be posted at www.sammies.com until May 5, SN&R already is receiving letters from artists and fans who are positive this year’s nominating committee has overlooked the only act worth mentioning. (Alas, “the only act worth mentioning” is never the same band from letter to letter.)

Every year, SN&R employees log a fair amount of cubicle hours responding to Sammies-related queries. But this year we’ve decided to get proactive and dispel some common myths about the Sammies.

Myth No. 1: Sammies winners are chosen by advertisers, beer sponsors, people on the SN&R staff who have never seen a live-music show, Clear Channel and Satan. With the exception of Satan, we’ve heard every one of these before. It’s unclear what people think a big corporation like Miller Brewing Co. or Clear Channel stands to gain by making sure the Secretions win a Sammie rather than the Snobs, but accusations of commercial influence are rampant.

Here’s the truth about the nominating process: Every spring, SN&R’s editorial department compiles a list of musicians, venue owners, promoters, recording engineers, music journalists, band photographers, record-label owners, radio DJs, zine publishers and anyone else we can think of who is active in the local music scene. This year, we asked 73 such people which local bands impressed them the most in 2004, and then we tallied the responses. The five bands that got the most votes in each category will appear on the Sammies ballot for the public to vote on in June.

Myth No. 2: The Sammies are long and kind of boring. OK, this isn’t really a myth—but it will be this year. At the 2005 Sammies, scheduled for July 14 at the Empire Club, SN&R is eliminating long speeches and canned banter in favor of more socializing and music. The awards presentation will last only an hour and will be followed by full-length sets from several of this year’s nominated bands. And, unlike previous years, you won’t have to leave the show to hit the bar.

Myth No. 3: The Sammies matter. Every year we get angry letters from people who say the Sammies are meaningless (but disprove their point by getting so worked up). In truth, the Sammies are meaningless. Winning one won’t make you rich or famous, and the awards may not reflect who has the most talent. (Sacramento’s best musician is probably some bedroom hermit no one will ever hear.)

On the other hand, the Sammies are an opportunity to applaud Sacramento’s musicians and encourage perseverance in a sometimes thankless endeavor. It’s a reunion where fans and musicians meet friends they might not have seen since last year’s Sammies. And it’s a chance to do what music fans love most—stand in front of the stage and feel the music hit us in waves. Framed that way, maybe the Sammies do matter.