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Gavin's Underground

City Weekly Music Awards

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-01-27 -

With January coming to a close, one local publication starts to reflect back on 2008's local music scene.

City Weekly brings back its annual music awards issue in a couple weeks, with a new look and name no less. The City Weekly Music Awards. Abandoning the old style we've been used to for years, this revamped competition/award showcase includes ten concerts over the course of a nine days, featuring 30 of the best bands in Utah for you to vote on. All wrapped up with an issue dedicated to all the best things our scene has to offer and a final concert featuring the top choices. I got a chance to chat with the paper's awesomely busy Music Editor, Jamie Gadette, about all things CWMA. As well as her career, thoughts on the scene, and a few other topics I could squeeze in.

Jamie Gadette

http://www.myspace.com/cityweeklyslammys

Gavin: Hey Jamie! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jamie:
Hey Gavin! What do you want to know? Born and raised in Salt Lake City. Moved to Los Angeles my senior year and stayed in California until 2002 when I moved back to Utah to finish college. I work all the time but I love what I do so it all evens out. I’m training to run a half-marathon in April. I’ve recently developed pre-hermit and full-blown curmudgeon tendencies but I don’t think I’ll ever feel old enough to be considered an “adult.”

Gavin: What first got you interested in music?

Jamie: My dad! When he wasn’t teaching, he played in several bands around Utah, including a once popular cover group called Mocha Joe. He used to take his students to Metallica concerts. Now he plays in a Portland-based all-male Go-Gos tribute band called We Got the Meat. Ha! Some of my fondest memories are of us doing dishes or driving around in our beat-up Toyota listening to everything from Blue Cheer and Deep Purple to The Police and Elvis Costello. Music makes everything better.

Gavin: What were some of your favorite albums before you hit college?

Jamie: My tastes were all over the place. I went to kind of a hippie high school, so I dabbled in jam bands (my first concert was a Phish show in 7th grade. Ha! First secondhand high too. Best vegan burrito in a parking lot, ever). When that got old I moved into 60's/70's rock and metal bands which I guess informs my current attraction to heavy rock/psych/stoner bands. But I also loved Bikini Kill, Breeders, L7, Pixies and the Beastie Boys… I loved cheesy hip-hop—Biggie, Tupac, etc. I went through a punk and pop-punk phase.

Gavin: What influenced you to get into writing?

Jamie: I’m an only child and grew up entertaining myself by reading and making up stories. I thought about becoming a visual artist but realized I could probably make a better career out of writing. I think I made the right decision but who knows.

Gavin: You got your Bachelors in English at the U. Why did you choose to come to Utah, and what was the program like up there during that time?

Jamie: I transferred from a couple of schools—one private; one community—before heading back to Utah. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The U’s English program was and as I understand it continues to be incredibly solid. I had some pretty amazing teachers including Prof. Tatum who made a positive, lasting impression on me.

Gavin: How did you get involved with RED Magazine?

Jamie: A friend of mine was serving as RED’s assistant editor when I moved back from L.A. I was writing for SLUG for a brief time and he suggested I apply for a position at RED which was a university-affiliated A&E weekly that actually paid a bit here and there. It was on campus and easy to hit up in between classes or after work. I applied, they took me in… And after two years the U apparently ran out of funds and put RED on ice. Bad move. The U went for years without a decent A&E weekly. Now Red Pulse is in action, making a good name for itself. It warms the cockles to know a new generation of writers is taking on the establishment and entertaining readers all at once.

Gavin: What was it like being an editor for it, and how do you view your time spent there until it stopped? Any favorite stories?

Jamie: I was assistant editor and I loved every minute of it. We had tremendous creative control over the paper because quite frankly the Chronicle more or less viewed us as the Fuck-ups/bastard step-children who just messed around while they did “serious” reporting. So we ran with it. We were a tight crew with a slightly warped sense of humor. We put out a beautiful product thanks largely to Dave Howell, our top designer. We worked late hours and laughed. A lot. Some of my favorite memories include our Bar Crawl and pretty much every story involving Good-Looking Ken—a doll who went on fabulous adventures. One of our crew members, Craig Froehlich, died last year. We held a wake of sorts and read through all of his columns. The funniest one involved him calling up Big Ed’s to see if the joint did in fact claim to have the “World-Famous Pastrami Burger” in a piece about John Kerry. The part-time employee who answered Craig’s call refused to go outside to see if the sign carried that tag-line. We ended up swapping the Big Ed’s mention with an equally absurd/brilliant analogy. You can read more of Craig’s work here.

Gavin: How did City Weekly catch your interest, and how did you get on board with them?

Jamie: Right place, right time. I applied for a position as someone was leaving. I graduated from the U on a Friday in 2004 and started at CW the following Monday. Talk about green. I started out as a staff writer and they don’t teach you how to talk to the mayor in English theory class.

Gavin:
What was your first year working there like?

Jamie: Exhilarating, terrifying and rewarding. Not much has changed, except my skin. It’s pretty damn thick.

Gavin: How did it feel taking over as the Music Editor? And were there any major changes you made to that section after taking over?

Jamie: I had HUGE shoes to fill—I mean, you try following Bill Frost’s lead! I didn’t make any major changes at first but with our new redesign I’ve started to branch out with new ways of covering both local and national artists/trends, etc. It’s definitely a work in progress and I appreciate feedback.

Gavin: Big thing to talk about, the SLAMMys are no more, and it's become the CWMA's. First off, give us a brief history to the SLAMMys, and how long had it been going on for?

Jamie: The SLAMMys—Salt Lake Area Music and More—was always designed to highlight the best Utah bands had to offer. The issue used to coincide with South By Southwest with winners in the round-robin-type battle of the bands receiving a trip to Austin where they played a less than ideal gig or two. When we launched the Arty’s two years ago, that pretty much took care of the “More” aspect of SLAMMys. We also stopped sending bands down to SXSW because festival organizers stopped hosting our winners. Bands can still apply to the festival on their own—Location Location actually made it in and will be playing during the March 17-22 event.

Gavin: Why the change, and why now instead of last year?

Jamie: We are trying to move more toward a festival-type event similar to SXSW and CMJ. It’s going to take time and involve tremendous growing pains, I’m sure. But we like the idea of making the showcases themselves a highlight instead of simply a means to an end. The Top 30 bands are already winners, selected by a diverse group of respected figures who live and breathe Utah music. Being selected is an honor in and of itself. I like that idea more than bands competing against each other, which is what fueled past SLAMMys events. Plus, people were always confusing us with the WWE Slammys—and you don’t want to piss off wrestling fans.

Gavin: What was the process you took in picking the bands and artists in the Top 30?

Jamie: We modeled our process after Portland alt-weekly Willamette Week’s music awards, modifying it to fit our smaller market and CW’s big-picture goals. Basically, we sent out a list of bands (about 80 total) to a committee of people who are deeply invested in the Utah music community. We asked them to select 25 of their favorite bands from that list with the following criteria: that the band is not just talented but also incredibly active—touring, recording, frequently playing around town, giving back to the community that supports them. We then took their scores and cumulatively determined a Top 30 list. You can read about each of the nominees in City Weekly's Jan. 29 issue. Just head to the music section. You'll notice that some of the artists aren't scheduled to perform as they had conflicts preventing them from appearing. I Am The Ocean, for example, is currently recording in Portland. Readers/audience members can affect the nominees’ scores by voting at the showcases or online starting January 29. The Top 3 will go on to play the final party at The Depot with headliner Ben Kweller. They will also be profiled in the paper. Audience members will vote at the final party for the number one band. Hopefully it will be a lot of fun. I’m pretty excited about all of these groups and think any of them could wind up on top.

Gavin: Will you be doing any staff picks or lists for a future issue like last year, or has that format changed as well?

Jamie: Absolutely! The City Weekly Music Awards issue—on streets and online Feb. 12—will be an all-staff-pick issue featuring artists/labels/stores/trends that we believe are just as noteworthy as the Top 30 performers. We have an incredibly eclectic group of contributors right now and their picks should reflect diverse tastes. The challenge is figuring out how to squeeze all that good stuff into one paper! Hopefully we can convince more than a few readers to jump online for everything that doesn’t make the cut.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on our local music scene, both good and bad?

Jamie: Amazing, amazing, amazing. I can think of at least ten groups off the top of my head who can hold their own with any band out-of-state or even signed to a label.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Jamie: Bands just need to tour more and we as a community need to eliminate the defeatist attitude that echoes popular out-of-state sentiment—that Utah is weird and small and not-Brooklyn or not-Portland, etc.

Gavin: What do you think about local labels, and do you believe they help or hinder musicians?

Jamie: They are tremendously selfless, passionate and a boon to musicians. And don’t forget the record stores. They are also tireless champions of the local music community!

Gavin: KRCL, X96 and U92 have their own shows going on where local artists are getting radio airplay. Do you believe they're helping the scene, or do you believe it's making it feel more excluded?

Jamie: I think those stations are doing a great job. Every bit helps.

Gavin: Do you wish there were more shows or even complete stations who did this, or do think things are fine the way they are at the moment?

Jamie: A complete station would be ideal! In fact, I could see YOU launching an all-local Internet station…

Gavin: Moi'? What are your thoughts on other local publications like SLUG, In Utah and Salt Lake Magazine, and how they contribute to the music scene?

Jamie: Again, every little bit helps. Local bands can use all the coverage they can get.

Gavin: Going national, what are your thoughts on the mainstream music getting airplay today?

Jamie: What constitutes mainstream anymore? I think the industry is in-flux. We are fast approaching a situation where artists and listeners have complete control over what is transmitted and consumed. It’s an interesting time we live in, no doubt.

Gavin:
What can we expect from you and City Weekly the rest of the year?

Jamie: We launched the print redesign last week and will soon be launching a new and improved Website—CityWeekly.net. You can expect us to continually evolve, adapt and work closely with the community to be the best publication we can possibly be.



monk's* huka bar & grill*

Laserfang 10
Furs
11
Purr Bats 12

Rotten Musicians 10:30
Mindstate 11:30


burt's* woodshed*

Loom 10
Subrosa 11
Form of Rocket
12

Aye Aye 10
David Williams 11
Band of Annuals 12


urban lounge*

Michael Gross & the Statuettes 10:30
Cavedoll 11:30




urban lounge* velour (Provo, all ages)

The Future of the Ghost 10
Tolchock Trio 11
Red Bennies 12

RuRu 8
Kid Theodore 9
Neon Trees 10
bar deluxe*

High Beams 10:30
iAndale!
11:30




club vegas* star bar* (park city)

God's Revolver 10:30
Blackhole
11:30
Cave of Roses
12:30
Paul Jacobsen 10:30
The Devil Whale 11:30

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Jamie: I’m a big fan of the Southeast Asian Market on 900 South. That’s not too obvious. Oh, and Whiskey Melbas—refreshing, even in the dead of winter. I’ll probably have a few of those after the CWMAs wrap.

Gavin: Nice! Save one for me.

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