With so many musical categories recognized at the 8th Annual Orange County Music Awards (affectionately known as the OCMAs) on Saturday night, April 4, 2008, and the majority of nominees only up for a single award, it was especially impressive that Venus Infers picked up three trophies on the night.
But the outstanding feature about this event was the camaraderie among the generations of musicians, as well as the palpable positive spirit that this truly marked a new beginning with Martin Brown, founder and producer of the OCMAs, honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and passing the torch on to the 2009's producer Luke Allen.
"I wanted to officially hand over the music awards to Luke," said an obviously-surprised Brown, who didn't know until a video presentation was made that he was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. "I started these eight years ago … and this was a time for a change. I'm proud of what I achieved with this, but it needed fresh blood and Luke is definitely the person to do this. I am very happy that he has taken this over.
"This is it, officially (my) goodbye and thank you Orange County for everything you have done for me," said Brown, who now lives in Madrid, Spain. "All the best luck; tell all your friends to support Luke and this organization for as long as you possibly can."
Fallen Stars bassist-singer Tracy Byrnes noted that in past years, many of the artists would get up and leave after their category was named. This year, she noted in a chat after the ceremony, most attendees stuck around to the end and took advantage to network and hang out with other musicians.
Brian Hazard, whose performance moniker Color Theory, has had a strong 2009. In addition to his best electronic nomination, his song "If It's My Time To Go" was included on the 2009 OCMAs mp3 compilation at the ceremony and is already a grand prize winner as part of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. He was one of several musicians interviewed who didn't take home a trophy, but still seemed to having a great time.
"When I was nominated for the 2009 O.C. Music Awards, I wasn't sure what to expect," said Hazard. "I was overwhelmed by the depth of talent here in Orange County. It was truly an honor just to be nominated. I'll be back next year for sure, if only as an audience member."
The mix of eight performances was a perfect sampling of the area scene, with performances by HumanLab, Suburban Legends and Venus Infers especially memorable.
Indeed, the entire evening was about celebrating the local scene.
"That was awesome; let's give it up for these bands," Allen told the crowd, most getting to their feet in a sense of solidarity. "Thanks guys; these are your awards."
LIST OF WINNERS
Lifetime Achievement Award: Martin Brown
New artist: Japanese Motors
Jazz: Translucent Ham Sandwich Band
Live acoustic: Cory Case
Hip-hop: Mickey Avalon
Alternative: Venus Infers
Blues: Parker Macy Blues
Indie: Venus Infers
World: The Fenians
Electronic: Faded Paper Figures
Pop: The Bolts
Country/Americana: The Fallen Stars
Live band: The Union Line
Surf: Japanese Motors
Club DJ: Free the Robots
Latin: Boogaloo Assasins
Rock: The Shys
Song: "No Harm Done," Aushua
People's Choice: Duress
Album: "The Truth About Venus Infers," Venus Infers
OC Impact Award: The Vandals