Organized by North Park nonprofit, San Diego Music Awards honor courage and other achievements
Manny Lopez | SDUN Reporter
The San Diego Music Awards were handed out Aug. 12 in front of a sold-out crowd at Humphreys by The Bay on Shelter Island. More than 1,300 fans, performers, media and industry professionals gathered under the stars to celebrate one of San Diego’s biggest music nights of the year.
Now in its 22nd year, the three-hour annual event featured over 200 local acts competing in 27 different categories, along with live performances by P.O.D., Unwritten Law, Dead Feather Moon, Euphoria Brass Band, Hills Like Elephants, Hyena, Mattson 2, The Howls and Candye Kane.
Grammy-award winners Switchfoot, who did not attend the show, won the evening’s top honor for Artist of the Year. Fresh off of a performance at Lollapalooza 2012, Delta Spirit, who also did not attend, took the trophies for Album of the Year and Song of the Year. Getting the nod for Best New Artist was Hills like Elephants, whose debut album “The Endless Charade” was released in February.
A special Courage in Music award was given to Blues singer, musician, playwright, activist and former adult star Kane, who has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2007. Kane, whose gritty lyrics convey humor, strength and optimism, returned home to San Diego from a 26-city tour for the event.
“We’re all courageous for standing up when it really matters,” Kane said during her acceptance speech. “We have a responsibility as writers to be honest, write about what we know and work to inspire others.”
Known as one of the finest jazz pianists over the past 50 years, Mike Wofford received the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by his friend and legendary saxophonist, Daniel Jackson. Before handing him the award, Jackson said that Wofford has always maintained the jazz tradition and never let technology interfere with the music.
Wofford and Kane later teamed up with bassist and Best Jazz artist nominee Rob Thorsen to perform “I’m Not Getting Older” off Kane’s 1999 release titled “Whole Lotta Love.”
Proceeds from the event benefitted the Taylor Guitars for Schools program run by the San Diego Music Foundation, a North Park nonprofit that also organizes the music awards. Its founder Kevin Hellman said the program has distributed guitars to over 35,000 students in public elementary schools throughout San Diego County since 1998.
Jazz trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, a recipient of the Best Jazz artist award three times since 1995, along with Jazz Album of the Year in 2009, said that it is always an honor to be nominated for the SDMAs, but that beyond trophies and accolades, the event is a once-yearly opportunity for him to reconnect with long-time friends he might otherwise never see.
Broadcast journalist Perette Godwin, who has been involved with the awards show as a presenter for the past five years, said the event is an opportunity to recognize the people that make music in San Diego.
“It’s a very close knit community,” Godwin said. “Whether they’re in their seats or in the back, everyone’s here having a good time, raising money for a good cause and catching up with old friends.”
Hellman described the award ceremony as part award show and part music industry meet up.
“If you’ve ever been to the SDMA’s you would know that most of the people are hanging out in the back talking with friends that they haven’t seen in a long time, because everyone’s busy doing shows and touring,” Hellman said. “This is the one time a year that all of these people in the music industry are all in one place together. It’s a big fun hangout.”