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SF Music Awards 2001 

An exotic adventure into the mysterious world of sound!

Wednesday, Oct 17 2001

It was a strange experience putting this show together in the midst of so much turmoil. The timing was all wrong. I found myself sending out congratulations to nominated musicians at a time when offering congratulations could not be more inappropriate. Like so many others, I had no emotional reference points with which to gauge my response; I was numb and filled with low-frequency static. But music helped. Finding the right piece or song relieved me of the need to understand the situation intellectually and gave my sadness a decipherable form. Music often soothes me in that way. I think music allows us to do something emotionally that a lot of us might not be able to do on our own — to express rage, sorrow, joy, wonder, or uncanny jubilance within a particular moment in time. I’m grateful, and I hope this show reflects that.

As for the name change: After over a decade of calling our music awards the SF Weekly Wammies, we’ve been told by a much larger, high-profile music awards show (it begins with a grrrowl and rhymes with Wammies) to change our name or endure the slings and arrows — and unrelenting tedium — of legal proceedings. We caved. I suppose it’s just as well, since the BAMMIES — to which this show’s founders (Ann Powers, Brian Raffi, and Jeff Diamond) were initially reacting 12 years ago — have become unrecognizable, and we never had a good explanation for what “Wammies” meant anyway. Welcome to the SF Weekly Music Awards!

This year, I feel exceptionally privileged to present a throng of expansive local talent, a pack of musicians who give aural texture to Shangri-La by the Bay. Having Japanese drum troupes, Indonesian temple orchestras, and Nigerian storytellers share one room with heavy metal guitarists, punk rock harpies, and half-naked performance artists is exactly how I envision the perfect music awards show. I hope you feel the same. Thank you for the opportunity. — Silke Tudor

Award Show Performers

Vise Grip
Vise Grip is quite the man about town. When he’s not acting as lead singer of Zooma Zooma, he’s passing out advice to various rapscallions at local watering holes. He’s the only man with a nice enough hat and a quick enough tongue to pull off this gig.

San Francisco Taiko Dojo
In Japan, the sound of the drum has been considered sacred since ancient times, when it was used to drive away evil spirits and crop pests and call the rain spirits with the sound of thunder. Anyone who has seen the great drums played knows that they are, indeed, thunder personified — potent, lordly, and awe-inspiring. San Francisco Taiko Dojo Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka brought taiko to North America in 1968. Since its inception, the troupe has collaborated with such musicians as Art Blakey, Max Roach, Tito Puente, Babatunde Olatunji, Kitaro, and Mickey Hart, and has contributed to soundtracks for Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, and Rising Sun. The San Francisco Taiko Dojo Academy is recognized as the premier taiko academy in the West, responsible for training the future and present leaders of other ensembles in the basic elements of the art form. Last month, Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka was awarded the National Heritage Award for Folk Art in Washington, D.C.

Loco Bloco
Loco Bloco, which means “crazy song and dance” in Spanish and references sections of streets in South America where competition erupts, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing art and heightened cultural identity to local teenagers from low-income backgrounds. Loco Bloco carried away the coveted grand prize in the San Francisco Carnaval 2000 through a diligent focus on the percussion and dance of Brazil, Cuba, and West Africa as well as comprehensive classes in hip hop, theater, stage writing, and costume design. Loco Bloco teaches its members an exuberant, irrepressible style that is unrivaled in Northern California, and often sends them on to teaching and administrative positions in the community.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya
What began as a single six-week Bay Area workshop has given root to a 23-year-old tradition of cultural exchange and award-winning Indonesian music and dance. Gamelan Sekar Jaya — a 45-member ensemble of local artists — has studied and worked under the direction of some of Bali’s most gifted artists, many of whom are invited from Bali’s National Academy of Performing Arts to do residencies in S.F. But unlike most gamelan orchestras, Sekar Jaya does not restrict itself to traditional court and temple pieces. While the ensemble is deeply rooted in the instrumentation of the art form — using bronze mettallophones, bamboo marimbas, tunes gongs, drums, and flutes — the group has sponsored the creation of more than 50 new works by Balinese artists and, more recently, Americans. Upon invitation by Bali’s prestigious Festival of the Arts, Gamelan Sekar Jaya has performed these new works for Indonesian audiences, garnering praise from the national press, which called the act the finest Balinese gamelan outside of Indonesia.


The Court & Spark

Call it gothic country, ambient Americana, or just plain gorgeous -- any way you slice it, the Court & Spark has been redefining roots music since its inception three years ago. Led by MC Taylor's soulful voice -- part cowboy poet, part backwoods gospel singer -- the Court & Spark's cinematic music reflects the vast expanses of the American West. The group's first album, 1999's Ventura Whites (named for a brand of rolling papers the band all enjoyed), was a wake-up call for those who claimed that all fresh, young talent had fled San Francisco for less expensive parts. Live, the songs on Ventura Whites were enhanced by pedal steel player Tom Heyman and harmony vocalist Wendy Allen, both of whom made significant contributions to the band's second milestone record, Bless You (out this month on local label Absolutely Kosher). The album further develops the Court & Spark's trademark high-desert sound, with drummer James Kim and guitarist Scott Hirsch turning in brilliantly nuanced performances on standouts like "National Lights" and "Fireworks." And then there's the small matter of the group recruiting former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Gene Parsons to play mandolin, guitar, and banjo on the new effort. The pieces all add up to an exquisite portrait of a borderless band on the rise.


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