It is an unfortunate economic truth in Tulsa: Most musicians lead double lives. While nighttime might find artists wrangling melodies and rhythms from their hands, during the day they are your barista, your bartender, carpenter, accountant, exterminator, salesperson or dentist.
There is simply not enough arts funding to spread around town and adequately support the amazing talent that echoes across Tulsa. Consequently, musicians often bite the bullet and balance their passions with practicality. They spread themselves in every direction in hopes of appeasing their creative appetite, while keeping a roof over their head and a little grit in their stomachs.
The weekend might find them playing to a room of adoring fans, but Monday morning finds them returning to office drone status -- a humbling regular occurrence.
That is why it is important to embrace local talent and music when possible, acknowledging a musician's sacrifice and compromises. Something as simple as attending a show, purchasing an independent release or complimenting an artist after a performance can add in its own way to our artistic community. With an active and appreciative audience, art communities swell with improvement, innovation and intrigue. Every citizen is encouraged to do their part in their own way.
But sometimes, small acts of validation are not enough. In 2009, UTW picked up the cultural gauntlet and hosted our first Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards at Cain's Ballroom. Twenty-seven categories garnered 85,000 votes last year resulting in an entirely memorable evening with hundreds of music fans and the music community's créme de la créme.
"Best Live Performance" nominee Smunty Voje arrived to the awards ceremony performing on the back of a flatbed truck, Halo Jordan arrived by horse and carriage. The evening also featured performances by all "Band of the Year" nominees, and rapper P.D.A. on stage supported by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra's Tulsa Rock Ensemble. Who knows what this year's awards night will bring?
The event brought an important sense of accomplishment and well-deserved praise to those that toil away on the stages of our clubs, bars, coffee shops and theaters.
UTW continues to build off the momentum, success and achievements of 2009 by bringing the ABoT Music Awards back to Cain's on Thursday, Aug. 5 for its second year.
It serves as an extension of our Absolute Best of Tulsa Awards, and we're happy to be able to honor artists/bands, radio stations and their personalities and DJs who make the "Tulsa Sound" what it is, day in and day out.
As always, we make sure to take it to the next level and readers and participants should expect an even bigger and better evening than last year: a night of music, local celebrity, red carpet and short acceptance speeches (hopefully).
This year saw a huge response from readers and music lovers alike as more than 216,000 votes were cast. That's right, more than double last year's votes, and we're putting the pedal to the metal to bring out even more stops this year.
Music performances by the "Artist of the Year" nominees are scheduled including Ben Kilgore, Brandon Clark, Eric Himan, Fiawna Forte and Olivia Duhon, and they'll be backed by our first ever house band, Tulsa Rock Ensemble.
While there will be 28 awards handed out at this year's show and several special moments, no moment might not be more special than the "Wayman Tisdale Lifetime of Tulsa Music Award," which was last year handed out to the late jazz musician himself, Wayman Tisdale. This year's recipient is being kept under wraps, but you won't want to miss who it is.
The master of ceremonies and primary announcer of the awards show will be musician Jeff Scheel. The name might not ring an immediate bell but his band Gravity Kills and its hugely successful industrial alternative rock single "Guilty" surely will.
Gravity Kills re-formed and began performing again, so Scheel will be bringing his renewed enthusiasm for music to Tulsa for the awards show.
Of course, we pay homage to our city's musicians week in and week out through our in-depth coverage of the music scene, but this is different. We reward the hard work of the musicians and honor the contributions they make to keep the "Tulsa Sound" alive and booming. It's time for us to take pride in our city and its musical roots, and this year's 2nd Annual Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards is nothing less. So claim the city and the fruits of its musical labors on Aug. 5.
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