Metro Times’ new awards show; the Blowout takes flight

OK, we know full well that when the subject of a music awards event comes up people often do one of two things: shrug with an exhale of bored indifference, or puke. We’ve been known to do both. And we’re sick and tired of the spine-crushing inertia and boring elitism associated with such events.

So, we’re doing something about it. We are, in fact, doing what this paper did in the beginning — launching our own awards shindig. It’s called, cleverly, the Metro Times Music Awards.

See, way back in 1982, MT presented the first-ever Detroit Music Awards, and did so exclusively for the next decade. It was, for the most part, full of glorious, low-rent spectacle, cheap beer and mirth, a salutation to local music done mostly for all the right reasons. Then, in 1997, MT partnered with Motor City Music Awards Foundation, formed the MCMF (Motor City Music Foundation) and presented a joint awards show. Soon the missions became blurry and diffused, and irresolvable problems arose.

So, after a sweat-soaked, guffaw-deficient, seven-year run co-producing the Detroit Music Awards with MCMF, we’ve officially ended our alliance with both. Mind you, we’ve nothing against the MCMF or the DMAs. Hardly. We just felt it was time to create some kind of fist-jacking, ass-shimmying, apathy-quelling way to recognize deserving bands and artists. And we’re keen to avoid the inherent politicking, backstabbing and overall faux glitzy sheen common to awards shows. We promise you the Metro Times Music Awards ain’t gonna be a snooze-fest. If it is, you can tell us to fuck off.

Here’s how it’s going to work: First, it’ll be reader-driven. We have a nomination “committee” made up of our expanding music writing corps, which will be co-chaired by me and this dude Anthony Morrow (a guy who spends much time hanging around MT headquarters, yakking about the Blowout, but who does … well, honestly, I’ve no idea what he does). Said ad-hoc “committee” will be on hand simply to overrule the obvious ballot-stuffing, sniff out palpable turds and select the top five nominees in each category that you, an informed and faithful reader, picked. And the ballots will include every goddamned genre, subgenre or no-genre that qualifies as organized noise in the greater Detroit area. It’s a way of — and there’s no way to put this without getting all corny — recognizing those who amuse, piss off, influence and generally entertain.

Still, if you’re a musician, just because Hey Dad Productions allows you to make a record doesn’t mean that you’re worthy of attention, and we ain’t your designated cheerleaders. Conversely, there’s incredible stuff rising from all corners of Detroit that gets continually overlooked week-in and week-out, which we’re as guilty of as anybody. Our awards show is going to be a raving hat-tip and a nod to the deserving, whether it’s some iced-up street urchin busking to pay rent or an emcee spitting rhymes that are taking him or her around the world. The best part? It will all be based on your input.

The voting begins in late February and ends the first week in May. Readers register and cast their picks at Winners will be announced during the awards show at St. Andrew’s Hall on Saturday, May 14.

Look, I hate award shows as much as the next guy, so think of it this way: This is a grassroots event. Forget the shiny spreads on pricey tables and flutes filled with bubbly; the MTMAs aren’t about the goofy music industry or bowing down to music biz suits, nor is it about careerists looking to further agendas. And it’s not about making somebody’s fucking career. We couldn’t do that if we tried, nor would we ever be so gauche as to think we could.

As our official press release says, our mission is “to celebrate the efforts of the metro Detroit music scene while recognizing the past and current achievements of Detroit’s musicians.” So, yeah, the Metro Times Music Awards (and accompanying music issue) will be something like that. Oh, and as a courtesy, vomit bags will be available at the door the night of the event.

Which brings us to the eighth annual liver-fattening Metro Times Blowout, which, you’ll note, is the nation’s biggest local music festival. It jump-starts Tuesday, March 1, with a premiere of the official documentary Blowout 2004. The next night is the pre-party at the Magic Stick, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday see roughly 200 area bands at 16 venues in Hamtramck.

The deadline for bands and artists to submit is Jan. 14. All you have to do is go to, fill out the required form and send in some music. It’s that simple and there’s no charge.

It also should be said here that all Blowout profits will be funneled back into the Blowout, and yes, bands — the two headliners in each club each night will be getting paid. In the past, Blowout money helped fund the Detroit Music Awards. That tactic is now history.

Brian Smith is Metro Times music editor. Send comments to [email protected]

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