There were two marathons in the Twin Cities on Sunday. One of them took place at the epicenter of the local music scene, First Avenue. The Minnesota Music Awards are perhaps the most inclusive regional awards event of the year. This year nearly 250 nominees competed in 48 pop music categories, from spiritual and spoken word to sound technician and song of the year.
The most-nominated performer this year was Minneapolis rapper P.O.S., who was up for awards in six different categories and took home two. Not only was he honored in the Hip-Hop Artist category, but his latest CD, "Audition," won the Critics Choice Award for Nationally Released Recording. P.O.S. has spent much of the last year touring the country, sometimes opening for underground hip-hop superstar Slug and his group Atmosphere, also of Minneapolis.
While he's enjoyed a breakout year, P.O.S. says he wants to keep his perspective.
"I've been just trying to stay as focused as I can and enjoy myself, and understand that you get these kind of opportunities and these kind of chances once," he says. "So treat it like people aren't going to like me next year--just enjoy myself."
P.O.S. confesses awards aren't as important to him as they are to other members of his family.
"It's cool. It's really fun, but mostly it's just something to give to my mom, so she doesn't think that I'm wasting my time," P.O.S. says.
Another band that came away with more than one award was Tapes 'n Tapes, winning in both the Pop Group category and a biggie, Artist/Group of the Year. 2006 was the year Tapes 'n Tapes used the blogosphere to become an international indie rock sensation, even as it continued to labor in relative obscurity in its hometown of Minneapolis.
Drummer Jeremy Hanson believes Tapes 'n Tapes' exposure will pay off for other Twin Cities musicians.
"In a lot of our radio interviews in the UK, or like magazine interviews too, they always at one point will ask about other bands we like from our hometown," Hanson says. "And we always will plug a bunch of bands. Some of my favorite bands are from Minneapolis; the bands I listen to most are from here."
2006 was also the year the Minnesota Music Awards opened up the nominating process to the general public. Before, only dues-paying members could nominate artists and then vote on those nominees. As a result, the number of nominations doubled--from approximately 300 last year to more than 600 this year. It showed in the attendance at Sunday night's awards. First Avenue was packed with hundreds of people.
Eric Fawcett, drummer for Minneapolis pop rockers the Hopefuls, tied with jazz musician J.T. Bates for the award in the Drummer/Percussionist category. He says musicians have grumbled in the past that the awards are nothing more than a popularity contest. Fawcett says to some extent that's true, but he contends most communities don't even have music awards or an organization like the Minnesota Music Academy supporting their endeavors.
He says he was honored by his award "because it signifies that I'm in a community that really cares about the arts and music."
Other winners in this year's Minnesota Music Awards included Duluth singer-songwriter Haley Bonar for American Roots Artist and American Roots Recording, fellow Duluthian Charlie Parr in the Blues Artist and Blues Recording categories, and Ol' Yeller for Rock Group and Rock Recording.
Local singer songwriter Chris Koza was another multiple winner. Koza received honors not only for male vocalist, but also in the Pop Recording category, for his 2006 release, "Patterns."