I’ve always felt fairly conflicted when it comes to proffering awards for the fine and performing arts. Be it music or film, best in show at a group exhibition or selecting the finest dancer from a competitive corps, there’s something disingenuous about declaring something fundamentally abstract as superior. Still, we, as a culture, continue to pay heed to these shows. Be it high profile, such as the Oscars or Emmys, or something smaller, we discuss, dissect and often disagree with both the nominees and eventual winners.
And that’s what I love.
For me, the function of the awards show is not necessarily to award excellence – although that certainly is part of the process – but to engender conversation. I believe that a conversation about what film wins Best Picture is far less interesting than one focused on the films that did not, and why.
Because the truth is, the abstract nature of creativity, of artistic endeavor, can never be quantified. What one voter might declare superior another might consider terrible. I call that the English Patient paradox.
Disagree with my dis of The English Patient (my favorite cinematic punch line) all you want. That’s the point. Awarding that film the Oscar in 1997 probably didn’t make much of a difference, historically speaking. But the fact that its victory can still be discussed and debated makes the entire ceremony, a ceremony that took place 15 years ago, worthwhile.
I do, of course, have a few favorite awards ceremonies. I love the performance aspect of the Grammys and have made live Facebook commentary an annual tradition. I love the politicking and pomp that surrounds the Oscars. But as high profile and polished as those ceremonies are, they are not my favorite.
No, my favorite awards show is far more modest. Its audience, this year, will probably number no more than a couple hundred. There will be no red carpet and, with the exception of a couple of columns like this one, little media attention. But despite what some might view as shortcomings, it boasts every ingredient a successful awards ceremony should. There’s a sense of community camaraderie and excellent entertainment. There’s acknowledgment of achievement and a strong sense of tradition.
Most importantly, there’s passion.
For 20 years, John ‘Stoney’ Cannon has organized and produced the Lokal Loudness Awards, an annual ceremony honoring the Augusta area’s favorite local musical acts in a variety of genres. It’s a ceremony developed for fans, voted on by fans and, in the case of Cannon, run by the ultimate fan. It’s a party that pays tribute to Augusta music with awards, a lot of live music and some moderate hazing.
This year’s event takes place Feb. 10 at Sky City and will feature performances by Radar Cinema, G-City Rockers, the reunited Family Jewels, Sibling String, She n She and Stillview.
What this show does right, in particular, is skillfully sidestep the idea of honoring the ‘best’ of everything. Since its inception, Cannon has always insisted that the Lexie Plexies, named for his late daughter, go to Augusta’s favorite acts. He’s never positioned it as anything more than a popularity contest. Fans nominate and fans vote. They, as a body, decide which acts entertain and affect.
Is there still room for discussion over who has won and who hasn’t? Certainly. Is that as important as recognizing that music in our fair city continues to bring people together and acknowledging the creativity involved?
Not at all. Here’s to 20 more years of celebrating that fact.