On the Booze

Buy the other guy lunch. I'll have a beer.

To say the rest of the awards generated little drama would be a criminal understatement, with the possible exception of the male and female vocalists, Raul Malo and Diane Ward respectively. Both were eminently deserving, and both accepted their awards with a measure of style and gratitude that threatened to lend some class to the proceedings. Malo's band, the Mavericks, took the award for Best Country Band for the second year in a row. Maybe now the category can be retired.

Failing that, a provision should at least be added prohibiting signed bands from competing in a category they've already won in a previous year. After all, how many lipstick prints can we fit on Saigon Kick's butt?

The silliest, most gratuitous award of the night went to the 2 Live Crew as Best Rap Act. While the Crew have their merits, they're rap's equivalent of the Big Mac. A lot of folks like 'em, and they sell a lot of units, but they're not exactly designed for the quality-conscious consumer. Two years ago Crew members actually attended the show and accepted the trophy. This time they knew better. Didn't even send a lackey to pick it up.

In fact, there was an exceedingly high no-show rate among the award winners, as Leonard Pitts, Jr., renowned "pop music" critic who is to rock what Gene Shalit is to serious cinema, pointed out in his review for the Miami Herald. Pitts brutally panned the awards show, and while some of his observations were on the mark, I take exception to his comparison of Lyrics for Lunch's stage presence to that of asparagus. Pitts has a thing about food metaphors, my favorite example being his description of Oleta Adams's "dark-chocolate voice." Somebody buy this guy lunch!

And while I concur with his assessment of the audience's overall mood as funereal initially, I thought it came to life about midway through the evening, but maybe that was attributable to the rush of adrenaline I felt after fending off a group mugging by the Mavericks with a plastic maraschino-cherry sword. (Where was my back-up, Baker?) As for Pitts's characterization of "amateur-hour bands" grinding out power chords on-stage, I did not hear Raul Malo or Debbie Spring play a single power chord during their entire set, nor do I think the major record labels who signed them, and who are currently circling the likes of Vandal, Marilyn Manson, the Holy Terrors, and Amboog-a-lard would agree with his amateur evaluation. Of course, Pitts's criticism of metal bands is an obvious mismatch of man and material, comparable to having WKRP in Cincinnati's Les Nessman review the Geto Boys. The outcome is predictable. But I haven't given up on the big guy altogether; he has, after all, reamed Michael Bolton, and compared the soulless butcher's facial expressions to those of "a man with a very bad stomach ailment." It's just that Pitts's reviews tend to play best to the Big Chill/thirtysomething crowd, which was not who showed up at the Button that night. Notice I did not use the dreaded Y-word.

All in all it was a pleasant, albeit relatively uneventful, evening. Not really a stellar showing for the original rock community, but not a total washout either. Once again, Baker managed to present an award without falling off the stage, although he did have co-presenter Glenn Richards there for ballast. We made it all the way to the bitter end without suffering bodily injury, although we each had our near-misses. We may be old married farts, but we're still pros.

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