Saddle Creek | Georgie James | Reviews



Author: Jenny Mayo
02/15/2008 | Washington Times | | Feature
The nominees have been announced, the trophies ordered, and the outfits to be worn for the occasion well, they've probably at least been pondered. The Grammy Awards are over, but in the capital city, the big night for music recognition is yet to come at the Washington Area Music Association's 22nd Annual Wammies on Sunday starting at 8 p.m. at the State Theatre in Falls Church.

By the time the night is through, WAMA will have handed out trophies in nearly 100 categories, ranging from best a cappella group to best world-music recording and, much like its more famous Los Angeles counterpart, the evening also makes good on the second half of its "award show" designation.

Scheduled performers this year include Bob Schieffer of CBS' "Face the Nation," who will join the retro alt-country band Honky Tonk Confidential onstage; veteran children's and old-time music duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer (profiled in this column on Jan. 18); and local rockers the Speaks.

Tickets cost $25 and are available at Of course, if you can't make it or simply don't feel like sitting through every last acceptance speech, you can still peruse the lengthy list of nominees and discover a few new homegrown acts. Here are several you might want to pay special attention to:

Fools & Horses

In the past few years, Baltimore modern-rockers Fools & Horses have been on a winning streak. Their accessible classic-rock-meets-Brit-pop sound has helped them score local radio support, a rabid fan base, the chance to open a Bon Jovi gig and a spot on the 2007 Starbucks compilation "Off the Clock," a showcase for up-and-coming talents.

With seven 2008 Wammie nominations, including artist of the year and song of the year, the band is obviously hoping its luck holds. "It's like a Grammy to us," frontman Matt Hutchison says.

Georgie James

News flash: Georgie James is the darling of the D.C. indie-rock scene. The band's core songwriting duo is John Davis (of Q and Not U) and Laura Burhenn, and together, they make finely constructed, catchy pop songs that even the hippest hipsters aren't ashamed to shake their booties to.

Last year was a momentous one for the young group. After signing with Omaha's Saddle Creek label, Georgie James released its stellar debut, "Places" (one of the best sellers at 18th Street's Crooked Beat Records), headed out for its first European tour and showed grace under pressure as guests on National Public Radio's new songwriting-challenge series, "Project Song." The band is in the running for a handful of 2008 Wammies, including artist of the year, and is certain to go great "Places" in the months to come. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Junkyard Saints

It's a busy time of year for the Baltimore-based seven-piece band that plays an eclectic brand of "party gras" music. "Fat Tuesday we had three gigs," bandleader Brian Simms says. "I actually had four." The band has been around for close to a dozen years now and, in that time, has broadened its focus from zydeco to include New Orleans funk, swing, ska, R&B and even a little Latin. Just add a crowd at a venue such as the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage or Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and the Saints usually have a recipe for dancing.

Mr. Simms is up for three Wammies, his drummer one, and the band another two. Last year, the group won best roots rock group and tied for artist of the year. "I sure didn't think we'd win," Mr. Simms says. "Both times I was out in the lobby talking to people."

Justin Jones & the Driving Rain

Justin Jones made headlines this year when his wife, Melanie, gave birth to Stella Inez, the Washington area's first 2008 baby although his music has also had a lot of people talking.

A native of Rawley Springs, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley, Mr. Jones sings with a Jakob Dylan-esque rasp and pens lovely alt-country tunes that are both plaintive and soulful. "If I didn't grow up around people who listened to country music, I probably would write R&B," the musician says.

Backed by his band, the Driving Rain, he released his third album, "... And I Am the Song of the Drunkards," over the summer. The record's fine blend of bluegrass, folk and "hillbilly soul" no doubt contributed to the act's 2008 Wammie nominations for best country vocalist and best country group.

Raheem DeVaughn

Let's be totally honest: D.C. doesn't have the best track record for propelling musicians into the national and international markets. Somehow, though, neo-soul crooner Raheem DeVaughn has gone from High Point High School student in Beltsville to a Grammy-nominated, jet-setting artist who's currently on tour opening for R&B diva Jill Scott. His latest Jive Records release, "Love Behind the Melody," debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200.

In an e-mail, he tells us, "My secret was being self-motivated, ambitious and focused." It also doesn't hurt that he has a voice as smooth and soulful as Marvin Gaye's, a way with female-focused flattery and an aptitude for styles ranging from old-school soul to hip-hop-tinged balladry.

He's up for best urban contemporary artist.


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