Excerpts from the Archives: 1991 San Diego Music Awards Important to Local Music

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Thirty years ago, Mojo Nixon was named Artist of the Year at the inaugural San Diego Music Awards, held on August 19, 1991 at the Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla.

Important first prizes for local music

By Robert J. Hawkins, Tribune Entertainment Writer

The very first San Diego Music Awards were held last night without a single depth being said.

It is depth, not blasphemy.

While everyone was thanking someone, no one touched on the importance of the evening to the local music scene.

That’s a shame. Because it was an important moment in the history of local music.

Norman Flint of ROCK 102.9 approached it.

He announced last night the names of the nine different radio stations represented. “We are all here together tonight because there is not a single radio station, not a single music, not a single perspective …”

From there he fell into a shamelessly cheap take for his own oldies station as the source of all other music.

Earl Thomas won the award for best blues in 1991 at the San Diego Music Awards.

(Dave Siccardi / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The night’s most revealing comment was made in flamboyant bluesman Earl Thomas’ song choice: “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.

He got it right. It’s been a long time coming too.

San Diego’s music scene grew a bit last night, although hardly anyone noticed.

The awards themselves – there have been 12 presented to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art – aren’t that important.

Not as important as the fact that there were enough decent bands to fill each category with five credible nominees.

Not as important as the fact that there were others who could have filled the 60 nominee spots just as easily.

You couldn’t have said that five years ago.

Yes, the scene is growing. No question.

The Rugburns, AJ Croce, Earl Thomas and the Blues Ambassadors, Rockola, Stevie Salas, Beat Farmers, Mojo Nixon – their live performances made the awards appear anti-climax.

They were so good.

Not surprisingly, most of them were winners in their category.

Boogie-jazz pianist AJ Croce won the award for best solo or duet. The Beat Farmers were named Group of the Year. Mojo Nixo was named Artist of the Year. Thomas won the award for Best Blues. Rockola won the award for best classic or vintage rock.

Other winners: Bordertown for the best contemporary; Tobacco Road for the best Vintage American; Reel to Real for the best jazz; Breakheart Pass for the best country; Nemesis for Best Nightclub Rock; the Paladins for Best Original Rock; and Roughneck Posse for the best reggae.

According to the program’s executive director, Kevin Hellman, the 500-seat Sherwood Auditorium was full – oversold in fact – although a few seats were open.

Proceeds from $ 10 and $ 25 tickets, t-shirt sales and an after-show night at Mick’s in Pacific Beach are donated to the Mary Lou Clack Center for Handicapped Children in Vista.

Street Scene promoter Rob Hagey, who presented Nixon with the Artist of the Year award, called the show a “major production and I’m very proud to be associated with it.”

As for Nixon, the best he could muster was “someone must have stuffed the ballot box.”

Funny, that was my thought too.


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