2011 Westword Music Showcase Ballot
Seventeen years! It's hard to believe we've been doing the Westword Music Showcase for that long. I can still remember being at the first one in LoDo nearly two decades ago. And when I think back, it seems like that cold, rainy Sunday night was just a few years ago.
But then I get to thinking of all the summers that have passed since and all the great headliners who have performed at the Showcase over the years -- Guided by Voices, Violent Femmes, Built to Spill, Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk, A Place to Bury Strangers, Ghostland Observatory, Drive-By Truckers, Lucero, Dirty Projectors, Neon Indian, Ra Ra Riot -- and I marvel at how far it's come since then.
And that's just a short list of the acts I can remember headlining since I've been at Westword, a list that doesn't include all of the homegrown outfits that have performed at the Showcase. From the Fray and the Flobots to Nathaniel Rateliff and the Rouge to Pictureplane and Chain Gang of 1974, we've had the privilege of hosting some of Denver's best up-and-coming acts over the years -- and then elevating them to our unofficial hall of fame when they reach a certain level of success.
And that, after all, is what the Showcase is all about, the whole reason the festival was created: to showcase the best locals, and help them along. That's where the Music Showcase Ballot comes in. Arriving at this list every year is a painstaking process. Having helped curate the festival for nearly a decade, I can tell you that the job gets more challenging every year, thanks to the staggering number of new acts that keep emerging.
If you're just joining us, here's how the process works: After we've hand-picked the main-stage performers, we reach out to our nominating committee -- people from every part of the scene -- for their input and ask them simply to list the twenty bands who made the biggest impression on them in the past year. (We also ask that they refrain from nominating their friends, relatives, collaborators, colleagues, business associates or anybody else they might have ties to.)
After determining that some acts, like Rateliff this year, have grown too big for the ballot, we basically match the committee's picks against ours and formulate the list, doing our best to put the artists in the appropriate categories. This is probably the most hand-wringing part of the process, since -- and this is certainly a testament to the diversity of our scene -- many of the acts in Denver don't fit neatly into a single category. Just the same, we do our best.
This year, based upon feedback we received last year, we added some new categories, eliminated some old ones and simplified and/or altered others. In the end, we ended up with a ballot that consists of 235 acts in forty categories. We had to make some tough decisions and, as a result, we may have left off some acts that you feel are deserving. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable part of the process.
But you don't have to suffer in silence. If you think something's missing, don't be shy. Let us know which acts were overlooked by adding their names on the write-in portion of the ballot in the category that makes sense. And if you think we blew it with the categories, let us know that, too. We're listening, and your feedback could make a difference next year.
Important: if your act is listed on the following pages, please drop us a line as soon as possible so that we can get your current contact info and ensure you're included in our Showcase coverage this year.
Click through for the list of acts appearing on this Westword Music Showcase Ballot and then be sure to cast your vote!