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Local music awards create connections in what's called a fragmented scene

Jeff Maisey, editor of Veer magazine, describes the Hampton Roads music scene as a distressed patchwork, not a seamless tapestry.

He's doing his part to smooth out the wrinkles.

"We do have a very large music scene. It's just not very cohesive," said Maisey, who will host the 2013 Veer Magazine Local Music Awards ceremony in Norfolk on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

His magazine will present honors in 30 categories ranging from Best Metal to Best World Beat and Best Country. (A note in the interest of full disclosure: This reporter was nominated for his Sound Check music blog in the Best Digital Media category.)

Voting, which was done online, wrapped up Feb. 1. Winners were chosen through combining ballot results with input from a panel of local music experts.

"We have a thriving music scene, but you have to work hard to seek it out," Maisey said. It's spread out geographically. Musicians in one genre tend not to mix and mingle with those from another.

"And it's low key," Maisey said. "It's a shame."

Not that he's feeling pessimistic. Last year's Local Music Awards drew a near-capacity crowd to The Naro Expanded Cinema in Norfolk, where it will return this year.

"I was really pleased," Maisey said of the 2012 edition. "Local bands can be petty sometimes. Everybody seemed to be one happy family, happy even when they didn't win."

The attendance and enthusiasm he witnessed encouraged him to expand the 2013 version to include three after parties scattered around the Ghent area. They will take place at Cogan's, The Colley Cantina and Belmont House of Smoke.

Adding spice to Tuesday's ceremony, musicians including Skye Zentz, Seth Stainback, Grant Austin Taylor and Hampton's own K'bana Blaq will perform in unlikely combinations following a concept Maisey calls "live mashups."

Blaq, an R&B singer, said his collaboration with the rock group SICMaN of Virginia is a closely guarded secret. "It's iconic and it's purple. I can say that."

He's elated to be part of the Veer ceremony. "It's amazing. Finally, I'm seeing a glimpse of what I've wanted Virginia to do all along. It feels like the Grammys."

In addition to Blaq, Peninsula musicians who are nominated for awards include The Fuzz Band, Myra Smith, Shakespeare's Ghozt, The Dharma Initiative, United Souls and Bobby "BlackHat" Walters.

Walters, a blues musician living in Newport News, said he's seen improvement in the local music scene's sense of cohesion — at least in his corner of it.

"In the blues community, there are not that many of us, so we all know each other," Walters said.

"We frequently play together and collaborate. We're a pretty solid group." He said. "I'm willing to support other musicians and I'm glad when other musicians support me. That's been a really nice thing about the 757."

Want to go?

What: Veer Magazine's Local Music Awards

Where: Naro Expanded Cinema, 1507 Colley Ave., Norfolk

Who: Live collaborations will include Seth Stainback and band with Jackie Scott, Broken Mouth Annie with Skye Zentz, D*NIK with Chidori Matsumoto of The Office, Crissy Babe & The Dastards with Grant Austin Taylor, SICMaN of Virginia with K'bana Blaq, The Mirrors with guitarist Patrick Walsh of Buzzard.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12

Admission: $5 with all proceeds going to the Hope House Foundation

More information: http://www.veermag.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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