The 1st Annual Austin Tribute Band Community Awards

To not bury the lede, today I was voted “Best Multi-Instrumentalist” in the first annual Austin Tribute Band Community awards.

As a member of the Beatles tribute group The Eggmen, we also won Best One-Off Show for our show where we played the entire albums of A Hard Day’s Night and Abbey Road, and we were also voted into the Hall Of Fame.

Amusingly, I was not visible in either photo because in one I was behind someone else, and the other was taken before I joined full-time. I say amusingly because there’s a joke among keyboard players that we are never in photos. We always end up getting cropped out, obscured, or otherwise forgotten. It doesn’t actually bother me but I do find it funny and weird how true it often is!

These awards were started because the hugely popular Austin Chronicle music awards made the bad decision (in my opinion) to remove cover and tribute bands from the categories. If you are one of those cover/tribute band snobs, don’t even bother commenting as it will be deleted. It just shows you know nothing. The most talented musicians I’ve ever known throughout my life all play covers as well in addition to whatever other projects they have going. Most make the bulk of their living from cover music and only a very tiny, lucky fraction get to a place where they can make a living from original music. Most big bands like The Beatles started playing mostly covers if not all covers.

First and foremost, let me say how immensely grateful I am to be recognized at all and for everyone who took the time and effort to go fill out the form and vote. It really does mean a lot to me and please don’t let any of what follows undermine that very important point. I say that because I have a very complicated relationship with awards “competitions.” I always have. Not just this one. The main reason being that for every one person who is ultimately lifted up, there are countless people who end up feeling kind of bummed, “less than,” not-enough, unappreciated, or unrecognized and that’s a bummer to me. Being an artist of any sort is a very difficult life and I know how it feels to feel unseen or underappreciated. It probably doesn’t help that a LOT of us (maybe even most of us) suffer from imposter syndrome quite a lot!

Competitions such as this one can be extra frustrating in that they are purely by popular vote. No panel of industry judges, or academy or anything, although the ATBC is looking to remedy that next year with a combination of popular vote and industry experts as well. So it mainly just ends up being who can get the most people to go vote. Who has the largest base? Who is going to campaign and hustle and try to rally them to go vote?

This is where it gets complicated on a more personal level as well for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have a handful of videos go viral on Instagram and Tik Tok. This led to an influx of followers, so unlike most people I had a potential audience of 90K people on IG and 144K on TT (though as most people will tell you, you generally only reach a very infinitesimal fraction of those people). I am also someone who is very active on social media. In a contest where it’s purely about hustling voters to the poll, these things give me an edge. Now, the other side of that is that hopefully these people don’t just go blindly vote for me because I said so, but because they’ve seen all my various videos playing various instruments and singing so it’s not necessarily unearned in any, I just have the luxury of more resources and greater reach. There were many other nominees who I know to be some of the most amazing musicians I’ve ever seen, much less played with. Some of them weren’t even aware of this competition at all. Some of them got nominations but don’t live online all the time of have a huge audience to tell to go vote. I’m bummed for my friends who didn’t win or weren’t even nominated because I’m their biggest fan and think they absolutely deserve the recognition but hey that’s just not possible in awards competitions.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always said that you absolutely should enjoy any kudos that come your way when they come. Enjoy that moment in the sun. Just don’t let it, or that lack of it define you or your validation. I can 100% guarantee you that there’s many folks out there you’ve never heard of (or maybe even you) who are light years beyond me on every instrument I play. My motto that I’ve repeated many times in life is “Keep your head down and do good work.” Do it for the journey, not the destination. Not the awards, not the praise. I will enjoy this moment in the spotlight, but I also enjoy it because I didn’t do it by myself. It took all of you as well, and I’d go so far as to say, your part in it was way more important than mine. I didn’t think I stood a chance. If you voted for me, I do not take that lightly and I do fully think about and appreciate each and every person who thought enough about me to do that. It’s not for me, it’s for us.

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