The Zoo Music Awards are brand new, but have already made an impression by unveiling several entertaining band names that are new to us. Wind Before Wolf? Flatt Cheddar? Monkey & Roast Beef Sandwich? If you haven't heard yet, ZooMA is a new thing put on by the Missoula Independent's promotional department and The Trail 103.3, so we in the Indy's editorial department are just as curious about the line-up of contestants as you are.
Before you start listening—and voting—let's start with some background. Since late November and until Jan. 6, Montana-based musicians and bands were invited to enter the contest, which features nine different categories, from bluegrass and country to heavy metal and punk. There was a whopping 180 submissions. It's ended up being an interesting mixture of new-to-us bands/musicians, plus the usual suspects, like Secret Powers, the Magpies and Three-Eared Dog. (There are also usual suspects who are absent from the line-up because they didn't submit.)
What happens now? The polls are open and anyone can vote for one artist in each category between now and Feb. 10. Public voting determines the top 5 bands in each category, and those winners will play Feb. 16 in one of nine different local venues (Funk, Soul and Reggae will take over Monks, for instance, while the Palace plays host to Psychedelic and Jam Bands). A top three in each category will move on from that epic night of sound and, finally, a panel of judges will decide the big winners, red-carpet style, at the Wilma Theatre on March 2. Winners in each category get some cool things, like a photo session and professional recording session. Check out the details of the contest and prizes here.
One last thing: The Moondoggies, who we once praised in a review and who played with Blitzen Trapper at the Palace in 2010, headline the awards show at the Wilma. Here's what our reviewer, PJ Rogalski, wrote about the band: "...harmony-rich tunes that rock more like Crazy Horse than CSNY, and feature delightfully depressive moments that evoke the gray coastlines of the Pacific Northwest. Hearty, hook-laden songs swirl around your head for days after. If the often-misappropriated Americana label that's being slapped on any band with a bearded bass player has you wanting to jam a pencil in your ear hole, don't fret. These dudes defy that trendy definition."
Okay, that was a lot to take in, so now go listen and vote.