Ten years! When we organized our first Best Music Poll, way back in the day, we could only hope that it would one day wind up the institution it is today, with the annual Portland Music Awards ceremony drawing the best collection of musical talent Maine can produce. And it's all thanks to you, the voters, who have embraced the process and waded through our clunky online balloting to register tens of thousands of votes for bands and musicians of all stripes and colors.
Now, the question remains as to who will win. If you can't wait until the June 3 Awards Show (5:30 pm at Asylum, 121 Center Street in Portland; free admission, 21+), here's my personal handicapping of what's going to happen. They don't show me the results now that I'm a lowly freelancer, so I'm forced to bet right along with you. My guess is that your local bookie will offer the following odds in the major categories:
The Cambiata 2-1
Dominic and the Lucid 4-1
Gypsy Tailwind 8-1
Pete Kilpatrick 1-2
Phantom Buffalo 10-1
Sparks the Rescue 2-1
Folks, this is the year of Facebook, which is great at inciting people to action. The simple fact of the matter is that Pete Kilpatrick has 2145 Facebook friends, which is staggering. The Cambiata and Sparks the Rescue have had big years, but MySpace just isn't the powerhouse it once was, and neither has the Facebook presence Kilpatrick has. I think Pete wins this going away.
Best New Act
All the Real Girls 3-1
Jacob Augustine 5-1
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper 10-1
Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia 3-1
This Way 6-1
The Goodnight Process 4-1
This category is wide open, with a bunch of strong bands but no clear frontrunner. All the Real Girls had a great album debut this year, but they've only been playing out for the past four months or so. People love Jacob Augustine, but he might not have the younger, Internet-savvy following. This Way are great marketers, but I'm not sure how rabid their fans are. Spencer is probably the favorite, but the band are hard to get your arms around and you don't ever really know what you're going to get. The Goodnight Process have the younger fans, but they haven't really crossed over to the 21+ crowd. Tough call. I'll go with Spencer by a hair.
Darien Brahms, Number 4 6-1
Gypsy Tailwind, Halo Sessions 4-1
Micah Blue Smaldone, The Red River 10-1
The Cambiata, The Cambiata 3-1
Dead End Armory, Hope You're Good 6-1
Ocean, Pantheon of the Lesser 8-1
I think this one comes down to the Cambiata's young fan base and truly excellent record (I haven't heard musicians buzz about an album like this in years) going against the WCLZ momentum of Gypsy Tailwind. The problem is, I don't think the Cape mommies who love GT will put in multiple (if any) votes on the Phoenix Web site. I'm guessing the Cambiata win going away. Ocean and Micah seem too niche for me, and Darien just hasn't played out that often to support what's definitely an excellent record, but which maybe has been out for a while now and isn't top of mind.
Best Male Vocalist
Chris Moulton, the Cambiata 3-1
Dominic Lavoie, Dominic and the Lucid 6-1
Dave Gutter, Rustic Overtones/Paranoid Social Club 2-1
Micah Blue Smaldone 15-1
Spencer Albee 4-1
Pete Kilpatrick 1-2
See above. I don't see any way Kilpatrick loses this category, despite the enduring popularity of Dave Gutter and Spencer Albee, who've both won this category in the past. Kilpatrick is just the best marketer of the bunch and has the widest appeal.
Best Female Vocalist
Darien Brahms 4-1
Anna Lombard, Gypsy Tailwind 5-1
Aly Spaltro, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper 8-1
Aren Sprinkle, the Plains 12-1
Sara Hallie Richardson 8-1
dilly dilly 3-1
Another wide-open category, if you ask me, since most of these singers haven't been nominated before and are relatively new to many casual fans. Brahms has the legacy, with a number of wins under her belt, but she's kept a low profile in recent years. Lombard has radio play, but how many people know her name and not just the name of the band? Spaltro's band have been hot, but they're pretty indie and not on mainstream radars. Sara Hallie kind of moved away just when her momentum was building. I'll say dilly's the frontrunner here. She's got a WPB Award in the trophy case, has been on the scene forever, and this seems to be her breakout year.