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Ten days before the San Diego Music Awards ceremonies, a former L.A.-based limo-company owner hosted a two-day music event at Squid Joe's in Carlsbad. Al Bowman describes his "Rockfest" as part of a showcase series that leads up to the 16th annual L.A. Music Awards ceremony on November 9.

Of the 24 local bands that played, 12 scored well enough to become nominees for L.A. Music Awards. Bowman says he included San Diego bands because "of the laid-back attitude of San Diego talent. There's not a lot of L.A. haughty, snooty, 'I'm a rock star, I'm great' attitude. There's nothing worse than dealing with a little prick of a singer."

The 12 local nominees won a framed certificate. The eventual winners in 20 categories will get a plaque. According to Bowman, No Doubt, Sugar Ray, the Black Eyed Peas, and Alien Ant Farm won LAMA plaques before getting signed to major labels.

Local bands became nominees based on how Bowman rated the bands; each one needed 75 points out of 100 to make the cut. "Crowd response" was one of the rating categories, so bands were told it was important to make sure their fans showed up at Squid Joe's. Admission cost $10 on the day of the show and $6 through presale tickets sold by bands. Bowman admits he didn't have to pay to use the venue, but he covered $700 in production expenses. Admission to the awards ceremony costs between $35 and $80; nominees pay to get in as well, says Bowman. (San Diego Music Awards executive director Kevin Hellman says musicians do not have to pay anything to be eligible for nomination, and each nominee got a free ticket to the awards ceremony.)

Why does Bowman believe San Diego bands qualify for the L.A. Music Awards?

"My answer is we're an international city. We're the music capital, and San Diego is a close neighbor."

Chris Eaton says he was pleased that his local band Junkies and Thieves won a LAMA nomination.

"I saw [the list of] the SDMA winners," says Eaton. "I never even heard of those people." Eaton says he is frustrated with the S.D. club scene. "We played the Whisky one night, and we found we had an easier time getting people from San Diego to go to L.A. than to come to a San Diego club. People hate the clubs down here.... This is just not a rock and roll town."

For more information: www.lamusicawards.com.

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