Another year, another awards show night, as hundreds of the D.C. Metro area’s top musicians flock to the fabled State Theatre in Falls Church this Sunday for the 24th annual Washington Area Music Association awards, the Wammies.
However, this year the Wammies themselves are getting an award of sorts.
For the first time in the six consecutive years (and longer) the City of Falls Church will officially be a sponsor of the region’s largest music awards show, with restaurants hosting artists meet-and-greets, signs displaying the city’s new “The Little City” logo and hundreds of small brochures displaying an updated map of city restaurants.
The city’s initiative for the Wammies fell into place with a $3,000 grant from the city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) in early January.
The EDA released a statement last week announcing the sponsorship and the activities, explaining that “the grant was made to further publicize the City’s name and brand within the region, to advance outreach to local movers and shakers within the valuable music industry, and to encourage the City’s restaurants and related businesses to be part not only of the evening but also to make valuable contacts with artists, press, and other tastemakers who are critical to the region’s nightlife.”
The EDA helps to sponsor numerous activities in the city throughout the year, such as the monthly FIRSTfridays and Watch Night, Falls Church’s big downtown New Year’s Eve bash.
Now, with the grant, the city will officially welcome the more than 600 guests expected again at this year’s Wammies festivities.
“We’re trying to embrace the Wammies as best we can,” said Richard Goff, the director of Falls Church’s Economic Development Office.
“The city is bringing in local restaurants to participate prior to the Wammies ceremony in a ‘meet-and-greet’ program,” Goff said.
Five restaurants in town – Applebee’s, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack, Dogwood Tavern, Hoang’s Grill and Ireland’s Four Provinces – will host a meet-and-greet specific to a genre of music where attendees can talk to the artists, get autographs and enjoy the restaurant’s food and drinks.
In addition, the Falls Church News-Press is the official sponsor of a pre-awards VIP Reception, underwriting the event at Argia’s Restaurant a few doors down from the State Theatre. About 100 are expected to attend the News-Press’ VIP reception. The reception’s music will be provided by Esther Haynes Trio.
The meet-and-greets will run from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Sunday evening, before the awards show starts at 8 p.m.
Dogwood Tavern will host artists in the World Music, Latin, Reggae, Urban Contemporary, Jazz, Rap/Hip-Hop and Go Go music categories.
Applebee’s will host Choral, Classical, Cabaret/Musical Theatre and Big Band/Swing, with Modern Rock, Pop Rock, Children’s and Electronica at Clare and Don’s, and County, Roots Rock, Contemporary and Traditional Folk and Bluesgrass at Ireland’s Four Provinces.
Musical artists in the Blues and Gospel categories will meet fans at Hoang’s Grill, which will also host a booth for Falls Church’s popular Tinner Hill Blues Festival that takes place in June.
Goff said the city’s efforts are intended “to keep visitors and area artists coming back to Falls Church” outside of the Wammies weekend.
“Our newly updated restaurant guide, designed by [Falls Church marketing firm] Smith & Gifford gratis, will be in the hands of the 600 or more Wammies guests,” continued Goff. “We’ve printed more guides than we need, too, for the future.”
Goff said that the brochures were funded separately from the grant.
The city hopes the dining guide brochure, which includes a drinks guide as well as several restaurants yet to open doors in Falls Church – Mad Fox Brewery and Pizza Orzo.
“We intend for this to be a keepsake item inserted into every program at the Wammies,” Goff said, adding that it was “a tremendous effort” by SmithGifford that “we’re very grateful for.”
The meet-and-greets have also been publicized in the WAMA online weekly newsletter, “distributed to over 4,000 D.C. Metro area music industry folks,” according to Goff.
In addition, the city is running a full-page advertisement in the Wammies program. “We want to send the message to attendees that we hope they enjoy their time in Falls Church,” Goff said. “We also want to highlight the city’s branding efforts and new logo. We’ve done a lot in tandem with the Wammies organizers to promote Falls Church.”
For the first time, Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner will speak to the awards crowd at the State Theatre, and will be on hand with other top city officials at the Wammies pre-party.
The EDA will have two vinyl banners on display, one 7-by-8-foot and one 1-by-8 foot, at the VIP reception and the show’s official after party held at Bangkok Blues in downtown Falls Church. The City logo will also be projected onto the big screen at the Wammies show, along with the Wammies’ official logo.
We’re excited for the possibilities that this cooperative effort will bring to Falls Church,” Goff said.
As for the News-Press, it will have a full-page ad in the Wammies program, and a banner at Argia’s welcoming attendees to the VIP reception, along with a gift bag for reception attendees with items from participating Falls Church businesses.