The Bubba Award
The Bubba Award strives to honor a special person in the Northwest old-time community who has committed a good portion of their life to making it a fun, inspiring group to be a part of. The ideal person is someone who may often not be noticed or rewarded – perhaps because they serve behind the scenes and don’t tend to gravitate towards the spotlight – but who have contributed something unique to the community over the years.
Do you have a suggestion for a person who should be considered for the next Bubba Award? Please tell us about them! Nomination form here.
The 2022 Bubba Award – Charmaine Slaven
Charmaine Slaven has made consistent contributions to our music community, with boundless energy, for decades. Simply put, Charmaine organizes the crap out of every kind of event that the old-time community enjoys. From tireless busking, to square dances, concerts, festivals, fundraisers, tours, and parties, she’s brought commitment and tremendous talent to the West Coast old-time scene.
While she’s done plenty of performing, Charmaine has also put in an incredible amount of hard work behind the scenes. Notably, she leverages her status as a PNW VIP to make the old-time community more inclusive and inviting, especially for beginner musicians and dancers.
As for the additional award criteria (Wicked Sense of Humor and Unique Sense of Style), Charmaine hosted the dirty song session at Weiser for years, collaborating with her partner Charlie on such classics as “hot dog taco.” When she is reading a book called “How to Raise Sheep,” rest assured it is NON fiction. Charmaine brings an urban farmer sensibility to all aspects of personal style, from interior decorating, to the colorful laces on her clogging shoes, to the mini-me kid we expect to start calling square dances any day now.
The Bubba Award Committee recognizes Charmaine Slaven’s service as an emeritus Seattleite now that an East Coast arts organization finally figured out how to get her on salary for all the work she does!
The 2022 Bubba Award – Suzanne Savell
Suzanne Savell has served in many capacities over the years; from being on the Old Time Gathering organizing committee, serving on the Bubbaville Board of Directors, organizing fundraisers, the Kentucky Showcase and the Zig Zag Old Time Music Campout to bringing stellar acts to town like Dom Flemons, Anna and Elizabeth, Bruce Molsky and many more. She works tirelessly on the projects in our music community while also holding down a busy full-time job. As a Bubbaville board member, Suzanne consistently takes on a huge share of the work, having served as the President, Vice President and now the Treasurer. She has a knowledge of all things Bubbaville that goes back years, and even helped Bill Martin plan for this award as part of his legacy to our community. Always able to navigate anything technical that comes our way, she’s always willing to help out fellow board members and volunteers with a huge amount of patience. Suzanne is someone who is truly laboring behind the scenes to expand and enhance the old time community.
2022 Special Award: Doctor in the House – Betsy Brown
Last year the Bubba Award Committee created the Instigator Award for Gabrielle and Barry’s hosting of the Quarantine Happy Hour. This year we are presenting the Doctor in the House Award to Betsy Brown for her timely and useful COVID newsletter titled Update from an Epidemic.
The person who nominated Betsy wrote that “her care for the community at large is inspiring” and we couldn’t agree more. Betsy’s newsletters make the fire hose of scientific and medical information easier to understand and respond to. Her posts on playing music, going camping, and resting remind us that just like the rest of us, health care workers need a lot of care right now.
She is retiring from her clinic soon and while we’re sure this is a big loss for her patients, we hope that this will give her tons more time to answer even more of our questions about whether and how it’s safe to get together for jams, parties, and festivals. Thank you for writing, Betsy!
The 2021 Bubba Award – Jinny Macrae
Some people like to be in the thick of it. It’s not so much a matter of intro- or extroversion, though our winner this year tends towards the latter. Some people just like to work hard, and if it’s organizing a major festival or cleaning up after, there they are. Their selfless devotion only increases when hard times arise. A former Bubba winner wrote: “I can’t think of anyone who has worked as hard at every level.”
To do all these things and still be a relaxed, humorous and welcoming human is a big deal. This year’s choice has infused new life into Bubbaville, The Portland Old-Time Music Gathering, the Every Sunday Square Dance, and hosted many a fine jam and fabulous party.
An accomplished musician with deep roots across a number of styles, their gentle leadership keeps bandmates and the wider world engaged and happy.
Having raised a distinguished family, they’ve been a parent to many a wandering soul, and a pal to many more. Did we mention vintage hats and costume jewelry? Gospel choirs and Cajun bands? “Mom sandals”? A “whistle-stop on the railway of life?” Please join us in honoring Jinny Macrae, the 2021 Bubba Award winner!
The 2020-2021 Instigator Award –
Gabrielle Macrae & Barry Southern
Among the many reasons 2020 was a terrible year is the fact that the pandemic uniquely affected performing musicians and those that love them.
Two people in our scene stepped up with extraordinary creativity by creating a daily lifeline for the international old-time community and wider music world. Gabrielle Macrae and Barry Southern led us through the dark with a wide and inspiring range of concerts and gabfests right at the time when we needed them the most. They dreamed up, booked, promoted and supported the Quarantine Happy Hour, and eventually recruited some additional administrative helpers – Charmaine Slaven, Riley Calcagno, and WB Reid. All of them spent countless hours making joy out of sadness, but Gabo and Barry were the foundational rock of the entire experience.
As recognized experts in the qualities of Bubbas – Community Building, Wicked Sense of Humor, and Unique Sense of Style – the Award Committee bestows the first-ever Instigator Award to Gabrielle Macrae and Barry Southern for meeting the moment with vision, snarky facebook posts, and fashion that can only be described as “sexy lumberjack meets elf from Lothlorien.”
The 2020 Bubba Award – Tony Mates
The 2020 Bubba Award winner Tony Mates is someone who has made consistent contributions to our community for decades, with the good humor, welcoming spirit, energizing leadership, dedication, and style that exemplify “bubbaness.”
Tony is an excellent musician, playing fiddle tunes, singing out of the way songs, and providing thoughtful backup on guitar and bass, even setting up the sound system if necessary. He has branched out to explore many kinds of traditional music, and cheerfully leads regular open old-time jams in the community.
Tony is even better known for teaching and spreading the joy of square dance calling and dancing. Through his efforts organizing community groups and events, as well as leading workshops and providing mentorship, Tony has made sure that a new generation of square dance callers is ready to take the stage.
Tony’s overall kindness and gentle spirit permeates the inclusive approach he takes to leading jams and social dances. People feel good about being in a square dance he is calling, and he naturally gravitates toward letting new and young people have opportunities.
Tony is very funny, with a special emphasis on word play. As for personal style, folks have described it as “not pretentious,” and “You won’t mistake him for an investment banker.”
Finally, Tony is resourceful and inventive: making whipped cream at Weiser with a beater attached to a battery-powered drill!
The 2019 Bubba Award – Amy Hofer
Amy Hofer is an incredible organizer, player, community maker and person. The list of West Coast events she has helped organize include Dare to be Square in multiple cities, string band classes in Berkeley and Portland, Portland’s Every Sunday Square Dance, the Portland Old Time Gathering, Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and the Berkeley Old Time Music convention.
One nomination summed up her leadership abilities and community making skills: “She reaches out in a personal and genuine way to everyone she meets and includes folks of all backgrounds with an open heart by making everyone she meets feel like an old friend.”
Amy’s sense of humor and style is noticeably fantastic. One person wrote, “She has a remarkable sense of humor and her laugh is also contagious.” Another said her “humor is really funny… once you get it.”
One person described her singular style this way: “She always wears the cutest sweater/skirt combos, and her color coordination is impeccable. […] She even rides a bike in her cute outfits, while wearing tights and carrying her fiddle. So impressive!”
As a testament to her community building and inclusivity, she has hosted jams and worked tirelessly as a volunteer coordinator to make sure everyone could participate in our events.
There were many nominations in 2019 for wonderful people in our community but none embody the Bubba qualities so completely and profoundly as Amy Hofer.
The 2018 Bubba Award – Maggie Lind
Maggie is the driving force behind the Portland Stringband Class which has (and continues to) develop new old-time musicians. She’s also been very involved with the Every Sunday Square Dance and for many years was involved in organizing the Portland Old Time Music Gathering. A stellar musician, dance caller, teacher, and community organizer, Maggie welcomes all levels of musicians to get together and learn from one another, and practice more! She shares stories and songs to continue traditions. Instead of just learning songs, Maggie shares the origins and talks about traditional techniques of playing.
Maggie is hilarious and always seems to have a smile on her face. She has an excellent sense of humor and is great at getting everyone involved with activities such as singing and dancing. Even if they just came to play music! As for style, Maggie has her own look – and it is FANTASTIC. We haven’t checked her closet but even though she doesn’t wear them, we’re guessing Maggie probably owns several different styles of overalls along with, perhaps, a dress version of overalls… who knows but she’s always one of the best dressed!
The 2017 Bubba Award – Lucas Hicks
Lucas was a shining star in our beautiful community. His good humor, amazing musicianship, and capacity for friendship made him an exemplary example of what it means to be part of our NW Old-Time Music family. He led the charge of organizing square dances and other music events around the Bellingham area, and inspired and directly taught many of us about calling, banjo playing, and how to be awesome. Lucas passed away on October 3rd, 2017 at his home surrounded by family, friends, and music, after an heroic 14 year battle with cancer.
The 2016 Bubba Award – Johnny Calcagno
Johnny Calcagno has been quietly uplifting all of us for decades in the Northwest music scene. He is an outstanding example of so many of the lofty characteristics that Bill embodied.
Over the years, he has always kept a low profile, but has done a TON to keep the NW old-time community going. He has generously donated his technical skills to keeping up the Bubbaville website and has volunteered countless hours on tons of boards and committees, including the Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society, Dare to be Square West, the Folklife Festival. He is one of the original instigators to collectively purchase the Stickerville property at Wesier (which would have otherwise been sold to developers years ago). He has recorded many local old-time bands in his home studio, because he can, and becaus he loves it. Every summer he organizes and maintains a campground home for all of us at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. You should ask him sometime, exactly what kind of effort, energy, and maintenance that involves. He lends his services while asking for very little in return, and he does immaculate work with utmost attention to detail.
The sum of all of these hefty individual acts, is his gargatuine, yet quiet community building. Says one of his nominators: He has helped to attract and keep many new and youthful players to our community with his great wit, hilarious sense of humor, awesome wife and son, generosity, and musicality. I’ve witnessed him really welcome many new folks into our fold–He’s very perceptive and can read a person’s state of mind, and always seems to say the right thing. He keeps up with what’s going on in our community because he really cares about it, and wants to see it grow. Says another nominator: “also he and Karen raised an awesome person, Riley.
As far as his wicked sense of humor and a unique sense of style, i don’t even need to talk about that. Thankfully, he’s also really funny and entertaining, and always stylish, despite the fact that he’s colorblind.
The 2015 Bubba Award – Caroline Oakley
Our 2015 Bubba Award winner was Caroline Oakley, who has been a part of Portland’s old time and square dance community for many years and played a vital role in building the thriving traditional music and dance community that we all enjoy today. Caroline has a genius for bringing people together and making things happen.
One of the biggest reasons, though, that she’s suited for the Bubba Award, is that she was the first person in town to pin down Bill Martin (not always an easy thing to do) and get him to mentor her as a dance caller. She had a deep connection with Bill, and he was very proud of her–although, being Bill, you would never catch him actually saying that. She’s been showing dancers a good time ever since. She’s also done tons to popularize square dance and show younger people how much fun it can be. It now seems to be considered a very cool “Portlandia” thing to have a square dance at one’s wedding. That certainly wasn’t always the case, but it means there are lots more gigs for other musicians and callers in the area. And it means that the average Portland wedding is just a little more fun now, right?
Thank you, Caroline for making Portland such a friendly place for square dancing and old time music!
The 2014 Bubba Award – Scott Killops
The second annual Bubba Award winner was overwhelmingly awarded to Scott Killops. Scott has been a quiet but stalwart supporter of the Portland old-time scene for years and years. In fact, none of us could quite figure out when he first became a part of our community. Despite having a high-pressure full-time job, Scott seems to be at each and every event that happens in our extensive community. He’s always cheering others on. We received many nomination forms recommending him, and as one of them put it, “He is often the last man standing at a local concert or house party. And he does all of this with a sparkle in his eye and an “ain’t-nothing” shrug of the shoulder.” Congrats, Scott! We are so lucky to have you part of our community!
The 1st Annual Bubba Award – 2013 – Brian Bagdonas
The first annual Bubba Award winner – Brian Bagdonas – has been working quietly behind the scenes since before the first Portland Old Time Gathering happened 14 years ago. He is an artist, a musician and a community organizer, and without ever asking for any recognition, he lends a sense of credibility, style and coolness to everything he touches. He is always ready to think the best of everybody, and he often sees connections among people and communities that aren’t always obvious to others. Congrats Brian! Thanks for all you’ve done for our community.