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 his/her 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 he/she serves behind the scenes and does not tend to gravitate towards the spotlight – but who has contributed something unique to the community over the years.
In vetting nominations for this award, we consider the following criteria – tenure, service, community building, a wicked sense of humor and a unique sense of style. We are now accepting nominations for the 2021 Bubba Award! Please submit your nominations by January 7, 2021. The winner will be announced over our social media channels during the Virtual Portland Old Time Music Gathering.
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 the 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.