Best Creator of Fake Bands, Their Songs, and Their Artwork - 2011
Everyone has fantasized about creating a fake band at some point, right? Well, local songwriter and artist Sonny Smith did us one — or rather 100 — better: He went and invented 100 bands, complete with names, artwork, record labels, and even songs. Best known for his "real" outfit Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith began his 100 Records project as a visual accompaniment to a novel. But after churning out about 180 pages of the book, he decided to summon the characters he was imagining through song instead. Recruiting visual artists to help with the cover art and local musicians like the Sandwitches' Heidi Alexander, Kelley Stoltz, Ty Segall, Tim Cohen, and others to play the music, Smith brought the project to Gallery 16 in a show last year that featured a jukebox playing the fictional bands' singles. This year, he presented it on a live stage, with a show at Amnesia featuring 100 Records bands like Earth Girl Helen Brown and Fuckaroos. Having made the jump into real life, 100 Records now mingles mischievously with legitimacy: "Nomadic psychedelic folk singer" Earth Girl Helen Brown, manifested in the flesh by Alexander of the Sandwitches, now has her own EP out. Smith describes the music as featuring a unique mix of "country, girl-group, R&B, and ghoulishness." He and his collaborators have also released two volumes of the songs from the project, both of which bear the dusty stamp of San Francisco's thriving rock underground, wandering through bouncy vintage pop, tailfin rock 'n' roll, and haunted country-folk. Which is to say, they're low-key, fun, and lyrically and musically inventive. Not bad for the product of one man's wacky imagination.