Farmington— From blues to punk and heavy metal, the sound of music echoed through the High Desert Room at SunRay Park and Casino during the SunRay Showcase Music Awards.
The awards were put on by local radio stations, which hope to make the showcase an annual event.
Shawn Kelly of KRWN 92.9 and 106.3 was the event's promoter.
"Nobody pays attention to local music as they should," Kelly told the audience.
He continued to explain that he prefers the term "root" music instead of local.
"Everybody started out as a 'root,'" he said, pointing to bands like the Beatles and Metalica as examples.
The hardest thing for a band is to get the recognition, Kelly said. He hopes the SunRay Showcase can help provide an opportunity for the bands.
The winner of Artist of the Year, Crepitus, was given a recording contract and signed with a managing company.
Crepitus is a rock group based out of Farmington. First formed five years ago, the band was completed when vocalist Shawn McBrown joined two years later.
Upon finding out the band was nominated, McBrown said his initial reaction was to say "I love my people." That's how the band refers to its fans.
McBrown came to Farmington by chance when he was 7 years old. His mother, who had breast cancer, had heard of a medicine man in Moab, Utah, and the two were traveling to see him.
When they reached Farmington, their car broke down and it took about a week to repair. After that week was over, his mother turned to him and asked him if he wanted to stay.
Among the bands competiting against Crepitus for Artist of the Year was Signal 99, originally formed by Chuck Haven in 2005.
Life has not been easy for the Haven family. After his parents divorced, Haven had to go to work at the age of 14. He was paid under the table and that money was crucial to helping support his family.
Meanwhile, his older brother, Alonzo, was in college. Eventually Alonzo Haven began to drink and moved to North Dakota. Despite efforts to give up his addiction and the family's efforts to convince him to return home, Alonzo died earlier this week, causing Chuck Haven to question whether he even wanted to show up at the SunRay Showcase.
"I just do it for the music," Chuck Haven said. "I'm not very big on competition. It should be about the music."
However, Haven and Signal 99 did show up for the showcase. Alonzo Haven was an acoustic guitarist and Signal 99 did its performance acoustic partly in his memory.
In addition to performing at the showcase, the band was joined by a former member, Chuck Haven's younger brother. Hank Haven had to leave the band in March due to multiple sclerosis.
A few years ago, the Haven family had very little idea what multiple sclerosis was. In March 2012, Hank Haven was diagnosed with the disease, which causes a person's immune system to attack their nervous system. He said his initial reaction was surprise, anger and "pretty much all the emotions you could experience." Then he went into a stage of depression that lasted five months. After he was finally able to accept it, he said he began to live a healthier lifestyle. The band responded to the diagnosis by starting to raise funds to fight mutliple sclerosis.
On Aug. 3, Signal 99 will be playing in Durango, Colo., in a Metalheads Against MS fundraiser concert.
Those Devils represented country music at the showcase and performed a couple original songs.
"I like songs that make you feel something, even if it's negative," Kellen Dean, the lead guitarist, added.
The band took its name from inner demons people face said Dean and Dustin Moore, the band's vocalist.
For some people it's grief and loss. For others, like Dean, it's addiction. Dean struggled with drug addiction and music served as something he could turn to instead of the drugs. Dean said he's been clean for more than five years.
"Everybody's got 'those devils' inside them," Moore said.