Broken Lane

Highlight Reel

Nominated for Live Performer of the Year – 19th Annual LA Music Awards

CSUF student, Lawson Tatum, and his band, Broken Lane, know all too well about the struggles of being an independent band. The jazz and piano major, along with the three other members of the group, Joshua Bracks on guitar and vocals, his brother, Justin Bracks on drums and Melody Barthe on bass, have reached a stepping stone in their career: they have been nominated for a Los Angeles Music Award.

The group, which has been together for four years, played a small showcase in Los Angeles a week ago where they were officially nominated for the Best Live category of the award show. Broken Lane was honored to be nominated but seemed to stay calm before performing.

“It’s the potential for grandeur that excites us,” Justin Bracks said.

There is indeed potential when it comes to Broken Lane. The band put on a lively and loud performance, with a sound akin to that of one of the bands’ collective influences, The Dave Mathews Band. All the members in the band shared vocal responsibilities, even having Justin do the lead-in to one of their songs as he kept the beat on his kit.

Barthe, the red-headed bass player with a vivid Alice in Wonderland tattoo displayed prominently on her arm, sang backing vocals to the band’s rendition of “Hey Ya” – think Outkast meets DMB, with some of the dance moves pulled off by Joshua.

The showcase, which was held at the small club, Life on Wilshire, was just one of many that were held around the Los Angeles area to promote and announce the nominees for this year’s LA Music Awards.

The award show, which was founded 18 years ago, has a small underground following and is much like the bands it supports – not well known and under appreciated. Brainchild of founder, Al Bowman, it is one of the original award shows which helps promote independent bands and foster developing talent.

“Publicity, marketing and promoting are the keys to success,” Bowman said.

The LAMA has an impressive alumni roster, including No Doubt, Korn, 311, System of a Down and Black Eyed Peas; all bands from the Los Angeles area that had to start somewhere.

The process of getting to the actual LAMA is an arduous one. There were 8,000 submissions for the Best Live Performance category, and out of those, 100 were picked and then whittled down to five finalists.

“I’m officially excited,” Joshua said moments before taking the stage. “It’s like the calm before the storm.”

The band said that although they had been anticipating the show, and were truly grateful when they were nominated for the category, their biggest show to date has been the Anime Expo Battle of the Bands, which they won three years in a row.

Tatum admits there are challenges when it comes to being in a band, one of them trying to find a cohesiveness with the different personalities in the band and dealing with everyone’s ego and making it all fit.

So far the bands’ dynamic seems to be a winning one. At the showcase the band switched vocals with the greatest of ease and sent their harmonizing voices soaring into the crowd, easily filling the room. It was like watching a jam band translate their performance to a main stage venue.

The crowd responded enthusiastically to the Riverside-based band, prompting an on-the-spot nomination by Bowman. The band will perform again at the Whisky a Go-Go in Los Angeles in October at another event for the LAMA.

The LAMA, which has 13 major sponsors, will be held at the Avalon in Hollywood on Nov. 12.