By Josh Hertzog   Published Apr 25, 2005 at 5:24 AM

{image1} Contrary to the whammy you try to avoid during the old game show "Press Your Luck," the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards on Monday, April 25 are much desired among the musicians across the state and considered more than just luck. And this year is the 25th anniversary.

Along with the WAMI Awards are the People's Choice Awards for 2005's favorite band, with the winner awarded a guaranteed slot at this year's Summerfest. There will be four recipients, one from each of the state's four quadrants.

WAMI provides scholarships to students and emerging artists and offers continuing education for music industry professionals through monthly meetings and semi-annual music seminars. The award show is the icing on the cake.

WAMI President John Ertl couldn't be more satisfied with the progress so far.

"There's been a significant improvement the last four to five years," Ertl says. "Music in Wisconsin is really something special, and with WAMI, we hope to be part of the formula or process to help these musicians and bands succeed."

And that's exactly what is happening. With WAMI's focus not on a particular style or genre of music, the doors are always open, as well as their ears.

"We have an event we call CD Roulette," Ertl adds. "A musician gets 90 seconds to play their song, and then judges critique it and give feedback. It's great for the musicians to get a feel for what they need to work on because the judges have been recognized in the music industry both regionally and nationally."

Ertl also gets to discover the talent before they're big.

"There's a producer named Gary Tanin. Now, this guy is incredible, a sleeper surprise. Watch out for him," he says.

Not only do musicians get a chance to have successful music industry folks critique their tunes, but they get the chance to play some high-exposure gigs, too.

"The past five years, the number of showcases has grown," Ertl says. "We got 30-40 festival slots the last couple of years, so the chance to get out and be seen and heard is what we love to provide.

"We just like to think that we play a significant role and that we're partly responsible for the success of the musicians we meet," Ertl adds. "It's an amazing stepping stone for anyone interested in getting more involved musically."

But, don't just take Ertl's word for it. spoke with two bands, the Fell Boyzs and Something to Do to get their experience from being directly involved with WAMI.

Fell Boyzs

In the music spectrum, Fell Boyzs fall into the jazz/fusion/funk area or simply stated by Tom Fell as "modern jazz." Fell's oldest son even plays saxophone in the band. Their latest disc was released last July and was titled "concretedogbicycle." The band has been quite impressed with WAMI's efforts to date.

"It's a pretty good organization that has given our band a lot of exposure," Fell says. "We like how they run it, and they're very open-minded. They enjoy all genres and music from decades ago. They're not afraid to stretch out a bit."

This year, Fell Boyzs are nominated for three WAMIs, the most of any other group in the show. WAMI's assistance can be seen through the gigs the band has received recently.

On July 16 the band will play at Bastille Days, with a tentative date scheduled before then at Summerfest on July 8 at the Harley Davidson Roadhouse.

But, there's one gig the band is excited about more than the others.

"We get to be the house band for the Easter Seals telethon," Fell says. "It's going to be shown all over and will have over one million viewers, so it's exciting for us.

"We're just honored to have our name out there with so many talented bands today. Milwaukee is a well-informed music scene," he adds.

For more information on the Fell Boyzs, visit

Something to Do

This horn-driven ska band loves to put on a show. Whether it's for the younger crowd or the slightly older crowd, Something to Do will provide much effort and high energy for all. Their full-length disc, "13 Steps to a New You," was released last November. Fittingly so, the disc features 13 upbeat tracks.

Recently, the band performed on the morning show Fox 6 Wake-Up. They are also gearing up for Bastille Days and the State Fair. Nominated for two WAMIs, Something to Do is happy with the results from the organization.

"It's helped us network quite a bit," says band leader Mike Barse. "We've got some great press from it. Every month, it's something new for us."

According to Barse, WAMI is the place for want-to-be-successful musicians.

"Anyone interested in music should definitely check it out. It's free."

For details on Something to Do, visit

The 25th Annual WAMI Award Show is Monday, April 25 at the Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Bingo and Casino. For more information on the WAMI Award Show or the organization, call (414) 431-8719 or visit