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Orange County Music Awards

Fender attended the Orange County Music Awards at the Grove in Anaheim on Saturday night for the 9th annual OC Music Awards, a show highlighted by live performances from up-and-coming bands like Melanoid, BLOK, the Steelwells and the night’s big winner, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band. (This is a shot of Dusty, taken by photographer Ana Gibert. His mustache qualifies him for a role in a Super Trooper sequel, should they ever decide to make one.)

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Dusty Rhodes and the River Band picked up three awards including best live band, a category that was accompanied by $2,500 worth of Fender gear and a four-day recording session at Red Bull Studio. Billy Kernkamp and his band also earned the same prize package for taking home best live acoustic band. Kernkamp plans to award his bassist with a new Fender bass and his recording studio with a new Bassman TV amp.

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band are still trying to figure out how they’ll divvy up the Fender merchandise. In the meantime, guitarist Edson Choi enjoyed his new American Special guitar, also a gift from Fender.

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Photo by Ana Gibert

Melanoid guitarist Chris Sorem likewise enjoyed playing his new American Special guitar at the show.

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Photo by Ana Gibert

The Steelwells guitarist Andrew Eapen had plenty of reasons to celebrate. We also gifted him with a new American Special guitar to play during his band’s performance of “El Capitan,” which won best song. The indie/folk rock band also won for best new artist.

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Photo by Ana Gibert

Several of the evening’s performers earned compliments from Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath.

“I’m just humbled and blown away by the talent I’ve seen onstage tonight,” said McGrath. “I think Dusty might be my new favorite person. BLOK (an electro hip-hop sibling trio) might be my favorite performance tonight. You guys rule. The Steelwells were unbelievable.”

Sugar Ray was in the house to pick up the OC Impact Award.

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Photo by Ana Gibert

Although it was a sad occasion, we were happy to also see our Fender artists Lit back in action. The platinum-recording selling band performed an acoustic version of “Here’s To Us” in tribute to their drummer Allen Shellenberger, who passed away on Aug. 13, 2009. The band is back to songwriting and plans to return to the recording studio in the next few months.

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Photo by Ana Gibert

Both before and after the show, Fender staff manned a lobby display of guitars and amps for the evening’s attendees. Steelwells bassist Robbie Goulage was one of many musicians who stopped by to test a few of the instruments off the rack.

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