Checking in: SAMMIES 2020 winners and nominees

In any normal year, we at SN&R would be in full-on SAMMIES mode, asking readers to vote for their favorite performers and prepping a big event to celebrate the winners.

Unfortunately, the SAMMIES are on hold for 2021, and COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders prevented the big shindig we’d hoped for in 2020 to celebrate the winners.

But if there’s any time we need the comfort of music, it’s now. For the next few weeks, we’ll be checking in on some 2020 SAMMIES winners and nominees to see how they’ve stayed creative over the last year. Be sure to check out the Bandcamp and Spotify pages of each artist.

The Bad Barnacles, winner, Indie/Live Performer

Double SAMMIES 2020 winners The Bad Barnacles

How did you feel about being nominated last year?
Being nominated for three (and winning two) Sammies last year was the momentum that kept us rolling through quarantine. That recognition played a major part in us continuing to create for the past year.

How have you stayed active/creative during the pandemic?
Throughout the pandemic we continued to add to our catalog, writing another full album. We also released a bunch of singles and one of us released a solo album too, called Alter Ego.

For a few months we streamed live artists from our basement, calling it Barnacle Broadcasts. We even hosted a very abbreviated (and socially distanced) version of Barnacle Bash in our backyard.

We’ve tried to incorporate the music community in everything we do. We have to keep Sac alive. We have so much new material to share with the city when we get back to live gigs.

What have you been listening to lately?
We’ve been listening to these vinyl junkies who DJ a stream like once a month. They are called Chances With Wolves. We are always hearing new tunes on those mixes.

Recently, the Shana Cleveland album, Night of the Worm Moon, has been playing a lot. Alex Maas (of The Black Angels) just released an incredible solo album. Otherwise, The Kinks, Cut Worms, and The Velvet Underground.

Listen to The Bad Barnacles via Bandcamp

Czechmate, nominee, Electronica/Experimental

Czechmate, 2020 nominee, Electronica/Experimental

 How did you feel about being nominated last year?
I was shocked when I received the nomination last year, as it was the second year in a row without any promotion on my part. It made me feel good, proud, and seen! Haha 

How have you stayed active/creative during the pandemic?
Yes, I definitely stayed as active and creative as possible last year. I got to work with some incredibly talented humans, that has been a highlight for-sure!

My mental health suffered though, lots of  low points dealing with depression and anxiety, but I know I wasn’t the only one going through it, mentally. We all lost something one way or another, and I definitely left a part of me behind in 2020. The pandemic has made me more introverted, and cautious about who I let into my life. I guess it’s been a blessing in disguise in many ways! Lot of hard lessons I needed to learn and maybe some I didn’t need to but learned anyway! Haha Life is full of ups & downs.

Starting a weekly radio show  ‘Czechmate Radio’ on Apple Podcasts has been a great outlet for me that kept me busy. I also got to work with a new label and have joined the Amplified Entertainment collective, which has given me a new direction and purpose as a deejay. I definitely still have a ton to be thankful for, most importantly my health! 2020 was one hell of a rollercoaster ride that has changed me forever.

What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to everything from G-House to Rap & Top40 all year, but my current obsession is the new Martin Garrix single called ‘Pressure’ Feat. Trove Lo. I have to get up and dance every time I hear it! Haha. 

Find Czechmate on Spotify and YouTube

Jessica Jolia, winner, Singer-Songwriter, nominee, Artist of the Year and Live Performer

Jessica Jolia, SAMMIES 2020 winner, Singer-Songwriter

How did you feel about being nominated last year? 
Being recognized for the work that I do is always appreciated, but it’s really an honor when that recognition comes from my hometown. I wasn’t born in Sacramento, but my family and I moved here from Michigan when I was in elementary school, so the city will always have my heart. That said, I’ve worked with a number of artists, songwriters, musicians, and producers from Sacramento and I’m very familiar with the level of talent I’d be up against in any music competition. At the top of 2020, I’d just returned from the Jonas Brothers Happiness Begins tour as part of the opening act (Jordan McGraw) and was also in the process of recovering from surgery due to complications of Endometriosis. As a person who is always on the go, it was challenging for me to have to sit out on performances and recording sessions, but I knew it was necessary to ensure complete healing. So, as you can imagine, learning that I’d been nominated in three categories (Live Performer, Singer-Songwriter, and Artist of the Year) for the SAMMIES was such a pleasant surprise during a time when I felt so removed from something that I loved so much. I am very grateful to have won Best Singer-Songwriter, and congratulate all of the 2020 winners and nominees.

How have you stayed active/creative during the pandemic? 
Funny enough, I didn’t initially think that things would escalate to the degree that they now have. I remember sitting in my room in SoCal last February, thinking things would probably ease up within a month or two. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we’d still be dealing with a global pandemic in 2021. But, I strive to remain positive and grateful for the things that I’ve gained rather than the things I’ve temporarily gone without. I’ve been able to spend more time with my family than I have in many, many years, due to the demands of my schedule; and have enjoyed watching my now almost 2-year-old nephew grow up right before my eyes. The quality time spent with them has kept me encouraged and inspired. I’ve also been able to do a lot of remote production, writing and recording. and I’m so thankful that I made it a priority to learn the necessary skills to be able to do so much from home (though I was certainly never preparing for a pandemic). A lot of my late nights were also spent on Voisey, a music app that I grew very fond of, capturing ideas and uploading mini songs for and with others in the app community. Collectively, I recorded about 65 songs last year and began releasing singles in October through my label, Dekada Records, which was something I hadn’t been able to do since the beginning of 2019. My first single of 2020, “On A Break”, premiered on KSFM 102.5 FM, and my most recent single, “Hold Me Close”, premiered on 103.5 Fuego FM and Sirius XM’s Heart & Soul. Now, I’m eagerly anticipating the release of my upcoming single, “No Question”, which drops in a few days. I’ll continue to release music monthly, while also working on my debut album. In spite of all that has changed over the past year, I can honestly say that, for me, the music never skipped a beat.

What have you been listening to lately? 
Honestly, most of my time is spent listening to instrumentals crafted by the producers I work with. We’re in constant communication, throwing ideas back and forth, and I really enjoy spending time working on the arrangements. I haven’t listened to very much music outside of that, but on occasion I do listen to Emotional Oranges, especially whenever I’m roller skating (I LOVE skating). The music is super vibey and usually stays on loop.

Find Jessica Jolia’s music via her website,

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