The Bubba Award

The Bubba Award, presented each year at the Portland Old Time Music Gathering, strives to honor a special person who has spent a good portion of their life enhancing and inspiring the Northwest old-time community. The award is named for Bill “Bubba” Martin, who spent decades breathing life into Northwest music and dance.

The ideal Bubba Award recipient is someone who may not often be noticed or rewarded – perhaps because they serve behind the scenes – but who has contributed energy and enthusiasm to the community over the years.

Interested in nominating someone for the Bubba Award? Fill out our nomination form, here. 

Past Bubba Award winners:

2024: Dan Leif

In addition to playing a lot of music around Portland, Dan Leif has put in hours and hours of work on volunteer projects for the Northwest old-time music community. He has served on the Gathering organizing committee as well as the Bubbaville Board, and he also helped coordinate Bubbaville’s website rebuild and produced the “Gathered” compilation album (a wonderful time machine to revisit past Gatherings and celebrate this evolving community). He consistently works his tail off quietly, without expectation of fame and glory. 

2023: Kate Sheie

By example, Kate Sheie has taught us to follow our hearts and have the strength to be ourselves and the courage to do the right thing. She has joined bands, started bands. Joined jams, started jams. She has worked tirelessly and thanklessly as a volunteer for the Portland Old Time Music Gathering and other events, and she has been a multi-term president of the Bubbaville board. She and her family have opened their home to host jam sessions, and for years have hosted one of the most welcoming regular music parties during the Old Time Music Gathering. On top of all of this, she holds a full time job and is raising a beautiful family.

2022: Charmaine Slaven

Charmaine Slaven has made consistent contributions to our music community, with boundless energy, for decades. Simply put, Charmaine organizes the crap out of every kind of event that the old-time community enjoys. From tireless busking, to square dances, concerts, festivals, fundraisers, tours, and parties, she’s brought commitment and tremendous talent to the West Coast old-time scene.

2022: Suzanne Savell

Suzanne Savell has served in many capacities over the years: serving on the Bubbaville Board of Directors (including president, vice president and treasurer), being on the Old Time Gathering organizing committee, and bringing stellar acts to town. She has a knowledge of all things Bubbaville that goes back years, and even helped Bill Martin plan for this award as part of his legacy to our community. Suzanne is someone who is truly laboring behind the scenes to expand and enhance the old time community.

2022: Betsy Brown (Doctor in the House Award)

We presented a special Doctor in the House Award to physician and old time community member Betsy Brown for her timely and useful COVID newsletter, Update from an Epidemic.  Betsy’s newsletters made the fire hose of scientific and medical information easier to digest, and her posts on playing music, going camping, and resting remind us that, just like the rest of us, health care workers needed lots of special care amid the pandemic.

2021: Jinny Macrae

Jinny Macrae has worked tirelessly as a community organizer, acting as a Bubbaville board member, a member of the Portland old Time Music Gathering committee, writing the weekly Bubbaville newsletter and so much more. She’s been a parent to many a wandering musician soul, and a pal to many more. Did we mention vintage hats and costume jewelry? Gospel choirs and Cajun bands? “Mom sandals”? A “whistle-stop on the railway of life?” In describing Jinny,  a former Bubba Award winner wrote: “I can’t think of anyone who has worked as hard at every level.”

2021: Gabrielle Macrae and Barry Southern (Instigator Award)

In the early days of the pandemic, Garielle Macrae and Barry Southern dreamed up, booked, promoted and supported the Quarantine Happy Hour, and they eventually recruited some additional administrative helpers to create a daily conline concert series that connected the community during solemn times. We bestowed the first-ever Instigator Award on these two for meeting the moment with vision, snarky Facebook posts, and fashion that can only be described as “sexy lumberjack meets elf from Lothlorien.”

2020: Tony Mates

Tony Mates is an excellent musician, playing fiddle tunes, singing out of the way songs, and providing thoughtful backup on guitar and bass, even setting up the sound system if necessary. He is even better known for teaching and spreading the joy of square dance calling and dancing. Through his efforts organizing community groups and events, as well as leading workshops and providing mentorship, Tony has made sure that a new generation of square dance callers is ready to take the stage. His kindness and gentle spirit permeate the jams he leads and  the dances he organizes.

2019: Amy Hofer

Amy Hofer is an incredible organizer, player, community maker and person. She has helped put on Dare to be Square in multiple cities, taught string band classes in Berkeley and Portland, and organized Portland’s Every Sunday Square Dance, the Portland Old Time Gathering, Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and the Berkeley Old Time Music convention. One nomination summed up her leadership abilities and community-making skills: “She reaches out in a personal and genuine way to everyone she meets and includes folks of all backgrounds with an open heart by making everyone she meets feel like an old friend.”

2018: Maggie Lind

Maggie Lind is the driving force behind the Portland Stringband Class, which continues to develop new old-time musicians. She’s also been very involved with the Every Sunday Square Dance and for many years was involved in organizing the Portland Old Time Music Gathering. A stellar musician, dance caller, teacher and community organizer, Maggie welcomes all levels of musicians to get together and learn from one another. She shares stories and songs to continue traditions. Instead of just learning songs, Maggie shares the origins and talks about traditional techniques of playing. Maggie is hilarious and always seems to have a smile on her face.

2017: Lucas Hicks

Lucas Hicks was a shining star in our beautiful community. His good humor, amazing musicianship, and capacity for friendship made him an exemplary example of what it means to be part of the Northwest old-time music family. He led the charge of organizing square dances and other music events around the Bellingham, Washington area, and he taught many of us how to call dances, improve on banjo and generally be awesome.  Lucas passed away on October 3, 2017 at his home surrounded by family, friends and music, after a 14-year battle with cancer.

2016: Johnny Calcagno

Johnny Calcagno has been quietly uplifting all of us for decades in the Northwest music scene. Over the years, he has always kept a low profile but has done a ton to keep the community going. He has generously donated his technical skills to keeping up the Bubbaville website and has volunteered countless hours on boards and committees, including the Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society, Dare to be Square West, and the Northwest Folklife festival. He is one of the original instigators to collectively purchase the Stickerville property at Weiser, which would have otherwise been sold to developers. He has recorded many local old-time bands in his home studio, because he can and because he loves it. 

2015: Caroline Oakley

Caroline Oakley has been a part of Portland’s old time and square dance community for many years and has a certain genius for bringing people together and making things happen. She was also the first person in town to pin down Bill “Bubba” Martin, getting him to mentor her as a dance caller. She developed a deep connection with Bill and has been showing dancers a good time ever since, helping to popularize square dancing in general. Thanks to Caroline, there are now a lot more gigs for other musicians and callers in the area. 

2014: Scott Killops

Scott Killops has been a quiet but stalwart supporter of the Portland old time scene for years and years.He’s a great musician and seems to be at each and every event that happens in the community, always cheering others on. So often, he is the last person standing at a local concert or house party. And he does everything with a sparkle in his eye and an “ain’t-nothing” shrug of the shoulder.

2013: Brian Bagdonas

The first Bubba Award winner, Brian Bagdonas has been working quietly behind the scenes for decades and was a key instigator of the first Portland Old Time Music Gathering. He is an artist, a musician and a community organizer, and without ever asking for any recognition, he lends a sense of credibility, style and coolness to everything he touches. He is always ready to think the best of everybody, and he often sees connections among people and communities that aren’t always obvious to others.