"Hearing that he's won, it's like hearing that a family member has done well," Mohr said. "And that's thrilling for us."
When Maika takes the stage Thursday night at the Fullerton Museum, he's more likely to encounter discerning judges than swooning women. But even if he doesn't take the final prize, he finds it exhilarating to come this far the first time he entered the awards.
"You never know in this business," said Maika, an Edison High School graduate. "You never want to build up your hopes too much, but you always want to stay positive. And if it doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world. I'm still going to get to do this full-time."
Maika submitted his work this year for the Showcase Series, which honors live performers and has contestants perform before a panel of judges. Artists may apply for the Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic categories, with the awards staff choosing four finalists and fans naming the fifth.
From gondolas to wedding parties, Maika is no stranger to performing live. Since leaving his last day job, he's regularly performed four or five shows a week and sometimes more than one a day.
It's those personal connections that may have won him the Fan Vote — some of his former clients even went on Facebook and urged their friends to vote for him, he said.
Although Maika sometimes performs with a trio, he does most of his gigs alone, accompanying himself with guitar, ukulele, harmonica and a looping machine that records and plays back sounds for a rhythm track. He peppers his shows with cover versions, touching on the Beatles, Otis Redding, Nat King Cole and others, but mixes in a few originals as well.
Ric Soto, his former singing instructor at Orange Coast College, said Maika, whose full name is Danny Maika Hamamoto, showed promise early on.
"You could tell when he walked into the room, he knew what he was doing," Soto said. "He knew how to deliver a song."
If You Go
What: OC Music Awards' Best Live Acoustic Finals
Where: Fullerton Museum, 301 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton
When: 7 p.m. Thursday (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Information: Call the museum at (714) 738-6545; for more information on Maika, visit http://www.dannymaika.com