Dropkick Murphys garner song of the year award!

It's time for the Boston music scene to celebrate its own.

At the 18th annual Boston Music Awards on Wednesday at Avalon, a raft of talented locals - including Meika Pauley, Apollo Sunshine, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Joe Pernice, Dear Leader, Sarah Borges and others - will perform. But the big excitement comes, of course, from the awards themselves. Trophies will be handed out in 28 categories covering almost every kind of music, as voted on by a mix of local industry types and the music-loving public. Like any awards show big or small, handicapping the BMAs is tricky. Veterans and familiar names tend to get rewarded - sometimes deservedly so - repeatedly. But there are always a few upstarts to shake up the ballot box as well. Here are my predictions in five categories.

Act of the Year: In the nuttily eclectic seven-way race for top prize, theatrical cabaret rockers the Dresden Dolls do battle with punk rock heroes the Dropkick Murphys, power popsters Fountains of Wayne, hard rockers Godsmack, jazz legend Pat Metheny and two very different Maine-spawned singer-songwriters, soulful Ray LaMontagne and pop-oriented Howie Day.

All are worthy. But only one band helped the Red Sox win the World Series with its anthem ``Tessie'' last year. Expect the Dropkick Murphys to add this one to their collection.

Song of the Year: Who else? The Dropkicks. The band, who also released the superlative ``Warrior's Code'' CD this year, can clear space in the trophy case thanks to an assist from Manny, Papi, Johnny and friends.

Outstanding Pop/Rock Band: No need to shed tears for Fountains of Wayne. This - let's be honest - mostly New York-based quartet, which includes Northampton singer Chris Collingwood, will have it going on in this category to edge stiff competition from the Dropkick Murphys, Guster, Mission of Burma, Staind, Godsmack and the suddenly hot Click Five.

Outstanding Male Singer/Songwriter: Where newcomer LaMontagne has a chance at an upset is here in this chock-full of goodness category. Every single one of these guys - Bill Janovitz, Ellis Paul, Jake Brennan, Joe Pernice, Josh Ritter, Peter Mulvey and LaMontagne - can legitimately lay claim to this title. But because many of the nominees are previous winners, the critically revered ``Trouble'' man may make this all about Ray.

Outstanding Female Singer/Songwriter: In this equally hotly contested race, look for Lori McKenna to emerge victorious. The Stoughton mom is hot off signing with Warner Bros., placing three songs on Faith Hill's latest chart topper, and she's the subject of an ``Oprah'' show this Thursday. Boston loves a winner, especially one with such a strong voice.