The 25th Annual Boston Music Awards – Show in Review
The scene was rife with sequins and faux leather at the 25th annual Boston Music Awards, held festival-style in the Liberty Hotel, all proceeds from the show benefitting the non-profit local organization MusicDrivesUs.Org. While trying to navigate to the different concert rooms in this prison-turned-hotel sometimes felt like weaving through an Escher painting, the acts ran the gamut and made the foot traffic well-worth enduring.
With jazz, blues, DJs, Boston rock legends, blues, singer/songwriters, hip-hop, garage, and a little bit of indie folk and world music, the evening gushed with profuse local talent across genre lines. We were welcomed by live jazz in the lobby from the Devon Yesberger Trio, only to then have our ears rattled by legendary Boston rockers from STP, Disturbed, XTreme, and Deep Purple (+bass prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld) riffing on Sly & The Family Stone and Stevie Wonder. Singer/songwriter Will Dailey crooned Boston band covers in his cabbie hat and sweater vest (with his guitarist in a hat apparently from the Smokey the Bear collection), and neopolitan-haired Banditas blew us back with acid-washed chick-rock. Most hilariously awkward quote of the night came courtesy of the Banditas frontwoman, who lamented that in her recent run-in with Evan Dando she hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him “I just wanna breastfeed you.”
The Dwight and Nicole performance in the ballroom was a major highlight of the evening – Nicole later in the evening winning the award for Female Vocalist of the Year, hot off a stint representing Boston on this year’s season of “The Voice.” Her hair was done up like Jennifer Hudson’s from “Dreamgirls,” and she had the pipes to match. Dwight was no slouch, either, acting as more of a blues foil than a simple accessory. Quick tip: Nicole dispenses of hugs rather freely, so if you fancy a snuggle, don’t be shy about saying hello.
Air Traffic Controller is one of my favorite local indie/folk acts (you know they’re folky cuz they’ve got a fiddle and a mandolin), but midway through their set they invited up early 1980s local legend Robin Lane (of Robin Lane and the Chartbusters fame) to join them, underscoring the evening’s fusion of Boston talent, old and new.
On the newer side of the equation we had the unpredictable Streight Angular, short hip-hop sets from Dutch Rebelle, Edo G, and Cam Meekins, and noise-rock from resident hipsters, Earthquake Party. Young London blasted the electro-pop, DJ E-Marce dropped a couple beats, Pico Picante threw a small but enthusiastic tropical dance party, and the satellite event at Redstar Studios featured three of the night’s fresh nominees (and ultimately 2 winners): Yale, Massachusetts, Gem Club, and Mean Creek.
Then there were the Boston music patriarchs, scene stalwarts who can count the number of times they’ve played out in the last decade on one hand. O Positive and Real Kids are the institutions of Boston Rock, and Real Kids especially stayed true to garage-punk roots, not starting their show until it was supposed to be over, and blowing an amp only one song into the set.
The awards portion of the evening was nice and brief, led in by International Artist of the Year winners Evolfo Doofeht playing “Here Comes Your Man.” This would have been awesome even if the cowbell player *hadn’t* been wearing a traffic cone around his neck. Probably the Evolfo Doofeht dance party throwdown following the awards, the Real Kids set, and the jazzy nightcap with Lyle Brewer in the Alibi lounge were my favorite parts of the evening. The cherry on top, though, was hobnobbing with other local scenesters – lots of camaraderie in chatting with artists and bloggers and general Boston music enthusiasts. Not a lot of ego, just a great night of music exposure and a true celebration of the great city that produces and fosters its vibrant music community.
And now, drumroll please – your 25th Boston Music Awards Winners:
New Artist of the Year: Cam Meekins
Song of the Year: “Harder Before It Gets Easier” – David Wax Museum
Live Artist of the Year: Debo Band
Video of the Year: “252” – Gem Club
Female Vocalist of the Year: Nicole Nelson
Male Vocalist of the Year: Christian McNeill
Americana Artist of the Year: Kingsley Flood
Blues Artist of the Year: Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers
Humanitarian of the Year Award: Jillian Jensen
Music Drives Us – Special Achievement Award: Clinton Sparks
Electronic Artist of the Year: Andre Obin
DJ Artist of the Year: Frank White
Folk Artist of the Year: Caleb Groh
International Artist of the Year: Evolfo Doofeht
Jazz Artist of the Year: Omar Thomas
Unsung Hero Award: Ed Valauskas
Metal/Hardcore Artist of the Year: Converge
Gospel/Inspirational Artist of the Year: Berklee Reverence Gospel Choir
Pop/R&B Artist of the Year: Shea Rose
Punk Artist of the Year: Dropkick Murphys
Rock Artist of the Year: Ribs
Singer/Songwriter of the Year: Will Dailey
Producer of the Year: Dave Minehan
Producer of the Year (Hip Hop): Malik Williams
Hip Hop Artist of the Year: Moe Pope & Rain
Best Music Blog: Allston Pudding
Best Live Music Venue: Royale
Best DJ/Dance Night: The Pill
Best Live Ongoing Residency: Tim Gearan Band @Atwood’s Tavern
Best Boston Artist That Doesn’t Live In Boston: Passion Pit
Album of the Year: “Youth Companion” – Mean Creek
Artist of the Year: Karmin