Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The WAMIs Broaden Their Horizons

By Evan Rytlewski
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To put it delicately, the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards (WAMIs) have squandered much of their cache over the past decade, as the annual awards ignored the region's young talent in favor of celebrating the music scene's old guard. That WAMI members so often were the safe bets to win cost the event much of its credibility.

This year's WAMIs, though, suggest a welcome change of pace for the veteran award show, with ample nominations for non-WAMI members and musicians who are genuinely making waves, not just the well-funded ones that most aggressively promote themselves (though, to be sure, the later group is represented, too). Nominations for Bon Iver and Kings Go Forth suggest WAMI is more in touch than it has been recently, and all in all, this is a vast improvement over the self-celebrating nominations of yore.

It's hard not to speculate how much influence RadioMilwaukee's Milwaukee Music Awards had in shaping these WAMI nominations. RadioMilwaukee's young awards quickly proved more on the pulse of regional music than the WAMIs, and coincidentally or not, there's plenty of (justified) overlap between the two awards' nominees this year.

The WAMIs take place on April 27 at the Turner Hall Ballroom. Here's the list of nominees:

CD of the Year:

"My World," by Hindsight; "Keep Your Dreams Alive" by Steve Grimm; "Shatter Queen" by Jayme Dawicki; "White China" by Fever Marlene; "Cathedral Square" by The Lackloves; and "For Emma, Forever Ago"  by Bon Iver

Song of the Year:

"Hallmark Stars"  by The Lackloves; "Rain on Me" by Hindsight; "Revolution" by Verona Grove; "Lemon King Mahoney" by Fever Marlene; and "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver

Artist of the Year:

Maritime; Bon Iver; Cory Chisel; Ronnie Nyles; Verona Grove; and Fever Marlene

New Artist of the Year:
Invade Rome; Evan Christian; Tallulah Who; Rowdy Prairie Dogs; Kings Go Forth; and The Socialites

Bassist of the Year: 
Chris Steelman; Rick LaJeunesse; Gary Christensen; Ken Sigul; and Mike Spellman

Drummer of the Year
:
Dave Schoepke; Greg Thiel; Scott Kallenbach; Scott Berendt; Tom Caponi; and Kevin Dunphy

Guitarist of the Year:
Evan Christian; Frank Calarco; Chris Dame; Scotty  Meyer; and Robert Allen Jr.

Reeds/ Brass Player of the Year:
Andrew Spadafora; Mary Rodgers; Peter Neumer; Warren Wiegratz; and Steve Cooper

Specialty Instrumentalist of the Year: 
Beth Wisnewski; Tommy Greywolf; Rachel Trapp;   Danny Jerabek; Andy Linderman; and Ben Rickum

Keyboard Player of the Year:

Jim Sodke; Kevin Machan; Connie Grauer;  Joe Hite; and Larry Moore

Best Music Venue:
Mill Creek; Milwaukee Ale House; Caroline's; Turner Hall; High Noon Saloon; and Stone's Throw

Best Print/ Electronic Media: 
OnMilwaukee.com; Shepherd Express; The Scene;   Maximum Ink; Kenosha News

Best Producer:
Jeff Hamilton; Justin Perkins; Gary Tanin; Joe Puerta; and Marc Golde

Best Radio Station: 
WMSE 91.7; WYMS 88.9; WAPL 105.7; and  WLUM 102.1

Best Recording Studio:

Nexus; Renwood Messenger; Smart Studios; and Rock Garden

Best Americana Artist:
Twang Dragons; Copperbox; The Liam Ford Band; Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons; and The Rowdy Prairie Dogs

Best Cover Band:
Fat Bottom Special; Johnny Wad; Eddie Butts; Sonic Circus; Half Empty; and The Toys

Best Big Band/ Swing:
Mr. Lucky; All Star SuperBand; Swing Nouveau; Bay City Swing;   Mr. Lucky; and Pat Crawford Big Band

Best Jazz Artist: 
Jazz Orgy; Paul Spencer Band; Curt Hanrahan; Chris Crain; Mrs. Fun; and  Jack Grassel

Best Blues Artist:
Alex Wilson; Robert Allen Jr.; The Back Alley Band; Rev Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys; Steve Cohen; and Houndstooth

Best World / Reggae/ Ska Artist:
Unity; De La Buena; Kojo; The Invaders; King Solomon; and Something to Do

Best Bluegrass Artist:
Liberty Bluegrass; .357 String Band; Mud River Lee & The Bluegrass Orchestra; and Stealin' Strings

Best Female Vocalist:
Ronnie Nyles; Jess Bierman; Lisa Hannon; Annie Denison; Deirdre Fellner; and Rhonda Begos

Best Male Vocalist:
Michael Sean; Cory Chisel; Michael Wendland; Gene "Gno" Covelli;   Justin Vernon; and Lem Banks

Best Alternative Artist:
The Lackloves; Revolush; Fever Marlene; The Buskers; and Evan Christian

Best Hard Rock Artist:
Spiral Trance; Fahrenheit 420; 9 MM Solution; Marashino; and  Profane

Best Rock Artist:
Verona Grove; Bellevue Suite; Steve Grimm; Invade Rome; Boxkar; and  Greg Waters and the Broad Street Boogie

Best Pop Artist:
Ronnie Nyles and Tallulah Who; Bascom Hill; Jerry Hunter; Jayme Dawicki; and Maritime

Best Country Artist: 
Geoff Landon & The Wolfpack; Chasin' Mason; Grand Union; Nashville Pipeline; and Saddlebrook

Best Christian/Gospel Artist: 
Chad James; Danny Gokey; Skillet His Way

Best Hip Hop/ Rap:
The Figureheads; Rusty P's; Handz Onn; and Kid Millions

Best R & B/ Soul:
Soul Food; Eddie Butts; Deirdre Fellner; Mary Davis; and Joe Jordan

Best Tribute/ Nostalgia Artist: 

Mark Shurilla; Light Up; Funk Trunk; Beatallica; Separate Ways; and Shattered

HALL Of FAME Inductees for 2009:  
Harvey Scales and Butch Vig

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