Well, the bad news is I only got four of my OEAA predictions right. The good news is that about half of the artists I voted for won awards. As I say in the official review that will be printed in The Reader Thursday, last night’s OEAAs were a nod to performers who spent most of ’09 playing in local clubs rather than the hard-core touring acts trying to make a name outside of our little burg.
Gone are the days when Saddle Creek Records artists — arguably the most successful and influential bands in the area (and playing the best music) — dominated these awards. This year, only four Creek-related bands were even nominated, and none took home a prize, despite national and international tours for Cursive and Oberst, along with plenty of road work from the forgotten Ladyfinger. In the end, does it matter if a local band does something like play at SXSW? Apparently not to the OEAA voters.
Taking just over two hours for the entire evening’s production, emcee and chief yuckmeister Ethan Stone, part of the morning team at 96.1 The Brew, joked endlessly about the fact that you could actually drink alcohol in the Mid America Center ballroom — something unheard of at The Holland Center where the event had been held over the past three years.
A small army of wait staff delivered hot-plates of pork and potatoes to the well-groomed nominees as Stone rattled through the list of winners. Only a handful was allowed to come on stage to accept their awards Oscar-style. The rest had their crystal statues delivered to their tables, just like their pork and potatoes, where they proudly lofted their prizes overhead before the attention moved on to the next honoree.
The ceremony was quick and efficient, which was fortunate as some of the year’s worst road conditions lay ahead for the trek back over the river.
The evening kicked off with performances by Hot Topic-style emo band After the Fall and what would be the night’s big winner, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies, who is down to just three “deadlies” these days. While the room lacked the sparkling acoustics of The Holland Center, it was more than adequate for an audience busy downing dinner rolls and Bud Light.
The evening’s first highlight was the “Lifetime Achievement Award” bestowed to legendary promoter and entrepreneur Matt Markel. Pacific Street Blues host and former head of Homer’s Records Rick Galusha, along with 89.7 The River Program Director Sophia John, recapped the highlights of Markel’s career, which included running Omaha nightclub The Ranch Bowl, launching radio station 93.3 K-ROCK, and creating BJM Studio and Get-Go Records. Markel, 58, took the stage in front of a standing ovation. He thanked his wife, Dana, all the bands that had played at the Ranch Bowl over the years along with “all the workers,” including those he fired. Despite having suffered a stroke in 2002, Markel looked and sounded in good health. “The stroke has been a blessing to me,” he said. “It’s calmed me down a lot.”
Then it was back to the awards, most of which went to a cadre of bands and performers known for their appearances on Benson stages. Brad Hoshaw and his band took home the lion’s share of top honors, including awards for Album of the Year for their debut LP, along with Artist of the Year and Best Singer/Songwriter/Adult/Alternative. Like a good son, Hoshaw went out of his way to thank his mother.
The night’s other big winner was It’s True, a band led by singer/songwriter Adam Hawkins, which picked up crystal obelisks for Best New Artist and Best Indie / Alternative.
The OEAAs ventured off the Benson reservation only a few times, most notably for the Best Rock award, which went to Goner Records artist Box Elders, and Best Hip Hop, which went to I’m Drinkin’ This recording artist Conchance.
One of the evening’s bigger surprises was the Best DJ Award, which went to Kyle Richardson a.k.a. DJ Kobraklye, who is probably most well known for spinning tracks at Gunk nights at The Waiting Room in Benson.
So was the lack of Creek representation this year a sign of a pull-back in Saddle Creek output (the label released nationally distributed albums by four local artists in ’09) or have the OEAAs’ voters simply become more focused on local bands that play regularly at local clubs?
Only one winning act — Box Elders — has spent more than a month on the road touring in ’09. The rest of the winners — either by choice or due to the financial realities involved with touring — spent most of last year close to home.
Here’s the list of this year’s winners:
Best Rock — Box Elders
Best Hard Rock — Paria
Best Alternative/Indie — It’s True
Best Singer-Songwriter/Adult Alternative — Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies
Best DJ — Kyle Richardson a.k.a. DJ Kobraklye
Best Folk/Roots/Americana/Bluegrass — Filter Kings
Best Soul and R&B — Satchel Grande
Best Hip-Hop/Rap — Conchance
Best Gospel — Salem Baptist Voices Of Victory
Best Blues — Matt Cox
Best Jazz/Standards/Easy Listening — Luigi Waites
Best Ethnic/World Music — The Turfmen
Best Cover Band — Secret Weapon
Album Of The Year — Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies, self titled
Best New Artist — It’s True
Artist Of The Year — Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies
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Bright Eyes has been added to the line-up for this Thursday Haiti Benefit show at Slowdown. The already-packed line-up includes Tilly and the Wall, The Mynabirds, It’s True, Simon Joyner, Bear Country and McCarthy Trenching. Tix are still available here for $15. Get them while you can.
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Hey, there were a couple updates over the weekend, including a detailed review of the newly remodeled Waiting Room, so scroll down!
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