Last year, if someone were to ask me, a freshman living in the six-pack, about the local music scene, my mind would have instantly recalled images of guys and girls at Kam’s grinding up against each other to Mike and Joe’s cover of Jack Johnson’s “Flake” and the basement walls of house parties reverberating with the loud screaming voice of the oppressed college insurgent, angrily singing into a microphone amidst a sea of black sweatshirts and safety-pinned pants. After all, what more is there to the “local music scene” of a college town than bar cover bands and “punk rockers” aspiring to “make it big” like the I Ching of all music that is Lucky Boys Confusion?
In response to the question posed by my former, talent-oblivious self and the other 50+ percent of campus similarly unaware of the musical capacity of this town – to say there is a hell of a lot more to this town’s music scene than the aforementioned is a drastic understatement and disservice to the undeniable talent seeping out of the studios of Champaign-Urbana.
Last year’s buzz-WPGU Local Music Awards, held on April 7 at the Highdive, 51 Main St. in Champaign, marked the first time in CU history that our collective public took the time to appropriately celebrate and appreciate the incredible talent of the local scene and its independent musicians.
Stationed in our own backyards and produced by our very own neighbors, Champaign-Urbana’s local music is just as good across the board as non-local music and hence deserving of a ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishment of its artists, said Todd Hunter, buzz Listen-Hear columnist of “Soundground” and connoisseur of the local music scene.
“It’s great when we get talent from out of town, but we aren’t without it to begin with. I don’t know if it’s something in the water or in the soil, but there’s a lot of very talented people here,” Hunter said.
Hunter served as a member of the eight-person Local Music Awards nominee panel, comprised of local music aficionados, who selected the nominees for last year’s categories – Best Female Artist, Best Male Artist, Best Live Band, Best Record, Best New Artist, Best DJ, Best Roots/Americana Band, Best Rock Band and Best Hip-Hop Group. Although the panel selected the nominees, it was up to the general public to pick the winners by voting online at www.cumusicawards.com/2005.
Featuring live music performed by the nominees, copious amounts of alcohol, and an overall non-competitive, celebratory spirit, the 2005 Local Music Awards packed the Highdive to capacity. Announcements and performances were broken up by comedic commentary from buzz’s very own Mike Coulter and WPGU’s Ryan Ricker.
Hunter said one of the best things about the awards last year was that it exposed bands with which a lot of people were unfamiliar and it lived up to its stated purpose of getting people to become more aware of the variety of talent that exists on the local level.
“It was a good time and I remember a number of people saying that even if it wasn’t an award’s show, it was just a good concert,” Hunter said. “It was a way to draw more attention to the music scene, regardless of who won, and it was an excuse to have a nice concert and for people to get dressed up and do something special.”
This year, The Local Music Awards will be held on April 6 at the Highdive. Throughout the upcoming month, buzz will keep its readers up-to-date on nominees in this year’s five main genre categories – folk-americana, DJ, jazz/R&B, hip-hop and rock – with biographies, interviews and upcoming shows.
Also, WPGU-FM will feature live, on-air interviews of nominees as well as artist’s songs. This year, get involved with the Champaign-Urbana music scene by listening to WPGU-FM and voting at www.cumusicawards.com/2006.
THIS YEAR’S NOMINEES:
Angie Heaton & the Gentle Tamers
DJ Lil Big Bass
(The Living Blue)
The Living Blue
(Fire, Blood & Water)
(Snake Creep Down)
Best New Artist:
The Living Blue
Sanya n Katya
LAST YEAR’S WINNERS:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ward Gollings
Best DJ: DJ Bozak
Best Rock Band: Lorenzo Goetz
Best Hip-Hop Band: Animate Objects
Best Roots/American Band: Beauty Shop
Best Male Artist: Brandon T. Washington (Temple of Low Men)
Best Female Artist: Kate Hathaway
Best Live Performance: The Living Blue
Best Record of 2004: The Living Blue – Living in Blue
Best Band Overall: Lorenzo Goetz