Government stimulus plans notwithstanding, we're still recovering from the economic meltdown, and it didn't make sense to put on an extravagant Music Awards this year (though the Beachland Ballroom is hosting a winner's showcase on February 25). So to announce the winners for this, Scene's 11th annual Music Awards, we took over Inner Sanctum — 92.3 FM's local music show — on Sunday, February 21. Inner Sanctum hosts Pat the Producer, Jim Benson and Matt Wardlaw joined Live Nation's Elise Rossman and Carrie Samek, Gorilla Production's Andrea Sweazy and members of Scene's Street Team to announce the winners and play a song by each of them. Here's a rundown of who won what.
As the lead singer for the Cleveland/Kent funk/soul/pop act Winslow, Maurice Martin has a terrific, upper-register voice that harkens back to soul's '70s heyday. He goes for something along the lines of Sam Cooke on tunes like "Control" and "Crazy Kind of Love." His groovalicious band is so busy, it has already booked shows into September.
One half of Akron's blues-rock duo the Black Keys, singer-songwriter Dan Auerbach released his first solo album last year with Keep It Hid, a collection of blues-derived songs that benefited from the backing of a full band. The husky-voiced Auerbach took the guys on tour and played major festivals like Lollapalooza, all the while keeping the Black Keys going steady too. Look for their new album this spring.
As the frontman for Terminal Lovers, veteran axeman Dave Cintron has managed to keep his alt-rock band going for the past several years. Their latest album, last year's As Eyes Burn Clean, showed off Cintron's fluid abilities and featured guest spots from local heroes like Keelhaul guitarist Chris Smith and Boulder/Destructor bassist Jamie Walters.
As the bassist for former High School Rock Off winners Eclyptic, Danny Kolliner is the guy who gives the Kent-based band its groove. His snappy riffs drive tunes like "No Evil."
A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Colorado-born Jackie Warren took her time releasing her first album, 2004's Near You, a collection of jazz ballads that shows off her piano skills. A fixture on the jazz circuit for the past 20 years, she regularly plays around town.
Trumpet/flugelhorn player Jacob Wynne fronts his own quartet, the Jacob Wynne Quartet, which has performed locally since forming in 2003. Citing icons like Miles Davis, Art Blakey and John Coltrane as influences, Wynne tends to stick with a traditional approach and is knows for blowing out a fine cover of Miles Davis' "So What."
As the drummer for former High School Rock Off winners Eclyptic, Michael Factor keeps the band grounded. He has enough dexterity to hammer away at his kit on "Running in Circles" and then tone things down on the power ballad "Rut."
Now that Mick Boogie has moved to Brooklyn, it's time another local DJ took over as the city's party starter. DJ E-V (Eric Vajda), whose MySpace site is one of the flashiest you'll ever see, has stepped up, releasing an endless stream of mixtapes (check out his Bitch, I'm From Cleveland and the newer, aptly titled I Run Ohio series) and remixing local guys like Kid Cudi and Chip Tha Ripper.
Dan McCoy & the Standing 8's
Opening with the maudlin a cappella tune "In My Time of Dyin'," The Journeyman, the first solo offering by Rambler 454's Dan McCoy, starts on a dour note but quickly picks up speed as McCoy and his backing band the Standing 8's offer barroom ballads that channel the roots rock of Drive-by Truckers on "Moving Day" and evokes Tom Petty on the rambunctious "The Knockout."
High School Rock Off winners Eclyptic play rock with enough of a pop sheen that they opened a local Jonas Brothers gig. But don't hold that against them. Their catchy songs have a rock edge and can't be dismissed for being too lightweight.
These heavy-hitters have been a local staple for more than a decade. They made a notable comeback on last year's Triumphant Return to Obscurity. The tongue-in-cheek album title says it all, as the band embarked on a shoestring European tour and still found time to play the occassional local gig.
Lick the Blade
Inspired by old-school metal icons like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Lick the Blade have picked up steam since signing a deal with the local Auburn imprint. Last year's Graveyard of Empires is a classic power-metal tour de force.
This Moment in Black History
This Moment's in Black History's latest album, Public Square, was recorded by Paul Maccarrone at his now-defunct Zombie Proof studio. With a serious nod to Cleveland's punk-rock past, the disc captures the band's menacing sound, particularly on tracks like the snarling "MFA" and "About Last Night."
Above this Fire
Having issued 2008's Last Ones on their own new Forest City Records, the guys in this hardcore band take local pride seriously. They recorded the album — a steady balance of heavy hardcore and more accessible punk melodies — at Ante Up Audio and Conquistador studios. T he graphics locally printed and designed too.
ThE Lighthouse & The Whaler
These folksy rockers came together two years ago, but they've quickly received accolades for their 2008 EP A Whisper, A Clamour, as well as its striking follow-up, last year's self-titled full-length. The lineup continues to shapeshift, as the band, which will play SXSW this spring, has added horns and strings to the mix.
Lords of the Highway
These honky-tonkers have been around long enough that they can say their first release was on cassette. A couple of the Lords' early albums came out on the Cowslingers' Drink N Drive Records, and the band has roots in rockabilly, '50s rock and honky-tonk country. The band plays classics by Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, plus a wealth of original material too.
The songs on this Lakewood band's latest album, Machines Should Think, People Should Work suggest this act (core members Andrew Lent and Jim Maynard augment the group with various guest musicians and singers) falls more into the electronica/ambient realm of things. Think Dead Can Dance more than Bauhaus.
Describing himself as "De La Soul meets N.W.A. meets Richard Pryor", David "Vigatron" Norris is a singular entity on the local hip-hop scene. With his third release, last year's Pleasure, Norris has adopted the image of a black-clad warrior with a pair of giant wings sprouting from his back, incorporating these theatrics into his live show.
On last year's Lookin' for a Change, Missouri-born singer-keyboardist Joe McBride remade songs by Seal, Coldplay, Gnarls Barkley and John Mayer in an acoustic-jazz format. Issued on the locally based Heads Up imprint, the album is accessible without making pop compromises. Though McBride tours continuously, he plays regularly around town too.
Famous for infuriating Tower City management by wearing anti-Bush T-shirts during a 2006 performance, Mifune mix Afrobeat, funk, soul, pop and hip-hop in a way that appeals to fans of all political persuasions. The band's 2008 release, Time Is Watching Us, is a more intricate and confident affair than the average attempt at global fusion, and the group participates in educational programs to introduce young listeners to its music.
This local singer-guitarist got her start playing the trumpet in other peoples' bands before embracing the blues as a singer and songwriter. Jackson, who plays more than 160 shows a year, competes in national and international blues competitions when she's not holding down gigs at venues like the Parkview, Fat Fish Blue and the Harp. On tunes like "Papa Justify," you can hear hints of Janis Joplin in her gritty vocals.