(Editor’s note: Want to re-live the LMAs? The author live-tweeted the event. You can read the Storify here.)
There’s an awful lot about Louisville music that deserves to be celebrated, and the inaugural Louisville Music Awards on Monday night did just that.
Not only were currently working bands from the area honored with nominations in several categories, but also receiving recognition in memoriam were four iconic Louisville figures who helped shape our local music history during their lives.
Between the crowd of devoted Louisville music fans, other musicians who showed up to cheer on their peers, and the nominees present to accept their awards, the LMAs marked the beginning of what is sure to be a tradition and an annual event for years to come.
Kyle James Hauser welcomed the crowd into Headliners Music Hall as the line outside began streaming into the venue, and it wasn’t long after his performance concluded before WFPK’s Kyle Meredith took the stage as master of ceremonies.
After Kyle introduced Gill Holland, without whom the LMAs wouldn’t have been possible. Gill briefly thanked the audience for attending and called for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to come on stage and kick off the ceremonies.
As many citizens of Louisville may already know, Mayor Fischer has a background in promoting music himself, so it was evident in his words and his demeanor that the Mayor’s enthusiasm for the LMAs wasn’t only because of the event’s newfound place in Louisville’s cultural history, but also because he genuinely enjoys music as much as any fan there.
The first performance of the LMA ceremonies came when Tim Krekel was honored with the first Legacy Award. Leigh Ann Yost and several other high-profile Louisville musicians performed a few of Tim’s songs before his two daughters came on stage to accept the award for their late father.
Kyle then opened the first envelope and announced that Best Live DJ had been awarded to Matt Anthony.
If there’s any part of the Louisville scene that’s taken things up a notch in the last few years, it’s the DJ scene. Between nights with Glittertitz at Zanzabar, OK Deejays at numerous clubs, Kim Sorise at ArtxFM, and Anthony at his record shop and anywhere else he chooses to spin, any Louisville music fan would be hard-pressed to find more qualified candidates for this award in any city. But I’m giving a personal nod to Night Visions DJs for making my Louisville nights enjoyable, and hopefully they’ll be in the running for this award next year.
The next LMA award went to Coliseum for the Metal/Hardcore category. Frontman Ryan Patterson came up to the stage and quickly thanked everyone who made the event and the music scene possible, and gave a special shout-out to Jason Noble, who would also be honored with a Legacy Award of his own later that evening.
It can’t be understated how important the LMA’s Legacy honorees were to many of those in attendance, and it was clear they had a profound influence on everyone who had a chance to speak on stage that night.
Another of those Legacy Award recipients, and the second honored this night, was Chilton Price. The crowd was treated to a performance from The Ladybirds of Price’s hit “You Belong to Me” which gained mega-popularity in 1952 when it was covered by Jo Stafford.
Covering songs can obviously get you places, as the next LMA itself was for Best Cover Band. Billy Goat Strut Revue accepted the honors, and I couldn’t agree more with that choice. Full disclosure, I’m friends with a couple of band members, but I also booked them to play a show this year because their Bourbon Jazz is just that damn good. I don’t care how close we are, if you’re a hack cover musician I’ll tell you as much, and this group is as far from hacks as it gets.
Singer/Songwriter of the Year was awarded to Cheyenne Mize, who had an excellent album drop earlier this year. She was unable to attend, but Kyle Meredith had a thank you message from her he was able to read for the crowd.
The only reason I was disappointed was because I wanted to hear Justin Paul Lewis’ acceptance speech. Not that I have any clue what that speech would have included, but I spoke with him earlier and he said he wasn’t prepared to win, so I would have enjoyed watching him wing it.
The event took an intermission as the Bibelhauser Brothers performed a set, but soon after that the awards resumed with the one Louisville Music Award that I considered a no-brainer: Hip Hop Artist of the Year.
Anyone who follows me on social media probably knows I’m personally more and more impressed with Jalin Roze’s art as he continues putting out great material. But in a statement of true class, Jalin insisted on bringing up on stage all the nominees with him to accept the award, saying “This is the future of Louisville hip hop.” I can’t wait for that future.
The third Legacy Award was honored to Static Major and commemorated by a rousing performance from Playa. By the time Playa’s set concluded I was thinking on how the quality of performances we got to see that night would alone justify the $10 LMAs ticket, especially for a venue like Headliners whose shows typically aren’t priced that low because of the high-profile acts they book.
Everyone was not only part of history, but also treated to quite a bit of bang for their buck.
Producer/Engineer of the Year was awarded to producer Dave Chale, who thanked everyone and delivered a very short speech, insisting he was more comfortable behind the mic, not in front.
I’m pretty sure many Louisville music fans know of a notable producer that wasn’t included in the nominations, but I’m also confident this omission was not through any choice of the awards committee or those who sent in their nominations.
Old Baby frontman Jonathan Wood stepped up to accept the LMA for Rockers of the Year on behalf of his band, in what may seem like an upset over other nominees like Houndmouth, whom have garnered crazy national buzz lately, and other local favorites Discount Guns and Cabin.
However, Old Baby is certainly deserving of this award in my opinion, and if you doubt that I encourage you to attend one of their shows and learn something.
The final Legacy Award of the inaugural LMAs went to the aforementioned Jason Noble, and when his tribute video played, the influence Jason had on so many Louisville musicians there was unmistakable.
Some closed their eyes and others took pictures of the stage as Kyle Crabtree, Rachel Grimes, and Kristin Furnish-Noble accepted and delivered an inspiring speech. These inaugural Legacy Awards will be hard to top in future LMAs, but tonight was all about them.
The LMA Roots award went to 23 String Band, who quietly thanked and appreciated everyone for recognizing and rewarding their craft.
And finally, the Song of the Year was handed to Wax Fang for their hit “The Blonde Leading The Blonde.”
As they exited the stage, The Pass setup their equipment and delivered an electric ending to a great night with their typically outstanding performance, even debuting a few new tracks for the first time. I fully expect to see The Pass in at least one category next year, so do yourself a favor and check out their latest album, Burst.
It was a privilege to be in one room with so much local talent and so many fans committed to recognizing the unique and exceptional opportunity we have to cultivate a music scene that rivals anything found in places like Austin, Nashville, Chicago, Portland, or Seattle.
I don’t think Louisville is so much competing with any of those cities, but rather I believe this city is forging its own identity and letting it stand on its own. In my opinion, the Louisville Music Awards struck the perfect balance of both respecting the influences that made the Louisville music scene what it is today, and recognizing those artists on a trajectory to carry this city even further towards a future as one of the most notable music destinations in the world.
(Insider Louisville’s intern, Carly Garcia adds: Every LMA winner will become a member of the academy and be able to vote on awards next year, but will not be eligible for nomination for the next 5 years.)