Eighteen months later than expected, the 40th Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards – honoring the state’s top musicians – finally took place at the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee on Sunday.
Unity The Band, a reggae group from Menasha, took home the top artist of the year award, while two groups from Milwaukee – Black Belt Theater and Rose of the West – took home the album, respectively. year and song of the year, for “Power Petting” and “Love Lies Bleeding”. The votes were cast by members of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry nonprofit, which promotes music statewide.
The 40th WAMI Awards were scheduled to take place in April 2020, but like almost everything else, those plans were scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WAMI organization decided to forgo a virtual event, ultimately postponing all celebrations until this fall for a live, in-person ceremony.
This includes its Hall of Fame inductees.
Among the new additions was Semi-Twang, the Americana band led by Milwaukee singer-songwriter John Sieger who released the album “Salty Tears” on Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and three more albums after reuniting in 2009 after a two-decade hiatus. . Sieger confirmed to Journal Sentinel that Semi-Twang officially played his last show this week amicably, and that he is preparing an album with a new project, the John Sieger Combo.
Other Hall of Fame inductees on Sunday included Milwaukee native Kevn Kinney, already inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with his southern rock band Drivin N Cryin; and R&B group The Esquires, formed in 1957 in Milwaukee, which achieved national successes in the late 1960s and early 1970s with “Get On Up” and “Girls In The City”.
Pioneer drummer Viola Smith of Mount Calvary, a member of Journal Sentinel’s 50 Most Influential Musicians in Wisconsin, also died last October a month before her 108th birthday.
WAMIs also created their original Wall of Honor class for awards this year, recognizing longtime contributors to music communities across the state who don’t have to be musicians themselves. Inductees included longtime talented Summerfest buyers Bob Babisch and Vic Thomas; veteran Milwaukee DJ Marilynn Mee; Eddie Butts, longtime leader of the Milwaukee group; Gary Shaw, former director of Henri’s Music in Appleton; and the nonprofit Madison Area Music Association.
WAMI Award Winners
- Artist of the Year: Unity The Band
- Album of the Year: “Power Petting”, Black Belt Theater
- Song of the Year: “Love Lies Bleeding”, Rose of the West
- New Artist of the Year: 7000apart
- Male Singer of the Year: Bobby Rouse
- Female singer of the year: Jennifer Schafer
- Singer-Songwriter of the Year: Kurt Gunn
- Rising Star of the Year: Lilie Fouts
- Alternative rock artist: Marielle Allschwang & the Visitations
- Bluegrass / Americana Artist: Them Coulee Boys
- Christian artist / evangelist: Samuel Elias
- Blues artist: The Jay Stulo Band
- Country artist: Buffalo Gospel
- Cover Artist: Almighty Vinyl
- Folk / Celtic Artist: The Roving Scallywags
- Hard Rock Artist: Last Crack
- Metal artist: Morta Skuld
- Punk artist: IfIHadAHiFi
- Jazz artist: Mr. President
- Polka Artist: Stas Venglevski
- Pop-rock artist: Rose of the West
- Hip-hop / rap artist: Klassik
- R & B / Soul Artist: Bryon Cherry
- World / reggae / ska / latin: something to do
- Club / DJ / dance / electronic artist: DJ Bizzon
- Horn / Big Band Artist: Stephen Cooper and the Nobody Famous
- Tribute artist: The Docksiders
- Bass: Cédric LeMoyne
- Drummer: Mike Malone
- Guitarist: Sean Williamson
- Keyboard: Joe Hite
- Reeds / Brass: Matt Antoniewicz
- Strings: Tim McIllere
- Best Studio Engineer / Producer: Eric LaBrosse
- Best recording studio: Kneeverland Productions
- Best club / performance venue: The Saloon sur Calhoun
- Best Live Sound / Light Engineer: Craig Vetrone
- President’s Award: Geoff Landon
- Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): Tangled Lines
- Radio Station (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): 102.9 The Hog
- Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): Brenda Blackhalo
- Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): Marty Morgan
- Musical Venue of the Year (People’s Choice Southeast Quadrant): The Saloon on Calhoun
- Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): This’ 90s band
- Radio Station (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): 101 WIXX
- Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): Doris Budwit
- Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): Renee Millard
- Music Venue of the Year (People’s Choice Northeast Quadrant): Stone Toad Bar & Grill
- Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): The Dweebs
- Radio Station (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): 92.9 The X
- Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): Chris Evanston
- Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): Victoria Shoemaker
- Music Venue of the Year (People’s Choice Northwest Quadrant): Schuggy’s
- Artist of the Year (People’s Choice Southwest Quadrant): Cherry Pie
- Radio Station (People’s Choice Quadrant Southwest): 101.5 WIBA
- Fan of the Year (People’s Choice Southwest Quadrant): Kari Schirmer
- Music Teacher of the Year (People’s Choice Southwest Quadrant): Tara Imhof
- Musical Venue of the Year: Fawn Creek Winery
- Hall of Fame: Viola Smith, Semi-Twang, The Esquires, Kevn Kinney
- Wall of Honor: Madison Area Music Association, Eddie Butts, Bob Babisch, Vic Thomas, Marilynn Mee, Gary Shaw
Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook on facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.
Piet also talks about concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Evan Rytlewski. Listen to it at 8 p.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9) or wherever you get your podcasts.