Black Country Music Awards celebrate the best of our local scene
Friday night saw the best of the Black Country music scene come together to celebrate its creative output.
The first ever Black Country Music Awards, held at the ICB Centre on Fox's Lane, Wolverhampton, celebrated the best musicians, venues, recording studios, photographers and video makers in a glitzy ceremony attended by hundreds of local musicians and their fans, as well as businesses and their sponsors.
There were big wins for The Robin 2 in Bilston, the Guitar Crazy music store in Sedgley and Wolverhampton-born blues rocker Rebecca Downes. Colin 'Sam' Jukes - the popular owner of JB's rock club in Dudley for 40-plus years - collected the Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to running the club.
The night was hosted by Black Country comedian Doreen Tipton, and saxophonist Samantha Jayne entertained guests as they entered the venue. On the stage, comedian and musician Johnny Cole performed a set which "went down a storm", as did award-winner Ryan Evans, The Miss Fortunes, Bangra Smash Up and Skaburst.
Organiser Shaun Ryan was delighted with the "absolutely fantastic" evening, and promised the event will run annually to celebrate all the region's music industry has to offer.
He said: "It was absolutely fantastic. Doreen Tipton, our MC, kept the whole thing together and we had Johnny Cole too, who is a brilliant comedian. His set went down a storm.
"We got the running order right. We seemed to get bigger and bigger cheers as each award was announced. The food was awesome, the venue was great, I couldn't have asked for more.
"There's never been a music awards for the Black Country. But it's time we had one to recognise all the unsung heroes. We had awards for the Robin 2 right the way down to open mic nights, which is really the grassroots level. That is where people start, so it's right to reward those guys too.
"We've received so many lovely comments."
Altogether there were 18 awards handed out on the night, with the judging panel including Magic Garden Recording Studio maestro Gavin Monaghan, Ned's Atomic Dustbin frontman Jonn Penney, music promoters Jayne Burness and Brett Hall, and RGG Magazine editor Pete Williams. They were:
Best Live Venue (under 300 capacity) - Ye Olde Foundry, Dudley
Best Live Venue (over 300 capacity) - The Robin 2, Bilston
Best LGBT Venue/Event - Bar Diva, Dudley
Best Radio Station - 2nd City Radio
Best Music Store - Guitar Crazy, Sedgley
Best Live Photographer - Aatish Photography
Best Open Mic Night - The Maverick, Amblecote
Best Studio/Producer - Bay Ten Studios, Walsall
Best Singer/Songwriter - Ryan Evans
Best New Wave Band - Liberty Lies
Best Indie Band - Giant & The Georges
Best Metal/Punk Band - Eyes Of The Raven
Best Folk/Blues/Jazz Band - Rebecca Downes Band
Best Video - Closure, WEAK13
Best Single - Every Ocean, Alex Ohm
Best Album - Forever Young, WOUNDEDSPiRiT
Best Live Act - Pagans S.O.H.
Lifetime Achievement Award - Colin (Sam) Jukes
It was a good night for artists who have appeared in the Star's Unsigned column, with wins for WOUNDEDSPiRiT and Pagans S.O.H., Giant & The Georges set to feature this week and WEAK13 on the horizon.
Nick J. Townsend, WEAK13 frontman, filmmaker and reviewer, made the winning video for their single Closure and also featured recently.
WOUNDEDSPiRiT frontman Jason Kelly said of their Best Album win: "It was a fantastic evening that can only go from strength to strength.
"We all felt it was a surreal moment when our name got called out, in the 30-second walk to the stage it felt like all the hard work, the hours rehearsing and recording, it made everything worthwhile.
"We now set our sights on releasing the follow up in 2020, entitled DiVERSiTY."
Alex Ohm's Best Single win for his track Every Ocean continued a great week for him. The Gornal musician had the previous weekend appeared in the debut musical showcase put on by Birmingham-based online music show RawSound.tv and the HMV store in intu Merry Hill.
He said: "It’s been a great week really - busy, but great. The HMV show was a huge success. I still can’t believe that. And we had a great night at the awards.
"Me and the band went along and it was great to see lots of familiar faces in the industry. It was great to get the award for Best Single. Any form of recognition is nice. It was very humbling to know that people had nominated me in the first place and to pick up an award was an added bonus."
And West Bromwich rockers Pagans S.O.H.'s frontman Marcus Lesycsyznski-Hall said of their win: "We are so happy to win this award, it really recognises the love and effort we put into our shows.
"And being from our home region and the first music awards for the area too, it’s a real honour to be considered the best live act in the Black Country. It’s a very special accomplishment for us."
Mr Ryan added that preparations for the 2020 event should get started towards the end of this year.