In the midst of a late winter slush storm (for the second year in a row) REVIEW Magazine presented its 33rd Annual Music Awards Celebration at Lumber Baron's Genevieve Ballroom in Bay City the evening of April 14th and honored 61 artists who’ve enriched the cultural climate throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region with remarkably impressive talent.
With an unprecedented total of 10,650 votes cast by the general public between January & March of this year (last year’s previous record was 7,638) and a total 904 artists nominated from the region, the top five nominees in each division moved to a final round of voting and the winners were honored at this special annual celebration.
Despite the inclement weather, a total of 225 nominees and attendees showed up to experience this annual gathering that brings the musical community and general public together in a collective celebration honoring the remarkable musical resources of the Mid-Michigan area, proving that wild horses (and icy roads) couldn’t drive them away.
With an evening full of unexpected surprises and standout guest performances, big winners of the evening in their respective genres included rapper Mike Spitz (Spitzer) who walked away with 4 four trophies in the Hip-Hop/Rap division for Best Video, Artist of the Year, Songwriter & Favorite Performer; Country rockers Kin Faux, who took honors for Country Songwriter & Instrumentalist (Rico Gonzalez), Best CD Release and Best Country Band; Rhett Yocum who earned Best Blues Instrumentalist and Best Blue Band honors; Monique Ella Rose, who gleaned three trophies for Best Female Jazz Vocalist, Best Female Blues Vocalist and Best Jazz Songwriter; with the Rock honors going to Sprout & the Orange, who won Best Alternative Band, Most Innovative Artist (Aaron Johnson); The Rock Show (Best Variety Band); Barbarossa Brothers (Best Original Band, Best Keyboardist (Loren Kranz), and newcomers For Tomorrow, who picked up trophies for Best Metal Band, Best Rock Bassist (Chris Haller), and Rest for the Wicked who won Best Rock Band.
Performance-wise, the line-up of featured artists was A-List all of the way. Kicking off the evening’s festivities was the 15-piece Saginaw Elite Big Band, who transported the audience to a distant and little heard place in time where the power of melodic construction is delivered by a 10-piece horn section that one could feel dancing and causing flutters in one’s gut while the lyricism of vocalist Dena Pruitt soared to the heavens.
Country-rocker Billy Gunther also made an impressive debut with his new group, performing original material from his newly recorded project with producer Andy Reed and weighing in with an impressive cover of The Allman Brothers that utility player Kevin Rousse and Gunther shined upon trading off lead and slide-guitar licks.
The original alternative pop-rock band ADABOY! made their debut performance with a new line-up comprised of Steve Bennett on drums, Joe Balbaugh on bass, Jake Voisine on lead guitar, and Mike Richards on rhythm and lead vocals. Their all-original set was fueled by passionate playing and 4-part vocal harmonies that also soared to the heavens.
One of the stand-out performances came through the FOR Collective - a regional SuperGroup if there ever was such a thing - consisting of former Verve Pipe co-founder Donny Brown on drums, Loren Kranz on keyboards, Mike Robertson & Scott Vandell on guitars, Andy Reed on bass, harpist/songwriter/vocalist Rosco Selley, and showcasing a series of A-List vocalists consisting of Jen Cass, Amy Petty, Michelle O’Neil and J.D. Dominowski, who all hit their respective translations of Rosco’s original material out of the ballpark.
The 7-piece funk & soul band Soul X-Press got the crowd dancing with their rollicking set of funk classics, while post-punk rockers Audrey Burne delivered an equally impressive set of all-original melodic darkwave, goth, and alternative textures to their music; white Hip-Hop artist Mike Spitz (Spitzer) closed out the evening with a deep intensity of understanding, placement, and wisdom with his music.
And now, without further ado, here is a breakdown of the winners in all categories ranging from Jazz, Blues, Country, Rock, and numerous Miscellaneous categories.
Best Recording Studio • Reed Recording Company
Best Alternative Band • Sprout & the Orange
Best Music Festival • Excellency Music Festival
Best Videographer • Kari Pride-Helm
Best Sound Technician • Carey Limberg
Best Waitress • Kim Dukarski (Bemos)
Best Metal Band • For Tomorrow
Best Americana Duo • Catfood Sandwich
Best Radio Station • WKQZ - Z93
Best Music Video • Marsupial Creampie - Where You’ve Been
Best Band Website • Gasoline Gypsies
Best Live Event of the Year • Band Roulette
Most Innovative Artist • Aaron Johnson
Best Variety Band • The Rock Show
Best Duo • Catfood Sandwich
Best Multi-Instrumentalist • Rico Gonzalez
Best CD Release • Kin Faux - Debut Album
Best Bartender • Jeremy Pomeroy ‘JP’
Best Original Band • Barbarossa Brothers
Best Solo Artist • Aaron Johnson
Best Rock Video • Gasoline Gypsies - Vagabundos
Favorite Rock Club • Bemos
Rock Keyboardist • Loren Kranz
Female Rock Vocalist • Melissa May
Best Rock Songwriter • Andy Jeglic - The Distorted Waltz / Orc
Rock Bassist • Chris Haller - For Tomorrow
Male Rock Vocalist • Tommy K
Rock Drummer • Bill Silverthorn
Favorite Rock Band • Rest for the Wicked
Rock Guitarist • Corey O’Keefe
Rap / Hip-Hop
Best Promoter • Ken Shelton
Rap Hip-Hop Video • Mike Spitz - Take Me to My Home
Best Producer • Bobby Chance
Best DJ • Bobby Chance
Rap/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year • Mike Spitz
Rap/Hip-Hop Songwriter • Mike Spitz
Favorite Performer • Mike Spitz
Best Country Video • Billy Gunther - Take Me Home
Favorite Country Club • The Willew Lounge
Country Female Vocalist • Melissa Lee
Country Songwriter • Rico Gonzalez
Country Instrumentalist • Rico Gonzalez
Best Country Band • Kin Faux
Country Male Vocalist • Travis Patan
Favorite Jazz Club • Bancroft Wine & Martini Bar
Best Big Band • 23 North
Male Jazz Vocalist • Matt de Heus
Jazz Songwriter • Monique Ella Rose
Best Small Combo • Straight Eights
Female Jazz Vocalist • Monique Ella Rose
Favorite Jazz Musician • Jacob Wisenbach
Best Blues Video • Gasoline Gypsies - Freaks & Non-Believers
Favorite Blues Club • Scotty’s Sandbar
Best Funk Band • Soul X-Press
Best Blues Band • Rhett Yocum Band
Female Blues Vocalist • Monique Ella Rose
Male Blues Vocalist • Matt Besey
Blues Songwriter • Rick Gellise
Blues Instrumentalist • Rhett Yocum
16th November, 2023