West Michigan’s biggest night of music packed The Intersection with performers and fans on Friday night, with awards presented to the best releases of 2019. View the full winners’ list and photos at Local Spins.
SCROLL DOWN FOR A FULL LIST OF JAMMIE AWARD WINNERS AND MORE PHOTOS
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West Michigan hip hop artists reigned supreme at the WYCE Jammie Awards on Friday night.
Kalamazoo’s Last Gasp Collective and hip hop cellist Jordan Hamilton won multiple awards — including album of the year for Hamilton’s “My Thoughts Are” and best album by a new artist for Last Gasp’s “Seen Not Heard” — with Grand Rapids rapper JRob taking home honors for “Black Super Hero” as song of the year.
The Last Gasp hip hop/R&B ensemble also won the critics’ choice award for best album by a new artist, with Hamilton snagging honors for best hip hop album as well as being named Local Spins’ “Emerging Artist of the Year.” Indeed, Hamilton was the biggest winner of the night, considering he’s also a member of Last Gasp Collective, which played the main showroom stage.
During its set, the Last Gasp Collective brought its unique blend of hip hop, jazz and rock to a packed house. Led by Jay Jackson and featuring longtime member Hamilton on the cello, the group dialed in its eight member lineup to create a rich and fully orchestrated sound with a stage presence to match.
During an evening overflowing with thousands of fans and packed with performances on three stages at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, the 21st annual Jammie Awards show hosted by radio station WYCE (88.1 FM) rolled out as a true celebration of Michigan music, honoring the best releases of 2019 in 16 categories.
Performances ranged from the inviting indie-rock-hued pop of Political Lizard to the electronic wizardry of Silent Spirit and Pink Sky to the surf-guitar twang of Guitar UP! to the world music-inspired strains of Uganda native and Kalamazoo-based artist Samuel Nalangira and his band.
“We’re excited to be at the Jammies. It’s such a big platform for my music,” Nalangira said after his set.
‘THE BEDROCK OF EVERYTHING MUSIC IN GRAND RAPIDS’
For those attending the evening spectacle, it was a night to embrace the wide range of music played at WYCE and performed across the region throughout the year.
“WYCE is the bedrock of everything music in Grand Rapids. It’s the reason the West Michigan music scene is what it is today,” said attendee James Hughes, director of Grand Rapids’ Triumph Music Academy.
“If there’s anything that could inspire one to believe that a local music scene can be simultaneously strong, supportive and genuinely littered with talent, it’s absolutely the Jammies,” said Matt Clark of Grand Rapids. “A mini-music festival where your friends and neighbors are star performers? What more could you ask for?”
Even musicians who weren’t nominated or weren’t playing on Friday turned out in impressive numbers to support their fellow artists.
Alex Austin, frontman for Grand Rapids’ Deerfield Run, and Dan Rickabus, drummer for The Crane Wives, said they were there to soak up the music from a diverse set of artists they don’t always get a chance to see.
“I’m a sonic sponge,” Rickabus quipped, calling himself an “observer” for the night rather than an accompanist who often performs with several different bands on a single festival weekend.
The night’s other two-time award winner was Grand Rapids progressive neo-soul outfit Earth Radio (Local Spins’ emerging artist of the year for 2018) which won critics’ choice album of the year and best jazz album honors for its boundary-pushing 2019 release, “Mother’s Breath.”
And for the third year in a row, Traverse City songbird May Erlewine landed the award for best contemporary folk album, this time for her socio-politically driven release, “Second Sight.”
HUGE TURNOUT, MANY HIGHLIGHTS
As attendees at one of the biggest turnouts in the award show’s 21-year history meandered from stage to stage, more than two dozen acts performed at The Intersection on Friday, starting with Holland-based Michigan I-O’s tribute to Great Lakes folk songs of yesteryear to stage-closing sets by hip hop’s JRob, alt-country’s Deep Greens & Blues and electronic music duo Pink Sky (which won the Jammie for best electronic album for “Meditations I & II”).
One of the night’s highlights was the large female super-group representing Grand Haven’s Third Coast Recording Co., which performed a rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” to roars of approval from the big crowd. (Scroll down for a video.)
The more diminutive Stache Stage may have attracted the most exuberant elbow-to-elbow audiences of the night for sets by Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions, Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish and winners of the listeners’ choice award for best album of the year, Desmond Jones, which announced that 2020 would be the year of the “glam jam.”
The after-party in Elevation starred DJs from Grand Rapids Soul Club, wrapping up an epic night assembled by intrepid WYCE staffers and volunteers.
Read more about the Jammies and view more photos on Saturday at Local Spins.
PHOTO GALLERY: Jammies 2020 at The Intersection
Photos by Kendra Petersen-Kamp and Anna Sink
Copyright 2020, Spins on Music LLC