The rootsy Michigan artists led the pack of acts honored Friday by WYCE at The Intersection, including Billy Strings, The Accidentals, Jake Kershaw, Lipstick Jodi and Hollywood Makeout. See the full list of 2018 winners, check out photos and videos.
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Two of Michigan’s roots music stars – established and much-beloved singer-songwriter May Erlewine and soulful emerging duo The War & Treaty – were the big winners at Friday’s Jammie Awards show at The Intersection.
Each snagged several awards, with Erlewine, of Traverse City, taking top honors and “The Big Jammie” for album of the year for “Mother Lion,” while The War & Treaty, of Albion, won two separate awards for best album by a new artist as well as best blues album for the duo’s “Down to the River” debut EP.
Erlewine’s Earthwork Music collective release also was honored for best contemporary folk album of 2017, with the single, “Never One Thing,” winning the award for song of the year.
“It means so much,” Erlewine said after learning of the win. “This album was created to represent some of the more vulnerable places we navigate as human hearts. It was nurtured by (producer) Tyler Duncan and so many artists with a lot of care and intention. It is so touching to me that it is doing its work and weaving its way into people’s lives. I feel grateful and honored.”
On the same night that the Winter Olympics hosted opening ceremonies in South Korea, Grand Rapids community radio station WYCE-FM (88.1) unfurled what could be considered the “Winter Olympics of Michigan Music” with 18 awards presented to artists for the best local and regional music of the past year as 1,000-plus attendees packed the nightclub amid a winter storm.
Other big winners included garage rock’s Hollywood Makeout (special jury album of the year award), bluegrass guitarist Billy Strings (best Americana album for “Turmoil & Tinfoil”), indie alt-folk trio The Accidentals (best rock/pop album for their Sony Music Masterworks label debut, “Odyssey”) and 17-year-old Marshall blues-rock guitarist Jake Kershaw, who not only won the “listener’s choice” award for best album by a new artist, but also Local Spins’ emerging artist of the year honors. See the full list of winners at right above.
Kershaw also lit up the stage with his jaw-dropping guitar prowess, followed later in the evening on the main stage by Hollywood Makeout’s energetic set.
The snowy weather, which buried parts of Michigan, had an unfortunate impact on Friday’s event: Some performers bound for the show in Grand Rapids had to cancel their appearances due to slippery roads and difficult traffic conditions, including the night’s big winner, May Erlewine, as well as members of Organissimo and ConvoTronics.
But WYCE adjusted quickly, with Grand Rapids folk-rock band The Crane Wives gleefully agreeing to fill in for Erlewine and playing a rollicking set for several hundred happy fans – redubbing themselves “The Erlewives” for the occasion.
“It made my heart sing to know our spot on stage was filled by those love warriors,” quipped Erlewine, who said she was trapped in Kalamazoo with two stuck cars. “I smiled big knowing people would be happy and the torch was carried forward.”
WYCE station manager Quinn Mathews, who admittedly felt a bit stressed early on with some of the scheduling glitches, noted that The Crane Wives’ unhesitating decision to play an impromptu set just shows the nature of West Michigan’s music scene and the community that supports it.
“The place is packed with musicians and fans of music and that’s all that matters,” he said, just before The Crane Wives took the stage, adding that the weather couldn’t keep West Michigan music lovers away. “They care about YCE. They care about music. … It’s awesome. I’ll sleep well tonight.”
On the flip side, news of their win actually woke up The Accidentals, who found out on the road – “driving through the snowy stretches of rural Nebraska” – bound for the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City, said band member Katie Larson.
“We were completely caught off guard. Our Facebook page started blowing up after the announcement and we went from half-asleep van zombies to cheering and dancing in a split second,” she added. “Touring can sometimes feel isolating, and receiving recognition from our home base while we were away from home really lifted our spirits.”
Fellow Accidental Savannah Buist said the band was thrilled to win in the rock/pop category of the Jammies. “It was inspiring to see our music morph from being predominantly referred to as ‘folk’ to a more ‘indie, rock/pop.’ That is exactly what we’d hoped for: the acknowledgment of a crossing over of genres, and a recognizable evolution in our sound. To be honest, Michigan has always known who we are.”
The 19th annual Jammies extravaganza wrapped up with Grand Rapids jam band Desmond Jones playing the event’s after-party on The Stache Stage. Find expanded coverage, photos and a highlights video from The Jammies at Local Spins here: ‘So much’ talent, energy and fun boost West Michigan’s biggest night for music
PHOTO GALLERY: The WYCE 2018 Jammie Awards
Photos by Anna Sink
For more Jammies photos and a highlights video, go online here.
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VIDEO: The Crane Wives at The Jammies
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