There were no tables with white linen tablecloths or women in shimmering designer gowns at the 21st annual Boston Music Awards held at The Roxy, Pearl and Underbar Sunday evening. In fact, there aren’t any tables at all, and the outfits ranged from jeans and button down shirts to mini-dresses and heels.
Banners of the award show sponsors were spread along the perimeter of the balcony, surrounding three jumbo projection screens – two in the middle of the purple-themed room and one over the stage where nominees performed throughout the night.
Each screen projected a slide show of images that show the work of Music Drives Us, the non-profit organization which the Boston Music Awards benefited this year. Performers, nominees, friends of artists and Boston Music elites all mingled in the -large ballroom, taking pictures with the live action gargoyles on each side of the stage or posing in front of the winners’ press area.
Maureen Rose, 28, Christine Rose, 27, Katie O’Connell, 26, were among the guests creating a photo op before the ceremony.
“We’re here to support our girl Lisa Bellow. She’s nominated for Best Female Vocalist of the Year, but I’m most excited to see Donnie Wahlberg [of New Kids On The Block]” explained Rose.
Despite buzz about the nominees, the message was clear this year – focus less on trophies and more on the music of the new England scene.
The entire event lasted from seven to two am but the awards portion was squeezed between 9:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Each category and nominee was projected on the large screens, followed by an announcement of the winners who were to report to the side stage to claim their awards and have their picture taken.
The new format was implemented for the first time this year to make more time for musical performances and less drunken acceptance speeches, explained radio legend and host of the awards, Oedipus, at the beginning of the ceremony. Only the winners of three out of the 27 categories: the Humanitarian of the Year, Unsung Hero and Artist of the Year — National, collected their awards on stage.
Humanitarian of the Year and The Unsung Hero Award were two new special awards added to the ceremony this year.
The Humanitarian Award, created to honor someone who has made a difference in the community through their volunteer efforts to support music, went to Chad Stokes of State Radio. Stokes was noted for using his musical influence to raise funds to help improve the lives of youth in Zimbabwe.
The Unsung Hero Award recognizes respected musicians with strong ties to the Boston area who have never received the national attention they deserve. This year the honor went to Billy Beard, a venue owner in Cambridge and renowned drummer. He spoke proudly of the music scene being honored that night.
“After so many years in the industry, this city still represents the best music has to offer,” Beard said.
Girls Guns and Glory were big regional winners, taking home awards for both Outstanding Americana Act and Act of the Year – Local.
“It’s our first BMA’s. This is a good cap on the year for us,” Colt Thompson, guitar player and back-up vocalist for the band, said between hugs from ecstatic family members.
Other winners include Zili Musik for Outstanding International Music Act, Miss Tess for Outstanding Folk Act and Termanology for Outstanding Hip Hop Act, all of whom had performing rights on the stage that night.
The most anticipated award of the evening – Act of the Year National – went to New Kids on the Block who wrapped up their reunion tour early this fall.
“This is better than any Grammy,” rejoiced Donnie Wahlberg, the group’s token bad-boy, as he and fellow band member Jordan Knight accepted the award.
Though many may not have taken away a trophy Sunday night at the 21st annual Boston Music Awards, it was clear there were no losers. The focus and goal of the ceremony was to highlight and celebrate the music scene of the greater Boston area and anyone who helped support it was treated like a winner.