Showcasing a diverse sound
No word better describes the Milwaukee music scene than “diverse.” Unlike Seattle or Washington DC, there really is no Milwaukee ”sound.” So it’s rather appropriate that 88Nine Radio Milwaukee hosts an annual local music awards show, as their “diverse music for a diverse city” slogan has become synonymous with their name. Their fifth annual awards ceremony was held at Turner Hall Ballroom on Tuesday evening.
With the WAMI Awards heading north to Appleton this year, many looked at the 88Nine awards as both a cause for their departure as well as a worthy replacement. Taking a closer look, however, reveals the two aren’t exactly identical.
“The WAMI’s are great, but they cover the entire state of Wisconsin” said 88Nine’s Jordan Lee. “With this award show, we wanted to direct the attention more specifically toward our city. There’s more than enough great music happening here to have our own show.”
The nine categories, whose winners were determined by online votes, ranged from standard (Album/Song of the Year) to more unique (Bandcamp Release of the Year). While Radio Milwaukee’s format boasts a rather large range of sounds, some of the categories’ semi-finalists came as a surprise to voters.
As if the nominees didn’t already reflect the eclectic nature of the city’s music scene, the live performances most certainly did. From the humongous hip-hop sounds of Logic and Raze to the breezy piano pop of Jayme Dawicki, the audience was offered a taste of what our city has to offer musically, with performers playing brief 20-minute sets. Other performers included Boy Blue, Trapper Schoepp & The Shades, and the Delta Routine, who took home the awards for “Catchiest Song of The Year,” “Album of the Year” and “Band of the Year,” respectively (a complete list of winners can be viewed here).
Of the evening’s many highlights, perhaps the most heartfelt came from the presentation of the “Music Ambassador of the Year” award to WMSE Station Manager Tom Crawford, proving yet again that while 88Nine was the host, the event’s focus was on Milwaukee above all else.
“The Music Ambassador award is really meant for a non-musician” said Lee. “Tom has been in the business for longer than 88Nine has been a station, championing local music and booking shows with WMSE for years now. It just seemed obvious that he should get the award.” Upon Crawford’s acceptance of the award, both Lee and fellow 88Nine deejay Marcus Doucette were proud to acknowledge that it was Crawford who provided them both with their first opportunities on the air.
The event felt less like an awards ceremony and more like a celebration of community, with artists and fans alike coming together to share their love and appreciation of our city’s music scene. Artists humbly accepted their awards with their fellow nominees cheering and congratulating their successes. Embracing our diversity is what makes our city great, and Tuesday evening was no exception.