Live Last Night: The Wammies

Multiple award winner Jon Carroll had plenty to sing about at the 23rd annual Wammies.

Of all the awards ever devised to honor the purveyors of musical excellence, the Wammies are without question the most local, not to mention the most recent.

Last night at the State Theatre in Falls Church, voters of the Washington Area Music Association gathered for the 23rd annual Wammies ceremony, doling out highly genre-specific honors to the hometown heroes of the vibrant local music scene. Mercifully, only about three dozen of the more than 100 Wammies were actually presented onstage; the rest were read roll call-style at the end of the three-plus-hour pageant.

The night's big winners were the self-explanatory Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band, foursquare rocker Billy Coulter and Wammie veteran Jon Carroll.

(Read the rest of the report, along with a complete list of winners, after the jump.)

Chopteeth, a 14-member intercontinental ensemble, was voted artist of the year in addition to taking home awards for best world music duo or group, world music recording, and debut recording. (The latter two were for "Chopteeth.")

Coulter's "Dose," meanwhile, was honored as album of the year as well as the year's best roots rock recording. WAMA members voted Coulter's "Party of One" song of the year and named Coulter best roots rock vocalist for the second year running.

Carroll performed two songs at the ceremony with his son Ben and his band Love Returns, including his Solomon Burke-esque R&B number "Just Relax." Caroll won a couple of Grammys with the Starland Vocal Band back in 1976, including one for arranging the immortal "Afternoon Delight." Last night, he netted his second consecutive songwriter of the year Wammie (his third SOTY overall), in addition to being named musician of the year.

Carroll may have to invest in some shelving: He also won the pop/rock vocalist category, pop/rock duo or group, pop/rock instrumentalist and pop/rock recording, for "Live Returns," recorded at the Barns of Wolf Trap. His five- six-Wammie haul might seem disappointing only compared to last year, when he won seven.

If the list of nominees and winners can appear to be somewhat insular, with copious year-over-year repetition, at least the selection of performers offered a fair reflection the region's mix of styles and demographics:

Folk duo Cletus Kennelly and Lori Kelly funked up their "Love on the Metro" with electronic percussion courtesy of Arthur Loves Plastic (nee Bev Stanton), recipient of the electronica emeritus award.

Beat-boxing rapper Christylez Bacon, the 22-year-old honored in the hip-hop artist and recording categories, gave us a bouncy "Welfare Check."

Early '80s new wavers 4 Out of 5 Doctors reunited to offer a surprisingly brawny take of their "I Want Her."

Singer-songwriter Margot MacDonald, winner of 2007's new artist Wammie, sang one of her plaintive ballads before leading her band through a gritty cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." MacDonald, who despite her onstage poise and maturity is both 17 years old and a girl, sang it in a register almost as high as Robert Plant's.

There was also a go-go number from New Faces, the torch standard "A Sunday Kind of Love" from Esther Williams, and some mid-tempo indie-rock with mostly inaudible vocals from Juniper Lane.

Performances aside, the event remained much the same amiably unruly affair as in years past. As one presenter observed from the podium, "We're here for the booze, and the schmooze." There were back-slaps and hugs, presenters trying mostly in vain to quiet the boisterous crowd, and admirably terse acceptance speeches from the winners who showed up to collect their trophies. (Many didn't. Can't pay the rent with a Wammie, after all.)

Some winners used their moment in the spotlight to honor the also-rans: Collecting his Wammie for country instrumentalist of the year, Ira Gitlin protested, "With all due respect, this just ain't right. I am not worthy to pick [fellow nominee] Chick Hall's pick up off a beer-stained barroom floor."

But since Carroll scored more visits to the podium than anyone else, perhaps it's no surprise that he managed the evening's most gracious acceptance speech. After being named songwriter of the year, he encouraged his fellow musicians: "Don't be intimidated by a song you think you could never have written. Write your own song."


Updated to correct earlier version that shorted Jon Carroll's trophy tally.

And the winners were . . .

Artist of the Year: Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band

Musician of the Year: Jon Carroll

WAMA/SAW Songwriter of the Year: Jon Carroll

Album of the Year: "Dose," Billy Coulter

Song of the Year: "Party of One," Billy Coulter

Video of the Year: "Radio Retaliation," Thievery Corporation

New Artist of the Year: Prabir and the Substitutes

Debut Recording: "Chopteeth," Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band

A Cappella Group: Tone Rangers

A Cappella Recording: "Power Up," Cartoon Johnny

Big Band/Swing Group: Natty Beaux

Big Band/Swing Vocalist: Esther Haynes

Big Band/Swing Recording: "That's It!" Brooks Tegler

Bluegrass Vocalist: Dede Wyland

Bluegrass Duo/Group: Dead Men's Hollow

Bluegrass Instrumentalist: Ira Gitlin

Bluegrass Recording: "Death Must Be A Woman," Dead Men's Hollow

Traditional Blues/R&B Female Vocalist: Mary Shaver

Traditional Blues/R&B Male Vocalist: Tommy Lepson

Traditional Blues/R&B Duo/Group: The Nighthawks

Traditional Blues/R&B Instrumentalist: Daryl Davis

Traditional Blues/R&B Recording: "Raising The Roof!" Tom Principato Band

Caberet/Musical Theater Artist: The Capitol Steps

Children's Music Artist: Rocknoceros

Children's Music Recording: "I Used to Know the Names of All the Stars," Kid Pan Alley

Choral Group: The Choral Arts Society of Washington

Classical Instrumentalist: Phil Mathieu

Classical Vocal Soloist: Rosa Lamoreaux

Classical Chamber Ensemble: Folger Consort

Classical Orchestral Ensemble: Fairfax Symphony Orchestra

Classical Conductor/Director: Marin Alsop

Classical Recording: "Chamber Music With Guitar," Phil Mathieu

Classical Composer: Thomas Beveridge

Country Vocalist: Ruthie Logsdon

Country Duo/Group: Ruthie and the Wranglers

Country Instrumentalist: Ira Gitlin

Country Recording Album: "Fort Worth - Dallas," Honky Tonk Confidential

Electronica Vocalist: Bob Mould

Electronica Performing Artist (Live): Thievery Corporation

Electronica DJ: Thievery Corporation

Electronica Artist/Producer (Studio): Thievery Corporation

Electronica Recording: "Brief Episodes of Joy," Arthur Loves Plastic

Electronica Emeritus Award: Bev Stanton

Contemporary Folk Vocalist: Carey Creed

Contemporary Folk Duo/Group: Eddie from Ohio

Contemporary Folk Instrumentalist: Avril Smith

Contemporary Folk Recording (tie): "Peace of Wild Things," Carey Creed; "True North," Lisa Taylor

Traditional Folk Vocalist: Grace Griffith

Traditional Folk Duo/Group: Squeeze Bayou

Traditional Folk Instrumentalist: Marcy Marxer

Traditional Folk Recording (tie): "Blue Moonlight," Loralyn Coles; "Comedians and Angels," Tom Paxton

Go Go Talker: Lil Benny

Go Go Duo/Group: Mambo Sauce

Go Go Instrumentalist: Cherie Mitchell

Gospel/Inspirational Vocalist: Esther Williams

Gospel/Inspirational Duo/Group: The Braeded Chord

Gospel/Inspirational Recording: "The Reason," Melody Barnes

Jazz Vocalist: Esther Haynes

Jazz Duo/Group: Larry Brown Trio

Jazz Instrumentalist: Seth Kibel

Jazz Recording: "Heart Song," Al Williams III

Latin Vocalist: Cecilia Esquivel

Latin Duo/Group: Rumba Club

Latin Recording: "Triumfal," QuinTango

Rap/Hip-Hop Rapper: Christylez Bacon

Rap/Hip-Hop Duo/Group: Cornel West Theory

Rap/Hip-Hop Recording: "Advanced Artistry," Christylez Bacon

Reggae Vocalist: Jacob Hemphill

Reggae Instrumentalist: Tuff Lion

Reggae Duo/Group: Jah Works

Modern Rock Vocalist: Margot MacDonald

Modern Rock Duo/Group: Fools and Horses

Modern Rock Instrumentalist: Shane Hines

Modern Rock Recording: "I Am the Ghost," Fools and Horses

Pop Rock Vocalist: Jon Carroll

Pop Rock Instrumentalist: Jon Carroll

Pop Rock Duo/Group: Jon Carroll and Love Returns

Pop Rock Recording: "Underground," Dave Kitchen "Live Returns," Jon Carroll and Love Returns

Roots Rock Vocalist: Billy Coulter

Roots Rock Instrumentalist: Dave Chapell

Roots Rock Duo/Group: Junkyard Saints

Roots Rock Recording: "Dose," Billy Coulter

Urban Contemporary Vocalist: Julia Nixon

Urban Contemporary Duo/Group: Julia and Company

Urban Contemporary Instrumentalist: Benjie Porecki

Urban Contemporary Recording: "Love Behind," Raheem DeVaughn

World Music Vocalist: Mike Surratt

World Music Duo/Group: Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band

World Music Instrumentalist: Seth Kibel

World Music Recording: "Chopteeth," Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band

Fan Favorite: Wicked Jezebel

Record Design: "I Am the Ghost," Fools and Horses

Recording Studio: Bias Recording

Manager of the Year: Tom Carrico

Washington Area Record Company: Azalea City Recordings

Producer of the Year (tie): John Jennings; Marco Delmar

Live Sound Engineer: Danny Schwartz

Studio Engineer: Bill Wolf

Artist Website: by Linda Bangham, Rip Bang Pictures

Executive of the Year: Jean Bayou, President, Songwriters' Association of Washington

Most Supportive of Washington Music: Ron Goad

Hall of Fame: Buck Hill

Hall of Fame: Elizabeth Cotton

Hall of Fame: Mississippi John Hurt

Special Recognition: Dick Morgan

Special Appreciation: Nap Turner

By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 16, 2009; 4:31 PM ET Awards , Live Last Night
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Not to quibble, and we love Dave Kitchen, but Jon Carroll & Love Returns, Live Returns--Live at The Barns at Wolf Trap won Best Pop Rock Recording.


Posted by: jdcarroll88 | February 16, 2009 6:20 PM

No awards for Wale, the Points, Benje Ferree, Skip Mahoney, Jim Bennett & Lady Mary...

The Wammies remain out-of-touch with large segments of DC's music community

Posted by: outsider8 | February 16, 2009 10:59 PM

Outsider 8 - are you a member of WAMA? did you vote? I don't think so. Nominations are member-generated, and WAMA is only as good as its members. There are many many great musicians who are not nominated each year, but it is the WAMA membership who does the nominating.

1. WALE - from what i found on the internet:
"He got early exposure via WKYS and the Source magazine, fashioning a brand of hip-hop infused with regional go-go flava. Buzz from The Fader, XXL magazine, and collaborations with Mark Ronson have certainly helped him gain some deserved recognition"
2. thePoints -- where do they play? I see that they'll be at the Black Cat - Thursday Feb. 19- $38. the website says that they (duo? trio?) are from the Hinterlands of Virginia. Those hinterlands might be out of WAMA's geographical limits...
3.skip mahoney and the casuals? formed in 1965??
4. I see that Jim Bennett and Lady Mary put out their own CD in 2007, but where do they play??

Knowledge is power.

Posted by: dcwriterreporter | February 17, 2009 1:23 AM

"The Wammies remain out-of-touch with large segments of DC's music community"

Well, of course - what do you expect in a town whose culture views music as a hobby as opposed to a profession? Perhaps that's why at least one of the Best Recording awards was for a song/album which has never been commercially released except as a free mp3.

PS: I am a WAMA member, and I did vote.

Posted by: not_fifty | February 17, 2009 2:26 PM

WAMA has had problems since day one even though they have had music industry lawyers and agents on their board. One year Tuscadero, a pop-punk band, got best heavy metal band and another year the Slickee Boys, a garage band, got best hardcore band. Several years ago Buck Hill was not even nominated as a jazz musician and then this year he gets nominated for the Hall of Fame. Then there was the year that a singer acknowledged prodding his friends to buy memberships so they could vote for him (see the October 1998 article "What's WAMA Worth" in the Washington City Paper--it's still available online). And a few years ago all of the blues nominees were white (even though DC has African-American blues artists). It is sad that the WAMA voting membership has made such mistakes over the years because that discourages others from wanting to join WAMA. Several years ago I suggested to a WAMA board member a series of names that should be included as nominees. They chose only to include a few of them. WAMA and a majority of its voting members and board members should reach out but they don't.

Posted by: outsider8 | February 17, 2009 10:58 PM

"The Wammies remain out-of-touch with large segments of DC's music community"

Large segments of DC's music community remain out-of-touch with The Wammies. Every nominee and winner is chosen by WAMA member, except the Fan Favorite. So join!

Posted by: gfred611 | February 18, 2009 1:59 PM

Did I miss an award, or did hard-working local music heroes Bill Kirchen, the Grandsons, and Billy Hancock win nothing this year?

Posted by: minniecooperannie | February 20, 2009 6:30 PM

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