RECAP: The Jammies
Creating community through music
There’s nothing quite like the Grand Rapids, Mich. music scene. From country to hip-hop, local artists are making music across the genre spectrum for everyone to enjoy.
Independent radio station WYCE, in partnership with Bell’s Brewery, has been recognizing local talent for 14 years with their annual awards event, The Jammies. And this year it drew in its largest crowd yet Feb. 22 at the Intersection.
With 24 bands in the performance lineup, the audience got more than enough sampling of what the Grand Rapids music scene has to offer.
“More than half of our performers tonight are first-time Jammies performers,” said Nicole Leach, the WYCE community relations coordinator, before the show. “It shows how much the music scene is growing.”
Leach has been a part of The Jammies for several years, having volunteered with WYCE, which thrives on volunteerism, for seven years before officially joining the staff four years ago.
Last Friday, she emceed the latter half of the night and presented a handful of the awards, which range from Album of the Year to Listener’s Choice for Best New Artist.
“You’ll find something tonight you’ll gravitate toward,” Leach said.
This year’s Jammies offered up a wide array of performances representing a multitude of genres. Aside from typical nominations focusing on popular genres, such as rock, others were recognized, too. Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys won Best Americana Album for “Release Your Shrouds.”
While several more popular local artists, such as the folksy The Crane Wives and rockabilly favorites Delilah DeWylde & The Lost Boys have performed at the Jammies before, there were also many first-timers, including Edye Evans Hyde, a jazz vocalist who has been a fixture on the West Michigan jazz scene for the past 30 years.
“The band was on fire, it was great,” Evans Hyde said. “People are there to hear you and feel the excitement. We let (performance stress) all go, we just did it.”
Evans Hyde, winner of the West Michigan Jazz Society’s Musician of the Year award in 2011, boasts an extensive performance resume. A Grand Rapids native, she has performed in Los Angeles, Europe and China.
Aside from performing at the Jammies, she was also nominated for several categories, including Song of the Year for “Magic in His Eyes” and Best Production/Engineering, but ended up winning for Best Jazz Album.
“That was a crazy day,” Evans Hyde said. “I had just performed. I was hoping to win, but I was happy to be nominated; there were a lot of people in that category.”
As the local music scene has gained its footing, the Jammies has also grown. They started at Founders Brewing Co., and after an increase in audience interest and artist participation, then moved to the Wealthy Theater. But the Jammies continued to grow, and finally, another venue was needed. Luckily, the community accommodated this growth.
“We (had) all these bands, we need two stages,” Leach said. “The Intersection donates the space to WYCE. It’s the right size for us.”
Television screens mounted on either side of the main stage made sure everyone in the venue could see the show. Also available this year was a station where, choosing from several templates, fans could create a custom Jammies T-shirt, provided by Citizen Shirt, with a portion of the proceeds going to WYCE.
The Jammies remind people of how strong the local music scene is and what local businesses are doing to support it.
“(The Jammies) gets together an enormous amount of people,” Leach said. “It opens their eyes to how big and talented West Michigan’s music scene is.”
And while many musicians are likely to leave the area and strike out in big cities such as Chicago, she said the Jammies remind artists that they have support at home in West Michigan.
“It’s about community, music and bringing people together,” Leach said. “(The Jammies make) people want to stay in the area…(and) support local artists, it’s important.”
Big winners included The Soil The Sun, who took home the Special Jury Prize for Best Album and The Jammie Award, also know as Album of The Year, for “What Wonder is This Universe!” and Drew Nelson, who shared The Jammie and also won Song of the Year for “Promise Land,” off his album “Tilt-A-Whirl.” Lucas Wilson, a folk singer-songwriter took home the Special Jury Award “Best New Artist.”
“It’s an era of independent artists and independent labels,” Evans Hyde said.
For a complete list of winners, go to the WYCE Facebook page, or www.grcmc.org/radio.
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