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First of all thanks again and congratulations to all of the 2016 "Earies" and because of who I am - apologies for all of the unintentional omissions that I will think about later today or tomorrow....
If you have Spotify, I have created an 800+ Playlist featuring the "Earie" Winners. If that link doesn't work, I will share it on Facebook later. Also, just a reminder - following or saving or "downloading" an album on Spotify is not a substitute for buying the damn album - also I wish Spotify would pay the artists more.. There!
Since we have a bunch of new readers, I will share a history of the award (if you've heard/read this you may skip this next few paragraphs):
Although this is only the second year of the "Earie" Awards, the Band/Artist of the Year Award goes back to the very beginning of E2TG. In the beginning was the Band of the Week designation. Basically, in those early days, I often had to go out and find bands to write about - often it was someone who followed me on Twitter. I was knew that recurring features was a thing with blogging so I started naming a "Band of the Week" (at that time they were almost all bands and not solo acts).
When I reached the end of 2011, I had named 30+ Bands of the Week, and on a lark, I thought it would be a hoot to have a Readers Poll to name Band of the Year. This was supposed to be ironic in a way because I really didn't have many readers back then - you know who you are if you were among them).
Well, the poll was a ton of fun. Don Ryan finished third, Ubiquity Machine (my friend and OG reader Howard's band) were second, and a band from the UK called The Mobbs rallied late to take the title.
Well, the Band of Year poll was so much fun that I decided to start having a Band of the Month poll. Eventually, the Band of the Week designation gave way to the "Featured Artists" designation. The Band of the Month Poll went well at first. And at the end of 2012, all of my Bands of the Month plus some Wildcards competing for Band of the Year. That year, Skeletons in the Piano (from Upstate New York) took the prize.
Eventually, I grew tired of the polls - I realized some bands cared too much about polls and some didn't care enough... blah, blah, blah... anyway, music should not be about competition, I don't think. So, when the end of 2013 rolled around, I decided that E2TG was no longer a democracy and I made the unilateral decision to award The Band of the Year distinction to The End Men - who were and are one of my favorite bands ever. Like many of us, 2016 presented some challenges, but they are vowing more ROCK in 2017!
My world kind of imploded in 2014 and my life and the direction of E2TG was forever altered. In the midst of that chaos, I was introduced to the music and person of one Darrin Bradbury. In 2014, I probably saw him play an average to 2-3 times every week, and to be honest, the was not much doubt in my mind from early in the year that if E2TG survived the chaos that Darrin would be my Artist of the Year. We did survive and he won the award, and it is a decision I have never once regretted.
In 2015, I watched the rise of Jon Latham culminating in the release of Real Bad News. It became clear early one that he was front-runner for Artist of the Year (Darrin lobbied hard for him), and his star-making guest slot at the AMA kickoff in September 2015 sealed the deal, If you have been paying attention in 2016, you will understand that naming Jon Latham Artist of the Year made me look downright prophetic. If you don't know yet, stayed tuned for "Lifers" which is set for release early in this new year...
Which brings us to 2016. 2016 brought amazing opportunities, personal challenges, and a shit-ton of great music. So much incredible music - both exploding out of East Nashville and from all over the world, that I could not even keep up. To be honest, I have had a hard time picking an "ARTIST OF THE YEAR" and it not from worthy candidates but contrarily it is from so many worthy candidates... so after the jump... see what I have decided....
Some people are going to call this a cop out - but, I like to think of it as "it's my blog and I'll do as I please."
BAND OF THE YEAR! (After a two year hiatus, I am bringing back this title)
VALUED CUSTOMER - I already kind of shot my load praising this band based out of Toronto. So, I will just add that I have rarely heard a band of such talent, originality, and depth. I suspect that they may not be to everyone's taste (and I guess I get that), but I really hope everyone will at least give them a listen. They are promising more big things in 2017 and I am ready. For that reason, they fit the bill for Band of the Year 2016.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR (NON-NASHVILLE)
JASON P. KRUG - Read yesterday's post for my reasoning. Basically, his music speaks to me so directly... I am not a musician or songwriter, and I often wonder what my music would sound like it I was... First with The Grimm Generation and then with his 2016 solo release, The Zen of Losing, Krug's music has come closer than anyone to giving me a peek into some alternate reality where I made music.
(Side note: It seemed appropriate to add this category to the Artist of the Year award. When I started as a Nashville-based music blog, to be honest, it was hard to get Nashville bands/artists to notice me. They knew, I was not Nashville Cream or whoever. Bands from other places - like Connecticut, New York etc. - well when I wrote about them - they seemed to notice and appreciate it more. Since 2014, E2TG has become more Nashville-centric and I am starting to make some headway locally. Obviously, this shift in focus is evident from the previous two Artist of the Year awards. Still and all, I have tried to continue to honor my roots (and to recognize that there is a ton of great music being made in places that are not Nashville.)
ARTIST OF THE YEAR (NASHVILLE-BASED)
BRIAN WRIGHT - I need to make it clear that this is not a local award. Brian Wright is my ARTIST OF THE YEAR (along with Jason P. Krug and Band of the Year Valued Customer), and he is extremely deserving of this award. Once, I again, I wrote about him when awarding him his "Earie" but I will elaborate/repeat... The year began with the release of Cafe Rooster Session Vol.1. Later in the year, The Sneak-Ups snuck up on us. Plus along with his wife Sally Jaye and Darrin Bradbury, Brian Wright started Cafe Rooster Records - to support their friends and community. As good as his albums are (and they are good), to really appreciate Brian Wright, you have to see him live. Solo, the beauty of his songs comes through loud and clear. When he is backed by an incredible band, things just get loud and crazy and fun. I have to rank Wright's AMA Fest show as among the best I saw all year. He is truly a force of nature and a really good guy. Honestly, as hard as it was to decide upon this award this year, I cannot think of a more worthy recipient.
So that is it! Onward and upward to 2017 - It WILL be a great year for music and I intend to do everything in my power to make it a great year overall!
See you tomorrow with our first official 2017 Shuffle!