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NMAs 2011

Victoria Blair
July 06, 2011

At the Niagara Music Awards 2011, in Thorold, model looking girls were waiting on Niagara's finest artists all night. You could single out the talent by the eccentric looking outfits they wore, nonchalant expression on their face and the general aura of importance surrounding them. The Rocky Horror Show Live was already wearing their costumes, The Lucky Ones had that ska punk look going for them, the lead singer of Wretched Pain was wearing a red robe on top of his normal clothes and the girls were showing their best colors. The technical crew was fretting about last minute details and after a couples of beers, it was time for the NMAs to start.

With every two awards won, a performance was given by last years winners. The opening act was performed by two talented young ladies, Ariana and Briar Gillis. Their clear voices and complicated melody almost seemed renaissance-like. Then, the hostess, Chrishon from 91.7 Giant FM, did her opening speech and reminded everyone that musicians are professionals and deserve to be treated as such. Slogans were projected on screens on either side of the stage: MUSICIANS NEED TO EAT TOO.

Next up was 351 Cleaveland, the winner of this year's best bar band, raised the roof with tremendous energy before Wretched Pain blew our ears off with metal/screamo music. The Black Flies, a folk pop band, toned down the night a little and surprised everyone with their unique style. Greg Holmes played the NS/Stick beautifully with a jazz vibe although his song reminded me of Micheal Buble's style a little. Ryan Swayze played the keyboard for us and sang his heart out. Next was The Rocky Horror Show Live with their display of beautiful freaks dancing and singing to the music from the musical. Later on, they won Theatrical Performance of the Year. Even though their Microphones stopped working halfway through their act, I could hear them and their choreography was so energetic that it was hard not to smile.

Beth Moore was Folk/Artist of the Year AND Artist of the Year. Everything about her seemed so free spirited, from her naked feet and her messy hair to the folksy song her and her band played for us. Steve Burnside, People's Choice Award and Blues Group of the Year winner, gave us a first class performance with his Blues Band and strange square guitar. John Boyd poured his soul out on the accoustic guitar and McPherson Rant, a band of merry folks doing folks songs with a celtic twist, blew me away with the simplicity of their musical style and instruments (mainly the banjo and the tambourines). Jacelyn Holmes, Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year, blew the crowd away with the innocent lyrics and colorful performance she gave. At some point she stopped playing the guitar to break into a dance with chinese ribbons! You don't see that everyday!

The beloved Punk band The Lucky Ones, Punk Rock Group of the Year, played 2 songs from their album The Booze Sessions. The KAC Himself, Niagara Entertainer of the Year, spit out some rhymes with Femapco, both of them Hip Hop Artist of the Year (a shared award!). They sure had the girls dancing. Actually, pretty much everyone was dancing to The KAC Himself and Femapco. Defence Mechanism was last but not least, a special performance I covered in another article. Go check it out!

The winners of the 2011 Niagara Music Awards are:

Album of the Year: Mrs. Johnston
Rock Group of the Year: The Autumn Crush
Punk Rock Group of the Year: The Lucky Ones (They delivered the same acceptance speech as last year, apparently the band goes to Marine Land to celebrate!)

Heavy Metal Group of the Year: After the Earth
Original Group of the Year: The Bends
Original Song of the Year: Mrs. Johnston Simple Things
Music Video of the Year: Code Blue - Directed by Corie Levitt
Female Vocalist of the Year: Angela Crane
Male Vocalist of the Year: Tim Hicks
Jazz Artist/Group of the Year: Le Trio Parisien (impressive trio who will soon be touring Europe)

Best Bar Band: 351 Cleveland (Keep on raising the roof!)
Theatrical Performance of the Year: Rocky Horror Show LIVE at Port Mansion ( It is the last year they put on this show. Go see it before it's too late!)

Rising Star Award: Ashlynne Vince
Songwriter of the Year: M-Phaktor
Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year: Jacelyn Holmes
Country Artist of the Year: Tim Hicks
Folk Artist/Group of the Year: Beth Moore (Original and folksy, Beth was a true discovery for me.)

Blues Group of the Year: Steve Burnside
Niagara Promoter of the Year: Project Pain Productions
Recording Engineer of the Year: Jay Baty
Instrumentalist of the Year: Johnny Bishop
World Group of the Year: Mandolin Orchestra of Niagara
Hip Hop Artist of the Year: The KaC Himself / Femapco ( A shared award!)
People's Choice Award: Steve Burnside
Niagara Entertainer of the Year: The KaC Himself
Artist of the Year: Beth Moore
2011 Special Achievement: LMT Connection

All in all the night was a success. From the service to the friendly guests, talented artists, timely technical crew and entertaining hostess, everything was well prepared. The whole thing lasted about four hours on a week night... of course that was convenient for all the artists who work during the weekend! Congratulations to every nominee and winner.

- Victoria Blair -