By Charlie Swanson
Our annual NorBays Music Awards beefed up this year with a staggering 21 categories, including new spots for venues, festivals and more. The readers have spoken and the winners are:
Blues: The Dylan Black Project—Soulful band of veteran musicians gets the crowds moving with up-tempo rhythms and scorching solos; thedylanblackproject.com.
Country: Ammo Box—Southern rock and country outfit featuring members of Bay Area party band Notorious is new and already making noise in the scene; ammoboxband.com.
Americana: The Rhythm Rangers—Led by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Russell, the Rhythm Rangers perform timeless and laid-back Americana musings that never fail to please; kevinrussellmusic.com.
Folk: Oddjob Ensemble —Accordionist Kalei Yamanoha leads this Vaudevillian string band and produces an eclectic array of traditional folk; oddjobensemble.com.
Rock: Charley Peach—Vocalist Kaylene Harry’s powerful pipes front this hard-hitting and recently revamped power rock outfit out of Santa Rosa; charleypeachband.com.
Hip-Hop: Above Average—Young and high-rising MC writes, raps and plays video games, matching his lightning quick hand-eye coordination with a silver tongue that’s steadily maturing; soundcloud.com/aboveraps.
R&B: The Soul Section—The eight-piece rhythm and blues revue band boasts a veteran core of players who draw from influences like Otis Redding and the Meters; thesoulsection.com.
Jazz: Cabbagehead—This improvisational sextet exudes spontaneous energy and advanced musicianship; cabbageheadmusic.com.
Indie: The Highway Poets—The North Bay’s longtime favorite DIY band has been hard at work on their new album, Chasing Youth; highwaypoetsmusic.com.
Reggae: Sol Horizon—North Bay purveyors of roots reggae and world music are favorites at local festivals and beyond; solhorizon.com.
Punk: One Armed Joey—There’s a melodic quality to One Armed Joey that calls to mind ’80s bands like NOFX in the best way; fun, fast, catchy and cool; onearmedjoey.bandcamp.com.
Metal: 2 Minutes to Midnight—This Iron Maiden tribute act has the chops it takes to rock like the British metal heads they emulate; facebook.com/pg/norcalmaiden707.
Electronica: Eki Shola—Solo pianist and performer Eki Shola is influenced by her world travels and shares a spiritually connected message; ekishola.com.
Acoustic: Nate Lopez—The instrumental solo guitarist makes the most of his eight-string guitar for dynamic melodies and inviting atmospheres; natelopez.com.
Singer/songwriter: Dave Hamilton—Hamilton has been perfecting an award-winning mix of folk and Americana for 40 years; davehamiltonfolkamericana.com.
DJ (Live): Joshua Bluegreen-Cripps—Musician, event producer and DJ, Joshua Bluegreen-Cripps does it all; and does it with a passion for local projects; partyevententertainment.com.
DJ (Radio): Bill Bowker—Longtime North Bay Krush radio host is a champion of the arts, co-organizing the Sonoma County Blues Festival on August 19; Krsh.com.
Open Mic: Tuesday Open Mic at Brew—The weekly gathering of musicians, poets, comedians and others that join in the open mic at Brew is quickly gaining momentum; brewcoffeeandbeer.com.
Venue or Club: HopMonk Tavern—With three North Bay locations, the HopMonk Tavern’s family of venues can’t be beat for outdoor entertainment; Hopmonk.com.
Promoter: Josh Windmiller—The founder of North Bay Hootenanny produces events that showcase local music; northbayhootenanny.com.
Music Festival: Railroad Square Music Festival—Not even a downpour of hail (in June!) could dampen the spirits of this popular summer event in Santa Rosa’s famed Railroad Square; railroadsquaremusicfestival.com.