.North Bay Music Awards Announced

In a time when elections can seem less and less important, here’s proof that getting out the votes really matters. Once again, our community of readers has come together to elect the greatest among us. Allow us to present the 2023 North Bay Music Award winners.

Best Music Instructor: Ananta Fiddle-Hooper

Foremost love to the teachers, especially this highly regarded violin teacher. facebook.com/ANANTAFiddleHoopermusic


Pop-y metalcore? Let’s call it punk. Whatever label one uses, BLVKOUT’s cyberpunk themes and heavy guitar wrangle frontman Jay Willis’ melodic refrains into post-powerpop goodness. After releasing their first single in August of this year, the band is already booked to headline that venerable punk oasis, The Phoenix Theatre in Petaluma. That show happens on Saturday, Dec. 30. linktr.ee/blvkoutband

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose
Folk: Dave Hamilton

A mellow folk artist with a complex Americana sound. davehamiltonfolkamericana.com

Americana: David Luning

“Luning rises to the occasion with a polished, confident collection of country rock and Americana music that’s both radio-ready and emotionally resonant,” wrote the Bohemian in 2017.​ davidluning.com

Best Drag Show: Drag Brunch at the Flamingo Resort—THTR Productions

Recently celebrating its one year anniversary, THTR Productions’ 21 and over Drag Show Brunch at the Flamingo is a local exemplar of the LGBTQIA+ commitment to show the rest of the world the true meaning of Pride—expressing oneself with verve in a loving community. Given the growing expressions of hatred toward queer folk right here in the North Bay, there can’t be a better way to show support than having a bloody mary and excellent brunch fare while cheering on beautiful people living their best life. flamingoresort.com/events/drag-brunch

Electronica: Eki Shola

We’ve written a book’s worth of material on eclectic local electronic artist, Eki Shola. Check the paper’s archives, and check her new album, Kaeru, freshly released on streaming.

Best Female Solo Artist: Ellie James

Ellie James mixes indie-pop with straight rock ’n’ roll for a dance-inducing good show. thisiselliejames.com

Best Songwriter: Ellie James

James can turn a lyric too. thisiselliejames.com

Best Dance Crew: Fargo Brothers

A show not to be missed, we hear. fargobrothers.com/the-band

Best Short Music Film or Documentary: Maya McNeil

The video for Maya McNeil’s tune, “Main Stream,” is a work of art in itself. The emphasis of bodies, love and race against the backdrop of the bay is as thought provoking as it is moving. The interplay of dance and music is not to be missed. mayamcneil.comMaya McNeil – MAIN STREAM (Official music video)

Best Transgender Solo Artist: MJ Ward

Check out the Bohemian music feature (Jan. 24, 2023) on this unique human and their joyful music. mjwardmusic.com

Jazz: Nate Lopez

Maestro of an eight-string guitar/bass hybrid, Nate Lopez is a well seasoned solo player who blends the sounds of pop and more into his own jazz world. “To say Nate Lopez just plays guitar is an understatement,” said Curtis Kim of KSRO radio.

DJ (Live): Resonance Entertainment

Karaoke anyone? Resonance Entertainment provides equipment and a host to run unsurpassed singalongs for any event. Whatever the occasion, one can bet the karaoke is the event.

DJ (Radio): Doug Jayne

Co-owner of the Next Record Store in Santa Rosa, Doug Jayne hosts the essential Midday Music on KRCB.

Best Male Solo Artist: Sebastian Saint James

Sebastian Saint James has an idiosyncratic ability to shift listeners from casual to rabid, and turn passers-by into set-closers. Still playing with the Highway Poets, his solo work is equally about bringing collaborators into the groove. sebastiansaintjames.com

Metal: Skitzo

Formed in 1981 in Healdsburg, Skitzo is as original as it gets. “‘My first recollection of Lance was when I heard about this metal band puking in school colors,’ says Tom Gaffey, [Petaluma’s] Phoenix Theater founder and manager. [Lead singer Lance] Ozanix had become known for playing high schools in the area and brewing color-appropriate tonics for his signature finale,” wrote the Bohemian in 2016. facebook.com/p/Skitzo-Thrash-Metal-100041048238250

Reggae: Sol Horizon

In a way, isn’t all reggae a tribute to Bob Marley? Not to be trite, but the great singer who wrote so many songs loved around the world casts a sublime shadow to play around in. Sol Horizon’s 11-piece tribute band does exactly that. solhorizonband.com

Best Lead Vocals: Sophia Kandler of Gas Money

Despite the sad showing of the Red Hot Chili Peppers at BottleRock (aka, the “yawn on the lawn”), vox Sophia Kandler and her band Gas Money deliver powerhouse covers of “that chili band” and others. @so_kandler

Blues: Spike Sikes and His Awesome Hotcakes

Blues legend. Again. Still. Awesomehotcakes.com

Country: The Familiar Strangers

Acoustic-based quartet and six-piece electric band playing the American roots.


Best Music Venue: The Lost Church

A non-profit with a big-heart sized stage, this outsider venue continually manifests moments of magic in unique, locally rooted shows. thelostchurch.org/santa-rosa

Most North Bay Vibe: The SoulShake

The SoulShake music reflects “good times and the adventure of life on the Northern California coast.” The trio considers themselves “advocates of positivity through music.” soulshakevibe.com

Best Promoter: Jake Ward

Persistent, thorough and freeeeaky, that’s Jake Ward to a T. The promoter of the North Bay Cabaret brings out the freak in all that he touches. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Go check out his Halloweird show on Oct. 27 and it will all make sense. Or will it? northbayevents.com

Hip-Hop: Vocab Slick

North Bay conscious rapper drops award winning lyrical flow. vocabslick.com

R&B: The Soul Section

The Soul Section delivers what all bands dream of…an infectious good time.

Rock: Two Lions Band

Mitchel Slade, Gregory Allison, Matt Riney and Justin Ciechoski of Two Lions Band make one think differently about rock. twolionsband.com

Best Movement (Choreography): UPside Dance Company

Interactive choreographers Kate Ahumada and Tanya Tolmasoff co-founded UPside Dance to introduce “dance to those who are curious” in “a supportive and adventurous environment, creating more performance opportunities for the developing dancer.” Support the dance community. Upsidedance.com

Hardest Working Musician/Artist: Spike Sikes and His Awesome Hotcakes

They don’t win multiple awards year after year without working their buns off.


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