BMAs prove Boston’s superior diversity

A review of the Boston Music Awards at the Orpheum Theater on December 1, 2007

, Staff Writer

Say what you want about the 20th Anniversary of the Boston Music Awards (BMAs), held Saturday night at the Orpheum Theater. You can question their significance, point out the lack of a cohesive Boston “scene”, or comment on the scattered nature of the night. But you can’t deny that despite it all, the ceremony was a great opportunity to celebrate all the different facets of the Boston music culture, and that it all ended up as one night of fun.

It didn’t have the glamour of LA or the importance of New York, but who needs those. Seeing Three Day Threshold at the bar in pajamas, overalls, and cowboy hats next to aging hipsters in leather and tight jeans was fun. So was hearing the Eclectic Collective yelling out and cheering on their impromptu pick for Local Female Vocalist of the Year. And Bobby Brown’s return to Boston in order to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was definitely momentous.

After 20 years of BMA’s we are no closer to having a Boston sound, and our music scene is so much the better for it. The variety of talent was astounding, both nominated and performing. The acts covered all the bases, from a joyous blues jam featuring James Montgomery, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Peter Gammons, and others, to a Boston hip-hop performance from “Special Teamz”, to the country flavor of Lori McKenna. The lack of cohesion was the event’s strong point, not its downfall.

Highlights included the performance by Brown, which followed a medley of his work performed by the Berklee City Music All-Stars. Brown took the stage looking disheveled in his tux, and thanked the All-Stars in a scratchy voice that seemed to promise trouble. But as he belted away the first notes of “Roni” in a pristine sixteen year old voice, all of the apprehension faded away.

Local rockers Extreme came back to play Boston for the first time in thirteen years (except for the Brad Delp tribute show a few months ago) and rocked the house, sort of. The time for their particular brand of hard rock has passed (Killswitch Engage, winners of Act of the Year, are a testament to that) but the band’s blazing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” showed that Gary Cherone may have actually found his true calling during his years in cover bands.

Matt Nathanson, winner of the National Male Vocalist of the Year Award, performed an exceptionally strong version of his song “Car Crash” alone in front of the curtain. His stripped down talent provided a nice counterpoint to the polish of the Click Five’s slick single “Jenny”. National Female Vocalist of the Year JoJo also went the low-key route for a reworked version of her hit “Too Little, Too Late”.

BMS favorites Bang Camaro took home awards for Local Song of the Year (“Pleasure Pleasure”) and Outstanding Rock Band, but lost out in the Outstanding Live Act category to State Radio. But the night wasn’t about winners and losers. It was about honoring the depth and the diversity of the Boston music scene. Few cities can make the case that they deserve their own music awards, and fewer still would warrant the inclusion of Outstanding Punk Band, Outstanding Jazz Act, and Outstanding Americana Act in the same show. But the Boston scene does deserve it, and Saturday night at the Orpheum showed that while it may not be the biggest, it’s definitely one of the best.

2007 Boston Music Award Winners (*indicates correct BMS prediction)

Act of the Year
Killswitch Engage *

Album of the Year (Indie)
Martin Sexton – Seeds

Album of the Year (Major)
Lori McKenna – Unglamorous

Best New Act of the YearKid:Nap:Kin

Local Female Vocalist of the Year
Sarah Borges *

Local Male Vocalist of the YearRyan Montbleau

Local Producer of the Year
Crit Harmon

Local Song of the Year
Bang Camaro – "Pleasure Pleasure"

National Female Vocalist of the Year
JoJo

National Male Vocalist of the Year
Matt Nathanson

Outstanding Americana Act of the Year
Girls Guns & Glory

Outstanding Blues/Soul Act of the Year
Eli "Paperboy" Reed *

Outstanding DJ/Dance Act of the Year
DJ BC

Outstanding Folk Act of the Year
Chris Smither

Outstanding Funk/Jam Band of the Year
Westbound Train

Outstanding Jazz Act of the Year
Club d\\\\\\\’Elf

Outstanding Live Act of the Year
State Radio

Outstanding Metal/Hardcore Band of the Year
Killswitch Engage *

Outstanding Pop Act of the YearThe Click Five

Outstanding Punk Band of the Year
Dropkick Murphys *

Outstanding Rap/Hip-Hop Act of the Year
Mr. Lif *

Outstanding Rock Band of the Year
Bang Camaro *

Outstanding Singer/Songwriter of the Year
Josh Ritter *

Outstanding World Music Act of the Year
Spiritual Rez

Song of the Year
"The Great Escape" – Boys Like Girls

Hall of Fame Inductees
Bobby Brown
Buffalo Tom

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