The 22nd annual Best of the Beat Music Awards and party were held on January 19 at Generations Hall. The house was packed with the nominees, not only hoping to be recognized for their work in 2016, but to join in the celebration.
As our readers may know, the Best of the Beat Awards started as a private party for the Louisiana music community. Although we now sell tickets to the general public, the party is for Louisiana musicians.
The big winners of the evening were the Revivalists, who captured five awards: Artist of the Year, Best Rock Artist, Songwriter of the Year for Dave Shaw, Song of the Year for “Wish I Knew You” and Best Music Video also for “Wish I Knew You.” Accepting was the Revivalists’ drummer Andrew Campanelli, who was visibly touched when Alison Toussaint LeBeaux, Allen Toussaint’s daughter, presented him with the Allen Toussaint Songwriter of the Year award for Revivalists singer-songwriter Dave Shaw. Most of the Revivalists were already in Florida for the Jam Cruise leaving the following day and were unable to attend.
Alison LeBeaux also accepted the Album of the Year award for her father’s American Tunes.
Other big winners included Louis Michot, accepting for Best Violin Player, along with Best Cajun Artist for Lost Bayou Ramblers. Delfeayo Marsalis accepted the awards for Best Contemporary Jazz Artist and Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Make America Great Again! Honey Island Swamp Band picked up Best Roots Rock Artist as well as Best Roots Rock Album for Demolition Day.
The evening included performances by Valerie Sassyfras, Mia Borders (who received Best Female Vocalist), Soul Brass Band (who received Best Emerging Artist), Khris Royal and Dark Matter (Khris Royal received Best Saxophonist), Naughty Professor, the Fortifiers featuring Bobby Rush, who wanted to do one number but ended up doing three, and a tribute to Johnny Vidacovich curated by Galactic drummer Stanton Moore.
The tribute to Johnny Vidacovich was a true highlight of the Best of the Beat Awards. Saxophonist Tony Dagradi, bassist James Singleton, guitarist Steve Masakowski (Vidacovich’s compatriots in Astral Project) and pianist David Torkanowsky played together for the tribute. It was a reunion of sorts, in that Torkanowsky left the band in 2000 and hasn’t played with the group as a whole since then. Brian Blade had first crack at the drum set with the group. It wasn’t long before another former Vidacovich student, drummer Stanton Moore, slid in to take over the kit. Naturally, Vidacovich, the man of the hour, wanted a piece of the action. Without missing a beat, these three smiling drummers seamlessly took turns throughout an entire tune.
Later, Vidacovich stepped up to the microphone to sing “Old Folks.” During the instrumental section, Torkanowsky joined him at center stage and began slow dancing with Johnny—as the crowd screamed and laughed the two old friends continued dancing. “It was really fun,” said Torkanowsky, “and a nice honor for Johnny.”
Johnny Vidacovich wrote to OffBeat:
“Thanks for the best time of my life! What a surprise and honor to receive such a prestigious honor. Over so many years I have been lucky enough to receive awards from the voters and you [OffBeat] but this was the ultimate ‘knock out.’ I’m dancing every day with joy and love for the fine job that Stanton Moore did of putting the tribute band together. Astral Project with David Torkanowsky, himself and Brian Blade! Brian was stellar and made my heart fly. Now I say that I love you sincerely. I love all the readers and listeners that make the music complete. I’d like to say thanks and I love you to all the people who voted me Best Drummer this year, not only for this year but for all the previous years that I have won. Thank you thank you thank you. It’s you folks who fill me with so much joy, inspiration and energy. I love you deeply. I will play forever, for you.”
As usual, many of the city’s finest restaurants served up some tasty eats. Many attendees are still raving about the food. If you couldn’t make it, you missed out, but there is always a next time.
Once again, this year’s award trophies were designed by Louisiana glass artist Ginger Kelly, based in Breaux Bridge.
The Best of the Beat Awards are presented by the OffBeat Music and Cultural Arts Foundation. The Foundation was developed to create opportunities that support Louisiana artists in leading sustainable creative lives. The OffBeat Music and Cultural Arts Foundation merges education, advocacy, community engagement and creative collaboration to foster and uplift Louisiana music, arts and culture. This year was the first where OMACAF partnered with the Positive Vibrations Foundation to support the musicians who are honored and who play each year at the Best of the Beat Awards.
The winners are…
Artist of the Year
Album of the Year
Allen Toussaint: American Tunes (Nonesuch)
Best Emerging Artist
Soul Brass Band
Song of the Year
“Wish I Knew You” by David Shaw and Zack Feinberg of the Revivalists
Best Blues Performer
Best Blues Album
Bobby Rush: Porcupine Meat (Rounder)
Best R&B/Funk Artist
Best R&B/Funk Album
Aaron Neville: Apache (Tell It Records)
Best Rock Artist
Best Rock Album
Anders Osborne: Flower Box (Back on Dumaine)
Best Rap / Hip-Hop Artist / Bounce Artist
5th Ward Weebie
Best Traditional Jazz Artist
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Best Traditional Jazz Album
Leroy Jones: I’m Talkin’ Bout New Orleans (Independent)
Best Contemporary Jazz Artist
Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra: Make America Great Again! (Troubadour Jazz Records)
Best Brass Band
Best Cajun Artist
Lost Bayou Ramblers
Best Cajun Album
Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars: Gulfstream (Octavia Records)
Best Zydeco Artist
Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers
Best Roots Rock Artist
Honey Island Swamp Band
Best Roots Rock Album
Honey Island Swamp Band: Demolition Day (Ruf Records)
Best Country/Folk/Singer-Songwriter Artist
Best Country/Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album
Amanda Shaw: Amanda Shaw (Independent)
McDonogh #35 High School Gospel Choir
Best Cover Band
Bag of Donuts
Songwriter of the Year
Best Female Vocalist
Best Male Vocalist
Best Bass Player
George Porter, Jr.
Best Violin/Fiddle Player
Best Other Instrument
Washboard Chaz (washboard)
Best Music Video
The Revivalists: “Wish I Knew You” directed by Mikey Cosentino & Sam Green of Rite Media Group
MUSIC BUSINESS AWARDS
Best Large Festival
Voodoo Music Experience
Best Festival Outside New Orleans
Voice of the Wetlands
Best Neighborhood Festival
Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival
Best Recording Studio
Word of Mouth
Record Label of the Year
Producer of the Year
Best Record Store
Best Instrument Store
Best Studio Sound Engineer
Tim Stambaugh (Word of Mouth)
Best Booking Agency
Hep Cat Entertainment
Jon Phillips (Silverback Artist Management)
Best Music Attorney
Best Club Owner or Manager
Howie Kaplan/Stu Schayot (Howlin’ Wolf)
Best Concert Promoter
Winter Circle Productions
Bourbon Street Award
Earl Bernhardt and Pam Fortner (Tropical Isle)
Musician Resource Award
The Ella Project
Best Use of Local Music or Musicians in Advertising
Juan LaFonta & Associates, L.L.C. for Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia directed by Nicholas Manuel Pino
Music Business of the Year
Community Music Award
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA)
Also, another round of congratulations to our Lifetime Achievement Award winners: Johnny Vidacovich (Music); Detroit Brooks and Darryl Young/Dancing Man 504 (Positive Vibrations Heartbeat Award); Sonny Schneidau (Music Business) and Dr. Bruce Raeburn (Music Education).
See you again next year!