13th RAMIs honor Rockford’s best in music

The best of the Rockford music scene converged April 15 at the Tebala Shrine Temple in Rockford for the 13th Annual Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) awards ceremony.

The Royal Travelers, cast members from ACT’s production of Oliver!, Ken Stein’s Little Big Band with Holland Zander, Jinger Christal with Agnus Jackson, J.J. Jacobs and Jeremy Engler, Too Deep featuring Farren Rounds, Los Autenticos de Zacatecas, Cammi and the Blues Hawks, and the Snaggs all performed to a standing-room-only crowd.

When the building wasn’t jamming to music, awards were being presented to local acts who had been voted to be the best at what they did in 2003. Orange was arguably the biggest winner, receiving two awards—Best Jam Band and Best Album.

The RAMI awards were started in 1991 largely due to the efforts of Gary Wilmer, founding publisher of RAM magazine. This year’s awards covered more than 30 music categories. Following is a list of winners per category, with the other nominees for each award listed in parentheses:

• Acoustic Rock—Tom Mac Group (Acoustic Millennium Band, Boulas, Mike Owens, Mike Tyler)

• Blues—Blues Hawks (Basement Blues Band, Ernie & the Po’ Boys, Steve Ditzell & Blue Lightning, Whalebone)

• Choral Group—Kantorei (Bach Chamber Choir, Mendelssohn Club Chorale, River City Sound Chorus, Rock Valley Community Chorale)

• Christian—Anavox (The Assemblymen, Calvary Praise Band, Circle Of Friends, Spirit’s Harmony)

u Classic Rock—Clutch Cargo (Agnus Jackson, Crunchy Frogs, Mr. Big Stuff, Prime Time Live Band)

• Classical Ensemble—Rockford Area Youth Symphony (Kishwaukee Valley Concert Band, Mendelssohn Club Chamber Orchestra, Rockford Chamber Players, Rockford College Music Academy)

• Classical Instrumentalist—Michael Beert (Becky Asher, Greg Sisler, Rachel Handlin, Tom Asher)

• Contemporary Jazz—Dan Voll’s Combo Loco (Dean Moriarty, Matt Ulrey, Mike Williamson & Julian DeLuna, Rick Burns & Harlan Jefferson)

• Country/Bluegrass—Southern Cross (Jinger Chrystal, Route 2, Silver Creek, Slick Nickel)

• DJ—Cody (Billy K, Jes One, Neal Howard, Wylde One)

• Folk/Solo Pop—Miles Nielsen (Bruce Hecht, Mark Willer, Ron Rainwater, Sarah Abramowitz)

• Funk/R&B—Big Daddy Woo Woo's Funk Revival (Free Style, Kenny P., Too Deep, Tres Elliot)

• Gospel—New Royal Travelers (Carl Hanserd & Friends, Christian Jubilee Singers of Beloit, Jerusalem Baptist Church Mass Choir, MLK Unity Choir)

• Hard Rock/Metal—Agent Zero (Budda Nuggs, The Heavils, Left 4 Dead, Man Made Man)

• Jam Band—Orange (Airbag, Cozmic Donkey, Red Super Giant, Skeleton Key)

• Latino—Cardenas III Generacion (El Viento de Guanajuata, Galaxia, Impacto Norteno, Los Autenticos de Zacatecas)

• Lighting Technician—Paul Lindsey (Eric Myles, Josh Weckesser, Lon Hoegberg, Steve Knaack)

• Live Sound Engineer—Chris Mentzel (Howard Hall, Joe Guarino, Jon McDowell, Todd Friemuth)

• Musical Outreach Organization—Rockford Symphony Orchestra (Bach Chamber Choir, Crossroads Blues Society, Mendelssohn Club, Rockford College Music Academy)

• New Act—JusCuz (Gravity Ann, The Mayvilles, The Merkins, One Little Sin, Retroactive, Spinderson, Womansong Chorale)

• New Rock—Harmony Riley (420 Band, Jonathan Kuss & the Corp., The Snaggs, Suite Oblivion)

• Oldies—Class Reunion, Moon Dogs (Common Ground, Simply Fab, Toad Soup)

• Pop/Retro—Robin’ Banks (Band of The Lost, Cammi's NRG, The Edge, U. S. Radio)

• Punk/Ska—Mulligan Stu (The Braves, Egan’s Rats, The Felix Culpa, The Spokesmen)

• Rap/Hip-Hop—Adrian Rivera (Beep, Gangsta Haij, Roc Noizy Records, Yu-Nek)

• Recording Studio—Studio Zoom (Astral Hotel/Snapshot, Crooked Post, Inflight Productions, Jarico)

• Stage Manager—Chip Messiner (Bruce Koeneke, Dale Posey, Elbert Jordan, John Gillenwater)

• Studio Sound Engineer—Jeff “Jeffro” Lackscheide, Jimmy Johnson (Dave Castenada, Dwayne Barker, Jason Jeras)

• Traditional Jazz—Jodi Beach Trio (Bill Doll Jazztet, Gardenia Big Band, Ken Stein’s Little Big Band, Maxine Holler and the Maximillions)

• World Music—The City of Rockford Pipe Band (Casey’s Fancy, Grace Henley, Lily Henley, One Drum)

Other awards, recognitions

• Album of the Year—Orange, Orange

• Community Service—Elbert Jordan

• Composer—James Nolting

• Outstanding Achievement—Ann Nesby, Jimmy “Big Jim” Wright, Brad Wood

• Song of the Year—“Super Glue,” The Merkins

Lifetime Achievement Award winners

• Floyd Murphy—Guitarist Floyd Murphy’s résumé reads like a history of great blues performances. Murphy has performed with the likes of James Cotton, Junior Parker, Rufus Thomas, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Johnny Ace, Willie Nix, Bobby Blue Bland and Roosevelt Sykes. In the early 1950s murphy played on several recorded classics with singer/harmonica player Junior Parker and The Blue Flames for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. Floyd’s skillful guitar playing on Feelin’ Good seems to actually sound like two guitar players. In the 1960s, Murphy recorded the VeeJay Records release of Birdlegs and Pauline’s tune spring, which climbed to No. 18 on the Rhythm and Blues charts. More recently, Murphy has collaborated with his brother Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Geneva Red.

• Matt Murphy—Called “One of the true guitar innovators of American blues” by the Blues Revue, Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s career dates back to 1947 when he played for Howlin’ Wolf. Known as one of the most sought-after session musicians, Murphy performed with Memphis Slim, Chuck Berry, Otis Rush, Sonny Boy Williamson and Etta James. However, Murphy is best known playing himself in The Blues Brothers and The Blues Brothers 2000. In 1989, Murphy received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album for the recording James Cotton with Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Luther Tucker Live. More recently, Murphy has toured with his own band with a repertoire including blues, funk, jazz, R&B, and even a few Blues Brothers tunes.

• Margaret and John Kleber—Margaret and John Kleber have played an unprecedented role in the advancement of quality music in the Rockford area. This dynamic husband and wife team has devoted hours of time, talent and energy for the enrichment of Rockford’s musical culture. Both are former presidents of the Mendelssohn Club, both are performing members of the Mendelssohn Club as pianists, both serve on the Mendelssohn Board: Margaret is the director, and is the chair of the developmental committee. They were awarded the Star of Excellence Award in 1990. Margaret was awarded the 1998 Blanche Ellis Starr Award for the Arts and the 1975-1976 Mary Cheney Clark Award. Outside of the Mendelssohn Club, Margaret teaches Music as Pleasure through Rockford College, serves on the Illinois Arts Council grant review board and teaches piano in her home. John is a past president of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra board, a member of the Rotary Club, and was instrumental in the State Street Bridge beautification project.

RAMI Hall of Fame members

Bare Bones, Bob DeVita, Catfish John, Dave Hedden, Kurt Elling, Men Of Our Times, Moonlight Jazz Orchestra, Tenitra Michelle Williams, The Pimps, Carl Cole, Hedder, and Mike Castronovo.

Beat Merchants, Bruce Hammond, Curt Johnsen, The Hillworms, Pistol Pete, Missing Links, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, The Noise Chamber, Charlotte's Web, True II Society, Randy Sabien, and Dorothy Paige-Turner & The Joel Ross Quartet.

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