16-year-old Kelsey Wild among winners in 16th Annual RAMIs

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117692753430417.jpg’, ‘Photo by Rachel Fisher’, ‘Lifetime Achievement Award winner Cono LaLoggia was unaware of his award upon arrival at the RAMIs. His son, Mike, sprung him from his nursing home and told him they were going out.‘);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117692740030316.jpg’, ‘Photo by Rachel Fisher’, ‘Kelsey Wild (left) performs with Joel De Luna at the 16th Annual Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Awards Ceremony April 12 at Tebala Shrine Temple in Rockford.‘);

Cono LaLoggia honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Last Thursday’s (April 12) Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Awards Ceremony rocked the Tebala Shrine Temple for the fourth year in a row. The show started with a bang and a drone from the City of Rockford Pipe Band, followed by Rockford Idol winner Patrick Barrett. The Rock River Times Editor and Publisher Frank Schier approached the mic dressed like a self-proclaimed “Mister Rogers,” saying, “My limo caught on fire on the way here, so I figured no limo, no tux.”

The performances were outstanding, especially the young Kelsey Wild. This 16-year-old has the stage presence of someone twice her age. Her sound is similar to Jewel, Dido and Anna Nalick. Her voice, along with original writing, won this teen-ager two RAMIs that evening: Composer of the Year and Song of the Year for “Lighting.” Keep your eyes on this talent, everyone. Should she choose, Kelsey Wild could go places.

The Missing Links performed next with Beth Ann Beal, Don Beinborn and The Usual Suspects. If you have not seen The Usual Suspects, make it a point the next night you’re looking for something to do. They won the New Act RAMI against stiff competition. Lead singer Rachel belts out tunes that will knock the back of the room off their feet.

Tres Elliot takes the cake as the only band of the evening to get people up and dancing—not difficult for this amazing funk band. They held up the proceedings getting their equipment set up, but Tres Elliot is always worth the wait. Sweet Vermouth and Bare Bones brought their best as they always do, delighting the crowd with originals and covers.

Latino musicians Los Dragones proved you don’t have to understand the words to enjoy the music, playing all of their songs in their native Spanish. The most unique band of the evening was hands-down The Sensations. From their leisure suits and fiddler to their techno beats, this band seriously entertained, despite being the last act of the evening. They certainly did not lose by performing last.

The evening was a success. It’s a much different event for those who do not belong to the tight-knit group of musicians, but if you’re a fan of music, it’s a great night to check out what Rockford has to offer.

2007 RAMI Award winners

Acoustic Rock—Mike Owens

Blues—Ernie & the Po’ Boys

Cabaret/Broadway—Mike Williamson Trio

Choral Group—Kantorei


Classic Rock—River City Band

Classical Ensemble—Mendelssohn Chorale

Classical Instrumentalist—Katie Schultz

Contemporary Jazz—Rick Burns & Harlan Jefferson

Country/Bluegrass—Southern Heritage

DJ—Steve Shannon

Folk/Solo Pop—Miles Nielsen

Funk/R&B—Too Deep

Gospel—Renee Kent

Hard Rock/Metal—Agnus Jackson


Musical Outreach Organization—Phantom Regiment

New Act—The Usual Suspects

New Rock—x51

Oldies—Moon Dogs

Pop/Retro—Fat Elvis

Punk/Indie Rock—Killer Apathy

Rap/Hip Hop—SplitEndZ

Traditional Jazz—Jodi Beach Trio

World Music—Pipes & Drums of Clan McAlpine

Lighting Technician—Paul Lindsey

Live Sound Engineer—Paul Edler

Recording Studio—Barker Studio

Stage Manager—Chip Messiner

Studio Sound Engineer—Miles Nielsen & Dwayne Barker

Hall of Fame inductees—Big Daddy Woo Woo, Blueshawks, Cardenas III Generacion, City of Rockford Pipe Band, Clutch Cargo, Slick Nickel

Song of the Year—“Lightning,” Kelsey Wild

Composer of the Year—Kelsey Wild

Album of the year—“Flying Down the Backroads,” Chip Messiner

Lifetime Achievement—Cono LaLoggia

The RAMI committee bestowed their Lifetime Achievement Award on Cono LaLoggia. Seventy years ago, Cono received his first accordion. He took lessons for a short while, then took to training himself. Cono formed his first jazz combo group while he was still in high school with members of the jazz orchestra.

Cono arrived in Rockford in 1940, purchasing his first full-size accordion and meeting with Tony Colletti. The two began playing at the Lafayette Hotel, St. Ambrose Club, and St. Elizabeth’s Social Center. Uncle Sam called Cono to service in 1942, and during those years, he taught himself how to play the piano and the clarinet. When he returned to Rockford from his service in 1947, he founded the Eddie Charles Band with Eddie, Mel Myers, Jack Yeoman and Orlando Stevens.

Over the years, Cono has played with or started many different bands. These include Kay Koster Band, The Holy Name Quintet, The Gladtones and LaLoggia’s Leaders. Although in declining health, he continues to play on occasion around the area. Cono was unaware of his award upon arrival at the RAMIs Thursday night. His son, Mike, sprung him from his nursing home and told him they were going out. Arriving at their table, Cono’s family hid the programs from him in hopes of keeping the suspense. The cat out of the bag, Cono commented, “I feel honored, but a bit out of place.”

from the April 18-24, 2007, issue

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