RAMIs spectacular!

RAMIs spectacular!

By Frank Schier

By Frank Schier

Editor and Publisher

“This was the biggest and the best RAMIs yet,” said Karen Howard, RAMIs committee member and executive director of Charlotte’s Web. “The highlight for me was giving out $5,000 worth of scholarships to four very deserving high school seniors to continue their education in music. I also thought the City of Rockford Pipe Band’s version of Cheap Trick’s ‘I Want You to Want Me’ was very cool.”

Marching and drumming, The Rockford Pipe Band wailed in to take the stage at the MetroCentre and open the 11th Annual Rockford Area Music Awards last Thursday night.Their Celtic drumming and piping of the Cheap Trick rock tune was indicative of the mix of excellent music heard by a record number of people for the awards ceremony.

More than half of the estimated 1200 people were seated at tables flying large black and white balloons. The crowd was treated to a fast-paced night of awards and music from the City of Rockford Pipe Band; Stars of Tomorrow Amida Asher and Kantorei, The Singing Boys of Rockford; Jerusalem Baptist Young Adult Choir; The Missing Links; Thunderheart; Combo Loco; Ernie “Sugar Lips” Brown; The Heavils & Magnum Opus and Hedder.

Lead singer for the Missing Links and RAMIs committee member Dan Eisman said, “I think we had the largest attendance ever, and we received 5500 ballots!” Last year, 2500 ballots were counted.

Eisman excitedly stressed, “Our intent is to get as many of Rockford musicians on stage as possible in the award show—performing! The Links had Clutch Cargo people, Thunderheart people and individuals like Harlan Jefferson, Skip Clark out of NIU, Jinger Crystal, Shelly Nelson and Beth Ann Beal.

“I want to further encourage people who have ideas for larger-scale musical productions for the show. They should talk to people on the RAMIs committee about it.

Let’s see if we can produce it for next year!” said Eisman.

For the second year in a row, Jim Stone, the afternoon man at WXRX, did a fine job as MC for the evening.

Stone said, “I thought it came off pretty well this year. I can’t believe it finished on time, Hedder went on at 10:40. I know for me personally, I was personally more relaxed. That whole show goes to show the quality and the diversity of musicians in the Rockford area. The highlight for me was the Jerusalem Baptist Young Adult Choir. They were just awesome. I really liked the energy Mangum Opus brought, they were just cool.”

The major event of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Awards, going to Maxine Holler, Bill Pearce and Ernie “Sugar Lips” Brown. The crowd was wild in their appreciation, and the winners caught the vibe.

Brown said, “I was excited. I was just overwhelmed. I really appreciate it. It was great, just great. We should have more shows like that. It’s good for Rockford, and it’s good for the entertainers. It gives the people something to do. Keep these awards rollin’!”

For more on the Lifetime Achievement Award winners, see the box on page 21.

Lynn Bennehoff, an agent and manager for several local and national music groups, said, “I thought the show was great. It was a great night to be a Po’ Boy, actually (She represents Ernie and the Po’ Boys). Seeing we had a bigger crowd than we did last year, the expo was much better than it was last year. It was just a fun night. It was a lot more fun than I had at shows in the past.”

Last year was the first year for the music industry exposition section of the RAMIs, where various groups and businesses involved in the music community could display their wares in the MetroCentre. Being set up and ready for the doors to open, the exhibitors did a fine job before and during the awards ceremony. Their show never stopped—make your reservations for next year now!

Everything from state-of-the-art video production, complete with smoke cloud effects into the crowd, to recording studios, to T-shirt and CD sales, to quiz contests ringed the audience. Music groups that were nominated received free space to exhibit.

Set up for the second year of the RAMIs Expo at these tables were the following folks: Buchanan Investments, Inflight Productions, On The Waterfront, Tommy Gee Music Studio, Studio B Digitial Recording, Joel Guist-Noise Chamber, Jarico Studios; Bands: Acoustic Millennium Band, Agent Zero, Anavox, Area 81, Arlene Masters & The Blues Transit, Athul, Big Daddy Woo Woo’s Funk Revival, Brianna Sky, City Of Rockford Pipe Band, Donald W. Hecox, Dove Load, Ernie & The Po’Boys, Heavils, Kantorei, The Singing Boys Of Rockford, Mark Willer, Mourning Glory, The Rockford Chapter, American Guild Of Organists, Russel C. Trego III, Seed Band, The Sharks, The Silver, Creek, Soul Notes, Suite Oblivion, Toad Soup and the 4:20 Band.

Judging from crowd reaction, other favorites for the evening were the Missing Links revue with three great female lead singers; blazing Dan Voll’s Combo Loco with Lifetime Achievement Winner Johnny Porazzo and Outstanding Achievement Winner Randy Sabien; Ernie & The Po’Boys with Sabien again and the headliner, Hedder.

Karen Elyea, the owner of Minglewood and RAMIs organizer, said, “The interest in the RAMIs has grown, as the attendance and voting numbers show. We are really excited about doing it again next year.”

RAMIs’ fever continued Saturday night at Elixur with WZOK’s Steve Shannon and Stefanie Troye’s 5th anniversary party with The Snaggs, Suite Oblivion, RAMIs-winning Big Daddy Woo Woo’s Funk Revival (Steve Shannon is the drummer) and Harmony Riley. More than 750 people attended, raising $2500. Half of the proceeds will go the DeMarcus Hanson Memorial Fund, and the other half will go to Steve and Stef’s Great Kids’ Scholarship Fund. Another great time and show! If you would like to make donations to either of these funds, you may contact AMCORE Bank at 968-2241.

If you would like to contribute to the RAMIs’ Gary S. Wilmer Memorial Scholarship Fund, please contact the Community Trust of Northern Illinois at 962-2110.

For the complete listing of award winners and all the great folks who made this year’s RAMIs so fine, see pages 21 and 22.

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