Photo | Tad Denson / myshotz.com
Mobile’s 91-year-old Saenger Theatre won the Nappie Award for Best Venue to See Live Music (Non-Bar).
The annual Nappie Awards creates quite a buzz among Mobile Bay area musicians and music enthusiasts alike.
For musicians, winning a Nappie Award provides some local validation for all the hours of hard work promoting their art, both on and off the stage. For fans, this award provides satisfaction for the time and money many have spent supporting local music on a variety of levels. But while many notable musicians might have been finalists, the Nappie Awards can sometimes shift the spotlight to great local acts that might have been obscure to Lagniappe readers.
Without further ado, Lagniappe Weekly presents the winners of the music categories of the 2018 Nappie Awards.
Best Local Band: The Mulligan Brothers
Best Area Singer/Voice: Ross Newell
Mobile’s alt. Americana superstars The Mulligan Brothers take home the Nappie Award for Best Local Band for the second consecutive year. Frontman Ross Newell also snatched the Nappie for Best Area Singer/Voice. This has been a stellar year for this collection of talented, seasoned musicians. The band released its new album, “Songs for the Living & Otherwise,” with a locals-only release party at The Steeple on St. Francis. They are currently on a nationwide tour.
Best New Local Band: Delta Smoke
Featuring Jake Burford (guitar) and Kyle Johnson (harmonica), Delta Smoke’s raw, minimalist country sounds have a tendency to adapt to any environment and/or crowd. Mulligan Brothers drummer Greg DeLuca has welcomed Delta Smoke into his studio, where Burford and Johnson are working on the band’s first full-length album, which will feature 10 original tracks. Burford says winning this award is a justifying experience. “It feels great winning this award, knowing all of our hard work is beginning to show results,” he said. “The support means everything to us, and we endlessly appreciate all the support we’ve gotten.”
Best Country Performer/Band: Sugarcane Jane
Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Crawford says it has been a challenge for him and his wife, Savana Lee Crawford, to keep their downhome sounds fresh, but winning the Nappie means their efforts have been successful. In recent months, Crawford says, the duo has been busy in the studio with tracking for both a new Sugarcane Jane album as well as other projects.
“We just finished our new Sugarcane Jane album, which is pretty much a sequel to ‘Dirt Road’s End,’ co-written with producer/songwriter Buzz Cason and recorded here at our home in Admiral Bean Studio, set to be released this fall,” Crawford said. “We have also been working on Will Kimbrough’s new album, that is going to be awesome! Some other cool projects are with local Melissa Summersell, Sassafras and various other artists from around the country.”
Best Metal/Underground Band: Satan & the Sunbeams
For the past three years, Satan & the Sunbeams have used a pop punk sound with a nod to the genre’s old school to gather its dedicated following. However, the band owes its success this year to something much deeper than its music alone: the venue owners and the fans who have continued to give them the platform and support for their original sounds. Satan & the Sunbeams will return the favor with release of a full-length album, “A Book of Lies,” this winter.
Best Blues Band/Artist: Lisa Mills
For the second consecutive year, this award, having also won in other categories in prior years. Mills is one of the region’s busiest artists. In addition to a live album of previously unreleased songs, she is on the cusp of releasing one of her most ambitious projects — a concept album that takes listeners on a sonic road trip from Memphis to Muscle Shoals. This soulful, Gulf Coast blues diva fills countless hours performing in both the United States and Europe, and is ecstatic that a break in her schedule will allow her to attend the 2018 Nappie Awards Ceremony.
“This will be the first time ever that I’ve been home in the U.S. in time for the awards ceremony,” Mills said. “I am looking forward to finally getting one of those ultra-cool ‘Nappie Winner’ banners to hang on my wall.”
Best Solo Artist: Eric Erdman
No stranger to the Nappie Awards, Eric Erdman has been on the road promoting his release on Baldwin County Public Records, “It’s Not Like You Don’t Know Me,” including a recent appearance on the radio show “Acoustic Café.” Erdman fans can look forward to more material from this locally beloved musician.
“It is no secret that we Mobilians are fortunate to have such a fertile pool of talent in our area,” he said. “So, it’s amazing to me that I’ve been recognized as standing out among such a wealth to choose from.”
Best Drag Queen Performer: Ms. Venus Shante DaVis
Ms. Venus Shante DaVis makes a triumphant return to the Nappie Awards, having been very busy with a variety of projects, including work with a local dinner theater. In this context, she works in a variety of roles ranging from actress to designer. No matter how many times she takes home the Nappie, DaVis says she continues to be “shocked and amazed” to be so honored. “Each year, I strive harder and harder to hopefully get, maintain and represent to the best of my abilities as the title holder ‘Best Drag Queen Performer,’” said DaVis. “This award inspires me to the fullest!”
Best Jazz Musician: Roman Street
Roman Street has used its spicy mélange of acoustic-kindled gypsy jazz and flamenco to collect a zealous fanbase. The group has nothing but love and gratitude for the “wonderful people” that have supported their artistic journey. Fans will be pleased to know Roman Street will soon be releasing new material, giving the masses a preview in August with the release of an upcoming album’s lead single.
Best Hip-Hop Artist: Young Tax Return
Young Tax Return has won the love of the masses with an eclectic verbal flow laid upon unique, austere beats. He will unleash his fresh hip-hop style on the masses July 27 with the release of his DIY studio debut, “Merrythought.” Until then, Young Tax Return will be basking in the glory of his first Nappie Award.
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