Left: Roman Street
Photo | Courtesy Roman Street
Right: Stan Foster
Photo | Courtesy Stan Foster
Over the past six months, musicians have been returning to local stages around the region. The music scene is starting to return to normal and locals could not be happier. Compared to last year, the Nappie Awards are returning to its version of normalcy as well. Locals have spent months nominating their favorite bands and musicians in the Azalea City music scene. Now, Lagniappe is ready to reveal the people’s choices for what they consider the best of the best in Mobile’s musical world.
The Red Clay Strays return to the Nappie Awards as the Best Local Band. This group’s mix of traditional country and Southern rock sounds has earned them a following in Mobile and beyond. Last year, the pandemic forced the band into a career limbo. When Lagniappe caught up with them, they had just finished a two-week run of Texas with Tennessee and Michigan next on the agenda. According to guitarist Drew Nix, the band’s third Nappie win is a sign the band must push forward.
“We’ve been hitting the road a lot since restrictions have eased up,” Nix said. “We’ve done two weeks in Texas, some East Coast action and a Nashville show just to drive up to Michigan the next day, and it’s looking to get even busier. We’re writing new music pretty consistently and liking what we’re doing more and more.”
Mobile has maintained a great appreciation for cover bands. However, one band has emerged as the readers’ favorite for their rendition of crowd favorites. For over a decade, Fat Lincoln has packed local venues from downtown to West Mobile. The group’s song selections and stage presence have made them unforgettable to locals. The 2021 Nappie Awards welcomes Fat Lincoln back to the music categories as they take home Best Local Cover Band. Those who have not experienced Fat Lincoln can catch them at Dority’s on Dauphin Island on Saturday, July 24 at 7 p.m.
COVID-19 did not affect the local country scene. At the turn of the millennium, this local music facet was veritably nonexistent. Now, more and more country acts are popping up. Winning the Nappie for Best Country Band/Performer has become more of a challenge than in the past. This year, Brandon Blackburn wins this coveted award. Blackburn has been spending his time beachside with numerous shows along the Alabama coast. From the Flora-Bama to Tacky Jack’s, Blackburn’s smooth, country tenor vocals and warm acoustic can be heard all along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” Blackburn said of winning the award. “It doesn’t seem real. I’m forever grateful to get to do what I love every day and to have my peers honor me with this award means more than you could ever know. I’d like to send a thank you to all those that took time out of their day to vote for me. I’d also like to thank my friends, family, and incredible girlfriend for their constant love and support.”
Pulling inspiration from bands such as the Deftones and Chevelle, Love the Hate’s mainstream metal has made them the people’s pick for Best Metal Band. Love the Hate has been busy promoting their latest single, “Solid Ground.” Since its release, “Solid Ground” has received more than 20,000 views on YouTube and has made it into the number 40 spot on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. This band’s continued momentum predicts a steady climb in this band’s popularity in the Azalea City and beyond.
In the dusk of the pandemic, Mobile’s blues scene is alive and well. This year, the Nappie Awards welcomes a new band to its list of winners. With its edgy progressive blues rock, readers have chosen Johnny No as Best Blues Band/Artist. Johnny No has been steadily releasing tracks for its upcoming fourth studio release. So far, the band has released the tracks “XX” and “Daddy Rabbit.” While the full album’s release date is still unknown, the band feels fortunate and grateful to finally win a Nappie Award.
“We’re always nominated but never expect to win with all the great blues bands around here,” Johnny No’s lead vocalist, The Rev, said. “We have an overabundance of appreciation for all the local fans and venues who have put up with us over the past 10 years and embraced our original music.”
Each year, a number of local brass bands help to generate good times at Mardi Gras and other public events. The Excelsior Brass Band wins this year’s Nappie Award for Best Brass Band. This collective of brass-aholics has spent over a century spreading their festive sounds amongst the masses. From performing at Mardi Gras and civic events, the Excelsior Band is truly an iconic Azalea City institution that will surpass time.
Once again, the Nappie for Best Jazz Musician goes to the gypsy jazz outfit Roman Street. Fronted by brothers Josh and Noah Thompson, Roman Street has spent years mesmerizing audiences with the duo’s exotic sounds. Currently, Roman Street is performing in support of their two most recent releases, “Balcony of the World” and “Quarantine Jams,” the latter of which was recorded during the pandemic. As far as winning a Nappie, Josh said Roman Street is grateful for the love demonstrated by Lagniappe readers.
“We feel honored and blessed to win the Nappie,” Josh said. “We are very fortunate to live in an area that is so supportive of the arts and can’t thank everyone enough for voting for us.”
The winner of the 2021 Nappie Award for Best Hip-Hop Artist goes to a female verbal assassin who is helping add to the worldwide reputation of the Azalea City hip-hop scene. From her early years with the Pink Mafia to a BET Hip Hop Award nomination for Best New Artist, Flo Milli has established herself as one of the rap world’s premier artists. During the first weekend in September, Flo Milli will travel to Manchester, Tenn., to be a part of the Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival.
Mobile’s drag scene is the strongest it has ever been. Keep the amount of competition in mind, winning Best Drag Queen Performer is quite an honor. The beautiful and talented Venus Shante Da Vis is “excited” to once again attend the Nappie Awards and receive her crown. Da Vis can be seen performing at B-Bob’s and she will also be performing at Breakfast at the Admiral Hotel on Saturday, August 28. In addition to sumptuous breakfast delights, attendees will be entertained by delightful drag performers giving their all.
Best DJ (Mixin’, Mashin’ Up Kind) goes to DJ Blayze. This longtime turntablist works his art on WBLX 92.9 FM. Each day, DJ Blayze brings the people of Mobile the best tracks in R&B and hip-hop on his show “The Mid-Day Blayze.” If DJ Blayze is in the house, the party will follow. DJ Blayze has also made his presence known as a live music producer. His recent All-Star Concert featured Big Greg & LA Truth, X-Havoc, Meego Diagotti, Bond James Hard and Pikkihead Militia.
The Nappie for Best Area Singer/Voice goes to Kristy Lee. Lee’s soulful vocals have won over fans across the nation. Recently, Lee traveled to Colorado to perform alongside G. Love & Special Sauce at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Otherwise, Lee has been touring and winning over new fans with each performance. Lee said winning the Nappie serves as nothing but encouragement to move forward with her music career.
“Winning a Nappie helps remind me to continue,” Lee said.
Beloved Callaghan’s regulars Phil & Foster appear separately on the Nappie winners list. Phil Proctor snags another Nappie for Best Area Guitar Player and Foster wins the Nappie for Best Area Bassist. For Foster, winning a Nappie is an exhilarating experience but he recognizes the tons of bass talent Mobile has to offer. As far as Phil & Foster go, their fans can expect some newly recorded material soon as well as an album from Foster.
“Currently, I’m working on an all-original album of new tunes co-written with my buddy Phil Proctor,” Foster said. “Phil & Foster live tracks from Callaghan’s are in the plans as well.”
Lagniappe readers chose one of the most recognizable musicians in Mobile for Best Area Drummer. Whether going solo or with his former band, Bombadak, Chico McCollum is an Azalea City musical experience. Rarely does a Mardi Gras parade pass without McCollum laying down beats for the crowd and pointing out fans along the way. McCollum feels “awesome” about the recognition that has earned him this Nappie Award. Those who have attended his recent shows have even witnessed McCollum “breaking down barriers” with his latest percussive innovation.
“It’s not a drum solo,” McCollum explained. “It’s a drummer who plays solo. I use audio, video backing tracks and cover a wide range of music. Bring your dancing shoes and a friend or three.”
This year’s winner of Best Area Piano Player/Keyboardist is someone whose departure still resonates throughout the local scene. Last year, Azalea City musicians were devastated by the passing of Jacob Hall. Lending his talents for bands ranging from the John Hall Trio to Paw Paw’s Medicine Cabinet, Hall’s work on the keyboard and his enduring, loveable personality left a lasting impression on all those he met. It is safe to say many local musicians still cannot believe Hall will not be rolling his keyboard through the door for an impromptu live collaboration.
Even though music outlets fell silent for lockdown, these businesses left an impression that earned them a spot on the Nappie winners list. Lagniappe readers chose Callaghan’s Irish Social Club as Best Club to See Live Music. Blue Gill Restaurant wins the Nappie for Best Outdoor Bar to See Live Music. The Best Venue to See Live Music (Non-Bar) goes to the Saenger Theatre. Readers chose Dauphin Street Sound as Best Local Recording Studio. Andy’s Music takes home the Nappie Award for Best Music Store. Finally, Mobile Records kept vinyl enthusiasts happy over the past year, which earns them the Nappie Award for Best Record Store.
With the denizens of the Azalea City currently venturing out in droves, next year’s Nappie Awards could be interesting. Many artists wisely used their time in lockdown. Hopefully, Mobile will be seeing new albums, new bands and new sounds that will pique ears. Considering the statements from the current winners, new music is definitely about to echo through the streets of Mobile. All the while, both seasoned veterans and newcomers to the local scene must keep in mind the Nappies Awards are people’s choice-style awards — the only way to win is to provide music to the masses.
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