A Night of Talent and Awards

By: Matt Mackenzie

If you have not heard of the SAMMYs or what they represent, it is an award show for local musical acts that have made large strides in their musical journey and released exceptional works that deserve recognition. Held at the Palace Theater in Syracuse, NY, dozens of artists gathered under one roof to see if they would be the one to take home the award for the best in their genre. Hosted by Dave Frisina, a lifetime achievement award winner for his work with Syracuse radio and his constant support of local music, and headlined by bands throughout the night such as DOVE, The Merry Pranksters, and Count Blastula.

With hundreds of submissions for the collective 15 categories coming in, each category was narrowed down to the top five best for the major genres like Hip Hop/Rap, Pop, Rock, and Indie, along with top two or three for wide groupings such as country and electronica. All nominees filled the theater waiting for the moment their name would be called. Even if you were not the winner, it was constantly mentioned that being nominated meant you were a front runner and should be proud for all that you had accomplished up to that point.

As the winners for the genres we called, there were uproars of their name being called, collective cheering and shouting in joy. It seems that the largest amount of cheering occurred while the Hip Hop/ Rap nominees Sophistafunk, Supa Satty, Seth Dollar, Wigs, and Steve Cook were listed. Of these five Sophistafunk came out on top with the album Real Vibration and won the Hip Hop/Rap SAMMY. Jack Brown of Sophistafunk stated upon accepting their award “I would like to thank God and Dave Frisina… oh wait, they’re the same thing. Just kidding, we know God is a woman.”

Per every award show there is usually one winner who steals the night with how many awards they can win. That night the individual guilty of this was Sera Bullis. Sera Bullis, age 15, was nominated in the Pop category alongside BEA, Ben Mauro, All Poets and Heroes and Nate. Nominated with her EP The Road to Marcellus, it holds an incredibly strong and passionate voice with a determined energy. Later in the night the Brian Bourke for Best New Artist was given to Bullis and she deserves it entirely. On Friday, March 16th there will be a record release party in Bullis’ name at the Funk n’ Waffles Syracuse location.

Other winners through the night are as followed:

Best Alternative: The Action! “5

Best Americana: Austin Macrae “Keeper

Best Blues: Bad Mama’s Blues Band “There Goes the Rent

Best County: Floodwood “Till I Die

Best Electronica: Mazedude “American Pixels

Best Hard Rock: Between Hope and Fear “With the Water

Best Jam Band: Barroom Philosophers “Barroom Philosophers

Best Jazz: E.S.P “Zero Gravity

Best Other Style: Leo Crandall “The Art of Swimming

Best Rock: Flashcubes “Forever

Best R&B: Diana Jacobs Band “Good Metticine

Best Singer/Songwriter: Amanda Rogers “Heavy Blue

To end the night, three people’s choice awards were handed out to the favorite band, the favorite venue to see live music, and the favorite festival or music series. For the favorite band, a group called Infinity was given this honor. Infinity is a 70’s and 80’s cover band lead by Rick “Rocks’ Wilson for vocals. As for favorite venue to see live music, Wildcat Pizza Pub of 3680 Milton Ave, Camillus, NY, was given this title. Upon their acceptance they talked about how we all need to do our part to support local music by attending their shows and talking about them. For the final award, the favorite festival or music series award was given to the famous Taste of Syracuse. If you do not know what this is, dozens of restaurants and vendors come together around Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse to give their food out at low prices while the customer can also sit down at a few venue locations and listen to music while they eat. It is a free event to attend.

Dave Frisina closed out with one last talk on supporting local music and trust me, with what I heard throughout the days leading up to the SAMMY Awards I will most definitely be going to tons of shows when the summer rolls around.

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Under Atoms’ New EP Takes Influences From the Likes of Tori Amos

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By Ashley Gallagher

Under Atoms is a band from the New England area, so it seems fitting to give them a review with the Super Bowl right around the corner. They are categorized as Alternative Rock, which is evident as soon as you listen to them. They note their influences as artists like Tori Amos and Porcupine Tree. They pulled from Porcupine Tree’s ability to mellow out the rock genre, but kept the influence from Tori Amos as a way to keep 90’s rock in their sound. I would also note the similarities between them and Flyleaf. The lead singer, Heather Taskovics’s, vocals are very similar to those of Lacey Mosley. Their newest EP is called “105 Grams” with just three songs on it, but I feel that these songs give you what the basis of the band is about.

In the first song, “DJ,” it starts with a guitar riff and soft, almost haunting, vocals. As the song goes on, Heather Taskovic’s voice begin to become more powerful as the guitar and drum parts begin to pick up and the rock influence becomes more evident. Though the only thing I feel could be a little different was the fact that the song kept repeating the same sentence over and over again, it became very boring around the halfway point.

“Halogen” is the next song on the album is heavily dependent on guitar. There are ad-lib words and a very prominent lead guitar, but overall it was an easy listen. Unlike the first, this didn’t seem to drag out at much and the vocals came in at the beginning, stopped, and then again, but more powerful later on.

The third and final song, “Demon Wave” was probably my favorite song on the album. The guitars are clean and the drumbeat isn’t overwhelming. This one lyrically and musically stood out the most to me. I saw clear influences from Tori Amos, but also sounds of Flyleaf. The back and forth between female vocal and male slightly reminded me of something you could possibly see on an Evanescence song, but not as powerful as Amy Lee’s vocals. This song was the longest on the album, but it was very lively and kept moving forward instead of dragging behind, so it didn’t feel as long. It felt very entertaining.

All in all, I felt these were a really good three songs and I think that if you like female fronted bands and rock, it is worth a listen.

The Front Bottoms Return To New Jersey

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By Ashley Gallagher

The Front Bottoms - Champagne Jame 2017 (9).jpgI remember being in the middle of Costco on December 16th with my little brother. I cannot even remember what I was looking for or what I was doing, but I remember getting an email saying that I got approved for press passes for Champagne Jam 2017. Champagne Jam is a mini festival in Asbury Park, where The Front Bottoms The Front Bottoms - Champagne Jame 2017 (25).jpgThe Front Bottoms - Champagne Jame 2017 (35).jpgheadline. Asbury Park is where I primarily go to concerts, so it was not new territory for me. What was new territory was concert photography (or should I say, real concert photography.) Needless to say I did not want to mess this up. Not only was it for my first show, but it was for The Front Bottoms. If you are unaware of The Front Bottoms, they are huge in college radio and the alternative/indie scene. They remind me of Modern Baseball, but The Front Bottoms are from New Jersey, so if nothing else, it was going to be a huge hometown show.
The Front Bottoms - Champagne Jame 2017 (21).jpgThere was a lineup of ten bands spread out on two stages. They had smaller bands(Strange Eclipse’ Weakend Friends; The Big Easy; Slaughter Beach, Dog; Delicate Steve) on the Arcade Stage while the bigger names (American Trappist, White Reaper, The Districts, AJJ, and last but not least, The Front Bottoms) were on the main stage. I noticed a trend of bands that had unique sounds, but none felt very out of place when comparing to the headliner. Weakend Friends were very laid back and chill. They were the embodiment of what you think of when you think of indie music. AJJ and The Districts were more similar to The Front Bottoms in that they had a better stage presence than the smaller bands and wittier, more descriptive lyrics.

The Front Bottoms came out and played all of their most famous songs, and some of the less popular, like Au Revior and The Beers. They came out with their festive The Front Bottoms - Champagne Jame 2017 (30).jpg
Christmas Sweaters and a bottle of Champagne for each member. They also brought a couple on stage and they got to enjoy the concert for the stage on a couch, which I thought was inventive and cool. As for the crowd itself, everyone was really carefree and having a good time. People were dancing in the aisles, on the stairs, and enjoying really good music. Overall, it was my favorite concert over break.