Surprise guests a big hit at Magic City Music Awards

In an awards show packed with youthful energy and frenetic performances, the hit of the night at the 17th annual Magic City Music Awards on Sunday might have been Norrine “The Outlaw Queen” Linderman, who’s been performing in the Billings area since the late 1940s.

Linderman, winner of last year’s Freeman Lacy Award, created to recognize musicians with a long history of contributing to the Billings music scene, was just well enough to pick up her award last year, but too ill to sing.

She made up for it this year, taking the stage at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co.’s Garage Pub with a borrowed guitar to belt out four cowboy-swing tunes with a commanding panache. Awards show organizer Scot Ninnemann actually signaled for Linderman to cut off her cameo at three songs, and Linderman acknowledged the signal. After the third song, though, in her irresistible way, she told the audience she just had to do a yodel.

And yodel she did, in a four-part finale to “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” in which she yodeled each of the four parts in a progressively higher register. Her voice cracked a tiny bit in the last part, but it was a remarkable performance nonetheless. Young rockers who might have been hearing their first yodeler could only shake their heads in awe.

This year’s Freeman Lacy Award winner was Scott Wagers, a tireless fan of live music and a photographer who has taken thousands of photos of bands, solo performers, venues and audiences.

Wagers was out of town Sunday, but Ninnemann, a musician himself, hailed Wagers because “he not only makes us look amazing, with his photos he makes us feel appreciated.” He said Wagers was also invited to be on the organizing committee of this year’s awards, because he is “such a genuine fan of local music, like nobody else I know.”

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The big winner at the 17th annual awards was the band Alder Lights, which won four first-palce awards — for best video, best original song, alternative or indie act of the year and best show of the year. Lead singer Jake Goldberg was also voted male vocalist of the year.

Goldberg said the band has been together for four years, playing their brand of alternative rock whenever they get the chance.

“We all work full time, so every weekend we drive as far as we can” to play music, he said. The band, which is working on its second record, has also launched a social media campaign to be the opening act for the Foo Fighters, scheduled to play at the MetraPark arena in December.

You can watch the band’s heartfelt appeal on the Alder Lights Facebook page. Goldberg said they have been told that their video made its way to the band, but whether it has been watched or whether they really have a chance to open for Foo Fighters is something he doesn’t know.

Not that he’s worrying about it.

“Whether or not we open for them, it’s going to be a killer show,” Goldberg said. “We’re all going to be there.”

Aside from all the awards that went to Alder Lights, voting was unusually spread out this year among the many nominated acts. No act won three awards and only two captured a pair of them: Wes Urbaniak was named best sound engineer and best stringed instrument musician, and The High Country String Band got the best new-band award and the award for the best Americana, folk or bluegrass band.

Prelseys

Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

The Dead Presleys, seen here from the back of the Garage Pub stage, won third place in the album-of-the-year category.

In addition, Yellowstoned was named the best hip hop or rap act, and band member Drew Mullins was voted songwriter of the year.

Ninnemann said more than 2,200 people cast ballots this year, considerably more than the 1,300 votes cast last year, which was then a record in the five years since voting online was introduced.

The emcee for the awards show was Art Hooker, longtime host of the “Blue Light Boogie” show on Yellowstone Public Radio and also the emcee for Magic City Blues. Tyler Cook ran the sound for the awards show and Rocky Mountain College lent the organizers a projector used for a slideshow and video excerpts.

Ninnemann organized the show with George Moncure, owner of the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co., and David Crisp, formerly the editor and publisher of The Billings Outpost. That newspaper originated and for many years sponsored the music awards, originally known as the Tuneys.

When Crisp folded the Outpost in 2015 and joined Last Best News, this online newspaper took over sponsorship of the awards.

In addition to Linderman, there was another cameo appearance Sunday night. After Wagers’ award was announced, Hooker told the crowd there was a special performance on tap. It was Checkpointe, a barbershop quartet that performed on the floor in the back of the garage, then took to the stage for an encore.

The music might have been as alien to some of the young musicians as Linderman’s yodeling, but Counterpointe was rewarded with raucous cheers and clapping.

Other performers were Song Dog Serenade, Troy Owens, Brian Zoller and Jodie Johnston, Not Your Boyfriend’s Band, the Dead Presleys and In Rapture.

About 200 people paid the $7 cover Sunday night, with proceeds covering the cost of the awards and providing youth scholarships for Amp Camp, a summertime rhythm section workshop organized by several local musicians.

Here is a complete list of 2017 award winners:

Music Venue: Third place, The Railyard; second place, Yellowstone Valley Brewing “Garage Pub”; Winner, The Pub Station.

Radio DJ: Third place, Kaitlyn Stryjewski, 97.1 KISS FM; second place, McLovin (Justin Hutchinson), Hot 101.9; Winner, Big J (Jason Harris), Hot 101.9.

Club DJ/EDM Artist: Third place, Beautiful Existence (Chris Lutton); second place, Ryan Hayes; Winner, DJ Benefit.

Spoken Word Artist: Third place, A.J. Williams; second place, Anna Paige; Winner, Molly Ouellette.

Jazz Act: Third place, Rimrock Hot Club; second place, Magic City Jazz Society; Winner, Alex Nauman Organ Trio.

Classic Rock Act: Third place, The 7th Avenue Band; second place, Downtime; Winner, Midlife Chryslers.

Horn Musician: Third place, Parker Sappington; second place, Kevin McBride; Winner, John Roberts.

Stringed Instrument Musician: Third place: Lindsey Jacobsen; second place,  Trevor Krieger; winner, Wes Urbaniak.

Best Video: Third place, Dead Presleys, “Sirens”; second place, Stranded By Choice, “The Voice that Only I Hear”; Winner, Alder Lights, “Highwire.”

American, Folk or Bluegrass: Third place: The Peach Pickers; second place, Reid Perry; Winner, The High Country String Band.

Metal Act: Third place, In Rapture; second place, Stranded By Choice; Winner, Righteous Vendetta.

Bass Musician: Third place, Riley Haynie; second place, Kaleb Barkac; Winner, Parker Brown.

Keyboard Musician: Third place, Becky Buck; second place, Jake Goldberg; Winner, Erik Olson.

Songwriter: Third place, Jake Goldberg; second place, Cory Leone Johnson; Winner, Drew Mullins.

Freeman Lacey Award: Scott Wagers

Sound Engineer: Third place, Kyle McClain; second place, Reid Perry; Winner, Wes Urbaniak.

Country Act: Third place, Exit 53; second place, 100 Proof; Winner, Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers.

Blues, Soul, R&B or Funk: Third place, The Brickhouse Band; second place, Funk in the Trunk; Winner, Hubba Hubba.

Solo Performer: Third place, Parker Brown; second place, Jessica Lechner; Winner, Chez.

Drums or Percussion Musician: Third place, Ty Sutton; second place, Bart Barkac; Winner, Zack Goggins.

Guitarist: Tied for second place, Justin Olmstead and Dallas Contrarez; Winner, Alex Nauman.

Original Song: Third place, Denise Sterhan, “Hurricane”; second place, Stranded By Choice, “The Voice That Only I Hear”; Winner, Alder Lights, “Creatures.”

Alternative or Indie Act: Third place, Not Your Boyfriend’s Band; second place: Parker Brown and the Bleeding Hearts; Winner, Alder Lights.

Punk Act: Third place, Snow Bored; second place, No Cigar; Winner, Silverbow Society.

Hip Hop or Rap Act: Third place, Supaman; second place, Chez; Winner, Yellowstoned.

Female Vocalist: Third place, Mandie Castro; second place, Lyric Horton; Winner, Jessica Lechner.

Male Vocalist: Tied for second place: Drew Mullins and Cory Leone Johnson; Winner, Jake Goldberg.

New Band: Third place, Tanglewood; second place, The Photoshoplifters; Winner, The High Country String Band.

Best Album: Third place, Dead Presleys, “Muses”; second place, Silverbow Society, “The Giant Benevolent Lizard”; Winner, Righteous Vendetta, “Cursed.”

Best Show: Third place, Yellowstoned, 4-20 at Yellowstone Valley Brewing; second place, The Clintons, Alder Lights and Josephine Sunrise, March 31 at the Pub Station; Winner, Alder Lights, Aug. 18 at the Pub Station.

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