WYCE Jammie Awards celebrate diverse music styles

Photo+by+Jon+Gorter

Photo by Jon Gorter

WYCE-FM, a Grand Rapids-based independent community radio station, hosted its 16th annual Jammie Awards last Friday, honoring local bands and West Michigan musicians with awards for best album and ‘best artist of the year’ in every genre. Greensky Bluegrass took home the esteemed album of the year award for “If Sorrows Could Swim.” “Song of the year was awarded to local group The Soil & the Sun for “Are You?” and best album by a new artist went to The Accidentals, an up-and-coming folk group based out of Traverse City, for their album “Bittersweet.”

Despite blizzard-like conditions, over 1,500 people convened downtown Grand Rapids at The Intersection, a popular music venue, to hear the award announcements and participate in the evening-long celebration. Over the course of the evening, more than 20 award-winning or nominated artists performed, either on the main stage in the back or the front lounge, referred to as The Stache.

The evening acts represented a diversity of West Michigan music, with performances from popular Kalamazoo hip-hop group Maraj, energetic folk duo Billy Strings and Don Julin and indie rock group Ghost Heart. Equally as eclectic were the fans of all ages and backgrounds that enjoyed the music together, some by dancing, some by drinking craft beers and talking in the back and others by simply listening.

The event’s vibe is a casual one; every year guests are invited to attend the evening in their pajamas and receive a free album from WYCE’s collection.  Admission is free, but guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or an article of gently-used clothing to donate.

Many Grand Rapids musicians recognized at the Jammies are popular nationally as well as locally and tour across the country. Last December, the Kalamazoo-based progressive folk-rock group Greensky Bluegrass was recognized by The Detroit Free Press as having “reached a substantial level of national acclaim for its frenetic, intricately woven Americana and bluegrass jams,” and according to The Rolling Stone, “They are representing the genre for a whole new generation [of folk music].”

Calvin’s own Jenny LaJoye won the award for ‘listener’s choice album of the year’ with her latest “We’ve Been That Way Before.”

“I was really surprised – I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said LaJoye in response to receiving her award.  Set apart by her acoustic folk sound, vibrant vocals, and thoughtful lyrics, she plans to continue writing music and performing in Grand Rapids venues.

“Grand Rapids is a great place to be if you’re a starting artist,” said LaJoye, “there’s a place for everyone here.”

To stay up-to-date on concert information and show dates of local artists like The Soil & The Sun, Jenny LaJoye, Greensky Bluegrassand many more, tune in to 88.1 FM, WYCE.