24th annual MusicRow Award winners
Breakthrough Songwriters: Johnny Bulford and Phil Barton
Producer of the Year: Frank Liddell
Breakthrough Artist: Eli Young Band
Song of the Year: “You and Tequila,” by Matraca Berg and Deana Carter, published by UMPG and Warner/Chappell
Top 10 Album All Star Musician Awards
Vocals: Perry Coleman
Keys: (tie) Charles Judge and Gordon Mote
Guitar: Ilya Toshinsky
Steel: Paul Franklin
Bass: Jimmie Lee Sloas
Fiddle: (tie) Larry Franklin and Aubrey Haynie
Drums: Shannon Forrest
Engineer: Justin Niebank
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All photos by Caitlin Rantala. And a thank-you to BMI for hosting.
Nothing can compare to the feelings that come when you receive applause from your community, your peers.
The winners of the reader-voted 2012 MusicRow awards all expressed deep gratitude at being recognized by their colleagues. The magazine’s 24th annual presentation of its accolades took place at BMI on Wednesday (6/20).
Producer of the Year winner Frank Liddell said he didn’t feel worthy because, “I look around this room and see musicians and artists and songwriters who I work with who are so great.”
Jon Jones of the Breakthrough Artist award winning Eli Young Band said, “This is one room that understands how many people it takes to get something on the radio.” Added his band mate Mike Eli, “There are a lot of people all over this country who are dreaming of being in this room….Thank you, MusicRow magazine. Thank you, everybody.” Both made the trip from their home in Texas to express their appreciation.
Breakthrough Songwriter winner Phil Barton exclaimed, “I’m just super happy right now. Thank you, Nashville!” He and fellow winner Johnny Bulford were saluted for “A Woman Like You,” the Lee Brice smash they co-wrote with Jon Stone. It was the first No. 1 hit for all three writers, as well as for Brice.
“This really means a lot,” began Song of the Year winner Matraca Berg. “I wish [co-writer] Deana Carter was here, because we held hands really tightly throughout all the awards shows where we lost. Being voted on by your peers is a real honor.” Their winning song was “You and Tequila,” recorded by Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter.
“I understand that you’re singing tonight,” I remarked to Jeff Hanna before the gig. “I guess you’ll be Kenny for Matraca.” Jeff replied, “Actually, I think I’m Grace to her Kenny.” Matraca did, indeed, sing lead on their awesome, husband-wife performance of “You and Tequila,” with Jeff adding deft guitar work and a harmony vocal. Barton and Bulford also sang their winning song, with the latter’s voice being particularly expressive on “A Woman Like You.”
The magazine’s Musician Awards are based on the number of top-10 albums that each performed on. Charles Judge (keyboards), Ilya Toshinski (guitar) and first-time winner Perry Coleman (background vocals) were delighted to accept. They, too, expressed appreciation for this remarkable community. Toshinski said it best: “I just want to thank this wonderful town.”
Other Musician winners included Paul Franklin (steel), Gordon Mote (keyboards, a tie), Shannon Forrest (drums), Justin Niebank (engineer), Jimmie Lee Sloas (bass), Larry Franklin (fiddle) and Aubrey Haynie (also fiddle, a tie).
Clay Bradley greeted the gathered throng by acknowledging the recent passing of BMI matriarch Frances Preston. “She taught all of us that the greatest assets we have in this town are our creators,” said Clay. He directed the crowd’s attention to the magazine’s current cover subject, Nashville hip-hop artist Chancellor Warhol. Warhol was there to shine a spotlight on a new program called BMI Live, which distributes money to its creators based on live performances at smaller venues.
“We’re all here for the same reason—we’re passionate about music,” said MusicRow host Sherod Robertson. Underscoring the theme of the reception, he added, “These awards are decided by you, the Nashville music community.” He and the magazine’s Jon Freeman and Sarah Skates presented the honors.
This year’s crowd was bigger than ever. In past years, attendees have seemed to be more interested in babbling with one another than in celebrating any honorees. But this year was different—the crowd was much quieter and more respectful. So kudos to you, Music Row mavens.
That would include Dan Hill, Dan Keen, Dean Unkefer, Dale Bobo, David & Susana Ross, Isabel Ross, John Briggs, Janie West, Jimmy Harnen, Jeff Silbar and singer-songwriters such as Trent Summar, Marcus Hummon, Leah Seawright, Richard Fagan and new Warner Bros. Records signee Charlie Worsham.
Attendee Julie Daniels is firing up a new publishing company. Don Cusic is launching Plowboy Records. Tim McFadden is the new VP of Promotion at Tenacity. And then there are the always newsworthy Arthur Buenahora, Randall Himes, Ben Vaughn, Susan Collier, Sherrill Blackman, Steve O’Brien, Mike Milom, Mike Martinovich, Tony Conway, Billy Block, Cyndi Forman, Alicia Pruitt, Pat Higdon, Kerry Hansen, Kent Earls and Earle Simmons.
For your attendance and your attention, we thank you.