Barry of Barry & The Penetrators kept the night moving as MC through a mixture of live performances and award presentations. Performers included Outside The Box, Janey Todd and the Van Johnsons, Allie Moss, Joe Harvard Band, TWiNE, Gregory Schwartz, The Gay Blades, Readymade Breakup, Sekond Skyn, Last Perfect Thing, Status Green and Turtle Soup. It was one of the best lineups for the awards show in recent memory and all of the sets were tremendous.
There were several surprise winners this year including Upstage Magazine, which took home the Top News Publication award for the first time. In fact, it was the first time anyone other than the Aquarian has won the award since the Asbury Music Awards first started. Gary Wien, the original publisher and founder of Upstage Magazine, accepted the award and then announced that he was leaving the publication after four long years.
In other media news, John Pfeiffer of The Aquarian won Top Journalist in Support of Live Music; AsburyMusic.com won Top Music Website; Jeff Raspe was named Top Radio Personality; and 90.5 "The Night" continued its run as the Top Radio Station.
Christine Martucci Band won Top Local Release for their outstanding CD entitled "I'm All In" while The Chilling Details took home Song Of The Year for "Little Disasters".
A couple of artists continued their hold on their respective categories including April Smith (Top Female Vocalist), Lou Montesano (Top Male Vocalist), Status Green (Top Pop Band and Top Live Performance), The Chilling Details (Top Indie Rock Band), Karmic Juggernaut (Top Young Band), Steve Kalorin of Woodfish (Top Bassist), Matt O'Ree Band (Top Blues Band), and Maybe Pete (Top Jersey Roots Band).
Other award winners included Divine Sign (Top Female Acoustic Act), Anthony Fiumano (Top Male Acoustic Act), Jeremy Korpas of Green Tag Sale (Top Guitarist), Arlan Feiles (Top Keyboard Player), Chris Donofrio of Last Perfect Thing (Top Drummer), Last Perfect Thing (Top Rock Band), Ashes Are Nutritious (Top Heavy Rock Band), Turtle Soup (Top Jam Band and Top Groove Band), Chemtrail (Top Advant Garde Band), Arlan Feiles & The Lone Howdys (Top Americana), Hub City Stompers (Top Punk/Ska Band), and Tina Reed (Poet Laureate).
The James MacDonald Musician's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sonny Kenn, one of the original members of the Jersey Shore rock and roll scene. The award was presented by John MacDonald of the Eryn Shewell Band. John said a few words about how much having the award named after his brother meant to him and his family.
The 2007 Living Legend Award went to Bobby Bandiera who was not in attendence due to being on tour with Bon Jovi. Bandiera is best known as a long-time member of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes but has had a good solo career as well. In the past two years, he has been presenting Jersey Shore all-star revue tribute shows to artists like Roy Orbison and Eric Clapton. The shows have taken place in theatres around the state like the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank and State Theater in New Brunswick.
The winner of the Best Thing to Happen in 2006-2007 was Convention Hall / Paramount Theater being renovations -- a positive sign that Asbury Park is on its way back.
This year's award program guide introduced a new segment called "Beyond Asbury" which is intended to reward artists that have been contributing to the local scene for five years or more or who have taken things to a national level. The original list of artists included were: Nicole Atkins, Juggling Suns, DeSol, The Parlor Mob, Atomic Bitchwax, Val Emmich, Friends of Bill Wilson, The Youth Ahead, Burlap To Cashmere, Steven Delopoulos, Josh Zandman, Matt Witte, Anon, Billy Hector, Barry & The Penetrators, Predator Dub Assassins, Jody Joseph & The Average Joes, Phil Bensen, Rick Barry, Sarah Tomek, Tom Brislin, Frankenstein 3000, Tommy Anton, Jazzlamic Jihad, Ropetree, Kris Oehme, Bobby Strange, Jessie Poland, and Agency.
In addition, "Beyond Asbury" also introduced "Beyond Asbury Legends" which serves as something like a Hall of Fame for the local music scene. Included on this list is Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, John Eddie, Bobby Bandiera, and Glen Burtnik.
There are very few things that bring the entire music scene together but the Asbury Music Awards is one of them. Even with all of the bickering and comments that can border on nastiness that happen each time the nominees are announced, the awards show is still a great night for everyone. The Asbury Music Awards deserve credit for listening to the comments made this year and instituting a set of rules that will be in play for 2008.
To be eligible for an award in 2008, an artist will have to perform a minimum of two shows per month at venues within the area of Toms River and New Brunswick. This includes a minimum of six shows in Asbury Park venues within the awards calendar year (October 1 to September 30).
Artists nominated for five consecutive years will be removed from nomination consideration and will be considered for "Beyond Asbury" status.