Forget the VMA’s. Forget the Billboard Music Awards. Forget the Grammys. NEPA is set to launch its own music award ceremony — and it’s the best thing to happen to the local music scene. Like, ever.
The Electric City Music Conference will hit Scranton like a wrecking ball, minus any overtly sexual former Disney star with a desperate need for attention attached to it, with a city-wide music festival October 10-12. The weekend-long event will kick off Friday, October 10 when the first annual Steamtown Music Awards will show honor to the region’s best music.
The ceremony will recognize musical acts in more than 20 categories, include live performances and even feature a “red carpet” with exclusive interviews as nominees arrive.
Nominees were announced via social media Monday, Aug. 4, making local music acts feel the love and start a nine-week race to campaign for votes (which can be cast at electriccitymusicconference.com). Weekender will provide you with a personal look at the different nominees in each category up until the event. Check out Weekender each week for the interviews.
Among the nominees were the usual suspects of bands and solo acts. However, it was the electronic acts that really made waves when the nominations were revealed.
DJ/Electronic Act of the Year
Nominated for DJ/Electronic Act of the Year were Hypnotik Infekted Bloodline, Wizza Phase Springs Eternal, DJ Tonez, DJ Woogie and DJ Hersh.
“Being nominated is an honor,” said DJ Hersh of Wilkes-Barre. “It means that someone somewhere with a keen understanding of music, DJs and the local scene has recognized what I have been doing.”
Hersh, voted Best DJ at the 2014 Weekender Reader’s Choice Awards, is looking forward to seeing “lots of beautiful people and talented artists” come the day of the awards.
“There are so many talented artists in our area, but not a lot get a chance to be recognized or saluted for their hard work and contributions to music,” Hersh said on the importance of an award show praising the NEPA music scene.
Meanwhile, the Best New Artist category is “really interesting” according to event organizer Joe Caviston, a native of Carbondale. The category was an unexpected addition made only the night before the nominations were announced.
“We thought it would be a cool category to add in because the nominees are newer acts that are doing great things,” Caviston said of the only category that wasn’t selected by public votes. “The nominees include local legends in new projects and some insane talent that literally came out of nowhere.”
Best New Artist
Four bands are nominated in the category of Best New Artist: Black Tie Stereo, Gentlemen East, Without a Martyr and Esta Coda.
“These kids have the look, the production quality and an amazing team behind them,” Caviston said of Black Tie Stereo, a pop/rock band that has local music legend Carl Canedy mentoring them.
Speaking of local legends, rock band nominees Gentlemen East feature members of The Badlees and Breaking Benjamin, two of the biggest bands to ever come out of our area.
Proving a diverse category, Caviston described Without a Martyr as a band “following in the footsteps of bands like Motionless in White” that are “making NEPA hard medal proud.”
While Caviston admits that he fears when local bands start side projects for a fear of spreading themselves too thin, it’s impossible for the fourth band nomination in the Best New Artist category, Esta Coda. The indie rock group features Dan Rosler of A Fire with Friends.
“These guys are amazing,” Caviston said. “I could listen to Esta Coda’s new album on repeat every day. They remind of Jimmy Eat World and I love Jimmy Eat World.”
As for the fifth nominee, Ryan Kenton turned heads by being the only DJ nominated in the category.
“This kid is gigging out nonstop,” Caviston said. “Ryan is everywhere.”
The 21-year old DJ of Dallas certainly is all over the place. Last week NEPA woke up with him when he was featured in Ryan Leckey’s WNEP-TV morning show segment while this week he will be competing in Kildare’s Battle of the DJs.
“I couldn’t have been happier,” Kenton spoke of his nomination. “I mean Best New Artist? I didn’t see that coming, which is great, because that’s what I want people to see me as.”
The ecstatic nominee admits he has been trying to drop major hints that he is more than just a DJ.
“Through social media I have been trying to convey that I also produce remixes and that I am dropping my own album.”
The DJ/producer is set to release his debut album “Kenton” on Tuesday, September 30. The album will feature original beats with vocalists on the tracks, in the likes of other DJ/producers such as David Guetta and Calvin Harris.
When it comes to winning the award, Kenton said that it’s 50/50 when trying to figure out if being the only DJ in the category will help or hurt him.
“A band with four members is sure to know more potential voters than any upcoming artist who is just getting into the scene,” Kenton said. “Win or lose, there’s going to be a lot of talent in one room that night and I plan on making the best of it.”
Learn more about the nominees for the first Steamtown Music Awards every Wednesday in the Weekender leading up to the show.