By Ray Downs
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
Best Singer/Songwriter -- Blueberry
Although the phrase "singer/songwriter" refers to anybody who sings mostly songs that he or she has composed, it's come to be chiefly associated with people who sing such songs in a gentle, sensitive and straightforward manner, usually accompanied by the fragile strumming of guitar strings or the peaceful plunking of piano keys. Typical singer/songwriters are far from the avant-garde.
Blueberry Morningsnow McGregor is not your stereotypical singer/songwriter. She can sing quietly, but her voice is almost always urgent, and she often screams to punctuate certain meaningful lyrics. She plays acoustic guitar, but she attacks that guitar, forcing it to drive home themes and ideas. Her guitar playing follows her songs, not the other way around. Her songs are not simple little tales of self-absorption, nor are they obvious feel-good anthems about political issues. Blueberry is concerned with large questions, such as what happens between living and dying, the relationship between the universe and our experience here in these bodies, the way dreams fight with nightmares. Blueberry's songs are not easily digested, not likely to inspire sing-alongs, not something to be ignored.
Sometimes Blueberry plays electric guitar, spitting out aggressive, high-energy punk/funk in her rock band, the Star Death. Sometimes she plays acoustic guitar, meandering her way through long explorations of these questions, digging through the nooks and crannies of words and sounds and singing and speaking and urgency and peace. A rhythmic performer, she relies on the tension between her vocal rhythms, which can be intense, and her guitar rhythms, which slide through a variety of styles.
What Blueberry does is in the tradition of oral poetry. Her songs read well on the printed page: "And when we run out of highways/We'll certainly fall off the edge of the world/All the stars will point and say look! A falling human/And they'll wish upon our lives as we fall/And they will think we are beautiful/'Cuz we are beautiful." That's a powerful image and a wonderful contemplation on humanity's place in existence; moreover, it's only one little part of a complex meditation on love found and lost, the attempt to hold onto one single moment, the dichotomy between knowledge and experience, the overwhelming emotion of loss and a scientific explanation of how beauty is created and observed. All that and more is contained in the song "Little Sparks" on her most recent solo album, Journal of the Galaxies and Stars From St. Louis.
Blueberry writes songs, and she sings them, and she mixes up feeling and thinking and experiencing and knowing. She has made a profound impact on the St. Louis music scene in the last year.
-- Steve Pick
Best Punk Band -- Ded Bugs
St. Louis' punk-rockers love to put themselves down. The prevailing opinion is that St. Louis is a second-rate city when it comes to venues and bands. Hogwash! The Creepy Crawl, the Hi-Pointe, the Way Out Club and the Galaxy -- as well as house parties galore -- bring in punk shows on a regular basis, and, as far as bands are concerned, let's just put it this way: There were so many good punk bands in St. Louis this past year that there wasn't room for them all on the Slammies ballot.
Aside from the fine selection of bands nominated in the Best Punk Band category, Keyop and Children's Audio got stuck on the Best New Artist list, the Conformists got lumped in with the nominees for Best Eclectic/ Uncategorizable and Ultraman inexplicably got nominated for Best Club DJ (oh wait, that last part didn't happen).
With all this punk rock to choose from, though, one band stood out as the best in the eyes of St. Louis' punk voters: the pride of DeSoto, Mo., the Ded Bugs. The four members of the Ded Bugs (Matt Bug, Jeff Devulheyd, D.A.V.E. and Menace the Dennis) keep things suitably young, loud and snotty, wearing their Ramones influences as proudly as their leather jackets. The songs on their latest CD, Songs for the Possessed and Insane, are full of pop-punk hooks, slightly metallic riffs and immaturity galore. The band has its act together, garnering reviews in all the major punk-rock zines and sharing stages with plenty of big-name punk bands. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Ded Bugs are always working on new projects, both within and outside the band. Matt Bug recently completed STL 2000, a filmed documentary of the St. Louis punk scene, which will be out this summer if all goes according to plan. The Bugs have booked time at famed punk-rock studio Sonic Iguana in which to record their fourth full-length and plan to release a 10-inch vinyl EP of cover tunes as well. If the St. Louis punk scene is dead, somebody sure forgot to tell the Ded Bugs.
Best Rap/Hip-Hop DJ -- Charlie Chan
When Q95 FM came into the St. Louis market last year, they had some work to do. Not only was there an established commercial hip-hop station in town, The Beat (100.3 FM), but that station was owned by Clear Channel, the largest radio conglomerate in the country, with deep pockets and a devoted listenership. The Beat was, despite its corporate ownership, the hometown team, and Q was considered the outsider underdog. Q needed to build some credibility, pronto, to send a message to its potential base that the budding station was for real, that it understood what this city needed. Q's management figured out how to do it pretty quickly: by hiring DJ Charlie Chan as their mix-show coordinator.