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The 2021 New Times Music Awards brought great music and an energetic crowd to SLO Brew Rock on Nov. 12



It's Friday, Nov. 12, and I'm at the place to be: SLO Brew Rock for the lucky 13th annual New Times Music Awards showcase. The crowd is buzzing as we await the beginning of the showcase that will pit the five genre winners against one another to see who wins Best Live Performance.

Soon, emcee Suzanne Schonig of American General Media and The Krush 92.5 and 93.3 KZOZ arrives on stage and opens the show.


"What's up SLO Brew Rock? How are you? I want to say thank you so much to all our local musicians who enrich our lives throughout the year."

That's why we're here: to honor the local bands that night after night show up in the bars, clubs, and theaters to fill our lives with great music. The past year and a half has been an unprecedented time, canceling shows and tours and driving bands and music lovers underground, but tonight we gather and celebrate.

The first award of the night goes to Best Songwriter, and as "Old Together" by The Tipsy Gypsies plays, singer Hilary Langdon walks to the stage. As she holds her Newtie Award, Langdon says, "This song was inspired by my husband. Thank you! Cheers!"

Next up, Graybill comes up to receive his Best Album award for High Tide/Low Tide, a killer two-CD set.

"I'm so honored and thankful for this music community," Kevin Graybill says. "This means a lot. It was my pandemic project. It kept me relatively sane during the past year and a half or so."

First up to perform is Miss Leo, winner of the Country/Americana/Folk for "Desert Queen." Miss Leo also took home third in Best Songwriter for "Sparrow."

"It feels good to be acknowledged and I'm glad you guys liked it," Miss Leo says as she and her band launch into their set. The music's finally flowing and the crowd is digging it.

Next up is the Open category winner—the father-and-daughter act Louie & Talia Ortega—who won for their Spanish-language song "Mi Perro" (My Dog), a track off their upcoming album Ruby, being released on Dec. 1.

"Thanks, New Times, for the award," Louie says before handing the microphone to his daughter. "We really appreciate that."

"It's a joy and an honor to be up here with my dad and to share the stage with all of the amazing musicians who won and have contributed tonight," Talia adds.

After their well-received set, it's time for the Local Legend Award.

"This one is super fun," Schonig gushed. "We love our musicians, right? They are amazing and this is what we're here for, but there are also a whole ton of people round these musicians that make this industry and this scene in our local community run and work."

This year's winner is Wally Barnick, longtime bassist and singer with the Cache Valley Drifters (CVD). Wally's voice sings the CVD's Cream cover "White Room" as I walk up to receive Wally's award because he unfortunately couldn't make the show, but Schonig offers a rundown on his long list of achievements as a musician, promoter, booking agent, and music journalist.

Now it's time for the Hip-Hop/Rap performance, and perpetual winners, Rogue Status, have scored first and second in the genre.

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR Hip-Hop/Rap winner Rogue Status and its frontman RoAch Clip brought kids to the stage as they were laying down beats and spitting out rhymes. - PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR Hip-Hop/Rap winner Rogue Status and its frontman RoAch Clip brought kids to the stage as they were laying down beats and spitting out rhymes.

Famous Deuce of the hip-hop collective takes the mic, and class act that he is, acknowledges those behind the scenes: "Hey, we just want to say thank you, man, to everybody that's working. Everybody here that's in the bar, everybody that's serving food and drinks. We couldn't do this without y'all, so thank you everybody that's working tonight."

Frontman RoAch Clip takes the mic: "Yo, we're cleaning up tonight! I don't know what happened. We're taking home all the hardware and we're very appreciative ... we're also a little arrogant, so thank you," he jokes.

Their set gets the joint pumping, and afterward it's time for the Readers' Choice Award, which this year goes to The Santa Cruz Family band for their song "Mama," which came in third in the R&B/Blues genre.

"Don't forget to call your mom and your dad and your brother and your sister," says patriarch Bobby Santa Cruz as he accepts the award, "'cause they're waiting to hear from you! Bye-bye, everybody! Thank you so much!"

"Oh my God, the best advice ever!" Schonig squeals.

Video Courtesy Of Paul Irving And Big Big SLO

Rock/Alternative winners Lu Lu & The Cowtippers play next, and as frontwoman Donna "Lu" Meazell takes the mic, she celebrates her band: "Todd [Andrew], you're the best guitar player in the world, and you're so easy to write music with and I thank you for that. I'd like to thank my boyfriend for putting up with me. I'd like to thank my friends and my family, and this guy right here," Meazell says, gesturing to bassist Tyler Mitchell. "You are like ... I've been with this guy longer than anyone—26 years playing music together. Thank you for showing up and supporting us."

The final act of the evening, R&B/Blues winners The Tipsy Gypsies take the stage, and Langdon takes the mic again: "We love what we do and we have a lot of fun together. We've been playing for over a decade. Just thank you! We're stoked to be here. Thank you to all the other musicians. We're honored to share the same stage."

As the crowd awaits the results, I hear people puzzling over the impossibility of the choice. Finally after several minutes, Schonig is ready to announce the news.

"Alright, the judges have judged. The bands have performed. You have enjoyed the show. Right? After everything has been laid out on this stage, please welcome one more, your Best Live Performance winner ... I'm going to do the thing like they do on the TV and I'm going to wait for it ... Lu Lu & The Cowtippers! Bring your sparkling bum back up here, girl!"

Yep, Rock/Alternative winner Lu Lu & The Cowtippers are this year's Best Live Performers!

"Thank you, guys, so much. We appreciate you!" Meazell gushed, bringing to close another epic year.

DOUBLE UP Miss Leo won the Country/Americana/Folk genre and placed third in songwriting. - PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • DOUBLE UP Miss Leo won the Country/Americana/Folk genre and placed third in songwriting.

And the winners are ...

Best Album

• Graybill, High Tide/Low Tide

• The Tipsy Gypsies, Ten

• About Time, About Time

Best Songwriter

• The Tipsy Gypsies, "Old Together"

• Bob and Wendy, "When I Needed You"

• Miss Leo, "Sparrow"


• Rio Fleming, "Reach You"


• Rogue Status, "Up in Smoke"

• Rogue Status, "Whatitdo"

• b poz, "Makin Moves"


• Louie & Talia Ortega, "Mi Perro"

• The Bogeys, "Skelly Klater"

• Blythe Berg, "Noodles"


• The Tipsy Gypsies, "Hunger"

• Pete Pidgeon, "Wasted Child"

• The Santa Cruz Family Band, "Mama"


• Lu Lu & The Cowtippers, "Just Begun"

• Ghost/Monster, "Nice Guys"

• Carbon City Lights, "Dive in a River"


• Miss Leo, "Desert Queen"

• The Fearless Messenger of Love, "Tennessee"

• Nicole Stromsoe, "I Am Fine"

Readers' Choice

• The Santa Cruz Family Band, "Mama"

Drawing winner

• Mike Boudreau won the Ernie Ball Music Man guitar Δ

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at [email protected].


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