The winners of the 2013 Voice Media Group Music Writing Awards

Categories: Winners
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William Michael Smith (left, photo by Chris Knight) and David Thorpe

The eleven alternative weeklies of Voice Media Group are responsible for a tremendous amount of music writing: This year, we produced thousands of pages of printed stories and tens of thousands of blog posts. We're proud to present the very best of that work in the second annual Voice Media Group Music Writing Awards.

Each of the eleven music editors around the country selected his or her favorite articles from 2013 in two categories: blog posts and print stories. A judging panel comprising Senior Music Editor Ben Westhoff, Houston Press Music Editor Chris Gray and me (I'm the music editor of the Dallas Observer) then voted to pick the winners, who will get a cash prize.

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Minnesota named 10th best state for pop music contributions

Categories: Winners
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Lovingly borrowed from Complex.com
Lists of things are stock-in-trade for Complex Magazine. Tucked somewhere within the stream of 100 Hottest Women Right Now and 11 Tuxedos Kanye West Should Wear to His Wedding, we get a list that addresses how each state has provided music for our country. Minnesota is one of those states!

And so, Ranking the 50 States Based on Their Contribution to Popular Music goes to work with the help of three contributors facing a seemingly impossible task. Sure, you can make a case for New York defining hip hop and punk, but, but, but... So anyhow, there's some arguments to be had regarding where states near the top should actually place.

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Rolling Stone readers: First Avenue is the 2nd best venue in America

Categories: Winners
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Photo by Ed Neaton
The accolades for First Avenue keep rolling in courtesy of the many permutations of Rolling Stone's "Venues That Rock" series. The club already received the honor as the number three "big room" in the country, but now yet another high rank is bestowed. Yes, the pollsters have spoken, and only one club in the entire nation is better than First Ave. Drumroll?

See Also:
First Avenue named no. 3 best "big room" in America by Rolling Stone

Top 10 best places to grab a drink before a show at First Avenue

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First Avenue named no. 3 best "big room" in America by Rolling Stone

Categories: Winners
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Photo by Ed Neaton
People were understandably miffed when First Avenue was left off Rolling Stone's Best Clubs in America list recently. Several of the comments proclaim the general sentiment of "Hello...ever heard of First Ave???"

Well, the voting pool of musicians, managers, and industry folks -- Spoon's Britt Daniel, Phoenix's Thomas Mars, and Ozzy's wife/manager Sharon Osbourne -- had a plan. It turns out that First Avenue is larger than just a club; it is a "big room." Though it's a lesser-used expression for a concert venue, of course it's still a nice recognition to receive.

See Also:
Top 10 best places to grab a drink before a show at First Avenue
First Avenue's 20 best concerts
First Avenue's 20 best concerts: Readers' picks


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Gotye gushes about Prince, Katy Perry jabs Bon Iver at 2013 Grammys

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Aside from an actual victory by the Minnesota-based Okee Dokee Brothers, the 2013 Grammys had a few other moments to amuse Midwestern music fans. The main one, of course, was an appearance by Prince. For those who didn't watch the entire, dragging mess of a hashtag-obsessed show hosted by LL Cool J, these were a few moments that slowed Gimme Noise's rising bile.

After strutting out grandly with his cane in one of the longest introductions of the night, he presented the Grammy for Record of the Year to Gotye and Kimbra -- and then it felt like he was the one receiving the award. In the earlier going, Katy Perry used her moments onstage to give a good-natured jab at Bon Iver.

See Also:
The Okee Dokee Brothers win Grammy for Best Children's Album

My mom reviews the Grammy Awards 2013 nominees

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The Okee Dokee Brothers win Grammy for Best Children's Album

Categories: Winners
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Congratulations are in order for the Minnesota-based Okee Dokee Brothers. They just picked up the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Children's Album for Can You Canoe?, a record inspired by a canoe trip down the Mississippi River.

The duo of Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing accepted the award in the pre-taped portion of the Grammys on Sunday afternoon.

See Also:
The Okee Dokee Brothers on their Grammy nomination [Interview]

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Remembering Levon Helm of the Band

Categories: Obituary, Winners
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Jeff Fielder
Last Friday, Voice Media Group announced the winners of their first music writing awards. This winning piece by Jesse Sykes first appeared in Seattle Weekly's print edition.

By Jesse Sykes

As I was growing up in New York state--where the residents want you to know they don't live in "The City"--the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Woodstock, and the music of The Band were all entangled in the region's mythology; on occasion, the boundary between the distant and recent past blurred completely. The Redcoats moved through our town during the Revolutionary War, 109 of our residents served in the Civil War, The Band's music--made a familiar 100 miles away--was a ubiquitous presence, and Woodstock took place on a farm down the road from a house our family used as a hunting cabin. In my young mind, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, Levon Helm and Max Yasgur all seemed to be of the same era, one far removed from my own.



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Announcing the winners of the first Voice Media Group Music Writing Awards

Categories: Winners
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Photo by Christine Taylor
By Ben Westhoff

Each week in our print editions and every day on our blogs, the 13 Voice Media Group papers feature some of the best music writing in the country.

That's why we're excited to announce the winners of our first VMG music writing awards. The honor goes to the authors of one blog post and one print piece; eligible were any of our freelance scribes.

The envelope please...

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Adele thanks Dan Wilson in Grammys speech

Categories: Winners
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The parade of Adele wins began early at the 2012 Grammy Awards Sunday with "Someone Like You" notching the best pop solo performance early in the broadcast. The song comes from the British singer's second album, 21, and was co-written by Minneapolis native son Dan Wilson at the end of the recording cycle for that album.

Not only is this song a tear-jerker because it's an emotional trip into Adele Atkins' bitter breakup, but we recently discovered that there's scientific evidence to support why so many folks feel the chilling emotional effect created by Wilson's spare piano accompaniment meshed with her voice.

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