The message I took away from the 8th NMG Awards at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds on Friday night was loud and clear: Covid can’t kill the music.
In the first post pandemic awards ceremony the artists in the East proved that they did in fact retrain in cyber – but not in the way intended by government ministers. No, they learned to tame technology, to use it alongside their music, not instead of it. They learned to live stream, to manage sound quality, to collaborate over Zoom and how to deal with the dreaded audio lag.
They wrote, they created online classes, they made new friends, they let us into their living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. They discovered new ways to keep music alive. All this while fighting the demons we all had to face – the isolation, the fear, the angst, and covid.
NMG was a celebration of, not just the musicians, but the venues, the studios, the promoters and yes, the magazines who for the last eighteen months have refused to accept that a virulent microbial enemy will win over our creative passions.
For me this was my first indoor un-socially distanced gig, and I was excited. So too it seemed were the artists and their families. I had been to a few socially distanced gigs in between lockdowns. With the benefit of hindsight these were nothing more than desperation gigs, an attempt to fool ourselves into thinking that we cope without the visceral urges – the singing, the dancing, the head banging, the air guitar… but all of that is back. Yes, we need to be careful, for covid has not gone away, but like the artists’ “retaining”, we are learning to live with it.
Sara Kathleen of the Hunter Club succinctly summed up the effect musicians have on our lives: “…what you do is magic, it changes people’s lives, thank you for not giving up.”
And so we celebrated the achievements of the regions musicians across a range of styles, we danced we sang and we enjoyed being in a room full of creative people. Over and above the individual winners of the categories, the real winner was Music – you just can’t stop it and you cannot but be moved by it.
And the winners were:
Breakthrough Artist – Gabby Rivers
- Male Solo Artist – Dan Bond
- Pop – Connor Adams
- Audience Choice – Ffion Rebecca
- Breakout Award – Tom Lumley & The Brave Liaison
- Special Achievement Award – Ellie Dixon
- Producer of the Year – Jake Day
- Electronic & Experimental – Amethysts
- Alternative – Stretch Soul Gang
- Acoustic Folk Roots – Flaming June
- Track of the Year – Anna Wells
- Urban / Rap – Mr Ltee
- Female Solo – Ellie Dixon
A big thank you to Tim Willett and the team who worked so hard to make the event happen. And to everybody in that room on Friday night, if you missed it, or just want to re-live it all, here it is in glorious technicolour: