A celebration of original music talent and the creative services that support it, Dorset's prestigious annual Original Music Awards bring a splash of red carpet glamour to Lighthouse this month.
With live performances from provocative funk rockers Soulhole and Millie Watson, winner of last year’s Best Newcomer OMA, and an audience of fans, friends and families of nominees it promises to be a night to remember.
“The sole aim is to hail this area as a hotbed of musical talent,” say organisers Matt Black and Mel Berkhauer of Hangover Hill, the team behind Live and Unheard, the monthly grass roots music night at Lighthouse.
“Although there are winners, this is not like a race. It’s more like a house of cards – there is a layer at the top, but without the layers below the whole thing is meaningless. The music community works because it supports itself.”
A host of awards will be presented on the night, most of which will see the winners of each category announced from a list of three nominees decided by the judging panel of music writers, presenters, event organisers and PR specialists.
However, the Original Music Awards also feature a number of Special Awards for those whose music, and the circumstances in which it is made, call for wider recognition.
Special Award – Belief & Strength: Ethereal UK
Ethereal UK is the artist name for Swedish-born, Thai psychedelic folk/dreampop singer songwriter Waritsara ‘Yui’ Karlberg.
The world is still coming to terms with transgender people, but she hasn’t let that stop her and uses that anger as her drive to keep going. She is also autistic and struggles with depression, ADHD, anxiety, PTSD and low self-esteem. She’s highly creative, yet very sensitive to social interactions and certain sounds.
Her self-titled debut album came out in 2018 on the New York label XYYX, with her latest release Caramel Anthropod dropping just before Christmas on her Bandcamp page.
This award recognises Ethereal UK’s sheer force of will to never give up.
Special Award ; Brothers In Arms: Fraser D, Jason Poole, Al Sirpico
When Christchurch-based songwriter Fraser D (Fraser Duffy) was hit by a car and sustained life changing brain and physical injuries, he turned to music to get him through. In the years since he has met for weekly music therapy sessions with Jason Poole and Al Sirpico who sculpt his lyrics into radio-friendly songs.
In the 60s and 70s, Fraser’s dad Ray played drums for Marmalade, Matthews Southern Comfort and Gallagher and Lyle.
This award not only recognises Fraser’s talents, but also the team that help bring his ideas to reality.
Special Award – The Alex JT Award: Brothers Grimmer
The award is named after the Dorset artist Alex JT, a former child prodigy who created the soundtrack for a Sony PlayStation game at the age of seven, then passed away in 2014 from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome leaving behind a wealth of music and poetry that continues to find fans all over the world.
This year’s recipients are the remarkably resilient Brothers Grimmer. Formed 15 years ago the four-piece Bournemouth band’s plans have been regularly derailed in recent years as lead guitarist and songwriter Lee Cleary (aka Empup Grimmer) suffered a series of seizures until, a year ago, he was hospitalised with double pneumonia and sepsis with multiple holes in his lungs. He wasn’t expected to survive and went into cardiac arrest nine times yet walked out of hospital just three weeks later determined to get back to the band.
Lee is already playing and singing again – the band released the Thank You 23 EP in November – and is set to return to the stage this summer.
Special Award – Lifetime Achievement Award: Pronghorn
In 32 long years of hard and fast banjo/fiddle driven punk, Pronghorn have been through at least 32 different bass players, five of which have emigrated, hundreds of washboard players who appear en masse during the summer months to blag festival guest lists, and at least an orchestra-load of fiddle players who have come up through the ranks until they’ve been whittled down to just two – Ffi and Joe, who along with Steve Gunn on the geeee-tar, have served the last 20-odd years. New lad Alex on bass has been stolen from Lymington punk lot Sunny Jim Cyanide, but it’s the same core members of Toni Viagra and Lamma who started this ol’ cowpunk thang back in ’92 and insist on keeping that train a-movin’.
Special Award – Unsung Hero Award: Dave Allan
One of the kingpins of Dorset Americana festival Rustic Stomp, Dave is the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of events management. He can engineer a band and rebuild a fully digital mixing desk… after the gig! Nothing is impossible for Dave, from pumping out toilets, to programming lighting rigs, and keeping the beer flowing, this one-man powerhouse doesn’t stop.
Special Award – Supporting Original Artists: The Three Compasses, Charminster
This village pub just outside Dorchester is home to a very special vibe. Its patrons include not only village people, but many musicians – some still working and many quite well known. As well as providing live music every weekend publicans Rob and Tina Dixon go out of their way to support music in their community, whether it’s giving groups a place to rehearse, or engaging with young musicians and providing those all important chances to play in front of a live audience.
Special Award – Most Original Artist Working Cross Genre: Bite the Boxer
Matt Park started the genre-fluid Bite The Boxer project by accident, releasing a series of anonymous tracks in the early stages of lockdown in 2020. Learning new skills and techniques as he morphed the music through different genres and blends of genres, he has arrived at a cutting edge sound that’s fiercely modern with a cool, accessible sheen.
:: The Original Music Awards are at Lighthouse on Friday 19 January. Tickets available now at https://www.lighthousepoole.co.uk/event/original-music-awards/ or on 01202 280000.