See the nominees, honorees for the 2019 Sammy Awards

The late rock’n’roll legend (and Syracuse University alum) Lou Reed will be celebrated with a Lifetime Achievement Award during this year’s Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys). The announcement was made during the Feb. 5 press conference held at Eastwood’s Palace Theatre, as light music from Mark Nanni and Monk Rowe (who was named music educator of the year at the 2018 ceremony) provided a smooth earful amid the bijou’s lobby filled with local musicians and fans. 

Accepting the award for Reed (1942–2013) will be his widow, avant-garde composer and film director Laurie Anderson. Other inductees to the Sammys Hall of Fame include pioneering local doo-woppers Little Jan and the Radiants, WAQX-FM 95.7 radio veteran and music promoter Scott Dixon, the late drummer Al Falso (1925–1993) and longtime duo Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman.


Trombonist Melissa Gardiner has been named music educator of the year, and music photographer Jack O. Bocchino will receive the inaugural Spirit of the Sammys Award, which will be named after him for future Sammys presentations. A special Founder’s Award will be given to downtown busker Elijah Harris Jr., also known as Eli. At the press conference, Syracuse Jazz Fest impresario Frank Malfitano noted, “Calling Eli a street musician is like calling Picasso a housepainter.”

The Sammys Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony will be held Thursday, March 7, 7 to 10 p.m., at Upstairs at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St. Tickets are $25 and available at

The Sammys bandwagon continues with the awards presentation on Friday, March 8, 7 p.m., at the Palace, 2384 James St. Awards in 13 recording categories will be handed out between live performances from Stroke, Barroom Philosophers, Sean McLeod with Alani Skye, Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman, and a Lou Reed tribute band featuring original band members guitarist Stuart Heinrich and bassist Ellard “Moose” Bolles.

There will also be people’s choice awards for best band, venue and music festival, and the Brian Bourke Award for best new artist. Tickets are $20, available at Armory Square’s Sound Garden and at

Of the 111 submissions, the winnowed field of Sammys nominees include:

Best Pop

  • Forgottensong, Forgottensong Vol. 1 and 2
  • Emma Jude, Pocket Full of Postcards
  • Screen Test, Through the Past Brightly

Best Jazz

  • Byron Kidd Cage, Platinum Healing Glove
  • Bob Holz, Silverthorne

Best Blues

  • Cloutier, Thunder N Lightning
  • Neil Minet and the Night Flyers, Shades of Blue
  • Steven D. Odum, Steve Odum Plays His Blues
  • Ron Spencer Band, Into the Blue
  • Tas Cru, Memphis Song

Best R&B

  • Apollo XXIII, Borderline
  • Jaquiel THEVOICE, The Natural Project
  • Irv Lyons Jr., Sisters & Brothers
  • The Ripcords, Live at Subcat Studios

Best Hip Hop / Rap

  • Big Nate MG, No Hooks Needed X Hook Line
  • G-Netics, Elevated
  • J.R. Lottary, Instant Win
  • Chris Mac, Go for Broke Project
  • MLA, Salute Me

Best Rock

  • Atkins Riot, Atkins Riot “Iguanas”
  • Climbing Stars, Ascension
  • Jukin’ Bone, Unfinished Business
  • Tony Touris, Ghost Town
  • The Trend, J. Marc Memorial Show

Best Hard Rock

  • Amerikan Primitive, Down to the Devil
  • Between Hope and Fear, Between Hope and Fear
  • Damon Larus, Crusade
  • The Last Divide, The Last Divide
  • One Step from Falling, Stuck

Best Alternative

  • The Amazing Shakes, 10X The Crash
  • The Beuchesnes, Twilight Interstate
  • Late Earth, Late Earth
  • Strange to Look At, Strange to Look At
  • Sympathy, For Everyone to See
  • Townhouse Warrior, Words, Unsaid

Best Americana

  • Joe Davoli, Golden Rule
  • Dennis McGuire’s One Man Band, Old Songs Rusty Strings
  • Ghost Town Ramblers, Ghost Town Ramblers
  • Eileen Nicholson Kalfass, Crossing Bridges

Best Country

  • Steven Cali, American Farmer
  • Follow the Muse, American Days
  • Moonshine River Band, Bad Habit
  • Lonnie Park, Stories of the Lost and Found

Best Other Style

  • Fritz’s Polka Band, Hey!
  • Emedin Rivera, Tropical Turbulence
  • Samba Laranja: The SU Brazilian Ensemble, Gurana

Best Jam Band

  • Count Blastula, Jive Honey
  • Ginbucket, On Ice
  • The Lightkeepers, Talking Man’s Blues
  • Mike Davis and the Laughing Buddha Episodes, Find Yourself Caterpillar
  • Sundrop Rise, Family Tree

Best Singer-Songwriter

  • Sydney Irving, The Halfmoon Sessions
  • Jess Novak, Fear is the Cage, Love is the Key
  • Rhiannon Payne, Folklore
  • Darryl Rahn, Making Strangers
  • Stephen Douglas Wolfe, Quixotic Symphony
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