The 2019 CEA show was exploding with love for the richness and depth of Greater Cincinnati’s music scene, with most award winners deflecting praise for themselves in order to shout out their peers and fans. Likewise, all of the presenters (various local figures from the music world and beyond) eloquently explained how much local artists have meant to them.
There were several great live performances from a few of the night's nominated acts, showcasing our music scene’s impressive diversity. Former WNKU music director Aaron Sharpe — who co-hosted for the second year in a row with local DJ Chanell Karr — saluted the attendees for sticking with the show as it shuffled through a wide array of styles and sounds.
Maria Carrelli and her band delivered a couple of songs' worth of her wildly charming brand of earthy, honky-tonkin’ Country, while Bla’szé wowed the crowd with an energized set of modern R&B that also featured some expert choreography and dance. Superb Hip Hop trio Patterns of Chaos also had the audience hyped with some engaging “Rap Music” (as MC Jay Hill — dressed in what appeared to be a life-size hamster onesie — shouted a few times during their set). This year’s winners of the Rock CEA, Go Go Buffalo, gave the night a dose of grimy Dada with their heavy, oddball theatrics and singular sartorial choices (singer Jeremy Moore left little to the imagination with his neon green tutu), while Multimagic offered a pair of unshakeable Indie Pop earworms for attendees to take home with them and Soften unspooled a wonderfully mesmerizing Shoegaze mini-epic.
The show kicked off with the announcement that the annual Cincinnati Music Ambassador Award — given to homegrown acts who spread the good word of local music far and wide while never forgetting the community from which they sprung — was being renamed in honor of music icon Bootsy Collins, who gave thanks for the honor via video.
Dang! All I can say is, I appreciate u all at @CityBeatCincy #TonyFrank #CEA for this tremendous honor tonight with the Music Ambassador Award! It will live on & passed on to many others. It will lift up our Funkateers Everywhere. Bootsy baby!!!🤩 @MLG_Rocks @SweetwaterSound pic.twitter.com/xxXwa5TRqn— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) November 25, 2019
The recipient of the very first Bootsy Collins Music Ambassador Award, was, very fittingly, Over the Rhine, who celebrated 30 years in music in 2019.
Over the Rhine’s Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler sent some very gracious words along for longtime friend Phil Nuxhall to read as he accepted the award in their place — the musicians were wrapping up a string of West Coast tour dates and couldn't be there themselves.
That was a running theme of the night. Rumpke Mountain Boys and Dallas Moore were also touring and unable to collect their CEAs, while Ricky Nye was running late and missed accepting his award because he had a gig across town. Fellow winners Freekbass and Carriers’ Curt Kiser did make it to the show but it took some doing — they both had driven hours to make it back in time for the CEAs, playing in Michigan and Washington DC (respectively) the night before.
But that’s a good example of why those artists — and all of the other nominees — were being celebrated. They’re all local music ambassadors in their own ways, be it touring their asses off to share with outsiders or gigging locally to entertain music fans in their hometown.
Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees, and thank you to every single person who worked on this year's show, as well as all of the attendees. The sentiments expressed by nearly every person who took the CEA stage was pretty spot-on — with the wealth of talent and support in the Queen City, whether you are a music lover or a music maker, you're really lucky to live here.
You can watch a replay of the stream below.
Here's who won what at the 2019 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.
Blue Wisp Big Band
Lift the Medium
Rumpke Mountain Boys
Over the Rhine
Go Go Buffalo
BEST LIVE ACT:
BEST MUSIC VIDEO:
500 Miles to Memphis – “Hold on Tight” (directed by Casey Shelton)
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
Carriers — Now Is The Time For Loving Me, Yourself & Everyone Else
ARTIST OF THE YEAR: