Chattanooga's Live Music Scene - 2012 Music Awards (Part 2 of 2)

This column is dedicated to Dan Lee

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - by Bob Payne

This is part 2 of 2 for the Chattanooga Music Awards 2012. Part 1 is here if you missed it - Be sure and come back, though!


Let’s start off with another Chattanooga Music Hall of Fame induction. Ronnie Dickens has long been thought of as one of Chattanooga’s best guitarists.

Playing with 90 Proof back in the day at Governor’s Lounge, he established himself as the real deal. He continued playing right up through 2012, most recently with the WTM Blues Band. He retired from playing this past year. Many local musicians have said they owe much of the musical talents and experiences from Ronnie. Welcome to the Chattanooga Hall of Fame, Ronnie Dickens.


Best Female SingerJanella Hayes from the Black Cat Moon Band has dominated the category since it was first awarded, and this year she becomes the only 4-time winner. I never get any flack on this one. But, as Billy Mays used to say when selling you a Ginsu knife, “Wait, there’s more!” Shani Hedden Palmer will also be winning this year. As good as she is, I believe she has gotten even better. Her voice and Janella’s voice are completely different, but both are stellar. She has a killer band that compliments her, as well. Congrats to our first 4-time winner Janella and to Shani.


Best Rock Band – This year’s winner is Jordan Hallquist and the Outfit. These folks can rock with the best of them and I like them. Infinite Orange was the last winner in this category a couple years back, so it’s nice to have rock represented again.


Bass Player of the Year – We have only had 2 previous winners in this category, and folks that have seen either play know why. One is Kenny Palmer (2008-09) and one is Jim Rhodes (2010-11). Kenny is a highly technical player who quite simply is so good he can sometimes get bored up there playing. If I were going to lay down some studio tracks – I would pick Kenny to do the bass. On the other hand, you have Jim Rhodes. He can hit the licks and sing. A double threat as they say. He’s fun to watch in a band, as he has some serious fun. How to settle this? Pull a Pat Dye and give it to both of them. Kenny Palmer and Jim Rhodes – 2012 Bass Players of the Year!

Keyboard Player of the Year – Let’s shake things up a bit with another tie. Once again, they play different styles, but both are winners. Bob Williams, 2010 winner, becomes our 2012 winner with his solid play for the Stratoblasters. And, in a first – Tyler Southern becomes the first musician to win in two different instrument categories – already named Guitar Player of the Year, he now has the distinction of being additionally named Keyboard Player of the Year.


Best Country Band – This band blurs the line of Country music, Blues, and Southern Rock, but this is where they fit best in our award categories. As a 4-piece band out of North Georgia, this band has a great sound, a great attitude, and is one break away from making a real splash. Welcome the 2012 Country act of the year - Remembering January as the winner. With the only winner in 2 different instrument categories in Tyler Southern, the entire band is super-talented, both on original material and covers.  With former winners Nathan Farrow, Pee Wee Moore, and Robby Hopkins, they are in some seriously good company.


Best New Act – This was easy. Smooth Dialects wins. Go see them and you will see why. Don’t trust me – see for yourself. Never before has “Sexual Healing” been done so well.  I booked them at the County Fair this past year, and someday they will be one of those groups that people will say, “I once saw them at a county fair.” No way. Yes way.

Best Blues Band – In past years, we’ve had Iron Mike, the Cadillac Saints, the WTM Blues Band, and now we have Gabriel Newell & Muddy Soul for 2012.  Nice folks, super talent. Congrats. Go see them and tell me the lead guitar player isn’t as good as you have ever seen.


Best Party/Cover Band – I have awarded two this year, and they are distinctly different – one is a more traditional party band, while the other brings the funk to the party. Standing Room Only (SRO) has been playing out for a number of years and has always been good, but Karen Phillips has added some big-time players to beef up the rhythm section to star status. Enter John Cady, master guitar player and as good as any Guitar Player of the Year winner. Add to that the three time Bass Player of the Year in Jim Rhodes and 3X Drum winner Johnny Smith and bingo. They already had Landis Batts, 2009 and 2010 best male vocalist winner. But, you ask – what happens when Johnny is playing with one of the other 213 bands he plays with? Well, they just get Greg Rudder to sit in – another 3X winner for drumming. Amazing eh?


Want some funk in your party band? Then Power Players Show Band will bring it. Arriving on the Chattanooga scene for Michigan a few years ago, the Power Players have turned the town on its ear. Michael Andrews has one of the tightest bands you will ever see. Period. I am not even going to say who the drummer is, as I am tired of saying his name and he can’t twirl the sticks anyway. The recently added Jim Rhodes, 3X bass player of the year in the rotation, so it just keeps getting better.

Congrats to SRO & Power Players – our 2012 Party/Cover Bands of the Year.


Best Bluegrass Band – They took the town by storm last year and have won the award for 2012. Congratulate Strung Like A Horse, our 2012 winner in the bluegrass category. I really struggled with this one, as it is hard to pin a label on the exact genre of music they play. Whatever it is, they play it well.


The Director’s Award for Chattanooga Hall of Fame – This award goes for the person that has consistently enhanced the music scene in Chattanooga over a long period of time. For 2012, the inductee is Mike Dougher. Mike may have booked more bands in this town than all others combined. Some of the best acts in the USA, as well as local and regional favorites appear at Rhythm & Brews and have been brought here by Mike Dougher. He has a pretty good eye for talent, too. Many of the acts appearing at R & B from just a couple years ago, are now big time stars. Congrats to a real music friend of Chattanooga – Mike Dougher.


Entertainer of the Year – Previous winners include Chris Gomez twice and last year’s winner Roger Alan Wade.  Our winner this year plays in several acts. She is a member of the fantastic Malemen Band, the Communicators, Digital Butter and others. She can swallow fire. She plays a mean trumpet. She’s gorgeous. She owns the stage and the crowd. This year, the 2012 Entertainer of the year award goes to Bexy (Becky) Ribeiro. Congratulations are in order for a real entertainer, Bexy Ribeiro.


For local music info, try or They both have great local music info and schedules. For local info on Country music, try Jim Boles’ site
Email Bob Payne at or catch him on Facebook at .

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