Scene presented its first Music Awards and Showcase at the Agora Ballroom Saturday night. This would be the time to say a great night was had by all, but that wouldn't be true, considering these things are always bound to piss people off. We started too early (apologies to the brave Alexis Antes and Hilo) and ran too late (sorries to troupers Colin Dussault's Blues Project and the TwistOffs). And the actual awards, as I write this, are in baggage claim in Memphis, forcing us to hand the winners these clumsy stars-on-wood we picked up at Big Bob's Trophy Supply and Novelty Shoppe at the last minute. (We'll get you the real things soon. They're nice. Promise.)

Those embarrassments aside, the Music Awards did, for one portion of the show, run consecutive sets by Carlos Jones & the P.L.U.S. Band, Hostile Omish, Cryptkicker, the Cowslingers, and Mr. Tibbs. If you were in the mood for a night of barefooted reggae/barn punk/hell metal/rock and roadhouse/gobot funk, and didn't show, you missed your chance. Maybe next year, maybe never.

Without further annoyances, the winners, as voted by Scene readers:
Rock/Pop: Rosavelt
Blues: Robert Lockwood Jr.
R&B/Hip-Hop: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Funk: the TwistOffs
Folk/Acoustic: Anne E. DeChant
Hard Rock: Mushroomhead
Jazz: Forecast

Reggae/Ska: Carlos Jones & the P.L.U.S. BandAvant-Garde/Experimental: Cows in the Graveyard

Country/Americana: Al's Fast Freight
Punk: Hostile Omish
Club DJ: DJ True
Band of the Year: Mushroomhead

Congratulations to the winners as well as all the artists who were nominated. Thank you to those who help put on the show, especially Scene Associate Publisher Mark Holan (and his accounting firm of Holan, Holan & Holan for tabulating the ballots) and our awards presenters: former Glass Harp/Michael Stanley Band member Daniel Pecchio, James Gang drummer Jim Fox, and Bob Santelli from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It's not being billed as The End of The End, but it may as well be. A week before modern rock station WENZ-FM/107.9 changes to an urban format, it will hold a listener appreciation party at the Odeon, Saturday, May 8. Scheduled to perform are Jericho Turnpike unplugged, Cyde, the Simpletons, Pennsylvania's Jellybricks, and Strip.

Unlike most radio shakeups, where DJs are fired by ambush and replaced by another staff that's been bunkered in an airport hotel, End jocks have been passing along their goodbyes to the format and listeners on-air. Sunday night Rocco played some of the station's favorite homegrown talent on the last edition of The Local End.

Clear Channel Communications sold WENZ to Radio One, a Washington, D.C.-area company, to satisfy what little remains of federal antitrust regulations. Used to be, the feds wouldn't allow one company to own too many stations in one market. But the horrific Telecommunications Act of 1996 rang the dinner bell for giant media companies like Jacor, Chancellor, and Clear Channel to grab all the frequencies they could, and they attacked with forks in both hands. Now that it is absorbing Jacor, Clear Channel had to shed three stations, and 107.9 was one of the ones to go.

Most stories about major labels having interest in regional bands prove to be myth, but this one sounds legitimate. A representative from Atlantic Records will scope out Youngstown's Vertigogo at the band's show at the Hot Rock Cafe in Sharon, Pennsylvania, Saturday, May 8. The band warms its chops in Cleveland, Thursday, May 6, at Peabody's DownUnder.

If Vertigogo doesn't get the Atlantic deal, it won't be for lack of trying. The band works unapologetically hard on the business end. Guitarist Brian Patrick, who has a bachelor's in marketing and a master's in business from Youngstown State, has been putting in eight-hour days in the band's office with singer Kenneth Lyle. Their hustle appears to have paid off. Vertigogo's self-titled debut CD is being picked up by several stations around the country. "You can't just be some musician who sits in the dark and doesn't deal with anyone else," Patrick explains.

The credits of Atlantic's visiting dignitary include Matchbox 20, and Vertigogo should be right down his alley. Patrick says that he and Lyle are big Paul Westerberg fans, but Vertigogo's polished pop-rock style is more reminiscent of Son of Replacements bands like Matchbox and the Goo Goo Dolls, with a little late-model Godfathers sprinkled in.

Patrick and Lyle began collaborating long before Vertigogo became an actual band. They swapped ideas for about a year before heading into the studio. "We think alike," Patrick says. "There'd be times I'd show him an old CD and he's say, 'Wow, that's one of my favorites.'" The band is rounded out by guitarist Rick Deak, who has worked with Lyle for years, and drummer Mark Tira and bass player Dave Markasky from Patrick's old band Graphic Pink.

Last week Patrick didn't sound nervous about the showcase for Atlantic. The Hot Rock is one of his old hangouts, and he and Lyle are confident their songs--and not one performance--will be the deciding factor. "For the longest time, we've felt like we were sitting on something good," Patrick says.

Rocky's Place in Maple Heights is closing its doors. Local musicians will remember the bar fondly for its blues jam sessions in the mid-1980s to mid-'90s. Monday nights Lud "Pops" Hrovat, the late Jimmie Milia, Butch Armstrong, Dallas Coffey, Dave Evans, and Richey Whittington would drink beer, eat chicken wings, and head over to Rocky's to bang out the blues. The jams attracted guest players as esteemed as Robert Lockwood Jr., Glenn Schwartz, Frankie Starr, and Bill D'Arango.

The Original Monday Nite Blues Band will say goodbye to the club Monday, May 10, with a set from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. New and old faces alike are invited to join in.

Well-traveled folk singer Brian Henke has a CD release show for Love Songs for Terra at the University Circle Arabica, Thursday, May 6. The Cletus Black Revue stretches its CD release party over two nights, Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, at the Savannah

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