Grand Band Slam: The 1st Annual Connecticut Music Awards

ImageWhen I say “art,” what’s the first thing you think about? I know my mind instantly wanders to paintings like The Mona Lisa or other famous classics in places like the Tate Britain in London or The Louvre in Paris—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, it’s important to remember to take the next step beyond that initial mental inclination and realize that art doesn’t exist solely in a gallery, or in a theater. In reality, art holds an immeasurable amount of forms and can be found in a myriad of different places, voices, pieces and people—even oftentimes Friday and Saturday nights in your favorite bars!

Yes, I’m talking about those singer/songwriters, bands and DJs you thump your heads or dance the night away to (poorly, in my case) as you go out for a night on the town. Although many nutmeggers head to New York or Boston to unearth new musical talents, Connecticut possesses an incredible and impressive local music scene that deserves greater recognition and appreciation.

ImageAnd that was the overall intention of the 1st Annual Connecticut Music Awards that took place last Wednesday (Sep 12) at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. Organized by Chip McCabe from the Hartford Advocate as part of this year’s Grand Band Slam, this Grammy-esque awards ceremony boasted 16 different awards categories featuring over 50 musical artists and bands from all around our state gathered for one purpose: love for Connecticut’s music.

Since the Arts Council was one of the sponsors of Grand Band Slam this year, I had the opportunity to man a booth before the Music Awards began to talk to different artists about their music and the Arts Council in general. Although each musician most certainly had his or her own unique fashion style (including the one band that dressed like The Village People), what truly fascinated me was how similarly they all seemed to feel and act. Despite being frosty cool on the outside, many musicians emanated a subtle nervous excitement, clearly anxious to find out if they were taking home the trophy.

ImageLost in observation, I was taken aback as the lights began to flicker at 7:30pm, signaling the start of the show. I took my seat and shortly thereafter Chip McCabe, the night’s host, popped onstage and was greeted by a thunderous applause by the musicians in the audience, clearly a sign of their respect and appreciation for his hard work for Connecticut’s music scene. As the awards began, I grew nervous that the lighthearted and fun atmosphere would turn cutthroat as victors and subsequent losers emerged. But my fears were quickly quashed as the applause for each nominee transitioned into cheers for the award’s winner without a groan or a boo anywhere in the room. That happening spoke wonders about our local bands—though not every artist went home with a trophy, each remained supportive of the other and, to a certain extent, the scene in general.

I think that kind of support and appreciation the bands hold for one another distinguishes Connecticut’s music scene and makes it something definitely worth being a part of.  If you want to give the scene a try for yourself, you can see each nominated band at various locations throughout the state this Thursday through Saturday (Sep 20-22). For venues, times and locations, visit Because, in reality,

There’s art happening all around you if you step back and look for it.