As the Grammy Awards dispensed their hardware with plenty of over-the-top theatricality on television screens across the country Sunday night, Omaha’s crop of musicians celebrated their own successes with a humbler bit of pomp and circumstance. The Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards program brought together local musicians with their artistic compatriots in theater and visual arts for the fifth annual awards show inside the Grand Ballroom at Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs. The evening’s biggest music winner at the OEA Awards was Adam Hawkins. Hawkins and his band It’s True garnered the evening’s main honors, artist of the year and album of the year. Hawkins, however, was out of sight, forgoing the event after relocating to Iowa just after the release of his award-winning record. The awards program opened with dance and drums from the African Culture Connection, followed by a handful of theater and visual arts awards. Those awards dominated the proceedings of the first half of the show, with musical performances being placed at intervals to preview some of the music award categories later in the event. All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, the project of ukelele player and vocalist Rebecca Lowry, set the unassuming tone of the musical side of the OEAAs with a stripped down song detailing the changing nature of quietude in a relationship. Joined onstage by a violinist, it’s easy to see why Lowry has a growing following in Omaha’s singer-songwriter community. She’s able to pair her adult pop sensibilities with her uniquely stripped down approach to instrumentation. All Young Girls Are Machine Guns ended the night by taking home the Best New Artist and Best Jazz/Easy Listening awards. Steve Raybine and his band brought up the energy with upbeat, groovy pop-jazz, highlighted by well-articulated and clean blues guitar riffs, saxophone and Raybine’s rhythmic vibraphone playing. Later on, a group of slam poets took the stage with a lyrical performance that was music in its own right. The Filter Kings closed out the musical performances with a confident swagger, playing the ballroom like a barroom. They quickly kicked their set into gear, with their bassist garnering plenty of looks for his upright bass tricks. No-shows for the first few awards threatened to be a distraction, but Best Adult Alternative Singer Songwriter winner Brad Hoshaw did end up thanking fans for the OEA award on his Facebook page later in the night, after having missed the ceremony. Best Rock winner Cursive also did not attend the event. Event emcee Tom Becka loosened up as the musical portion continued, with off-the-cuff remarks and callbacks to the accountants who tabulated the OEA ballots. The best of which came after Paria accepted the award for best hard rock act. “Back in my day though, hard rock musicians didn’t look like accountants,” Becka hollered after the well-dressed metal band picked up their crystal obelisk. Other winners were more emphatic in expressing their joy at winning an OEA. DJ Kobrakyle, Kyle Richardson, marched triumphantly with his award. The Kris Lager Band and Matt Cox each took the podium to say thanks for their awards. Meanwhile, Little Brazil’s Oliver Morgan made sure to cart along his bottled beverage up front when Little Brazil took home the best alternative/indie trophy. Secret Weapon had fun with their speech after winning for best cover band. One of the members remarked the welcomed peculiarity of their band winning an award for playing songs by other bands. Becka also brought a note of seriousness, as he led the crowd in a round of applause for Luigi Waites. Waities, who died in April 2010, served as a tireless advocate of local music and one of the principle figures of Omaha’s jazz scene. The moment brought most of the attending musicians in the crowd to pay their respect. Waites’ band Luigi Inc. still holds a Sunday night residency at Mister Toad in the Old Market.

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