Solo success: Westerberg wins 3 Minnie music awards

Jon Bream / Star Tribune

Editor's note: Because of wrong information given to the newspaper, the winner of the new artist category in the Minnesota Music Awards was incorrectly reported in this article. The winner was the Delilahs.

Paul Westerberg, the reclusive former lead singer of the Replacements, may have been the big winner at the 13th annual Minnesota Music Awards Thursday at First Avenue, but the night truly belonged to Doc Severinsen.

Midway through the five-hour program, the trumpeter, who is principal pops conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, led an all-star Minnesota band in a 25-minute instrumental tribute to Minnesota music.

As Severinsen, the former leader of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" band, made his way through Prince's "Diamonds & Pearls" and Jevetta Steele's "Calling You," the crowd surged toward the stage. The Instamatics came out. With no Westerberg or Prince in the house, this was as close as these Minnies would get to a star.

Severinsen was fast, furious and funky on Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown," and Jack McDuff contributed a soulfully funky solo on Hammond organ. Severinsen, resplendent in a brocade velvet jacket and leather pants, proved he wasn't all show - he really can blow.

Then the Minnesota Music Academy, which administers the Minnesota Music Awards, invited three hip-hop groups - Full Circle, Micranots and Loose Lips - to give a rap tribute to Severinsen. The trumpeter was moved and said, "Last time I was rapped to was by my kids - three days ago. `Say, Dad, have you got any money?'"

The night could have belonged to Westerberg, but he didn't show up to collect his prizes for artist of the year, best album ("14 Songs") and best single ("World Class Fad").

His friend, Jim Walsh, critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, accepted the album of the year for Westerberg. Walsh, who had talked to the star Thursday afternoon, said, "Paul said he was very excited but not excited enough to come out tonight. He didn't think `14 Songs' sold as well as he liked, so props respect from his home town helps."

Westerberg wasn't the only no-show. Bob Dylan, who really doesn't live here anymore, did not accept his first ever Minnie - for best folk-bluegrass artist. Duluth-born Dylan, who grew up in Hibbing, is a member of the Minnesota Music Awards Hall of Fame.

Nearly half of the 50 award-winners were no-shows, but Thursday's Minnesota Music Awards really had more to do with music than awards.

The quality and variety of the music performances were impressive. Sounds of Blackness' soul-gospel was so stirring that emcee Lizz Winstead, the comic, said: "This is the first time in 33 years I haven't felt cynical. You can't get much better than the Sounds of Blackness."

Also impressive were Red Red Groovy's smart dance-pop and the Curbfeelers' jazzy, sophisticated R&B.

As for the awards, Debbie Duncan joined Westerberg as a triple winner, capturing top jazz vocalist, best jazz album ("Live at the Dakota") and best female vocalist. Double winners were Ipso Facto, the Carpetbaggers, Ghost Dance Deluxe and Steve Tibbetts. Winners were chosen by about 150 members of the Minnesota Music Academy. A special award was given to jazz pianist Carei Thomas, who is recovering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that affects the nervous system.

Among the best lines of the night:

Emcee Winstead on all the no-shows during the rainy evening: "Nobody's here to accept these awards because they're in the southwest corner in their basement."

Best keyboardist winner Jeff Victor on 1960s TV-star Casey Jones, who made a special appearance during the Minnies on which his singing son, John Casey, performed: "I want to dedicate this to one of the my childhood heroes, Casey Jones. If it wasn't for your rendition of `Walking in My Winter Underwear' with Roundhouse Rodney, I probably would have found another line of work."

As midnight approached, Casey (Roger Awsumb) took the stage and sang `Winter Underwear' and `Happy, Happy, Birthday', the famous song from his kiddie TV show, and he added an extra special rap rendition of `Birthday.'

Here is a complete list of Minnie recipients:

Blues artist/ Big John Dickerson; blues recording/ "Live Snakes" by the Hoopsnakes; country artist/ the Carpetbaggers; country recording/ "Nowhere to Go but Down" by the Carpetbaggers; folk-bluegrass artist/ Bob Dylan; folk-bluegrass recording/ "All Aboard" by Thea Ennen & the Algorhythms; gospel group/ Sounds of Blackness; hip-hop artist/ Ghost Dance Deluxe; hip-hop recording/ "Ghostdance" by Ghost Dance Deluxe; jazz vocalist/ Debbie Duncan; jazz instrumental group/ Illicit Sextet; jazz recording/ "Live at the Dakota" by Debbie Duncan.

Hard-rock group/ Dumpster Juice; hard-rock recording/ "Bellow" by Boneclub; new-age artist/ Steve Tibbetts; new-age recording/ "The Fall of Us All" by Steve Tibbetts; pop group/ Tina & the B-Side Movement; pop recording/ "Compass" by Jeff Arundel; R&B artist/ Curbfeelers; R&B recording/ "Heaven Help Us All" by the Steeles; Tex Mex-Latin artist/ Latin Sounds Orchestra; underground rock group/ Nixon Pupils; underground rock recording/ "Du Huskers" by various artists.

World-beat group/ Ipso Facto; world-folk artist/ Flash Girls; world recording/ "Get Ready" by Ipso Facto; polka artist/ Ruth Adams Band; dance-techno recording/ "25" by Red Red Groovy; cable-TV music show/ "Got My Own Show."

Artist of the year/ Paul Westerberg; major-label album of the year/ "14 Songs" by Paul Westerberg; indie record of the year/ "Picture Has Faded" by Ray & Glover; indie label/ Medium Cool; song of the year/ "World Class Fad" by Paul Westerberg.

Female songwriter/ Barb Cohen; male songwriter/ Willie Wisely; female vocalist/ Debbie Duncan; male vocalist/ Julius Collins and John Eller (tie); acoustic guitarist/ Matt Prudoehl; electric guitarist/ Jesse Johnson; bassist/ Jim Anton; drummer/ Dorian Crozier; keyboardist/ Jeff Victor; brass-reed player/ Jose James and Lee Ann Lindgren (tie).

New artist/ Balloon Guy; producer-engineer/ Tom Herbers; music film or video/ "Summer of the Drugs" by Soul Asylum; gig of the year/ Minnesota Music Academy Presents Minnesota Music at the Fine Line.

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