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Two Williamsport acts nominated for Steamtown Music Awards

SCRANTON — On Sept. 12 some of the best regional musicians in Northeastern Pennsylvania will congregate at The V-Spot, 906 Providence Rd., for the sixth annual Steamtown Music Awards. The event, hosted by the Electric City Music Conference, honors musicians and music industry insiders in 36 categories. This year, two Williamsport-based acts are up for nominations — The Gabe Stillman Band and the Boom Town Boys.

A committee of 25 local music industry professionals and 25 non-local industry professionals has been constructed to pick the winners in each category; and in some categories online voting will comprise half of the vote.

“I’m honored and proud to be nominated,” said Gabe Stillman, whose band was nominated for Blues Act of the Year. “It’s exciting to know that there are music fans out there who are supporting us and helping us achieve our goals”

Other bands nominated for Blues Act of the Year include the JP Williams Blues Band, Brendan Brisk Blues Band, Merchants of Groove, Kat N’ Randy, and the Phyllis Hopkins Electric Trio. Stillman said his band is “grateful to be in the good company of the other nominees.”

Along with Stillman, the group is comprised of Colin Beatty (bass), Jesse Roedts (drums) and Shane “The Hurricane” Sager (harmonica).

If recent successes are any indication, the Gabe Stillman Band could very well win in their category. Just last winter, the group finished in the Top 8 (out of 101 competing bands) at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and Stillman himself was given the highly esteemed Gibson Guitar Award — an accolade reserved for the best guitarist in the IBC finals.

With this being The Gabe Stillman Band’s first Steamtown Music Awards nomination, the group is making every effort to attend the ceremony. Stillman is excited that those in the region are “diggin’ the hard stompin’ blues,” and thanks those fans who helped nominate his group for the award.

“We try to bring as much energy to our show as we possibly can, and always give the crowd our best performance,” said Stillman. “From being an audience member watching other bands do that, you can’t help but respond to it.”

After forming as a band just last fall, the Boom Town Boys were extremely delighted to see their nomination for a Steamtown Music Award in the Folk/Americana Act of the Year category.

“We are super honored by it,” said Mike Steppe, the group’s frontman. “It’s something that came as a surprise and a little bit of a shock, but we are thankful and grateful that people are enjoying our music. We are just pleased to be doing this.”

Last year, the Boom Town Boys came together when Steppe enlisted the help of some friends — Nick Laylon (bass), Mike Wrench (drums, percussion), Joe Tokay II (guitar) and Connor Schall (keyboard, piano) — to help him put together a solo album at Eight Days a Week Studio in Northumberland. But after recording some material the group realized that its sound was much fuller than a solo project, so it decided to release its six-song EP, “The River Song,” as a band.

Steppe said that the album’s producer, Paul Smith, knew that there was “something special” going on with the group’s sound and helped them put together an album that has a center to it.

“A lot of credit has to go to Paul. Many times, we would have a song arranged and when we took it to him he would give us suggestions on how to make it more accessible,” Steppe said. “He taught us in the studio how to build a song for the lyric; allowing the music to follow the lyrics, so that the story doesn’t get buried by the music, which can be easy to do.”

Steppe mentioned that he doesn’t know how his band’s nomination came about, but that he is grateful to whoever nominated them because it allows the guys in the group to know they are on the right track.

“It seems like there is good positive momentum going,” he said.

Other acts nominated in the SMA’s Folk/Americana category include Gabby Borges, the Dishonest Fiddlers, LittleStarRun, Noxen and Zayre Mountain. Of all those bands, Steppe said that he’s familiar with the Dishonest Fiddlers, who he considers to be a “great” folk band.

“They write very interesting music and they are skilled musicians,” he said. “When I saw their name on the list, I felt honored to be included with them.

“It is one of those things where I don’t expect to win — I think the Dishonest Fiddlers deserve the award a lot more than we do,” Steppe added. “It is just a nice honor for a band that is just starting. It helps us feel like we are going in the right direction, and that things are working.”

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