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Zoo Music Awards handed out in impressive show at the Wilma

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Indie musicians from across Montana put their freak on and showed up in droves for the Second Annual Zoo Music Awards, which were presented on March 8 at the Wilma Theatre in Missoula. The gala event, produced by Alanya Cantellya (Promotions Director/Music Director, Montana Radio Company) and Tara Shisler, (Promotions/Marketing & Events Director, Missoula Independent) was a marvel of sights and sounds, and thoroughly enjoyable.

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Even before entering the majestic Wilma, attendees were treated to Rocket and Prism, a pair of young ladies with painted faces, who entertained on stilts with clownish antics and hi-jinks. After the attendees entered the Wilma's lobby, they had the chance to have their pictures taken on the red carpet and purchase snacks and spirits before taking their seats in this historic venue.

Not only were the attendees treated to performances by four of last year's winners, Muzikata, Airstream Safari, Traff the Wiz and MIP, they also saw some amazing aerial work and fire dancing by members of the Moksha Aerial Studio Collective in Missoula, as well as Michael Beers, John Howard and Matthew Kettlehake from Missoula Homegrown Comedy.

The night moved rapidly, from the comedy to presentation of three awards to a 20 performance by the aforementioned bands. The awards were vinyl records mounted on a stand with the name of the award and winner. I was also impressed with the visual elements of the night, from the lighting and sound to the slide shows and moving pictures during the performances.

First to perform was Muzikata, who brought their special blend of Funk and Reggae to the stage. Opening with their own take on the Phil Collins In the Air Tonight, which featured some of the best aerial work I have seen by Bethany Stanbery of Moksha. Later in the evening, Emma Bryson, Enrico Vinholi and Jess Patrick excelled with their fire dancing.

This year 14 awards were handed out in 13 categories. Here are the nominees (the winners appear in bold):

ROCK: Mabel's Rage, Modern Sons, Omnithex

HIP HOP & SPOKEN WORD: Hemingway & the Organix, Lyrical Motion, Mr. Soap

UNDER 18 (Friday Showcase): Ashley's Hundred, The Cords, Maiah Wynne

UNDER 18 (Saturday Showcase): Funk Master, Playful Youth, Show for Nobody

FUNK & REGGAE: Muzikata, Off in the Woods, Shakewell

ELECTRONIC: A-Dubbin, DJ HVZE, $ex Brothers

BLUEGRASS: The Lil' Smokies, Tedd Ness & the Rusty Nails, The Workers

SINGER/SONGWRITER: Kappa Oie, Kristi Neumann, Taylor McCarl

COUNTRY & FOLK: Bottom Feeders, Good Old Fashioned, Hasslers

PSYCHEDELIC: Baby Tyger, Miller Creek, Voodoo Horseshoes

METAL & PUNK: Carlton, Unicorn Cannery, Universal Choke Sign

INDIE & POP: Catamount, Confidence Man, Wrinkles

JAZZ: The Captain Wilson Conspiracy, Front St. Jazz Group, Mary Place & Blue Moon

BLUES: Black Mountain Moan, Mike Bader Band, Three-Eared Dog

My highlight of the evening was the performance by Muzikata, who were joined by newly crowned Singer/Songwriter winner Kristi Neumann. Their three song set was amazing, making it easy to see why they won their category last year.

What a great night of celebrating indie music in Montana - I can hardly wait for next year's competition.

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