Solo Armada Music Awards 2019 – RESULTS
Why do we need a Year End Awards? It’s the chance to celebrate music from the past year that has meant so much to you as a community and as individuals. The chance to introduce people to music that they haven’t heard before and share your favourites. Even if your favourites haven’t been mentioned take time to mention them in comments on social media.
This year has been about so much more than music and as Christmas and New Year approach we may find ourselves reflecting on the past twelve months. Maybe not all of it was so great and it’s at these times we need to remember what we’ve gained as well as what we have lost. Before we get onto the awards just a little year end summary.
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I’m sat here, trying to summarise the past twelve months of the Solo Armada… and I honestly don’t know where to begin. I find myself thinking of the original group that started just over two years ago and has become something none of us could ever have imagined it could, or would be. Something none of us had ever even thought of. Personally speaking that original group who are now very close friends will always mean the world to me and that will never change. We changed each other’s lives that weekend and it doesn’t matter if we see each other every week, every month or once a year, we pick up right where we left off as if we had last seen each other yesterday. It’s something that couldn’t be recreated if we tried…but if anyone ever tells you it can’t be recreated again, well you better go ahead and call that person a massive bellend on behalf of us all. Because it has happened again, countless times since the original group, and all over the world, too.
Here’s the thing, the Solo Armada community is well and truly worldwide, and more and more people are joining every day. One of the questions we like to ask when someone joins is where did they hear about the Solo Armada? Sometimes the response states “from another group”, sometimes it says “saw a comment on Twitter/Facebook” etc. and that’s amazing! It really is! But then you get the responses that say….“Bumped into a bloke at gig who I think was called Andy.”… “Sarah recommended you because I’m thinking of going to a gig on my own but not sure”… “Met a group of you when I was on my own and then had the best night ever”…these are the type of things the majority of people respond with and the examples used here are real.
So yeah, the original group is special because the Solo Armada wouldn’t be what it is today without it. However, other groups within the Solo Armada have sprung up in different areas because strangers chose to go to gigs on their own in their local area, and now they have some of the best friends you could ask for. A special mention to people that travelled to Lost Evenings 3 and 2000 Trees…fuck me you all made those events special this year.
2020 is going to the biggest year yet for the Solo Armada. In January we’ll be taking pre-orders for the NEW enamel badges (as well as something a little extra) that will be launched in May. Yes it’s a new colour and yes we’ll still have the free ones to give out. Throughout the year we’ll have even more meet-ups planned as well as the usual Lost Evenings and 2000 Trees! And potentially, (most definitely) something a little different so keep an eye out on social media. Thanks to everyone that has contributed over the last few years, you’ve made a difference not just to the community but to lots of us as individuals as well!
Right…first up the most important award of them all!
Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music:
The Homeless Gospel Choir
The Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music represents the values of the Solo Armada. Those values are numerous, encompassing everything from a love of music to a willingness to try something new. What it really means, though, is that you represent a group of people who want to make sure that no-one ever feels alone. Whether you have all the family and friends in the world or are all on your lonesome, the sight of the Solo Armada badge should be the moment you make a new friend. And this bring us to someone who we think represents these values and so much more. Derek doesn’t have fans, he has friends.
Here’s a shock… The Homeless Gospel Choir (THGP) isn’t actually a choir. Nor does it even feature a choir. And if you’ve never heard or seen THGP you’ll be forgiven for asking where the choir is when Derek Zanetti steps out on stage. Just himself and a guitar (although he has lately toured with a full band so he’s getting there). However, by the end of each show he has his own choir with him because we absolutely guarantee you’ll be singing along with him and the rest of the crowd as his energy and enthusiasm is infectious. With three albums released since 2013 and a new one on the way in 2020, expect to see more of THGP on tour in the near future.
But this award is about more than producing great music and putting on a great gig. Derek’s openness and sincerity about dealing with his own mental health struggles has helped others seek help or at least let them know that they’re not alone. More importantly that they don’t have to be alone either. He actively engages people through social media (mainly Instagram) and talks about mental health awareness with an emphasis on supporting one another and accepting people for who they are. It’s a true passion for him and well-being is a key part of his life. This was evident at the open mic days which he hosted for the Lost Evenings 3 festival held in Boston this year. You’d see him speaking to individuals checking that they’re enjoying themselves and ensuring everyone was OK. He would recognise people that he’d only met once from over a year ago and would be genuinely pleased to see them. There’s not many people like Derek Zanetti but he’s doing a damn good job of making sure that there’s more of him in the world.
Thank you Derek for being everyone’s friend.
Wee Wee Selfie Award 2019:
Ammar Fahadh Khalid
40 points? Ok, so it’s not the highest score that we’ve seen and if you’re not aware of the #weeweeselfie then this award will likely be very confusing. To be honest… it’s also very confusing to those that do know about it as well.
So why is this the #weeweeselfie of 2019? The sheer gymnastics and contortion that Ammar has gone through in this selfie just to get his arse in the mirror is bloody impressive. There’s actually a grimace of pain on his face. Pure dedication. And this is why it’s the Wee Wee Selfie of the year. Ammar’s dedication getting to a gig is amazing and there’s literally nothing that stops him. A true solo gig goer who also happens to be a lovely person. Happy to go it alone and pretty much do his own thing, we hope that others who are yet to venture to a gig or festival on their own take the step in 2020. Thanks for making the community a lovely place to be mate.
Best Album 2019:
Gaz Brookfield – Lostfolk
I was asked to write a bit here because I’d only discovered Gaz Brookfield this year. So here I am. And it’s true- before September 2019 I had never knowingly heard a Gaz Brookfield song. By the middle of September 2019 I had purchased the entire back catalogue, and pre-ordered the (then) soon-to-be-released album, ‘Lostfolk’. So here we are with ‘Lostfolk’ and after five weeks or so of solid rotation, it’s likely to make my 2019 top five albums. The album marks a clear step forward in production – it’s a beautiful sounding body of work, but as ever with people like Gaz, it’s the songwriting that carries it, it’s the songwriting I fall for. At once confident and yet introverted, rootsy folk sounds mixing with some solid rock workouts, and some experimental stuff (the slide guitar on several tunes really speaks to my long dormant country aesthetic). They are sufficiently different in many ways to what’s come before to pique the interest, and yet feel like they’ll simply slot into the live show and soon be old friends. That’s what I’m hoping. Roll on those singalongs. I’m not going to pick favourites, there’s not a song here I’d skip. – Drewe Manton
You can purchase Lostfolk and Gaz’s previous albums HERE
Gaz also has some gigs early 2020. Ticket available HERE
Best Live Act 2019:
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
Was anyone really surprised to see Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls as finalists in a Best Live Act 2019 category? If it’s Frank on his own or with The Sleeping Souls, there’s no one that can perform quite like him. With each gig he gives his all and encourages the same from the people in the crowd and you can’t help but be swept up in the energy. And although others may question what the appeal is to see him time and time again you only need to look at his back catalogue of songs to know why. Yeah, you’ll get the usual songs that are expected to make an appearance at most of Frank’s gig but he always manages to include those special rarities because there’s so many! On top of that, Frank has worked hard to make his shows a warm and welcoming place from his assertion that his fans take care of each other to his work with Safe Gigs For Women. There are a lot of musicians who claim to want everyone to feel at home, but few who put the work into it that he does.
Tickets to see Frank play on his latest tour can be found HERE
Best Song 2019:
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Kitty Sucker
A song about love and passion that opens with the kind of swagger only Carter can pull off, ‘Kitty Sucker’ has quickly become a fan favourite. It’s big, brash and has enough bounce in the chorus to keep even the most excitable of people happy. What makes it stand out, though, is that touch of sleaze. Lyrics like ‘fast fuckers, slow lovers, we fit together like no other’ don’t sound like they should sit right in a song that you can imagine levelling stadiums, and yet they do, Frank’s delivery pulling them off. Throw in a big old dollop of groove, and it is easy to see why this one makes the list.
Tickets to see Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes can be found HERE
Breakthrough Act 2019:
The Wood Burning Savages
Having self released their debut album, ‘ Stability’ last year and going on to beat established bands Snow Patrol and ASH in the NI Music Prize for Best Northern Irish Album of the Year category, 2019 has seen The Wood Burning Savages go from strength to strength. Their recent tour supporting Skinny Lister (last years Solo Armada Best Live Act winners) was a fantastic introduction to a lot of Solo Armada people and it’s clear the band have become a favourite among the community. Let’s face it, a band that are just as good live as Skinny Lister are a band you’re going to pay attention too and it’ll be no surprise they won Northern Ireland Live Band at the Year at the NI Music Prize 2018.
Their recent tour in November affirmed just how good TWBS are live and loads of you went to see them. On the tour they played a few new songs from the upcoming album they are due to release in 2020 and it already promises to be one to look out for.
The Wood Burning Savages album Stability is available HERE
Best Festival 2019:
There is a reason 2000 Trees has won this award for the second year in a row. It’s fucking brilliant. Not only is it one of the friendliest festivals you will ever visit, packed with great food and enough booze to satisfy the thirstiest of people, but it also books the best bands. Where else can you go and watch The Armed run riot around a tent on the same day that you’ve had a lie-down, hungover and regretting your life choices while being spellbound by A.A. Williams? Heavy, soft and everything in-between, you can regret never going, or you can buy a ticket and become part of the family.
Tickets for 2000 Trees 2020 can be found HERE
Grace Petrie has been performing as a solo folk singer-songwriter and guitarist since 2006. She has performed gigs with many well known artists; musicians such as Billy Bragg and Chris T T, but also somewhat surprisingly, with comedians like Josie Long and Robin Ince. In 2018, Grace found a bigger audience after singing ‘Black Tie’ on The Guilty Feminist Podcast, but was probably discovered by most of the Solo Armada when she supported Frank Turner on his Be More Kind arena tour at the beginning of 2019.
Her 2018 album, ‘Queer as Folk’ is a beautiful collection of songs that are a mixture of political protests through to personal ballads, including the heartbreaking yet uplifting ‘Black Tie’, a message to her teenage self when she was at school struggling to accept her image as a butch lesbian, which Grace now happily identifies as.
If you haven’t discovered her yet, then be sure to check out a live performance, as her chat between songs is as educated, interesting and funny as her songs are uplifting.
Grace Petrie is currently touring and tickets can be found HERE