There was a little something for everybody at the 11th annual Billings Outpost Tuney Awards - one-vote victories, landslides, first-time winners, dynasties and awards "comebacks" for musicians who never had really left.
Two of the alleged comebacks were saxophonist Ernan Cortes, who had won as top horn player when the first-ever Tuneys were awarded at the Northern Hotel but had not won since. And Norrine Linderman's Norrine the Outlaw Queen band won as top country/western act for the for the first time ever.
The musician and yodeler was playing at Tiny's Tavern as the awards were being presented. By a single vote, Tiny's was selected at the top live venue for the 21-plus crowd. Ms. Linderman had received a previous Tuney for Lifetime Achievement.
A one-vote margin also propelled Jessica Lechner of the Jaded Ladies to her first-ever Tuney as best female vocalist.
Ballots were printed in the Outpost and turned in by Sept. 22. They were being counted even as opening acts for the awards gathering were performing.
The annual event not only celebrates local music but also the birthday of the Outpost, which turns 14 in October.
Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. lived up to its award as best all-ages live venue as everyone from toddlers to university chancellors listened to musicians ranging in age from 16 to 60ish, mingled, or ate bratwursts served up by professors in tie-dyed aprons at the Montana State University Billings History Club grill.
Outpost founder and Editor David Crisp said much of the credit for this year's bash is due to George Moncure of YVB and his crew. The first Tuneys were organized by Outpost music columnist Scott Prinzing and the past two in large part by his successors, Anna Paige and Kjersten Olsgaard, who have since moved on.
Toward the end of the awards, Matt Devitt was a constant stage presence. Having won as best percussionist earlier in the evening, Mr. Devitt represented three bands named the best in their categories: 4 or More (jazz act), Funk in the Trunk (soul/R&B/blues) and ENDever (10th straight Tuney as best metal act).
As ENDever members descended the stairs from the stage, guitarist Mario Castillo was besieged by two of his young children, who hugged his knees.
Mr. Devitt may the busiest musician in the area and one of his bands - Funk in the Trunk - seems to be among the most popular.
Besides Mr. Devitt, Funk band members named best in their categories were bassist Robin Martinez and keyboardist Dave Green.
The show opened with Garrick Phillips and Marco Castro, followed by Katy Kemmick, who at 16 years of age already is a Tuney veteran.
"This song is funny - and slightly inappropriate," Ms. Kemmick said before launching into Hank Williams Jr.'s "Family Tradition," a song about late-night illicit and often illegal activities.
The remains of Battlestar Kramden, a scaled-down trio headed by Gy Moody on vocals and congas, was a significant crowd-rouser and certainly king of the segues.
With Dennis Nettiksimmons on guitar and Greg Utterback on bass, the newly christened Kramden: Mach 2 still puts out a lot of sound.
And, oh, the segues. Picture (or hear) this: Start with the Beatles "I Am the Walrus," segue to Neil Diamond's "I Am, I Said," then to Nirvana's "Come As You Are" before drifting into Iron Butterfly's "In a Gadda Da Vida" and then the White Stripes' "Seven-Nation Army." Then back to "In a Gadda Da Vida" and back to "Come As You Are."
And there you are.
2011 Tuney Winners
Country/Western Act - Norrine the Outlaw Queen Band
Folk/Americana/Bluegrass - Peach Pickers
Soul/R&B/Blues - Funk in the Trunk
Jazz - 4 Or More
Metal - ENDever
Punk - Dead Necks
Rap - Impurity
Rock - 7th Avenue Band
Alternative Rock - Dirty Sally
Banjo-Fiddle-Mandolin - Trevor Krieger (Jaded Ladies)
Bass - Robin Martinez (Funk in the Trunk)
Percussion - Matt Devitt (Funk in the Trunk, 4 Or More, ENDever)
Female vocals - Jessica Lechner (Jaded Ladies)
Guitar - Art Eichele (ZeN)
Horn - Ernan Cortes (ECQ)
Keyboard - Dave Green (Funk in the Trunk)
Male Vocals - Frank Wilson (ZeN)
Harmonica - Doug Ezell (Midlife Chryslers)
Live Venue (21+) - Tiny's Tavern
Live Venue (all ages) - Yellowstone Valley Brewing
Instrument Store – Hansen Music
CD Store - Ernie November
Radio DJ - Michael and Kaitlyn (106 The Planet)