It's an honor just to be nominated. But — winning is always nice.
Several of the best-known names in Pulaski County music will have that opportunity after receiving nominations for the Appalachian Arts & Entertainment Awards — or "Appy" for short, if you like. Now in its second year, this awards ceremony, scheduled to take place April 9, 2022, in The Willard and Lucy Kinzer Theater at the prestigious Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Ky., is meant to recognize and promote the work of musicians and artists, as well as others in the entertainment industry, in the Appalachian region, particularly those here in Kentucky.
For these awards, the public gets to vote and have a say in who is ultimately considered for the award in each category. People can do so at appalachianartsandentertainmentawards.com. Those interested can also learn more about the awards at that website.
Master Musicians Festival has been nominated in the "Music Festival" category. Preparing for its 28th year as Somerset's own two-day outdoor music festival, the event's reputation has grown over the years, and after an early ending in 2019 and a cancellation in 2020, MMF roared back with Blues Traveler as the headliner this past summer.
"We are honored to be included as a nominee," said Tiffany Finley, MMF's Executive Director. "Any time we get recognized for our work, we sure do love it. We're very excited to be nominated. Those are newer awards, and it's very cool that they've put together a program to honor people in Appalachia."
In its category, MMF is going up against "Bash on The Branch" in Irvine, Ky.; Festival of the Red in Slade, Ky.; FoxFire Music Festival in Ashland, Ky.; Manchester Music Festival in Manchester, Ky., and one from the state of New York, Old Songs Music Festival in Altamont.
"There are some really great festivals that have been nominated as well that are our friends, and we wish them nothing but luck," said Finley. "We have a lot of history. Not many festivals can say they've been around for 29 years. We're really proud of our history."
A number of other Pulaski Countians and familiar faces in the area were nominated in various categories. Singer-songwriter Cody Lee Meece was nominated for "Best Guitarist" and "Best Songwriter" and, along with his group the Poor Excuses, nominated in the "Best Country" category. Last year, Meece won a Lexington Music Award for his debut EP "The Break" and released a video for the song "Don't Tell Her the Truth" last summer.
"I'm thankful to those who have supported and believed in me so that this could be possible, and to those who nominated me," said Meece. "It's an honor to be alongside so many other amazing artists from the region!"
Also up for "Best Songwriter" are locals Spooky Fox and Kevin Dalton & the Tuesday Blooms. Last year, Dalton and his group won for "Best Americana," a category in which Spooky Fox is also nominated this year as well as local folk duo LaMay & Reese.
"We're honored," said Joe LaMay of LaMay & Reese. "We've been doing our music for a long time and it's nice to get some recognition. It's also nice to be included with other artists of remarkable quality."
Spooky Fox — a.k.a. Yovany Pino, originally of Wayne County — has also been nominated for "EP of the Year." Spooky Fox released the album "Bad Hombre" in November on all streaming platforms.
"I'm feeling pretty grateful that I'm at a place in my music career where I'm getting nominated along with so many great artists," said Pino. "It's definitely a great feeling!"
Harmonica player Tommy Cate, part of Kevin Dalton's Tuesday Blooms, was nominated in the "Best Wind/Brass" category. Cate said he was "surprised and deeply honored" by the recognition.
The Kentucky Mountain Trio, now better known as Heidi & Ryan was nominated for "Best Gospel/Christian Music."
Sarah Cahill was nominated for "Best Photographer," which she also won last year.
To be in contention, an artist or group could submit themselves or fans could submit them — as long as the nominee is living in or originally from the 13-state Appalachia region.
Many other artists from other communities who are well known in this area for performing at events like MMF and downtown Somerset festivals were nominated as well. If anyone local was nominated that was not mentioned here, please inform the Commonwealth Journal to include them in this list.