By Anne Castellano
The big event in New London this weekend is the 5th Annual Whalie Awards ceremony, taking place on Saturday night at the Hygienic Art Park. The Whalies are New London's version of the Grammy Awards, honoring the best of the best in all genres of local music. There are some new categories in both Critic's Choice (voted on by area media professionals) and People's Choice (voted on by the public) for 2014, including Best Jazz Act, Best Radio DJ and several new Best Video awards. Over 100 local bands and individuals in the New London (and nearby) scene have been nominated, and the show has become one of the most popular events of the year. This is the music community's opportunity to be seen, be heard, and show off a little, so while music is the focus of the evening, fashion is right up there in importance as well. There's even a red carpet, with photographers covering the arrivals beginning at 6 pm when the gates open. Some folks have even taken limo rides to past shows. The actual ceremony begins at 7 pm, with 40 statuettes being awarded by special guest presenters. Musical performances will also be interspersed with the actual awards. Highlights of past years include the Weird Beards performing as marionettes and Bobby Crash presenting an award with (and interpreting for) "Pucky" the whale....
This year's musical entertainment will be extremely diverse, giving a great representation of what the local scene has to offer. You'll hear everything from rock, punk, garage, and country, to jazz and hip hop. Fatal Film, J.A.B.S., The Fly 1's, Straight to VHS, The MacLean Sisters, The CBYD Trio, Horns of Ormus, and Vincent Tuckwood will all be playing. If you want to sit down and actually see the awards being given out, I'd recommend you get there early and grab a seat. This show is always packed, and it's very hard to see and hear what's going on from the back of the Art Park, even with the nominees being projected on a screen near the stage. Weather in past years has run the full spectrum, from hot and humid to rainy to extremely cold (last year it was about 40 degrees), but it looks like Saturday is going to be a perfect day with a high of 79 and a low of 57. This is the latest in the year that the Whalies have ever been held, and that strategy seems to have worked, since you won't need your winter coat this year. The show is the kickoff to the summer season at Hygienic Art, and it's also a fundraiser for the 8th Annual I AM Festival, which will take place on September 6 this year. Admission is $10 (the Day newspaper article about the Whalies said the show was free, but that is incorrect), and all ages are welcome, with beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for sale. View the full list of nominees here: http://iamfest.org/the-2014-whalie-award-nominees/.
Following the Whalies, the official afterparty will be happening at the Oasis Pub, where The Hempsteadys will be playing their much-loved brand of dirty reggae. These guys just played Skanarchy Fest at Cafe Nine in New Haven with ska legends Johnny Too Bad & the Strikeouts, and they were psyched to have the opportunity to open for one of their all time favorite bands. It sounds like they had a great time, and I bet they are still talking about it. This is probably the biggest band you'll ever see at the Oasis, with nine members. I think they usually set up on the floor in front of the stage as well. The Hempsteadys always put on a really fun show, and they draw a big crowd too, so the place will likely be packed. Cover is $5 at the Oasis.