By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 16, 2021 at 8:01 AM

The 40th annual Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Awards Show is set to take place  Sunday, Oct. 17 at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom with performances by Kevn Kinney, Semi-Twang, The Esquires II and others.

Doors open at 6 p.m, and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at

A free pre-show party honoring this year’s award nominees is slated for Sunday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at The Saloon on Calhoun, 17000 W. Capitol Dr. in Brookfield. The party, which is open to the public, features performances by Ben Mulwana, The Keystones and Big Spoon.

Performers at the 40th WAMI Awards show itself include, in addition to the names mentioned above, drummer Kim Zick’s A Salute To Viola Smith, Bad Boy, Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers, The Docksiders, TAE, Almost Vinyl and Big Spoon.

This year WAMI will induct Semi-Twang, Viola Smith, Kevn Kinney, and The Esquires into its Hall of Fame.

Eddie Butts, Vic Thomas, Marilynn Mee, Gary Shaw and the Madison Area Music Association will be added to the WAMI Wall of Honor.    

Here are the 2021 nominees by category:

Artist of the Year:                        
Zach Pietrini
Unity The Band
Rose of The West
Them Coulee Boys
The Jimmys
Trapper Schoepp
Chicken Wire Empire

Album of the Year:
Black Belt Theatre - “Power Petting”
Stulo - Thiel - “Ghosts Around Here”
Chicken Wire Empire - “What Moves Mountains”                
Goran - “Under A Nashville Sky”
Testa Rosa - “Testa Rosa IV”
Klassik - “Quiet”
Wisconsin Vinyl Collective - “Volume Three”
Kurt Gunn - “Northern Town”

Song of the Year:
The Keystones - “2010”
Bascom Hill - “Our Love Burning”
Nickel & Rose - “Another Man’”
Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers - “Light Up My Summer”
Zach Pietrini - “Like the Pain”
Zed Kenzo - “Not Froze Yet”
Krestfall - “Where Do I Belong?”
Rose of The West - “Loves Lies Bleeding”

New Artist of the Year:
Boy Bjorn
The Last Bees
Ben Harold and The Rising
The Midnight Purchase
Laura Jean Bomber
The MilBillies

Male Vocalist of the Year:
Rich Hoffman
Ben Mulwana
Stephen Cooper
Bobby Rouse
Mike Wendland
Dave Adler
Andrew Balistreri
Vincent Black

Female Vocalist of the Year:
Katie Mack
Genevieve Heyward
Michele McCarthy
Jackie Brown
Jennifer Schafer
Betsy Ade
Sammy Ray Marshall

Singer/Songwriter of the Year:
Phil Norby
Kurt Gunn
Chris Haise Cullah
Mark Croft
Barbara Stephan
Kyle Megna

Rising Star of the Year:
The Waxlips
Twisted Chords
Parker Collar
Lilie Fouts
Cherry Punch
Amelia Hopfensperger
Mackenzie Moore

Alternative Rock/Rock Artist:
The Keystones
Flat Teeth
Jamie Fontaine & The Level
Marielle Allschwang & The Visitations

Bluegrass/Americana Artist:           
Dig Deep
The Honeygoats Trapper Schoepp Chicken Wire Empire The Whiskeybelles Them Coulee Boys Feed The Dog
The Mascot Theory

Christian/Gospel Artist:
The Band Eden
Brendan Brooks
Danen Kane
Samuel Elias
Branches Band
Night Divine WithoutExcuse

Blues Artist:
Dirty Deuce
Altered Five Blues Band
Reverend Raven and The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
The Jay Stulo Band
Blind Fiction
Cash Box Kings
Jimmy Crimmins

Country Artist:
Tangled Lines
Grand Union
Bella Cain
Madison County
Buffalo Gospel
Gregg Hall & The Wrecking Ball Jay Matthes
Rebel Grace

Cover Artist:        
Face For Radio
Johnny Wad
Almighty Vinyl
The LoveMonkeys
Five Card Studs
The Presidents
The Cougars
Radio Radio

Folk/Celtic Artist:
The Roving Scallywags
Derek Byrne & Paddygrass Blackthorn Folly
Nickel & Rose
Killarney Blarney
Jesse Voelker

Hard Rock Artist:
The Homeland Conspiracy
Black Belt Theatre
Sir Real
Leading The Blind
Last Crack

Metal Artist:
Imperial Fall
These Fading Visions
Under Aegis
Morta Skuld
Lords of The Trident

Punk Artist:                       
Platinum Boys
Size 5’s
Indonesian Junk
The First Rule
Fox Face
Bad Year

Jazz Artist:
Mark Thierfelder & Janet O’Mahony
Mr. Chair
Match Stick
Erin Krebs
The Meade Street Collective
Harmon Brothers
Jamie Breiwick
Randi Fay

Polka Artist:
SugarBush Boys
The November Criminals
Ralph Thull The Goodtime Dutchmen The Squeezettes
Val Sigal
Alpine Blast
Steve Meisner
Stas Venglevski

Pop Rock Artist:
Rose of The West
Testa Rosa
Fuzzy Surf            
Laurel Sulfate & Her Ladies of Leisure
Rocket Cat
Xposed 4Heads

Hip Hop/Rap Artist:
Genesis Renji
Kaylee Crossfire
Zed Kenzo
Von Alexander
Shle Berry

R&B/Soul Artist:
The Style
Bryon Cherry
Lex Allen
Barbara Stephan Band
Charles Walker Band
Ms. Lotus Fankh Cigarette Break
The Pocket Kings

Brewtown Beat
Unity The Band
King Solomon
Something To Do
The Carlos Adames Group
In Black ‘n White

Club/DJ/Dance/Electronic Artist:                       
Immortal Girlfriend
MC Whitehorse
DJ Shawna
Crystal Knives                       
DJ Bizzon
DJ King James DJ Milo

Horn/Big Band Artist:
Stephen Cooper and The Nobody Famous
Extra Crispy Brass Band
Hot & Dirty Brass Band
Cold Sweat & The Brew City Horns
FBI & The Untouchable Horns
Big Band Reunion
Mama Digdown’s Brass Band
The Jimmys

Tribute Artist:
The Prince Experience
The Salford Lads Club
The Docksiders
Aces High - A Tribute to Iron Maiden The Glam Band         
Steely Dane
The Rush Tribute Project

Nick Smith
Dave Maurer
John Wartenweiler
Cedric LeMoyne
Matt Hammen
Craig Neuser
Ben Titus
Andy Mertens

Candy Dax
Dan Cable
Devin Drobka
Patrick Wydeven
Kim Zick
Steve Vorass
Mike Malone
Mike O’Hara

Angie Swan
Sean Williamson
Pat Stillman
Raine Stern
Tom Raspanti
Dean Arndt
Matthew Schroeder
Rodney Zimmerman

Dan Palmisano
Samuel P. McClain Jr.
Joe Hite
Kristopher Crow
Shawndell Marks
Jamie Fletcher
Josh Becker
Mitch Cooper

Best Recording Studio:
Howl Street Recordings
Steel Moon Recording Studio
Kneeverland Productions
The Exchange Recording Complex
Cherry Pit Studios
National Recording
Subsidized Housing Records
Tanner-Monagle, Inc.

Katie Del Giacco
Michelle Jerabek
Matt Antoniewicz
Kevin Van Ess
Nick Zoulek
Peter Neumer
Matt Ostlund
Pete Ross

Cameron Fair
Tim Mcilree
Holly Rognstad
Marisa Rose Sheppard
Ernest Brusubardis IV
Chauntee Ross                    
Tony Sturino
Corinn Bonkalski

Best Studio Engineer/Producer:
Shane Hochstetler
Kevin Arndt
Eric LaBrosse
Ian Olvera                    
Marc Golde
Gary Tanin
Aaron Zinsmeister
Tom Washatka

Best Live Club/Venue:
Short Branch Saloon
The Saloon on Calhoun
Lyric Room
Cactus Club
High Noon Saloon
Deja Vu Martini Lounge
Paulie’s Pub & Eatery
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.

Best Live Engineer Sound/Lights:
Craig Vetrone
David Dec
Steve Wiegert
Trevor Powers
Justin Abuya
Steve Funke
Tim McClutchy
Michael Grassman

For more information visit

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.