Worcester-area artists strike right notes in getting nominated for Boston Music Awards

The Boston Music Awards nominations announced on Friday include several Worcester-area names and two local venues.

Some Worcester artists are veterans of the Boston Music Awards, such as two-time Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist and Worcester native Joyner Lucas. His nominations for 2023 include Artist of the Year, Hip-Hop Artist of the Year and Song of the Year ("Blackout" ft. Future).

First-time Boston Music Awards nominee Nicole Sutka of West Brookfield
First-time Boston Music Awards nominee Nicole Sutka of West Brookfield

For first-time nominee Nicole Sutka of West Brookfield, it was all a bit of a surprise. The multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter whose songs blend hip-hop, jazz, prog-rock and indie-rock genres, said she heard via Facebook that she had been nominated.

"I've always played jazz," she said Saturday. But because her work includes so many genres, "I had to read the list of nominations" to see what category she was nominated in. "It took me a while to scroll through all the categories," she said.

Sutka is nominated as Jazz Artist of the Year. Also nominated in the category is jazz saxophonist and singer Grace Kelly, who, although not from the Worcester area, has played here several times, including the Jazz at Sunset series outside The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts.

Founded in 1987, the Boston Music Awards is one of the longest-running regional music awards in the United States. This year there are nominations in almost 50 categories ranging from Album/EP of the Year to Artist Manager of the Year.

The Live Music Venue of the Year (1000+) category has two local nominations: The Palladium in Worcester and Indian Ranch in Webster.

Other nominated artists whose names might be familiar to local music fans include Elion Virtuoso of Worcester, Latin Artist of the Year; No Trigger and Sapling (Worcester area), Punk Hardcore Artist of the Year; The Blue Light Bandits (Worcester regular visitors whose former members include Grafton's Ricky Duran of "The Voice" fame), Rock Artist of the Year; and Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys (Worcester County), Video of the Year. Sickert is also nominated for Vocalist of the Year.

Also, Worcester poets Tony Brown and Ashley Wonder are nominated for Spoken Word Artist of the Year.

Victor D. Infante, features editor for the Telegram & Gazette and editor of Worcester Magazine and Worcester Living, is nominated for Music Journalist of the Year for the sixth year in a row.

Writing for Worcester Magazine in August, Infante reviewed Sutka's latest album, "NEXT."

"She’s (Sutka) playing squarely in the jazz-fusion oeuvre, certainly, but the album has a moody, haunting quality throughout that has a way of getting under the listener’s skin: Each time one returns, they find something different hidden in each song’s shadows," Infante wrote.

Sutka said that the fact she's recently released a new album may have played into receiving a Boston Music Award nomination.

Still, "I was surprised. I always imagine myself to be quite obscure, so for someone to have picked my name out of the hat is a surprise for me," she said.

With that, Sutka, who plays electric bass, flute and several other instruments, can be seen performing quite a bit in the area. She is a member of the trio The Combination with Mike Lynch, guitar, and Dave Nelson, drums, and a New Orleans-style ensemble. She has also also performed in live sessions Wednesday nights at Vincent's in Worcester.

"I jump at music that is improvisational and has a reckless abandon to it," she said.

Sutka said she saw names of people she knows as she scrolled down the list of Boston Music Awards nominees.

"I'm really pleased," she said of her own nomination. "I just feel very grateful. I take it as a great honor."

Sutka will be having an album release party for "NEXT" at starlite in Southbridge on Nov. 10. Fellow Boston Music Awards nominee The Blue Light Bandits will also perform.

The Boston Music Awards nominations were made by its approximately 400-member Nomination Committee. The vote is now open to the public online, who make up 50% of the vote for the awards. The other 50% is from the Nomination Committee. The nominee in each category with the most votes wins.  Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 17.

The Boston Music Awards will take place on Dec. 20 at Big Night Live, 110 Causeway St., Boston.

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Worcester-area artists nominated for Boston Music Awards