The 2013 Offbeat Awards

IT'S time for the third annual Offbeat Awards, where praise and applause are handed out to the south-west's ever-growing and evolving music scene. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong (or right) and congratulations to all of you who helped provide so much great music in 2013 .

Best artist

Tom Richardson

THERE are a number of factors that make Richardson's 2013 so impressive. Not only did he spend a lot of the year playing shows in Europe and North America, but he also reinvented himself as a one-man loop-pedal band, reworking his roots music and writing new songs to suit his new show, which is no mean feat. This reinvention was demonstrated beautifully in the live DVD/CD he put out in 2013 - another demonstration of Richardson's ambition, drive and talent.

Honourable mentions

Richard Tankard continues to be an in-demand keyboardist, playing with more big names in between driving his own band Tank Dilemma. Also, Jackson McLaren gained more traction in the lead-up to his 2014 album, getting airplay for single Some Of My Friends and touring with Grinspoon's Phil Jamieson, while Brady James got good promo by featuring in Allday's Girl In The Sun.

Best band

Kashmere Club

THE gigs are getting bigger and better for this south-west trio. Showstealers at Kennedy's Creek Music Festival, the boys have come a long way from their Portland/Hamilton beginnings and are now semi-regulars at AC/DC Lane's Cherry Bar and hits on the Melbourne scene. Getting The Living End's Chris Cheney to produce their excellent Lost & Sound EP was a bonus, but you would expect more big names to be knocking on their door soon.

Honourable mentions

Cowboy punks The Alamo are going from strength to strength, south-west trio Red Eagle remain a benchmark for quality rock in Warrnambool, blues rockers Blackwood Jack are about to break through to big things, Airbourne continue to conquer the world doing what they do best, Tank Dilemma had their best year to date, Port Fairy punks Gramps impressed with their reunion album and show, and Hyperdrones get better and better every time they play and have a new and nifty EP under their belts.

Best recording

Tank Dilemma, Having Said That, Let Me Say This

TIME will tell, but I think TD's third album might be their best yet. It's their typical blend of funk, soul, pop and jazz which is always excellent but it's got added spark and polish in its sound (courtesy of drummer/engineer Brenton Smith and frontman/producer Richard Tankard), vitality in the playing (with guitarist Shannon Bourne a welcome addition), and Tankard's at the top of his game as a songwriter. With tracks like the retrenchment stomper Handshake Made Of Gold, funky Facebook-inspired crowd favourite Like To Like, the wry slink of Neighbours Fight, a pacy revisit of early turn I Ain't Missin' You, and the standout Self Help Book Is Broken, this is not just a great TD album, but one of those killer local records that holds their own on a national scale.

Honourable mentions

Joe Gardner's Mr John McKensie alter-ego produced something wonderfully new and different to anything else from the south-west with his self-titled EP, Kashmere Club's debut Lost & Sound EP was a killer, ex-Warrnambool guitarist Justin Salmon returned with an excellent self-titled EP from new band Dead Letter Blues, Hyperdrones' self-titled debut EP was a winner, while Gramps kicked butt '90s style with the irreverent and awesome The Unknown Part II.

Best film clip

Kashmere Club, Soldier

IT was a scant year for local video clips, but even in a busy year Kashmere Club's inspired video for Soldier would have been hard to beat. A clever send-up of the over-used tropes in film clips, it demonstrates the great sense of humour the lads have, but is also cleverly edited to suit both the song's upbeat moments and heartfelt passages. On top of that, Soldier is probably the best song of the year from a south-west band.

Honourable mentions

Tom Richardson gets serious kudos for putting together a whole live DVD, and Jackson McLaren and his people put together a classy clip for his latest single Some Of My Friends.

Best gig

Kennedys Creek Music Festival 2013

IN 2014 , this festival will likely sell out and it will never quite be the same again. It's days as a best-keep secret are over, because unfortunately everyone (myself included) keeps banging on about it and now everyone else is going to want to go. If only it wasn't so awesome then we wouldn't want to tell everyone about how great it is and then we could keep it to ourselves, all 700 of us that went last year and had a ball in the mud, listening to so many great bands. I imagine KCMF is what the early Meredith Music Festivals must have been like.

Honourable mentions

The Loft, once again, kept live original music alive in Warrnambool from metal to funk, from zydeco to EDM, from country to punk. Their best effort was Arockalypse, which featured over 20 acts, but there were so many great gigs there throughout 2013, most recently the Gramps reunion, which made me feel like I was back in high school (in a good way). Airbourne's show at the Whalers Hotel was loved and loud, and the Band Roulette event at the Hotel Warrnambool was a great showcase of local talent for a great cause, but one of the most impressive gigs of the year wasn't really a gig. It was John Hudson and Matt Hewson's live score for Buster Keaton's silent gem The General at the Lady Bay Resort, which was a truly special evening of great music and a great film.

Rising star

Bonney Ranch/Bec & The Big River Trio (tie)

SO many people were raving about Bonney Ranch in 2013 and for good reason. They're still in high school, so there are big things ahead of them, but already they have a tight and impressive sound. The other new "kids" on the block that were hard to ignore last year were Bec & The Big River Trio, who were picked by the ABC for their Exhumed TV series. As soon as they get their own material together, the Australian country music scene could be their oyster.

Honourable mentions

Another Exhumed band that came out of nowhere was The Black Belts and hopefully they can also get their own material happening. And the other young band on the rise worth keeping an eye on is Lemonbait, who get better and better every time I see them play and are starting to hit on a winning musical formula.

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