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Syracuse-area music, musicians celebrated at an event that reached a milestone this year

Picture of the Syracuse rock group Not Robots playing at the 2023 SAMMY Awards
Chris Bolt/WAER News
The group Not Robots was among a number of musical acts that performed at the 2023 SAMMY Awards at the Palace Theater, as the event celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Fans and supporters of the Syracuse Music scene once again celebrated those who produce, record, and play music at theSAMMY AWARDS this past weekend. The creators of the event not only honored area talent, they also celebrated a milestone this year.

Just about all of those honored at the Syracuse Area Music Awards marveled at how rich and diverse the music scene is in Syracuse.
SAMMY turned 30 this year and one who was there from the start received the Founders Award. Liz Nowak every year helps compile the artists’ submissions, then tallies all the community votes. But she turned the praise right around to the musicians.

“It’s you, you keep the SAMMYs going," Nowak said to all the musicians in attendance. "We’re a music town. Please continue to create, collaborate and share you talents with us.”

WAER’s Own Host of Common Threads Larry Hoyt was inducted into the SAMMY’s Hall of Fame this year for both playing and presenting music in the community for decades.

A picture of Larry Hoyt shown at the SAMMYs awards on a large screen during the presentation.
Chris Bolt/WAER News
Common Threads host Larry Hoyt has written and performed music for years, including having two CDs nominated for SAMMY awards in past years.

“Most of the people who are doing music here in Central New York are doing it for the same reason I’m doing it; we love the music. We love the camaraderie. I would say most of the people I know are not doing it with the idea of getting an award, they’re doing it for the satisfaction of doing it,
said Hoyt.

Hoyt modestly adds he doesn’t feel famous, he feels more like he’s in the 'hall of the sorta-well-known.'

(See all the winners in the various genre here)

Other musical styles enjoyed by WAER audiences were recognized. John Cadley, often heard on common threads, won for best Americana; Best Rhythm and Blues to Shawn Seals and SMX; and London McDaniel won for best Jazz performance.

“I want to thank the SAMMY board and I want to thank all the musicians that put their energy into making Syracuse a family of music and musicians. It’s really extraordinary,” said McDaniel at the event.

Blues artist Carolyn Kelly, also honored into the Hall of Fame this year, was one of numerous musical acts to make the awards presentation a true concert event. Many honorees and presenters noted the SAMMY Awards helps point out how much high-quality music is made right here in the Salt City.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.