Nirvana Wins Five Awards At Music Fete

"The 1992 Northwest Music Awards" last night at the Paramount Theatre. --------------------------

The big winner: Nirvana.

The big loser: Gov. Booth Gardner.

To no one's surprise, Nirvana swept the 1992 Northwest Music Awards last night at the Paramount. Also to no one's surprise, Gardner took a lot of lumps during the four-hour show, for his signing Friday of a bill making Washington the first state with a music censorship law.

Among those who dumped on Gardner were Ann Wilson of Heart, who called the law "embarrassing"; Quincy Jones, who sent a statement to the ceremony warning of the insidiousness of censorship; political commentator Walt Crowley, who cried, "We are not going to tolerate censorship in the state of Washington!"; and several award winners, whose crude epithets were followed by chants of "Vote, vote, vote" from the audience.

Gardner wasn't on hand to hear how badly he has alienated music fans. Neither, unfortunately, was anyone from Nirvana present to accept the band's five awards, including group, song, alternative rock group, video, and alternative rock album of the year. Nirvana was expected to be the big winner, because its "Nevermind" album has sold some 6 million copies since it was released in September. Its success has focused international attention on the Seattle music scene.

Other bands that have taken the Seattle "grunge rock" sound to the world also were honored last night. Soundgarden, on tour in Germany, took five awards, including best metal band and best metal album, for "Badmotorfinger." Lead singer Chris Cornell was named best male vocalist.

Cornell's wife, Susan Silver, who manages Soundgarden as well as Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees and other bands, was honored with the President's Award, which she accepted with surprise and grace.

Pearl Jam, which just returned from a European tour, was named new group of the year, and also won for best rock album, "Ten." Mike McReady of the band was named best electric guitarist.

While rock bands dominated the top awards, the coveted artist-of-the-year nod went to Duffy Bishop. The longtime nightclub singer took on a new challenge last year, starring as Janis Joplin in a play called "Janis," which was closed after several months because of a suit brought by the late rock star's family. Bishop was not on hand to receive the award, but a statement of hers was read. She too decried Gardner's action.

Among the performance highlights was a set by the Lovemongers, featuring Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. It included two new songs, "Desire Walks On," driven by a strong, rap-influenced beat, and "You and the Sun," a romantic rock ballad. Both will be on the next Heart album, which is being recorded here at the Wilson sisters' new studio, Bad Animals.

Ann Wilson's singing was as powerful as ever, especially on covers of Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" and the Moody Blues' "Timothy Leary." She also sang a bluesy version of "Crazy on You" and a spiritual called "Ring Them Bells." And she played guitar, bass and flute. Wilson said Heart's new music is "back down to earth, back down to wood, back down to dirt."

Ernestine Anderson, who was among those inducted into the Hall of Fame, closed the show with a couple of jazz songs, accompanied by the Garfield High School Jazz Band. The talented young musicians, directed by Clarence Acox, also provided incidental music throughout the night.

Kid Sensation and his posse tried to get the crowd pumped with some rap music, without much luck. The young rapper said he wants to be a positive role model and set a good example for youth. As he spoke, two of his male back-up singers paced the stage carrying ax handles.

The Main Attraction, in matching iridescent blue suits, sang tight four-part harmonies. Sadhappy played progressive jazz-rock, including a version of Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression." Gruntruck rattled the rafters with thumping hard rock.

The evening, which went much smoother than in previous years, was emceed with bawdy wit by Robin Erickson and John Maynard of KXRX. As usual, at least half the audience was in the lobby at any given time, where plenty of record-industry schmoozing was going on. The only time the lobby cleared was for the Lovemongers' set. When it was over, nearly half the crowd streamed out of the theater. Only a few hundred remained for Anderson's short set.

The fifth awards show was held in conjunction with the 1992 NAMA Music Business Conference, which was held last weekend at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center.

The award winners:

Artist: Duffy Bishop.

Group: Nirvana.

New Group: Pearl Jam.

Song: "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana.

President's Award: Susan Silver.

World/Ethnic Group: Jumbalassy.

Rock Group: Alice in Chains.

Alternative Rock Group: Nirvana.

Rap: Sir Mix-a-Lot.

R&B: Seattle Women in Rhythm & Blues.

New Age: David Lanz.

Metal: Soundgarden.

Jazz: Kenny G.

Country: Ranch Romance.

Blues: Robert Cray.

Religious: Total Experience Gospel Choir.

Adult Contemporary: Kenny G.

Acoustic: Terry Lee Hale.

Video: "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana.

Metal Album: "Badmotorfinger," Soundgarden.

Rock Album: "Ten," Pearl Jam.

Alternative Rock Album: "Nevermind," Nirvana.

Rap Album: "Mack Daddy," Sir Mix-a-Lot.

New Age Album: "In the Garden," Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel.

World/Ethnic Album: "Jumbalassy," Jumbalassy.

Jazz Album: "Pure Schuur," Diane Schuur.

Country Album: "Blue Blazes," Ranch Romance.

Blues Album: "Dedicated," Guitar Slim.

Adult Contemporary Album: "Rock the House Live," Heart.

Acoustic Album: "In the Garden," Eric Tingstad & Nancy Rumbel.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Queensryche.

Vocalist Male: Chris Cornell, Soundgarden.

Vocalist Female: Ann Wilson, Heart.

Vocal Group: The Main Attraction.

Miscellaneous Instrument: Artis the Spoonman, spoons.

Keyboards: Glen Slater, the Walkabouts.

Horns: Skerik, Sadhappy.

Guitar Electric: Mike McReady, Pearl Jam.

Guitar Acoustic: Terry Lee Hale.

Drums: Matt Cameron, Soundgarden.

Bass: Paul Hinklin, Sadhappy.

Club: The Backstage.

Radio Station: KNDD.

TV Show: "Bombshelter Videos".

Hall of Fame: Ernestine Anderson, Kearney (Carney) Barton, Nancy Claire, Gail Harris Harmon, Danny Holiday, Quincy Jones.