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New London - Early into the 2012 edition of the Whalies Saturday, Sean Murray, founder and host of the annual awards show honoring the best in local music, took the podium Ricky Gervais-style, with a beer, to thank the crowd that packed the Hygienic Art Park.
"Thank you so much for showing up for a self-indulgent awards show," Murray said jokingly. "When it's really to indulge one person - me - and my love of award shows."
And that set the tone for the third edition of New London's annual music scene prom night that doesn't take itself too seriously but was a rather serious good time, complete with live performances, a red carpet and ample opportunities to gawk at attendees' fashion decisions.
Artists in genres ranging from indie rock to hip hop competed for awards in 35 categories.
Most of the awards were decided upon by outside critics, but local music fans were able to vote for their favorites on the local online zine wailingcity.com.
Wailingcity.com editor Meghan Killimade said there were more than 10,000 votes cast. Voters could vote only once with a valid email address.
Video screens played a larger role in this year's Whalies, as the nominees were introduced via short clips painstakingly assembled by graphic designer Kat Burns.
Punk rock lifers the Suicide Dolls took home the top prize, Album of the Year, for their well-reviewed "Prayers In Parking Lots."
Song of the Year went to "Quiet Epiphany," by Pocket Vinyl, the husband-and-wife duo of Eric Stevenson on piano and Elizabeth Janiewicz, who paints on canvas on stage during their performances and occasionally offers background vocals.
The duo, who moved to New London in the last year from Korea and Canada, both said the city's musicians and fans have embraced them.
"And getting nominated for a Whalie makes us feel like we're really part of the music scene here," Stevenson said.
Pocket Vinyl collaborated with Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent in opening the show with a medley of songs from both bands.
The two-song limit had Janiewicz worried, as she usually needs eight minutes to finish her on-stage painting of a boy singing to a ferocious-looking fish.
The Weird Beards, Herff Jones, and Incognito Sofa Love, who haven't played in New London in four years, also took the stage. Also, former Q105 DJ Jackie Steele, who now lives in Los Angeles, also made an appearance and participated in a short video sketch with Murray to open the show.
The rain caused about a half-hour delay Saturday, as some bands were not able to do a sound check before the show.
But around 6:30 p.m., the nominees and fans began to line Bank Street, waiting to walk the red carpet.
Some came dressed to the nines. Others wore, let's say, different numbers, including ’70s tuxedos and bathrobes.
Poe Swayzie, a member of the hip-hop collective The Fly Ones, said the best part about the Whalies is that it brings everyone from New London together.
"There's people here from different walks of life," Swayzie said. "It's the best place to rub elbows."
Editor's note: This version corrects an earlier version.
People's Choice Awards:
Best Alternative: Pocket Vinyl
Best Folk: Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent
Best Blues/Country: Uncle Flatty
Best DJ: Seaneho
Best Hardcore/Metal: Art of Kanly
Best Urban Alternative: Flowers & Kain
Best Hip-Hop/R&B: Camacho
Best Indie/Experimental: Ferocious (Expletive) Teeth
Best Punk: Chasing Trinity
Best Reggae/Ska: Hempsteadys
Best Rock: Catfish Phillips
Best Solo/Singer-Songwriter: Steve Elci
Best Music Series: Bad Manners Bassment Thursdays
Best Music Video: Pocket Vinyl, "A Little Joke"
Album of the Year: The Suicide Dolls, " Prayers In Parking Lots"
Record of the Year: Weird Beards, "Arreaka"
Hip Hop Album/Mixtape of the Year: Erik Lamb "Blow Up Dolls"
Americana Album of the Year: Daphne Lee Martin & Raise The Rent, "Dig & Be Dug"
Indie Album of the Year: Ferocious (Expletive) Teeth
Pop/Rock Album of the Year: Pocket Vinyl, "Monsters Talking"
DJ/Dance Mix of the Year: The Swagger Jackers, "The Life Aquatic"
Song of the Year: Pocket Vinyl, "Quiet Epiphany"
Best Collaboration: Camacho, Poe Swayzie & Jaszmine Viciousz, "Duke Westlake Cypher"
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Herff Jones
Best Alternative Song: The Suicide Dolls, "Smash"
Best Folk/Bluegrass Song: Daphne Lee Martin & Raise The Rent, "Pull My Daisy"
Best Blues/Country Rock Song: Franklin Brothers, "Mike's Backyard"
Best Dance/Electronic Song: Chumzilla, "(Expletive) the Pain Away (Chum's Horny Mix)"
Best Hardcore/Metal Song: Burning Beneath, "Son Of the Apocalypse"
Best Hardcore/Metal: Alumni, "I Am Me"
Best Hiphop/R&B: Erik Lamb, "Sky Masterson"
Best Indie/Experimental Song: Ferocious (Expletive) Teeth, "Hinkly"
Best Punk/Ska Performance: Dead City Riot, "Break Down The Walls"
Best Rock Song: Gone For Good, "Calm Down, You're Joking"
Best Solo Performance: Carl Franklin, "Waiting For the Summer to Come"