Featuring: Carissa Johnson, STL GLD, Jonathan Ulman, No Hope/No Harm, Weakened Friends, The Arcitype

Photo by: Ben Stas

This past Friday, Boston’s top artists gathered at the landmark, House of Blues on Lansdowne Street for the Boston Music Awards. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Boston Music Awards is an annual event that honors outstanding talent from the Massachusetts area. Categories include everything from Artist of the Year, to Music Photographer of the Year, to Session Musician of the Year.

Boston is arguably one of the more tight-nit and artist friendly cities in the country. Whether it’s supporting a local, innovative artist, attending one of the homegrown festivals like Boston Calling or Levitation, or laying down tracks at state-of-the-art studios such as The Bridge Sound Stage, the opportunity to create and collaborate is everywhere.

Attending the Boston Music Awards myself — it was obvious how much just being in each-others company means to each artist. The venue was filled with nominees, performers (past and present), and those who simply wanted to support a friend or community.

I had the chance to speak with a few of the winners after the event in an effort to capture the emotion of taking home the Boston Trophy.


Carissa Johnson:
Winner for New Artist of the Year

I am so excited to have been voted New Artist of the Year at this year’s awards. I am grateful for the recognition, as this year has definitely been a jam-packed one with booking, touring, playing shows big and small, and releasing new songs and preparing for a new album release.

The Boston Music Awards was a really great time. I had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed all the performances and the diversity of all the genres and artists who were included this year. I think it is a very well-run event and I’m so glad it was at the House of Blues!

I think it’s very special to be an artist from Boston. I am very proud to be! I think it’s a very tight-knit and supportive scene and there’s so much brewing here. So much talent and so much heart. I think it’s got a great mixture of being a smaller city and a bigger town and has a good competition about it but even more so a great sense of community.

Jonathan Ulman:
Winner for Session Musician of the Year

Winning back-to-back BMA’s for “Session Musician of the Year” is truly one of the most incredible and humbling experiences of my life. I was born in Boston, learned to play music here and began my career almost 20 years ago, and to be recognized in this category by my peers is an honor of the highest regard to me. I couldn’t feel more proud of what I have accomplished and these awards are a reminder to stay focused and make each year better than the last.

While most of the night went by in a blur, I managed to find short moments in which I could take it all in and appreciate this evening that celebrates the Boston music scene and everyone that makes it up. It was surreal to take the stage with two bands (Bad Rabbits, STL GLD) that I admire so much and whose music inspires me to constantly raise the bar in my own musical career. But the highlight of the night was hearing my name called for the “Session Musician of the Year” award and then given the opportunity to go on stage and personally thank everyone, friends and family for their support. It was a moment that I will never forget.


Luke O’Neil (no hope / no harm):
Winner for
617 Sessions Artist of the Year

I think one of the best parts for us was recognizing that it was an award voted on by listeners, many of whom had probably never heard our music before. It’s a nice nod to a year of pretty hard work, and feels great to have been recognized along so many of those other really cool bands and artists.

We were all pretty nervous leading up to our performance, the House of Blues is a really big stage, and none of us beside Aaron our guitar player had ever been on it before. It was without a doubt the largest audience we’ve played in front of. I took a photo right before we went on of the crowd that I posted to Twitter that just said: “Fuck.”

But all that went away once we started playing and, thank god!, people were into it. It was a really fun, liberating set, even if a bit too short. I never experienced what it’s like to have so much room to move around on a stage! Not gonna be easy going back to Great Scott or whatever where you can’t make any sudden movements without knocking everyone over.

I think the point of the 617 series was a really cool one: To showcase artists that are right here in our backyard that most people don’t know about. And Paul and the gang at the BMA’s did a fantastic job of that. Most of them made new fans out of me.


Weakened Friends:
Winner for Unsigned Artist of the Year

Winning awards for music is kinda a weird thing. I don’t really like making something that is subjective into a competition really, but at the same time it can mean/show that people are connecting with our music. The second part feels really good and makes me happy since that’s the goal with all of this really.

The night flew by, it was really awesome to get to perform this year. It was really fun getting to see so many friends of ours there. Over all a positive experience.

Boston has always embraced our band from the very start and even before that when we were each in other music projects. I think it’s a really great town and New England in general is a great place to call home as musicians.

Photo by: Ben Stas

Janos Fulop (The Arcitype/STL GLD):
 — 3x winner for Studio Producer of the Year (The Arcitype) and Album of the Year /Unsigned Artist Music Video of the Year (as part of STL GLD)

I’m honestly just really grateful. Grateful to the family, friends and fans who make up the the music community in this city for the support they continue to show me and my work.; grateful to the team of engineers, artists, producers, publishers, creatives, etc who help me create the music and build the infrastructure to release and promote it; and finally, grateful to the musicians who trust in me to help them thru the creation process of their music, and allow my vision to walk in hand with theirs. To win this award 2 consecutive years in a row really reinforces my belief in what I’m doing, and shows me there are a lot of people who really believe in me too. So I’m incredibly grateful for that.

I had an amazing evening all together. It was a bit of a whirlwind of excitement and nerves, and when I picked up my head up the night was over. It took a couple days to really sink in how special of a night it was for me, one I won’t soon forget.

The level of talent, energy and excitement this city currently has in it’s music community is really something special. I’m thrilled to be as involved in it as I am at this point in time. Everyday it feels like something new is happening and new ground is being broken on something that feeds back into the scene. I’ve been in Boston for over 15 years now making music, and I can confidently say, this is the most inspired I’ve seen the city. I’m having a lot of fun.



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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra

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