Rocky Mountain-area country music artists made their way along the pitch and rehearsal Saturday as the 7th Annual Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards took place at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley.
The awards show was founded in 2016 by iHeart radio host Shawn Patrick to showcase incredible talent from Colorado and Wyoming. The event has expanded over the past seven years to include artists, venues and festivals/events from Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Montana and North Dakota.
Awards were presented in 11 categories: New Artist of the Year, Female Singer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Venue of the Year, Event/Festival of the Year, Musician of the Year, Artist of the Year and the Fan Army Award.
To be eligible for an award, applicants must be from a participating state or have lived in one of the states for a “long period of time”.
Since its inception, the awards have honored a variety of artists, including country superstar Dierks Bentley, local radio host Brian Gary and singer/songwriter Eaton Austin Wahlert, as well as festivals such as the Greeley Stampede and Cheyenne Frontier Days.
And this year was no different. Many local and northern Colorado artists like Wahlert and Sarahbeth Taite have been nominated for awards alongside Wyoming band Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band and Utah singer/songwriter Clayton Smalley.
“From the crowd there he created a monster,” said Greeley Mayor John Gates, laughing. “It’s my first time and I’m so proud as Mayor of Greeley to be able to put this on and it’s such a wonderful event.”
As the spectators settled into their seats, 17-year-old Teagan Joseph of Eaton stunned the crowd with his stunning rendition of the national anthem. Joseph, who is legally blind, aims to sing the song at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Before being kicked out of the civic center for his shenanigans, Ace Montgomery, who claims to be the “world’s best ’90s country music singer,” graced the stage to perform his new song, “Don’t Shave Your Groin Locks “. alongside singer-songwriter Christopher Thomas.
Before starting, Montgomery had to make sure Thomas was worthy of the 90s country song and looked the part. Known for his long, flowing locks of black hair, Double Wide frontman Montgomery pulled a wig from the zipper of his pants and threw it at Thomas, who then reluctantly placed it on his head .
Montgomery also claimed to have commandeered one of Clare Dunn’s belt buckle awards after the singer failed to attend a previous awards ceremony. Montgomery claimed that if Dunn wanted the prized award, she should “take it away from him”.
Host Patrick quickly returned to the stage to assure the audience that Montgomery (who is actually Shawn Patrick in costume) would not interrupt things again and the show was back on the road with performances and awards.
A variety of presenters from the music industry and local community took turns on stage to name the nominees and the winner in each category. University of Northern Colorado head football coach Ed McCaffrey, Greeley Hat Works owner Trent Johnson and Loveland resident and musician Craig Campbell were among the presenters.
The Chris LeDoux Lifetime Achievement Award went to Greeley native Gary McMahan. The award honors the late Wyoming singer-songwriter and rodeo athlete by recognizing an artist who helped elevate Rocky Mountain country music to another level throughout his career. McMahan transformed his life growing up on a ranch creating poetry and cowboy songs. McMahan has written songs for Chris LeDoux, Riders in the Sky and Ian Tyson. McMahan is also a championship yodel.
“Being with my dad and the cowboys on the farm gave me a good school if you were to be a western songwriter because you know what rings true and what’s wrong with those old cowboys” , McMahan said.
Country artist Cody Cozz won the Fan Army Winner award. This is the only award from the ceremony based solely on fan votes.
The Hadley Barrett Person of the Year Award is given to someone in the country music scene who has done “incredible things” for their community. The award honors Barrett, a Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame announcer. Singer-songwriter Scooter Brown won the award. Brown is a Marine veteran who works with various organizations that support veterans and their families. Brown is the father of four children, two of whom are adopted, and he and his wife foster and help orphans from Eastern Europe.
It was Chancey William’s year as the artist scooped awards for Musician of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. ‘year. William’s bandmate, Brooke Latka, also won Musician of the Year. It was Latka’s second victory in this category with the violin player who won the title in 2020.
Other winners of the 2022 Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards include:
- Venue of the Year — The Whiskey Baron, Colorado Springs
- New Artist of the Year—Frank Ray
- Event/Festival of the Year— Cheyenne Frontier Days
- Male Vocalist of the Year – Ned LeDoux
- Female Vocalist of the Year – Clare Dunn
- Song of the Year – Ian Munsick for “Long Haul”
In addition to musical performances by Clare Dunn, Cody Cozz and other artists and bands, comedian and accordionist Kevin Bennett, known as “The French Accent”, entertained audience members. The Wyoming comedian auditioned for the TV show “America’s Got Talent” in 2018, but was kicked out of the stage by all four judges. Greeley magician Ryan Beyer also wowed the crowd with his act before handing out another award.
For more information on the Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards, or to attend the 2023 event, go to www.rockymountaincountrymusicawards.com.