10th annual Blue Water Music Awards to celebrate area’s tight-knit music community and its fans

In this, the tenth year of the Blue Water Music Awards, the annual awards ceremony and party honoring the local music scene returns to where it all started: Lynch’s Irish Tavern in Port Huron. While the first BWMAs — or BWAMMYs, as they’re sometimes called — was held in 2011, last year’s award ceremony was canceled because of COVID-19, making 2022 its 10th annual celebration of area musicians. Jesse Jacks hosts this year’s event, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Lynch’s Irish Tavern.

Tim Hunter has been involved with the BWAMMYs since the start. He was part of the late night conversations that led to its founding, chatting about local bands outside the Roche Bar until it was no longer late but early. He’s been the event’s organizer for seven years now. We spoke with Tim about the big event, the local music scene, and why it’s important to honor Blue Water musicians as well as the fans that support them.

The Keel: You've been involved with the Blue Water Music Awards since the beginning. What’s it been like to watch it grow and evolve?

Tim Hunter, organizer of the Blue Water Music Awards.Tim Hunter: It started one year with friends, just talking. We were out ‘til something like four in the morning, just having a couple beers. We were outside and the bar had closed and everyone had left. And we were talking about the Grammys and the Oscars and my friend goes, You know what, I don't care about any of that until I can give one of my friends an award. That's how we started. And since then, we actually had a band that won a Blue Water Music Award go on to play at the Grammys. It was The War and Treaty.

The Keel: Being so close to the music community here, how would you characterize the Blue Water music scene?

Tim: I honestly feel that it is very tight knit, everyone supports everyone. It’s the camaraderie of everyone being together. I remember a few years ago, in one night, there were three different events going on. The shows started at different times so people could go to all three of them. It’s stuff like that that makes me happy. If you wanted to see six different acts in one night, you could have.

The Keel: What do you have planned for this year’s BWMAs?

Tim: We're bringing it back to the where the first-ever Blue Water Music Awards was: Lynch's Irish Tavern. We had it there the first year and this is the 10th year so we're having it there again. We're gonna have performances from Porn Cursive, Pee.Tzu, Storm Theory, Tweer, and a new band called Rock Tsunade that sings Anime songs. And then there's the after party at Lynch’s, too, and we’ll be doing karaoke.

The Keel: And how about the awards ceremony itself? Anything special planned?

Tim: We added a new category this year, Best Music Video. A lot of people were recording music videos because of the pandemic so we put a brand new category out there. And we opened it up a bit this year. Normally, there’s only three nominees per category but this year we have five. We included nominees from 2020 and 2021 because we didn’t have an awards show in ‘21 because of Covid. So if somebody released music in those two years, they’re eligible for this year’s award.

The Keel: What’s your favorite category?

Tim: My favorite category is always the Corey J. Kuhr Award for best music fan. Cory was a friend of mine and he was my DJ partner — we did Cool Kids Communication. And he passed away a few years ago. This is the third name change that we've given the award. It started with the Roadie Award, and then we called it the Best Fan Award after that. After Corey passed, we named the Best Fan Award after him. We were toying with naming the Best DJ Award after him but Corey was a fan of music before he was a DJ. That award means a lot to me because of what it is.

I believe we're all fans of music first. We’re musicians but first we're fans of the music that caused us to want to be a musician. I think that recognition is something near and dear to a lot of people and Corey was near and dear to a lot of people's hearts.

The 10th annual Blue Water Music Awards is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Lynch’s Irish Tavern. The event is free and open to the public. Voting is also open to the public, and remains open until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Click here to vote online.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.