York County musicians, studio win big at first-ever Central PA Music Awards

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
The Unforgettable Big Band performs on the last night of business for York's oldest winnery, Naylor Wine Cellars, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Allegro Winery purchased their neighbor after long-time wine maker Dick Naylor passed away December 10.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Two musical organizations in York County walked away with trophies last month at the inaugural Central PA Music Awards in Harrisburg.

Unforgettable Big Band, a 1930s-style big-band instrument troupe, won "Best Ensemble," Think Loud Studios, a recording studio in York City, won "Best Recording Studio," and Sincerely S.P.A.D.E., from York City, won "Best Rapper."

"The level of competition we were up against and the music talent is all just so outstanding," said Tom McLaughlin, Unforgettable Big Band's musical director. "The other organizations nominated for the awards are all fantastic, first-rate groups." 

Members of Unforgettable Big Band at the red carpet ceremony for the Central PA Music Awards.

The award ceremony, also referred to as the "local Grammy's," took place Jan. 30 at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg and drew a crowd of more than 800 to its first-ever show. 

Brandon Valentine, who was instrumental in organizing the award show, said the Central PA Music Awards board of directors narrowed down nominees in 22 categories from more than 600 that were initially submitted for consideration.

Winners in each category were decided by votes from the public. 

"Artists in general seek recognition for what you've accomplished," Valentine said. "This was something the local area needed."

Unforgettable Big Band, which first formed 20 years ago, never won an award of this caliber before, McLaughlin said. 

York's Unforgettable Big Band performs at Brown's Orchard & Farm Market, Sunday, August 18,  2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

The ensemble of about 25 members creates music based on tunes from the 1930s. 

In previous years, the band has performed as the opening act for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington and at the 100th anniversary Frank Sinatra concert celebration in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Grant McFarland, a producer and engineer at Think Loud Studios, said the award win was unexpected for him and his team. 

"We feel very honored to be part of the Central PA Music Awards," McFarland said. "The community in this area has been thriving and growing, and it's really cool to see this organization come together and recognize artists."

Think Loud Studios, which was started in 2012 by members of the group Live, offers services including writing, pre-production, mixing, editing and mastering.

Though McFarland said most artists come to record music, audio books and other types of recordings are also produced at the studio. 

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In addition to the awards portion of the show, the Central PA Music Awards inducted several artists into its 2020 hall of fame. 

Mechanicsburg-based rock band Poison headlined the hall of fame class. The band has charted 10 singles in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including the song "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." 

Valentine said he hopes the success of the Central PA Music Awards will continue to inspire other musicians to continue working. 

"I think it was spectacular honestly," he said. "The atmosphere in there was electric. Hopefully it'll be a driving force for local artists." 

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.