Musician Dustin Jake took home the Grand Prize at the Wine Country Music Awards at Wilson Creek Winery Saturday, Nov. 5.
In addition to a check for $1,000, Jake also received a four-song recording EP at the recording Farm, a professionally produced music video by Sebaz Productions, an opening slot performance with a national act at a Temecula Winery and a 30-minute opening set at the SoCal Fair in 2018.
Nearly 800 people enjoyed a variety of musical performances, food, wine, and a concert by Terri Nunn and Berlin at the inaugural Wine Country Music Awards. The event was a benefit for music education provided through two nonprofits: the Temecula Education Foundation and Mt San Jacinto College Foundation programs. A silent auction, live auction and raffle also raised funds for the nonprofits.
“This area has so much talent,” said Nunn, who has been performing professionally for 38 years. Her best-selling 1986 Berlin hit “Take My Breath Away” made the Billboard Top 100 and earned the group an Oscar. Her advice to aspiring artists was to “really love what you are doing and don’t give up. It’s really hard, but it’s really worth it.”
Over 120 artists – individuals, duos, bands and groups – submitted entries to compete in eight categories. The top three finalists in each category were invited to the awards ceremony.
Judges included award-winning artists and music industry professionals: Erik Turner and Joey Allen of Warrant, Lee Rocker of Stray Cats, actor and musician Leo Howard, national talent buyer Roger LeBlanc, Sean Redding of The Recording Farm, Terri Nunn of Berlin, Tommy Heath of Tommy Tutone, and drummer/songwriter Vinny Appice. The voting results were independently audited by legal firm, Brad Landon Law.
- WCMA Instrumentalist Award – Marston Smith
- WCMA Christian Music Award – Dustin Jake
- WCMA Youth Award – Mackenzie “Macko” O’Coyne
- WCMA Cover Band Award – Cougrzz Rock!
- WCMA Country Award – Steven Ybarra
- WCMA Singer/Songwriter Award – Astra Kelly
- WCMA People’s Choice Award – Bob Nicholas Bozonelos
- WCMA Rock/Pop Award – Midnight Satellites
During the red carpet and VIP reception, Marston Smith regaled the audience with his unique performances on the electric cello. Joanna Pearl, winner of the Hot Adult Contemporary Album of the Year at the 24th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards, sang the national anthem to open the event. A light jazz number by Hollywood Five and Dime was followed by Tom Griesgraber playing the Chapman Stick.
Crowd favorite and internet sensation Kodi Lee also performed. Lee, who was born blind and diagnosed with autism at age four, played the keyboard. The musical savant was also featured as part of the evening’s impromptu “Super Band.”
American idol Alum Lindsey Carrier, Steven Ybarra, Alaina Blair, Temecula’s iHeart Radio “Rising Star” winner Dulaney & Co., the 4019s, Ask Jonesy & Company with special guest Leo Howard, San Diego’s Safety Orange, and Midnight Satellites also performed.
Nunn and her synth pop band rocked the night away with a high-energy concert.
“We had an unbelievable opening year with the WCMA’s hosted at Wilson Creek Winery,” said Gregg Hasler, owner of Golden Crown Productions, “The feedback from both the artists and attendees has been nothing short of amazing. We could not have done this without our presenting sponsor Gosch Ford of Temecula and all our other sponsors, the organizing committee and all our volunteers. 2018 will be even better.”