Head-turning heels, gowns and furs enhanced the awards-show vibe at the Sammys
There were beards and bandannas, sequins and shawls. Attendees at Friday night’s Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys) wore all sorts of styles from classic tailcoats to leather fringe jackets. Many guests were there not only to honor great local musicians, but for an excuse to dig out their most fashionable outfits from the back of their closets. Even the guy in the Carharrt overalls couldn’t dampen the fab mood.
The event was held for the second year at the OnCenter, while past Sammys have taken place at the Landmark Theatre and outdoors during the Taste of Syracuse. Guests wore outfits of all kinds, from the ever-casual men’s suit jacket with blue jeans combination to ladies in fur coats and high heels. Nothing was unusual or too outlandish—this is Syracuse—but the participation spoke to the power of social media.
Marcellus-based singer-songwriter Joanne Perry was the ringleader of this year’s Sammy fashion movement. She posted a Facebook message to a good number of the women of Syracuse music, encouraging them to glam it up for this year’s show. During the pre-show cocktail reception, she voiced her hope that the fashion response could lead to a red carpet at next year’s event. Her enthusiasm was shared by others who like dressing up but rarely get the chance, and she participated by wearing a stylish pink fauxfur stole over a deep-blue gown.For many women (although they were hesitant to admit it), finds at thrift stores were the secret to their outfits. They credited the Salvation Army or Goodwill as the provider of their unique necklaces or dresses. Vintage is, of course, all the rage these days and, for many of the fabulously dressed ladies, vintage clothing evoked the air of classic Hollywood award shows.
Jo Anne Bakeman recalled wearing a “silly red pantsuit” that was the subject of many conversations at the Sammy Awards 15 years ago. The Sammys had been held at the Landmark that year, which added a traditional feel and certain amount of class to the show. This year, Bakeman dressed entirely in blue, from her royal eyeliner right down to her strappy blue sandals. She picked the color in order to coordinate with the “blue bling” button covers worn by her date, local guitar virtuoso Mark Hoffmann, who looked mighty spiffy himself in a tuxedo, bow tie and white silk scarf.
Longtime attendees of the Sammys were happy to dress up as a way to show respect to the musicians. Ellen Agnew, who wore a luxurious fur wrap atop her long dress, has been attending for years and loves to see musicians awarded for their hard work. “It’s nice that everybody gets an evening to celebrate the talent in the city,” says Agnew.
Although most people dressed up for the occasion, it was not difficult to weed out band members and award nominees from the crowd. Leila Dean, band member of Just a Memory, looked every bit the rock queen in a gothic-punk outfit including a custom-made high-waisted skirt.
Fishnet stockings with a back seam and a sliver sequined bow in her red, highlighted hair completed the look.
“Fashion is very important because your look is 75 percent of it,” said Dean. “People look at you before they hear you.”
The outfits donned by Silent Fury, nominated for Best Rock, were enough to divert everyone’s attention. The group showed up in purple Colonial-style costumes, complete with tri-cornered hats. A play on Veterans Day, which shared Nov. 11 with the Sammy Awards, the band claimed they were honoring the original veterans. The self-proclaimed “revolution ary gentlemen” amused guests by bowing to everyone they met.
Linda Terra supported her husband’s band by dressing up in “a very red and sparkly design.” She purchased the dress from Boom Babies, 489 Westcott St., which specializes in special occasion dresses and vintage clothing. “It’s so much fun to have a reason to get dolled up,” Terra noted. “It’s like having our own little runway.” Chris Terra, whose eponymous group had been nominated for Best Blues, complemented his wife in his black-andgold outfit, accented by a bolo tie and stylish chapeaux.
While not nominated this year, John Puma made quite an entrance in a scarlet suit, with fur-faced lapels, red shoes and ruby-tinted cane; ivory accents completed the look. The fashion statement came from Bergan Brothers, 328 S. Salina St., outfitters of church-going men, journalistic legends and, now, apparently, bandleaders. “I made sure to keep the purple shoes at home,” Puma joked. “Only Walt Shepperd gets to wear those out in public.”
The award show was completely sold out.
Few seats in the ballroom went unoccupied and many people were left standing. Nothing could be more honoring to musicians than a crowd of fashionable supporters. Bakeman thinks dressing up was not only enjoyable, but the perfect method to convey her appreciation. “It’s a great way to show respect for the music and musicians and their place in the Syracuse cultural scene.”