Backbeat: Seymour Stein, Martin Mills, Cathy Bauer, Darius Van Arman Bathe In the Warm Indie Glow of A2IM's Inaugural Libera Awards
Backbeat: Seymour Stein, Martin Mills, Cathy Bauer, Darius Van Arman Bathe In the Warm Indie Glow of A2IM's Inaugural Libera Awards

group Group Rate: Some of A2IM's members: Front row (L to R): Cathy Bauer (Daptone), Glenn Morrow (Bar/None), Pat Berry (Six Degrees), Emmy Black (Bar/None), Molly Neuman (eMusic), Nydia Ines Davila (Daptone), Lori Condon (Acony). 2nd row, L to R: Dennis Muirhead (Rightster), Seymour Stein, Jerry Blavat, Bob Duskis (Six Degrees), Sujan Hong Raphael (eMusic), Kameil Sattar (eMusic), Sid McCain (EMI Label Services), Eric German (obscured-Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp). 3rd row, L to R: Brian Sharp (Century Media), Tom Silverman (Tommy Boy), Steve Savoca (Spotify), Bruce Iglauer (Alligator), Anna Bond (eMusic), Daniel Glass (Glassnote), Rob Weitzner (Consolidated Independent), Al Person (Hopeless). Back row, L to R: Jeremy Peters (Ghostly International), Brad Navin (The Orchard), Jim Cooperman (tinyOGRE), Mike Harris (EMI Label Services), Victor Zaraya (Razor & Tie), an unidentified ear, Eric Brown (Sub Pop). ( Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

The mood at last night's (June 21) inaugural American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) Libera Awards at New York City's Le Poisson Rouge was decidedly buoyant. The event marked an end to what was a rather hectic, jam-packed week of panels, shows, keynotes and meet-ups that was A2IM's annual Indie Week (June 19- 21), which also butted up against the return of the New Music Seminar (June 17 -19) and for those keeping score also overlapped with the Northside Festival (June 14 - 21) -- all of which helps explain the bleary eyes and cue at the open bar.

Execs like A2IM President Rich Bengloff, NMS founder and chairman Tommy Silverman, Merlin's Charles Caldas, Jagjaguwar's Darius Van Arman, Glassnote Daniel Glass, Beggars Groups' Martin Mills and others could be seen trolling the happenings at both Webster Hall's grand ballroom for NMS and carefully navigating the construction zone outside Slate, home to A2IMs panels.

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Much of the pre-awards cocktail hour chatter centered on interpid A2IM board member Martin Mills who in the afternoon testified on Capitol Hill against the Universal Music Group-EMI merger at a U.S Senate Subcommittee hearing and in the eveing was to be honored with a Libera lifetime achievement award. Mills, in fact, left the Senate hearing early to be back in time for the awards.

stein Seymour Stein (right) awarding Martin Mills his Libera Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

According to Beggars sources, Mills, who left the D.C. hearing early to make it back in time for the awards, eschewed the high-speed Amtrak Acela in favor of air travel to get back in time. After Seymour Stein's moving introduction and tribute -- during which the Sire Records co-founder had to choke back tears -- Mills' acceptance speech referenced what surely must have been one of the most memorable days of his distinguished career.

"Some of you know what my second worst nightmare is," Mills began. "It's making a speech. My first worst nightmare? Making two in one day. Just a few hours ago I had a Senator suggesting that Lucian and I were good friends. We are not." Snap! Mills was referring to Senator Al Franken who during the subcommittee's questioning said he was sure the witnesses -- which included Universal Music Group's chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge -- were all pals. Apparently, not so much...

portia Co-hosts for the evening (and high school prom dates) Portia Sabin of Kill Rock Stars! and actor John Ross Bowie pose for a shot in between taking shots at each other on stage. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

Kill Rock Stars! President and outgoing A2IM board member Portia Sabin introduced the night's hilarious emcee, John Ross Bowie of "Big Bang Theory" fame. She informed the audience that in fact Ross was her high school prom date - a source of many an awesome/tasteless joke throughout the evening.

Ross asked winners to keep acceptance speeches to under two minutes explaining that of all the awards shows he watched in preparation for hosting the Libera Awards, the only show that ran on time was the Adult Video News Awards, a pornography industry event. The reason, he said, was because nobody there "took the time to thank God or their children."

daptone Daptone Records' Cathy Bauer accepts one of the two awards her label won Thursday evening. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

Billboard caught up with several of Libera's big winners, including Daptone general manager Cathy Bauer who accepted two awards on behalf of her label, including Independent Label of the Year (5 Employees or Less) and another for artist Charles Bradley who won Road Warrior of the Year. Bauer, who is also one of A2IM's new board members, explained why label founders Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugarman were out of town. Apparently the night before they had played a live gig in Cannes, France with Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu and the Meters' Zigaboo Modeliste as part of Hyundai's "Re:Generation Music Project" documentary. Bauer said that much to her own surprise she very much enjoyed Skrillex's appearance in the film.


Double fisting: Jagjaguwar's Darius Van Arman with his two Libera awards - of which no two are exaclty alike.
(Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

The night's winner of the Independent Label of the Year (Six or more employees) as well as winner of the independent Album of the Year for "Bon Iver" was Jagjaguar. Label head and also new A2IM board member Darius Van Arman spoke with Billboard a day earlier at the A2IM mixer at Slate. The low-key label head, who divides his time between New York and Bloomington, IN, explained how he originally formed his label when he lived in Charlottesville, VA while working at an assisted living facility. He also discussed the success of his labels' new management firm Fort William Artist Management which has come to include such disparate acts as Grizzly Bear, Jens Letkemen and Van Dyke Parks

Ninja Tune's Leslie Madill. ( Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

Another of the evening's winners, Leslie Madill who runs Ninja Tune's Los Angeles office, won an award for Creative Packaging for Amon Tobin's ISAM limited edition "Control Over Nature" CD/art book. The project features photos of insect sculptures made by Tessa Farmer out of organic material, such as roots, dead insects and bones. When asked about Tobin's impressive live show complete with shape-shifting geodesic hive DJ booth/installation, Madill explained that the installation has been expanded since his Coachella appearance and will continue to tour at larger venues, including NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom and LA's Greek Theatre.

By night's end, with the open bar closed, a wide range of indie biz folks gathered by the bar, including: Beggars Group's marketing exec Adam Farrell, X5's trophy-carrying Scott Ambrose "Bullethead" Reilly (who kept saying he won for "third best bald head"), attorney Elliot A. Resnick, Allison Jones from Big Machine Records, Redeye's Jim Logrando and, of course, A2IM president Rich Bengloff who by then was grinning ear to ear.

alison (L-R): Glassnote's Daniel Glass, whose label won a Best Sync Placement Libera award for its GIVERS/Kindle Fire collab; Allison Jones, vp of A&R at Big Machine; and A2IM president Rich Bengloff. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

cooperman (L-R): Billboard's Bill Werde; tinyOGRE's Jim Cooperman; Daryl Friedman of the Recording Academy; and A2IM's Rich Bengloff. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

silverman Jerry Blavat, Seymour Stein and Tom Silverman enjoying the scene before the awards began. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

4ad (L-R): Bryan Mead of InGrooves/Fontana; Nabil Ayers and Simon Halliday of 4AD. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

alligator (L-R): Alligator Records' Bruce Iglauer; A2IM's Jim Mahoney; Six Degrees Records' Pat Berry, and The Orchard's Scott Ambrose "Bullethead" Reilly. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

cathy Daptone's Cathy Bauer hangs with Beggars Group's Adam Farrell after the awards. (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)

From left: Sam Valenti, Jeremy peters and Jeff Owens of Ghostly International which was up for indie label of the year (five employees or less) (Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford)