On the afternoon of June 21, Beggars Group founder/chairman Martin Mills was on Capitol Hill, where he let a U.S. Senate subcommittee know his opposition to the Universal Music Group-EMI merger. But he had to leave the Senate hearing early, as he was due in New York that night to be honored at the first American Assn. of Independent Music (A2IM) Libera Awards.
"Some of you know what my second worst nightmare is," Mills joked, accepting a lifetime achievement award from Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein. "It's making a speech. My first worst nightmare? Making two in one day."
The Libera Awards (or "Libbies," as some dubbed them) capped off A2IM's seventh annual Indie Week in New York. Held at Le Poisson Rouge, the awards reflected the ethos and humor of the indie world - not just in the banter between co-hosts (and former prom dates) Portia Sabin (a A2IM board member and owner/president of Kill Rock Stars) and actor John Ross Bowie (better-known as Barry Kripke of CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory"), but also in the awards themselves. Where else would you find two winners for label of the year, one for labels with five employees or fewer (Daptone Records) and one for six employees or more (Jagjaguwar)? And in keeping with the artisanal aspect of independent music, no two Libera statues are exactly alike.
By night's end, a wide range of indie biz folks gathered by the just-closed open bar, including Beggars Group marketing executive Adam Farrell, the Orchard's trophy-carrying Scott Ambrose "Bullethead" Reilly (who kept saying he won for "third best bald head"), attorney Elliot A. Resnick, Big Machine Records' Allison Jones, Redeye's Jim Logrando and, of course, A2IM president Rich Bengloff, who by then was grinning ear to ear.