The Star Tribune’s 2017 Are You Local? best-new-band search came to a frenetic conclusion Monday night at the Turf Club in St. Paul.
Twenty-three-year-old R&B singer Nick Jordan, just off a flight from Amsterdam, won the eighth-annual contest on the strength of his crowd-pleasing late-night performance — which, in addition to his powerhouse singing, featured dazzling dancing by Jordan and collaborators Albert Conteh and Christlo Gittens.
As this year’s AYL? winner, Jordan will play First Avenue on Feb. 17 with the Suburbs, Gramma’s Boyfriend (featuring Haley Bonar) and DJ Shannon Blowtorch. He also won $2,000.
In addition to Jordan, Monday’s show featured the four other 2017 AYL? combatants: jazz/funk/soul band Ayvah, synth-pop outfit Graveyard Club, garage-rockers Kiss the Tiger and psych-rockers Lazy Scorsese.
A committee of eight judges voted to determine the winner, ranking their top acts of the night.
When the votes were tabulated, Jordan and Kiss the Tiger were tied for first. So for the first time in the contest’s history, a tiebreaker was implemented to decide the winner. Jordan emerged as the victor by virtue of receiving more No. 1 votes from the judges.
Jordan released an EP titled “NJ” in 2015 and has a follow-up in the works.
AYL? 2017 started with 92 self-nominated local acts, a field that was narrowed down to 16 semifinalists. The public then cast 8,000 online votes in January to determine the five acts that would play the Turf.
This was the eighth year for the AYL? contest and its second with the Star Tribune. The contest originated with Vita.mn, the Star Tribune-owned arts and entertainment guide that ended when the Star Tribune Company acquired the alt-weekly City Pages in 2015.
This year’s finalists showcase was co-hosted by Ashley Gold, singer of 2016 Are You Local? winner Holidae, along with Star Tribune assistant features editor (and former Vita.mn editor) Simon Peter Groebner. Recent AYL? winners include Baby Shel (2015), Black Diet (2014) and Carroll (2013).