Seattle quartet Industrial Revelation wins musical "Genius Award" at The Stranger's annual celebratory ceremony on October 18, 2014.

  • By Peter Blecha
  • Posted 7/11/2015
  • Essay 11086

On Saturday evening, October 18, 2014, at The Stranger's 12th annual Genius Awards in the historic Moore Theatre at 936 Second Avenue in downtown Seattle, the jazz (and more) quartet Industrial Revelation receives the music award. Each year since 2002 the alternative weekly has generated a list of nominees in the five categories of Film, Music, Art, Performance, and Literature, with the winners (as determined by a committee that includes previous years' award winners) announced at a public event. From a pool of 15 worthy finalists, the winners for 2014 are Gary Groth (Literature), C. Davida Ingram (Visual Art), Drew Christie (Film), Valerie Curtis-Newton (Theater) -- and Industrial Revelation (Music).

A Creative Community 

Industrial Revelation emerged from the local Seattle jazz scene by forging an easily accessible yet difficult-to-categorize sound that merged elements of jazz, hip-hop, electronica, and the simply indefinable into a glorious whole -- all without hacking out an unnecessarily complicated "progressive" fusion-mishmash. The individual members' key strengths were mastery of their chosen instruments and sophisticated yet earthy compositional skills, both finely honed in formal study and persistent live performance backgrounds.

The ensemble was formed by drummer D'Vonne Lewis (b. 1983), grandson of Seattle R&B pioneer Dave Lewis (1938-1998); bassist Evan Flory-Barnes (b. 1979); trumpeter Ahamefule J. Oluo (b. 1982); and keyboardist Josh Rawlings (b. 1982). The latter two studied music under local jazz icon Hadley Caliman (1932-2010) at Cornish College of the Arts, while Lewis came up through the nationally esteemed jazz program at Roosevelt High and went on to join Caliman's own band, playing nightclubs and concerts and touring, as did Flory-Barnes, before the four young players joined forces as Industrial Revelation. 

Sheer Genius

The live entertainment for the 2014 awards show was anchored by the Seattle Rock Orchestra, with performances by a few Genius Award nominees including singer Erik Blood, burlesque star Jinkx Monsoon, and staffers from Hollow Earth Radio. Industrial Revelation also played -- with the Seattle Rock Orchestra joining them, via fresh charts penned by Flory-Barnes, on his "Saying Goodbye (to rainbow socks and hair dye)," a lively tune from the band's 2013 album Oak Head.

When Industrial Revelation was announced as the victor in the Music Genius Award category, the band-members returned to the stage where they were handed a check for $5,000 (provided in support by the Space Needle Corporation), and each was presented with a "trophy" -- or rather, a common handheld battery-powered flashlight. The Slog, The Stranger's blog, later noted that "Flory-Barnes called Seattle 'the richest creative community in the world,'" while "Oluo dedicated the win to their mentor, the jazz great Hadley Caliman," and "D'Vonne Lewis heaped praise on the other music nominees and said, 'It's about the love [for music]. That's the genius in it'" (Segal).

Sources: Peter Blecha interview with D'Vonne Lewis, June 18, 2015; "The 12th Annual Genius Awards," Stranger Tickets website accessed June 5, 2015 (; Dave Segal, "A Recap of the 2014 Genius Awards," The Stranger website accessed June 19, 2015 (

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