RFT Reader Picks

1. Autumn's Child (4)
2. Screamin' Mee Mees (8)
3. You Fantastic! (10)
4. Nuclear Percussion Ensemble (7)
5. Tory Z. Starbuck
6. Mark Deutsch (Tie)
6. Tiger Mountain (Tie) (9)
8. Synchronia (5)
9. Panicsville

Best Solo Artist
Tom Wood scores a double Slammy win in 1998, picking up the awards for Best Solo Artist and Best Folk Artist. Given the caliber of musical competition that finished in second and third place (Dave Black and Tom Hall, respectively), the win in this category is even more impressive for Wood. Perhaps Wood's appeal as a solo artist is a result of working in and leading bands over the years. As a solo artist, he's managed to create a sound and stage presence that seem bigger than something just one person can create.

1. Tom Wood (1)
2. Dave Black (3)
3. Tom Hall (5)
4. Monica Casey (2)
5. One Fell Swoop
6. Dave Loeb (8)
7. Andrew John (Tie) (4)
7. Beth Tuttle (Tie) (6)
9. Joe Bidewell
10. Marc Chechik

Best Band to Dance To
Besides having perhaps the greatest name for a cover band ever, Dr. Zhivegas is slowly becoming a St. Louis institution, hammering the tired disco tunes and somehow making them feel brand new -- no small feat. The most glorious thing about Zhivegas, though, is its varied repertoire, one that encompasses music of the past three decades and gussies it up for the dancing audience. You can do the Hustle till you're blue to the sounds of Zhivegas, but this year's winners also invite you to do the Lindy Stomp (Vargas Swing) and some serious skankin' (MU330 and the Skalars).

1. Dr. Zhivegas (1)
2. Vargas Swing (8)
3. MU330 (4)
4. Skalars (7)
5. Sky Bop Fly (9)
6. Sugardaddy (2)
7. Chia Band
8. Marcell Strong & the Apostles (10)
9. Orbits
10. Boogie Chyld

Best Cover Band
Cover bands rarely get the amount of attention devoted to originals bands, perhaps because most people consider composing something fresh to be the hardest part of making music. But musicianship counts just as much when you're attempting to replicate the classics of a bygone era (and not sound like a bumbling idiot). With the list below, though, you can pretty much run through the history of the last 50 years of America popular music: From old-time hillbilly music through classic R&B, the Beatles and the Dead, disco and the more recent hard-rock stuff, you've got a nice sampler pack.

1. Dr. Zhivegas (1)
2. Honeyvox
3. Jake's Leg (2)
4. Gargoyle Lounge
5. Paint the Earth
6. Pepperland (5)
7. Schwag (4)
8. UltraViolets
9. Marcell Strong & the Apostles (7)
10. Boogie Chyld

Best Club DJ
In the past few years, the role of the DJ has been transformed from the faceless guy over in the corner to being one of the sole reasons for heading to a club; each DJ has a reputation (none bigger and more impressive than Charlie Chan's), a following and a general vibe that separates him from the others (and if you've got a problem with the masculine pronoun's being used, find us a female DJ anywhere in town -- please). "Last night the DJ saved my life" is no longer just the lyric to a tired tune -- it's the mantra of a new generation of club kids. And Charlie Chan has been at both ends of the recognition spectrum; he was starting in the mid-'80s, when hip-hop was rap and the DJ was an integral part of the tag team. He was around during the faceless years of the late '80s and early '90s and is still here cutting the grooves as the DJ-as-musician phenomenon reaches its fever pitch. Check him out -- he's amazing (as are the rest).

1. Charlie Chan (5T)
2. Darren Snow (8)
3. B Money (2)
4. JB (3)
5. C Note (Tie) (9)
6. DJ Alejan (Tie) (10)
7. DJ Chioke
8. Matt Hunt (5T)
9. Viva La Vixen
10. DJ Kut

Best Classical Ensemble (Large)
Really, what did you expect? Sure, we should cherish the high quality of the symphony St. Louis has -- when you're over in Europe or Japan, mention St. Louis, and chances are we'll be known as the city with the symphony (either that or that shiny arch thingy by the river) -- but it's not as though there's much competition in the area. Again, that says nothing about the quality of the winners; they'd hold their own in a city twice as large anywhere in the world. You do, however, now have a chance to check out Vonk and SLSO in the friendly confines of your home (though you'd be well-advised to grab some tickets and see them in person): The debut recordings on their vanity label, Arch Media, are available at www.slso.com.

1. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (1)
2. St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra (3)
3. Webster Symphony (2)
4. St. Ambrose Chamber Orchestra (4)

Best Classical Ensemble (Small)
With members of the list including a classical percussion ensemble, a brass ensemble, a couple of string quartets and an Indian classical musician, comparing any of these winners to any of the others is like saying Glenn Gould is a better pianist than Jascha Heifetz is a violinist, who's better than Ravi Shankar is at the sitar. What's the point? Congrats to the varied classical ensembles; each of them should consider themselves the best in their individual areas of expertise.

1. St. Louis Brass Quintet (1)
2. Nuclear Percussion Ensemble (2)
3. Laclede Quartet (4)
4. Imrat Khan (Tie) (3)
4. Londolfi String Quartet (Tie)

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