By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Donald Williams (Sugardaddy, Sinister Dane): "I kind of grew up listening to music. My favorite is Paul Weller. People thought of the Jam as punk, but really it was like blues played really fast. I was a mod from ages 16-21. Now I listen to a lot of soul stuff, like Marvin Gaye."
Geoff Kessell (home audio recorder and owner of Whiz Bam! Video): "Graham Parker tops my list. He encompasses the soul of classic Marvin Gaye, the lyrical prowess of Dylan or Lennon and the melodic incisiveness of Pete Townshend or Smokey Robinson -- yet never released anything as bad as those guys at their worst. Richard Barone (the Bongos) is another one of the biggies, if for no other reason than his melodies are transcendent -- no one comes up with melodies that hit me the same way. On top of that, he has a lyrical coyness that is utterly charming and fascinating to me, since I'm such a blatant and direct lyricist."
Lori Blue (Johnny Magnet): "I idolize lyricists who are really sardonic, like Warren Zevon. And the really melodic, loud-esque guitarists like Frank Black and over-the-top bass players like Mike Watt. Also Philip Glass, Kurt Cobain, Kim Deal and Billie Holiday. I grew up listening to old Who and Thin Lizzy records. Right now, I'm inspired by queercore bands like Tribe 8 because they blur the boundaries of gender and they write these hilarious lyrics."
Sarah Cloud: "Some people think it's cheesy music, but John Denver, Neil Diamond -- I love those kind of people! I feel that words and melody are what create the mood and the feeling for the listener. And I think a lot of what you hear on the radio these days are mediocre tunes that are souped up in the studio fashion of the '90s. I think they have made less room for really talented people like Sarah McLachlan; it took her a lot longer than it should have. A lot of people feel that music has progressed because we have all this technology, and I don't think that's true. I still think there are songwriters and musicians who make music in its purest form. Everyone that's inspired me was a songwriter -- less of like a musician or a less of like a sound or some revelation in music history -- whose songs can stay popular from the 1950s to the 1990s -- like Carole King, Willie Nelson or someone today like Sarah McLachlan. I'm not necessarily someone who says, 'I love blues,' or, 'I love rock & roll.' I'm a strong believer in a song that can stand alone -- that all those bells and whistles are fun things on top."
-- Jordan Oakes