Riverfront Times Music Awards '04

Best Club DJ

Alexis

"House" has become somewhat of a curse word among electronica enthusiasts, who have grown used to associations between house music and the latest remix of a trashy pop song over a perverted Latin beat that thumps with as much rhythm as a jackhammer. Luckily there are still pillars of the genre, such as DJ Alexis, who tirelessly reminds St. Louis party- and club-goers that house music can be so much more. Alexis fills her sets with obscenely large helpings of funk, soul and acid jazz, mixing rhythms, beats and vocal hooks. You may start out just tapping your feet, but beware -- Alexis' assault is scarcely detectable until you find yourself shaking in the middle of a sweaty throng on the dance floor. 11 p.m., Pin-Up Bowl

Flex Boogie

Flex has been playing out for over three years, holding down residencies at several clubs in the process, including the Upstairs Lounge and Atomic Cowboy. He's been known to skillfully mix many different styles, including some hard house and downtempo, but these days his gigs focus on hip-hop and hard breaks or, as he refers to it, "strictly underground." Flex tosses in a popular hit or two from time to time as well. "It's always a remix, though," he says, "and we lose people sometimes just because it's a little unfamiliar." True fans of good beats, however, know that Flex Boogie always brings quality taste to the tables. 7 p.m., Pin-Up Bowl

Proppapappa

May we make a bad pun? Of course we may: Proppapappa knows the proppa way to work a crowd. Ouch. But true: With heavy beats and a catlike intuition (if a cat understood the politics of dancing the way it understood killing small, cute things), Proppapappa made an unwieldy name for himself in the Lou by pleasing mobs of dancers. Get your dancing shoes on and head for Pin-Up Bowl to get moved, proppaly. Ouch again. 8 p.m., Pin-Up Bowl

Steve-O

90 percent of life is showing up, as Woody Allen said. DJ Steve-O shows up all over the place, laying house beats behind him like you leave footprints. He's a favorite of RFT voters, and for good reason: He's been a party planner for years, and they're looking to party. 9 p.m., Pin-Up Bowl

Cory Thomas

His eyes can read a dance floor, and his ears know what beats will take it all to the next level. People who've seen him spin at Lo or other local clubs know the beats will fall like plaster from a collapsing ceiling...hey, is the ceiling collapsing? Naw, that's just the thunder of the crowd enraptured by a good thing. 10 p.m., Pin-Up Bowl

Best R&B

Fontella Bass

Raised in the church and schooled in the blues, Fontella Bass has also made a mark in pop, soul and jazz with hits such as "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing" and the ubiquitous "Rescue Me" and her work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. After stepping away from music to raise her family, Bass began her comeback during the '90s in the familiar world of gospel music; more recently she has begun recording and performing secular material again, too. Though infrequent, recent local appearances such as last year's concert at the Sheldon benefiting the Blues Mission Fund indicate that Bass is still in fine voice, offering the promise of more memorable music yet to come from this legendary diva.

Coultrain

You can call Coultrain a lot of things. You can call him gospel-influenced -- his voice has the fire of the church. You can call him a funk artist, or an R&B artist -- his music has elements of both, the sounds of Sly and the Family Stone creeping in alongside other influences, such as Stevie Wonder. You can call his music "soul." Just don't call him "neo-soul," or "nü-soul," or whatever other silly hyphenated label is being bandied about today, because Coultrain is different -- his music doesn't have the lifeless polish or the thin, radio-friendly sound so common among today's supposed soul revivalists. Call him what you will -- but chances are that once you hear him, you'll lack the words to call him anything.

Kim Massie

Kim Massie was built to sing the way Shaquille O'Neal was built to play basketball: She has the build, the throat, the lungs and the heart to make her a natural. And anybody who's heard her rip through "Strange Fruit" or purr her way through "Easy" knows that she's nurtured her nature to peak condition and can handle any mood or genre that comes her way. With the Solid Senders backing her up, expect a slam dunk of a set. 4 p.m., Main Outdoor Stage

Renee Smith

Her Web site calls her the "Queen of St. Louis Soul," and we're not one to argue. Smith wields her massive voice deftly, like a kung-fu master with a giant mace. And you best not stand in the way when the woman's at work -- she might destroy you while remaking a classic like "The Thrill is Gone" or "Mustang Sally." We might not be too keen on royalty in this country, but we like this queen just fine. 8:20 p.m., 609

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