The 2004 RFT Music Awards

Best Hip-Hop DJ Charlie Chan He's back. After a one-year concession to the deserving DJ Needles, Charlie Chan is once again at the top of the heap. And he did it despite Q95.5's decision to drop many of its mix DJs, including Chan. Such a setback would topple a lesser soul, but Chan's maintained his rep as one of St. Louis' biggest tastemakers through hard work (you last saw him spinning at every damn club you've been inside) and a golden ear (up-and-coming hip-hoppers invite him to CD release parties in the hope that he'll give them a nod and a spin).

Chan doesn't follow trends, he sets them, and he's earned his street cred through decades of keeping his ear to the ground. He's helped countless artists yet isn't afraid to reach into the back of his crate for golden oldies that will get the crowd pumped. He might not engage in some of the jaw-dropping turntable antics of some of his peers, but hell, you can't dance to that stuff anyway, and Chan makes sure your ass is moving no matter what. Chan can still mix it up with the best of them; he just never loses sight of the beat.

Whether you're at Nelly's birthday party or Beat Fest, if it's a must-do event, then Chan is the must-DJ. He may have had some knocks this year, but hey, it's a hard-knock life, and there's little doubt that Chan will be rocking St. Louis for as long as his hands can grasp vinyl. -- Jordan Harper

Top: Shame Club  Bottom: Trip Daddys: Joe Meyer (background), 
Craig Straubinger (center) and Jamey Almond
Ryan Hudson
Top: Shame Club
Bottom: Trip Daddys: Joe Meyer (background), Craig Straubinger (center) and Jamey Almond
Top: Chuck Berry  Bottom: Gentleman Callers
Jennifer Silverberg
Top: Chuck Berry
Bottom: Gentleman Callers

Best Jazz Dave Stone

If you haven't yet done so, take a date to dinner at Mangia Italiano on a Friday night at 8:30 or so (and be careful when ordering red wine). It's still a restaurant at this point in the evening, so chat with your companion about sophisticated things while you can. By 9:30, pierced, tattooed denizens of the south side will begin to take the chairs on the patio and guzzle buck-fifty Falstaffs, the house beer for quantity-over-quality imbibing. Many of the other diners have left; they can smell one of those mythical south-side Friday nights brewing (literally). Ignore their timid logic and stay put. By the time your server brings the tiramisu and espresso to your table, you'll start to see a few swankier folk mixing in with the gritty and, hey, it's not getting rowdy after all. In fact, it's starting to feel kinda sexy in there, maybe almost as sophisticated as your conversation over appetizers. Sheesh, some of the freaks are actually drinking wine! When ten o' clock rolls around, three musicians approach the instruments crowded into the nook at the rear of the restaurant and, before you know it, they're three bars into a Coltrane number. Saxophone, drum and bass pour honeyed improvisations into the air and every ear in the house leans to suck them in. Now it's perfectly clear why you were supposed to stay put: This is the Dave Stone Trio, and they're playing the best jazz in St. Louis.

From 2000 to 2002, Dave Stone thrice took the gold in this category, an unprecedented turkey of a streak for a jazz saxophonist of his age in a town with so many jazz legends and luminaries. After last year's upset by the venerable Willie Akins, Stone is back on the throne. It's not just the consistency of Stone's swing, the fluidity of his comping and the esteemed company he keeps onstage (would he have earned this award four times without longtime partner-in-crime, bassist Eric Markowitz?). Variety also characterizes Stone's pioneering work in jazz. When he's not working the standards or post-bop tip at Mangia, you can hear him blowing corn through his horn in various free-jazz and experimental projects from time to time. Dave Stone will someday have a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and someone will write a biography of the quiet man with more melodies than words. For now, though, you can still catch him bringing the swing to Mangia every Friday. -- John Goddard

Best Pop Javier Mendoza

Javier Mendoza is a winner. He's won an award four out of the last five times he's been nominated in our horse race. The guy's so diverse he's been nominated in three different categories during that time and taken two of them (Best World Music in 2000 and 2001, Best Pop Band in 2003 and 2004). Next year, we're just going to concede that he's going to win something and have a Best Javier Mendoza Band category to give some of his competition a chance.

So why is our little one-man Latin explosion (and his band) so popular? Well, for one, he's dead sexy, at least according to his rabid, screaming fan base of mostly women, who regularly pack the house at all of his gigs. Seriously, one could imagine that whole neighborhoods in west county are missing all their ladies because they are at a club somewhere watching Mendoza shake his bon-bon. He doesn't just get by on his good looks, though; he's got music to back it up. His music is tuneful, vaguely familiar yet incorporating enough various elements of Spanish and world music to make it feel a cut above most other bands of that ilk and, while no one would ever confuse Mendoza for Motörhead, he rocks just enough to tie it all together. To top it all off, he's a hell of nice guy, the kind you really hope gets to do whatever he wants.

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