Buffet of Champions

You came, you saw, you voted: the winners of the 2005 Riverfront Times Music Awards

For another thing, if you did take Steve-O out, you wouldn't be able to fill his multiple weekly gigs all over the city. And it's this constant and varied work schedule (for more than a decade, we might add) that truly allows Steve-O to lord over the club scene. Because if you love to dance in this region, then you've danced to Steve-O's beats. So put down the brass knucks and get on the floor. -- Jordan Harper

Best Garage/Rockabilly

The Trip Daddys

From top: CORE Project, Riddle of Steel, Dogtown Allstars
Jennifer Silverberg
From top: CORE Project, Riddle of Steel, Dogtown Allstars
From top: Needles, Bunnygrunt, The Schwag
Jennifer Silverberg
From top: Needles, Bunnygrunt, The Schwag

Some things are certain. Death, taxes, the changing of the seasons, the Trip Daddys taking the crown in the Rockabilly category. "Why do they always win?" one might ask. That hapless inquirer would probably be the one person who goes to see bands in St. Louis on a regular basis who hasn't seen the Trip Daddys play.

The Trip Daddys have been playing around town and around the region for a decade now, honing their homegrown psychobilly chops at every place with a stage and a PA -- and surely some places with neither. Sure, they always win the best rockabilly category, but throughout their long, diverse sets they could also probably contend with the best punk bands, the best country bands, the best bar bands, the best instrumental surf rockers and anyone else with a guitar, bass and drums. They're a great rockabilly band, but one should probably just say that they're a great rock band.

Guitarist and usual vocalist Craig Straubinger towers over the stage with effortless cool, not sweating a lick or messing one strand on his pompadour while coaxing metallic speed-twang from his hollow-bodied axe, playing behind his head and in the crowd or executing a perfect Townshend scissor-kick to announce the banging end of a song. When bassist Jamey Almond steps to the mic to sing a song, it's usually a more wistful, soulful country tune, giving the hard-working dancers at the stage's front lip a chance to kick back and relax a second. Drummer Joe Meyer is a workhorse behind the kit, pounding away with what looks like excruciating effort. The band's original tunes match their always well-chosen covers -- their version of Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" must be heard to be believed.

Some people in this town are probably getting bored with the Trip Daddys winning every year. But it's guaranteed they wouldn't be bored at a Trip Daddys show. -- Travis Petersen

Best Funk/R&B/Soul

Dogtown Allstars

We love them because they're funky. We love them because they're from Dogtown. We love them because they don't hyphenate the word "Allstars," and really, it looks much better that way. It's hard to say when the band officially began -- three years ago, was it? Out of the combined efforts of members of Hip Grease and Gumbohead and various solo projects was birthed the Dogtown Allstars, a quartet of musicians who nix vocals in favor of deep, soulful, rhythm & blues-laden funk. And when we say funk, we mean funk. The real deal, not a white-boy impression or a brick-house tickle.

All seasoned St. Louis musicians, the Dogtown Allstars know how to work the scene and a crowd, and they can make even the most sparsely populated weeknight bar seem like Dance Party USA. Consisting of Drew Weiss on drums, Andy Coco on bass, Adam Wilke on guitar and Nathan Hershey on keys, the band throws down sets with some original material but heavy on spicy covers from Robert Palmer to Jimmy Smith, Grateful Dead to Grant Green. They take notes from the Meters and Parliament, and are constantly tweaking their consistent repertoire while remaining dedicated to playing locally. The band rarely ventures out on the road, but we're selfish enough to be happy that they have every intention of sharing their flavor with St. Louis and St. Louis alone. They appear monthly at Magee's in the Central West End and are regulars at Pop's Blue Moon and a host of other local and metro-east establishments including the Famous Bar, the Broadway Oyster Bar and the Stagger Inn. No one ever said St. Louis doesn't have soul, but thanks to the Dogtown Allstars, we can also say we have plenty of funk. -- Jess Minnen

Best Hard Rock

Riddle of Steel

Out on tour, driving through the wilds of America, listening to some old Led Zeppelin or Jawbox records while avoiding coyotes, the members of Riddle of Steel most likely won't know they've won the title of Best Hard Rock Band in St. Louis for a few weeks. Unless they've got some newfangled connection to The Internets, in which case they probably just found out.

Either way, these guys are one of the most national local bands we know. For several years, albeit with almost as many drummers as Spinal Tap, guitarist Andrew Elstner and bassist Jimmy Vavak have been grinding out their rock, playing frequently in St. Louis and all over the U.S. In a perfectly timed marketing move, they've just released their third CD this month, with newest drummer Rob Smith providing the beats for Got This Feeling, on the well-respected Ascetic label.

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