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
Damn, son: Mahf is nominated twice this year, when you stop to think about it. His prowess as a DJ think tight, jubilant, uproariously fun sets featuring hot hip-hop, funk and jazz tracks is evident both in his solo performances and when he mans the tables for the excellent hip-hop crew Earthworms. Not content to just be a kickass DJ, Mahf also performed with now-defunct rock band Essence of Logic and co-hosts a show on the buzz-worthy Internet station Riverfront Radio (www.RF97.com). Check him out Wednesdays at the Upstairs Lounge night 84, or catch one of his frequent sets at the Atomic Cowboy. Just look for the guy who seems truly in love with his craft, the guy with the 200-watt smile. (BF)
Blueberry Hill's Elvis Room, 10 p.m.
Best Indie Band
Like the Ramones, the four members of Berlin Whale tend to use the surname "Whale" when referring to themselves in MySpace messages a darling conceit that aligns perfectly with their adorably lo-fi dance-rock. Rickety Casio keyboards and surrealistic lyrics collide in joyous tandem; think the B-52's, New Order and Talking Heads riding a Tilt-a-Whirl together. Whimsical without being cutesy (and stuffed with more melodies and harmonies than a Broadway musical), Berlin Whale's upcoming debut album is an equally jubilant affair. This is DIY new-wave at its most primitive. (AZ)
Cicero's, 10 p.m.
Spunky, passionate band seeks hot encounters! We are height/weight proportionate, white, bi-curious, Bunnygrunt. We enjoy long walks on the beach, movies, working out, cooking and creating appealing, melt-your-heart, adorable pop music. Seeking indie music fans who enjoy dancing, singing along, catchy choruses and discreet, kinky fun! Our many fans no longer satisfy our needs and we would love to experiment and explore with you. Let's meet in a loud, smoke-filled venue and see where the night takes us. Serious replies only. (JL)
Delmar Restaurant & Lounge, 12 a.m.
Ghost in Light
It's a mistake to pigeonhole Ghost in Light as merely an "ambient" outfit. Since reconfiguring itself as a trio, GiL has become quite comfortable (and more adept) at integrating doses of throttling post-rock and dynamic volume shifts with its quieter moments. In fact, in concert is where the band truly shines: Though each individual member is talented in his own right Shae Moseley's ferocious, rock-steady drumming anchors Chandler Evans' intricate guitar work and Josh Evans' evocative, heartfelt vocals Ghost in Light's music becomes greater than the sum of its parts. (AZ)
Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 8 p.m.
There's very little that isn't earnest about Say Panther, from the way the collective signs off its MySpace announcements ("Yours Truly, Say Panther" is a personal favorite) to its sweetly shambolic tunes which combine the orchestral glee of the Arcade Fire or Beulah (trumpet! cello!) with dashes of echoing new-wave rock and Britpop's merry melodicism. Then again, Say Panther's pure-of-heart nature is what makes the young co-ed band such a joy to experience, both on disc and in concert. (AZ)
Cicero's, 6 p.m.
So Many Dynamos
Haters like to dismiss So Many Dynamos as a clone of the Dismemberment Plan, a beloved bunch of prog-dance geeks from Washington, D.C. But not only does the Edwardsville quartet see the D-Plan's dorkdom it raises the nerditude by incorporating spiky post-punk, zippy electro and (of course) stone-cold, Yes-styled prog-i-tude. Just try to resist headbanging through the heavy-metal breakdowns in "Progress" or breaking out your snappiest dance moves during "We Vibrate, We Do." (AZ)
Cicero's, 9 p.m.
Best Jazz Artist
Willie AkinsA seasoned veteran who commands respect for his musical ability and inspires affection with his humility and humanity saxophonist Willie Akins represents the gold standard among local mainstream jazz players. Akins performs bop, ballads, blues and standards with equal aplomb, swinging authoritatively on the uptempo numbers and unfurling fat-toned, meditative lines on the slow ones. He's also been a mentor and teacher to many younger musicians, someone always willing to share his knowledge, both explicitly and by example. (DCM)
Considered by jazz critics to be the most important baritone sax player of his generation, Hamiet Bluiett ranks with Gerry Mulligan, Harry Carney and a few others as one of the greatest ever to pick up the instrument. As such, his place in jazz history would be secure even if he hadn't also co-founded the groundbreaking World Saxophone Quartet, which helped pave the way for successive generations of jazz musicians seeking to embrace both tradition and innovation. Bluiett's busy schedule still keeps him on the road for much of the year, making his occasional hometown appearances that much more of a treat. (DCM)
Erin Bode's career seems to have stayed on a steady upward trajectory over the past year. She's sung in showcase clubs across the U.S., appeared twice on national television, toured again in Europe, and even done some high-profile charity work, helping put together a CD to benefit a girls' school in South Africa. Bode's pop-jazz sensibility cuts across musical boundaries, uniting listeners of otherwise disparate tastes, and her crystalline voice and personal charm seem more than sufficient to ensure future success, no matter what stylistic direction her muse takes her. (DCM)