Best Jazz Artist

Willie Akins
When famous jazz musicians passing through St. Louis have time to go out and hear a local performer, more often than not, it's Willie Akins they go to see. The veteran tenor and soprano saxophonist has been wowing out-of-towners, entertaining local listeners and mentoring young musicians since the '60s — and though woefully under-recorded by today's standards, Akins continues to impress with his technical mastery, emotional engagement, encyclopedic knowledge and musical integrity. (DM)

Hamiet Bluiett
Known internationally as one of the top baritone saxophonists in jazz, Hamiet Bluiett has made his mark as a bandleader and composer, a sideman to legends such as Charles Mingus, and as a member of both the original Black Artists Group and the World Saxophone Quartet. With the range to caress a beautiful ballad one minute and launch a free-jazz skronkfest the next, Bluiett brings both raw power and a canny intellect to every musical situation. (DM)

Jason and the Beast. Nominated for Best Hip-Hop/Rap Artist (Duo or Group). Performing at Vintage Vinyl, 7 p.m.
Jason and the Beast. Nominated for Best Hip-Hop/Rap Artist (Duo or Group). Performing at Vintage Vinyl, 7 p.m.
Kentucky Knife Fight. Nominated for Best Album (self-released). Performing at the Cucina Outdoor Stage, 3 p.m.
Kentucky Knife Fight. Nominated for Best Album (self-released). Performing at the Cucina Outdoor Stage, 3 p.m.

Erin Bode
Erin Bode and bandmate Adam Maness were burning the candle at both ends last year: In addition to handling most of Bode's songwriting, the pair released two albums and continued to perform locally, nationally and overseas. Despite contending with a full schedule, Bode hasn't let the quality of her music — or the phenomenal clarity and angelic tone of her voice — slip. Perhaps that's why her soothing blend of jazz and folk continues to win over new fans with each passing year. (CC)

Dave Stone
The sidewalks of South Grand don't have a star-studded "walk of fame" like they do in the Delmar Loop, but if they did, you can guarantee that saxophonist Dave Stone would be among the musicians, bartenders and scene-makers lionized. A regular performer at Mangia Italiano, Stone and his revolving cast of collaborators can go from hard bop to a laid-back groove at the drop of a beer bottle. His hard-edged tenor sax solos can be thorny or fluid, but either way Stone and company make sure that jazz music isn't pushed to the background. (CS)

Jeanne Trevor
Always a versatile performer, Jeanne Trevor has done musical theater for the Muny and other local companies in addition to fronting her own small group in clubs and concerts. Though Trevor can sing pop, cabaret and Broadway very well, she shines brightest as a jazz singer in the classic mode. The veteran shapes meter and melody to her own ends and improvises alongside her musicians in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter. (DM)

Best Metal/Thrash

Dude Nukem
Dude Nukem, winner of Best Band Name in RFT's 2008 Best of St. Louis issue, is an unabashed party band, one that molds the influences of Rich Kids on LSD and the Cro-Mags with Metallica. After essentially being the house band at the now-shuttered Building R, a punk warehouse on South Broadway, Dude Nukem carried that momentum into gigs around St. Louis, building a small but dedicated following of heshers. Since forming, it's released "Till Death Do Us Party" in limited quantities and hopes to release the Dude EP, a four-song seven-inch, this summer. — Nick Lucchesi
Blueberry Hill's Elvis Room, 11 p.m.

Cross Examination
It's been a hectic past year for Cross Examination, what with the release of its debut LP, Menace II Sobriety, and a West Coast tour. Still, the city's "Awesome Party Squad" doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon, even as its five-year anniversary approaches in August. The band's live performances are as raging as they've ever been, and with the release of Sobriety, the blogging heshers have put Cross Exam in the same company of thrash icons that influenced the band itself. (NL)

Head On Collision
"Don't refer to Head On Collision as 'party thrash.'" That's the message put out by bassist John Hancock, who also proclaims, "Fuck the party, this is thrash." The metal band, formed in 2003 is well schooled in heavy-metal history. That is to say, HoC sticks to fast-forward thrash, but isn't afraid to roll its riffs back to a punishing, marching pace. After a listen, heshers realize this stuff is much too pissed off to be considered party music. This year HoC will be recording new material, while singer Pat McCauley will be writing a music column for Thrasher. (NL)

Mongolian Clusterfuck's lineup consists of eighteen- and nineteen-year-old thrash rippers fond of donning jean jackets and Anthrax T-shirts. So what else is new? This type of band is plentiful in a city the size of St. Louis. However, newcomer MCF sets itself apart with youthful energy and a gnarly live show, perfected on the plywood stage at Building R, the long-gone south-side warehouse. "That place was insanely epic," says guitarist Joe Genens. The St. Charles-area band recorded twelve songs last summer for a full-length record, which is set for a DIY release soon. (NL)

Sine Nomine
Sine Nomine ceased making noise in 2006, but the act was apparently just hibernating: The band woke from its slumber a more ferocious beast than it was when it stopped. Its distorted, horror-film dissonance is more gory and its crap-your-pants lows more solid — impressive from a bass-less trio — while abrupt blast-beats burst forth like they expect an afterlife greeting from 72 virgins. Sine Nomine defies genre classification — but that's representative of its refusal to paint by anybody else's numbers, not a sign of confusion. (RW)
Blueberry Hill's Elvis Room, 10 p.m.

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