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Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Ensemble Cast in a Musical

    Sunday in the Park with George

    We're not talking solely about the singers here. We're talking about the entire Sunday in the Park with George acting company — aided, abetted by and integrated with the entire production staff and director Rob Ruggiero. And we're talking about the unstinting support that all these visiting artists received from the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis staff. Everyone involved came… More >>
  • Best Local Impresario

    Em Piro

    Almost exactly a year ago, Em Piro, an actress, trapeze artist and social worker, decided St. Louis would have its own fringe festival in the summer of 2012. Never mind that she had no money or resources, that she had never before organized anything on such a grand scale or that most St. Louisans had no idea what a fringe… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Artist

    Thi'sl

    Travis Tyler made a name for himself on the freestyle circuit long before he swore his life to God, changed his moniker to Thi'sl and landed an album on top of the iTunes hip-hop chart. He grew up dealing drugs in west St. Louis, but turned his life around after a horrible chain of events: One of his best friends… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop DJ

    DJ Sir Thurl

    Sir Thurl is more than a man with an ear for what's going to keep the floor moving — though as his nickname "The Official Party Starter" attests, he is that too. He's the CEO of Allstar DJ Service, managing several of his cohorts for gigs at parties and events. He's half of the Lou Gotti Boyz hosting the critical… More >>
  • Best Songwriter

    Tim Gebauer

    Tim Gebauer has officially released exactly zero songs with his current songwriting project and booked as many official shows. So where do we get off putting him here, atop a crowded field of St. Louisans with razor-sharp pens? Well, as any who have seen Gebauer perform at an open-mic (with no amplifiers, standing on top of a chair, always) can… More >>
  • Best R&B Artist

    Theresa Payne

    Theresa Payne has taken the long road to becoming the showstopping, hair-raising live force she is today. Her stops along the way include a long history of songwriting and some time spent as what she describes as an "inspirational gospel" singer. Personal struggles, including the loss of her brother in a truck-driving accident and her own battles with self-image, helped… More >>
  • Best Bluegrass Band

    Elemental Shakedown

    The tradition of bluegrass may be as old as St. Louis itself, but Elemental Shakedown isn't content to be a museum piece. The five members of the band come from across different corners of the country and have backgrounds in music about as diverse. They give the Midwest bluegrass scene — which often pits purists against progressives — a much-needed… More >>
  • Best FM Radio Personality

    Pat Wolfe

    When listening to Pat Wolfe on the radio, the mind tends to wander. Who is the man with the rich baritone delivery — the perfect "radio voice"? The name of Wolfe's show, Interstate, completes the illusion. This Wolfe must be a lone one — a renegade type in a leather jacket, sitting behind the microphone while chain-smoking Winstons and dreaming… More >>
  • Best Reporter (Newspaper Division)

    Diane Toroian Keaggy

    Diane Toroian Keaggy is a features reporter in the best sense of the term. She doesn't cover what the old hacks call "real news" but instead deals in the lighter side of life. Oh, she could probably tackle the heavy stuff — check out how she takes your typical Mother's Day newspaper story to the zoo and reveals the savage… More >>
  • Best Theater Surprise

    Cannibal! The Musical

    Trey Parker's Cannibal! The Musical is a two-pronged assault. Prong one, the obvious one, lampoons the classic movie-musical format (e.g., Oklahoma! and Hello, Dolly! — note the proclivity for exclamation marks!). Prong two is a juvenile attack on his unfaithful college girlfriend, who shares a name with the horse of the main character, who happens to be a man-eating idiot.… More >>
  • Best Musical

    Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

    St. Louis did not lack for memorable productions of Stephen Sondheim musicals this year. In addition to Sunday in the Park with George at the Rep (see "Best Ensemble Cast in a Musical"), Sondheim's 1979 musical thriller Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis was galvanizing. Sweeney seems to defy categorization. Some describe… More >>
  • Best One-Person Show

    Patrese D. McClain

    Perhaps the most curious thing about No Child..., the astonishing one-person play by Nijala Sun, is how conventional the plot is. How many times (Stand and Deliver, Up the Down Staircase, To Sir, With Love) have we seen stories about dedicated teachers vs. problem kids? No Child... turns that genre on its head by having the whole cast — four… More >>
  • Best Local TV Commercial

    Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center

    Cardinal Glennon's current TV spots show a montage of doctors and nurses and sick but happy children while a mid-tempo Gypsy jazz swing track plays in the background. At its close, the music comes to the forefront as a female voice sings "At Cardinal Glennon...." Then the song, and therefore the ad itself, takes an odd turn as guitar chords… More >>
  • Best TV News Anchor

    Mike Bush

    As TV news tries desperately to compete with the fast-paced news stream from the Internet, Mike Bush's approach is decidedly old school. KSDK-TV (Channel 5)'s news programs take pride in their accuracy, often opting to get the story right rather than be the first to report. Bush's deliberate delivery is an integral part of the station's aesthetic. He rarely trips… More >>
  • Marjorie Williamson

    Best Poster (Theater Division)

    Marjorie Williamson

    Their contributions generally go unheralded, but a clever theater poster can do much more than impart information: It can set tone; it can bemuse and intrigue; it can make a viewer eager to see a play. An evocative theater poster is almost like the first review. No one in town evokes a play's style more cleverly and insightfully than does… More >>
  • Best Playbill Bio

    Mike Isaacson

    For the 2012 season's final show, The King and I, executive producer Mike Isaacson blue-penciled his playbill biography. For the first six productions, Isaacson's bio remained pretty standard, chronicling the creative director's extensive theater credits. But for the final week, he threw out the template and replaced the old standby with a bio that was twice as long but contained… More >>
  • Best Theater Photographer

    John Lamb

    To most people, Lamb is the genial box-office manager at Saint Louis University's theater in Xavier Hall. But a few years back, his photographs began showing up alongside reviews in publications such as this one — and they are outstanding. Sometimes Lamb's photos are posed — as, for instance, his amusing cast portrait for Act Inc.'s Travels with My Aunt,… More >>
  • Best Couple in a Musical

    Laura Michelle Kelly Weand Kevin Gray

    Here's the thing about Anna and the King of Siam: They're two adults who behave like adults. Which is to say that they can be petty and small and stubborn — but at least their starting point is maturity. We don't see a lot of mature people in the theater these days. Like the movies, plays and musicals are skewing… More >>
  • Best Local Poet

    Jazzy Danziger

    Sylvia Plath wrote that if the novel is an open hand, relaxed and expansive, then poetry is a closed fist that "excludes and stuns." Jazzy Danziger's first book of poems, Darkroom, published earlier this year, proves that the two need not be mutually exclusive. Danziger's work packs a punch, for sure; much of Darkroom concerns the poet's relationship with her… More >>
  • Best Local Cartoonist

    Dan Zettwoch

    With the detail of a vintage biology chart, frequent Riverfront Times contributor Dan Zettwoch steers Midwestern — often St. Louis — history lessons into eye-popping, sometimes grotesque, illustrations of the human kind. They can be dizzying, intricate and informative, all at once. It's a tacky yet endearing plaid that's seamed together with themes of nostalgic minutiae and American beauty. Zettwoch's… More >>
  • Best Reason to Go to Powell Hall

    David Robertson

    There are many reasons to relish a trip to Powell Hall when the St. Louis Symphony is in town. There's the beautiful old edifice, a converted movie palace restored to gorgeous splendor, from the gold leaf in the domed ceiling to the Art Deco proscenium and the plush crimson seats and carpet. There's the excited buzz in the lobby, where… More >>
  • Best Folk Music Radio Program

    No Time to Tarry Here

    If it's Sunday afternoon, we're almost certainly listening to No Time to Tarry Here, hosted by Pablo Meshugi on KDHX (88.1 FM). In past years we've been a bit loath to admit this. Old-school folk music has been falling out of fashion since the 1960s. It's just too darned earnest. But our Sundays with Pablo Meshugi, the nom d'air of… More >>
  • Best Museum

    City Museum

    The City Museum is positively Whitmanesque: It's large; it contains multitudes. Consider the radically varied "Bests" it has merited over the years: "Best Kids' Thrill," "Best Place to Take Out-of-Town-Guests," "Best Place to Slip an Out-of-Towner Some Acid," "Best Place to Take a Cynical Out-of-Towner," "Best Place for a Last Date," "Best Place to Play Pinball." Call it a mere… More >>
  • Best Gallery to Die in the Past Year

    Snowflake Gallery

    It was a sad loss indeed this past summer, when Bevin and David Early ceased programming at their personal labor of love, the alternative art space Snowflake. Poised on the corner of Cherokee Street and South Compton Avenue, the charismatic storefront (above which the proprietors live) was host to more than a dozen thoughtful art exhibitions since its 2007 opening.… More >>
  • Best Gallery Exhibition

    The Art of the Sign

    Big signs, little signs, neon signs, bulb-light signs, terra-cotta signs, signs gilt in gold, signs that twirled, signs that did nothing but gloriously effervesce — yes, this was an exhibit composed solely of signs. Vintage signs, especially — dating from the 1960s and back, and mostly hand-plucked from the St. Louis environs' more historic quarters and crannies. Assembled with love… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Good Citizen Gallery

    Offbeat yet steadfast, this engaging and inventive gallery near the intersection of Gravois and Jefferson avenues never fails to surprise. Walk in one month and see a collection of what look like turn-of-the-century photographs but are actually contemporary shots created from handmade pinhole cameras (Pinholio); next month discover a labyrinth of thrift-store items, assembled into a precarious sculptural installation, which… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibition (Fine Art Division)

    Reflections of the Buddha

    Contemplative serenity was made manifest in this exquisite collection of perfectly appointed Buddhist artifacts, spanning centuries of sacred tradition and cultural history. Curated by Francesca Herndon-Consagra, the exhibit operated like an expertly played piano sonata: Every individual (visual) note rang crisp, the mind and gaze were compelled in unexpected directions, and the concerted whole resolved as a deep and resonant… More >>
  • Best Local Artist

    David Johnson

    With his signature blend of abstract formalism and documentary realism, over the past five years photographer David Johnson has carefully chronicled an ample swath of St. Louis' art ecology. A Texas native who came to pursue a graduate degree in visual art at Washington University, Johnson has an eye for the most banal of domestic details, finding in them enough… More >>
  • Best Hair on a Local TV Personality (Male)

    Al Hrabosky

    Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky was once quoted as saying that being forced to shave off his mustache made him feel like "a soldier going to war without a rifle." These days, freed of the shackles of '70s-era management and slinging color commentary for his former ball club instead, he will — on occasion — appear with that musket locked… More >>
  • Best Striptease

    Becca Andrews

    It was one of those evenings when you wished you were home reading a book. Any book, that is, other than one written by Arthur Schnitzler, the Austrian author and dramatist whose plays include La Ronde. For alas, La Ronde is the basis for Hello Again, a repetitive musical about sex that was being staged by the Webster University Conservatory… More >>
  • Best Zoo Animal

    Black-tailed prairie dog

    The folks at the Saint Louis Zoo take great pains to mimic the natural habitat of all the creatures under their stewardship, but few of the park's residents seem to do what they would be doing in the wild anyway with the gusto exhibited by the black-tailed prairie dog. Cohabitating in a band about two dozen strong, they chatter, play,… More >>
  • Best Casino

    River City Casino

    River City Casino doesn't break with casino tradition. Day or night, you have no stinkin' idea what time it is, what the weather outside is like, whether such a place as "outside" exists at all. Still, within this timeless space you can't help but feel less trapped than at other gaming palaces. The ceilings seem a mile above your head,… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibition (Functional Division)

    Underneath It All

    Short version: Frankly, it's hard to get much sexier than an exhibit centered on women's underwear. Longer version: Pass through the curtain-swagged exhibition entrance at the Missouri History Museum, and you pass into the normally secretive world of women's undergarments. There's even a rack to indulge in some dress-up games with panniers, hoops, crinolines and stays. A sailor has carved… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    Antenna TV (Channel 2.2)

    The digital TV transition of 2009 was a tremendous pain in the ass for the analog set. Finally, though, after three years fiddling with our rabbit ears and making more trips to Radio Shack than we care to admit, we're reaping the rewards we were promised. Digital TV is the poor man's cable, offering a breadth of choices never before… More >>
  • Best Publication Name

    Bench Press

    Matt Murphy, the public-information officer for the St. Louis Circuit Court, had a few names in mind when he set out last year to start a court newsletter. Court Brief was one title. The Court Reporter and Hearsay was another. But the name that seemed to get the most positive feedback was Bench Press. And rightly so. The double-entendre injects… More >>
  • Best Newspaper Columnist

    John Hoffmann

    You know you're doing something right as an opinion columnist when you manage to get under the skin of Charlie Brennan. And that's precisely what Chesterfield Patch writer John Hoffmann did this past March, when he used his, er, patch of virtual newsprint to tweak the KMOX (1120 AM) radio host for a column about St. Louis tourist attractions that… More >>
  • Best Reporter (TV/Radio Division)

    Chris Hayes

    Long before a man high on bath salts chewed the face off a victim in Florida this past spring, KTVI-TV (Channel 2) reporter Chris Hayes was all over the synthetic-drug beat. It was Hayes who broke news in 2010 of Missouri retailers selling a bizarre new drug labeled as "bath salts." Since then he has become the foremost expert on… More >>
  • Best Arts Organization

    Perennial

    It was Jenny Murphy's disbelief at the things people throw away that inspired her to create Perennial, a nonprofit that encourages (and teaches) folks to make beautiful, functional items out of salvaged trash. But what makes Perennial tick is the passion and enthusiasm Murphy — a 2012 Riverfront Times MasterMind Award honoree — and her team bring to the (work)table:… More >>
  • Best Film Festival

    Classic French Film Fest

    The Webster University Film Series unerringly melds offbeat cinema with popular culture, hosting everything from challenging contemporary documentaries to beloved Criterion classics and campy cult flicks. So when the series organizers team up with Cinema St. Louis each year to tackle classic French cinema, a notoriously intimidating genre, the project must be, first and foremost, approachable, and it must also… More >>
  • Best Reading Series

    Observable Readings

    For centuries wordsmiths have put ink to paper with the aid of liquid inspiration, and as evidenced by alt-weekly writers everywhere (well, at Riverfront Times, anyhow), this tradition is alive and well. So it's only natural that the St. Louis Poetry Center's Observable Readings series makes its home at the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-241-2337), pairing local poetry… More >>
  • Best Stage Production

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    The Black Rep has already worked its way through August Wilson's ten-play "Century Cycle" once. Now the fearless theater company has passed GO, collected $200 and is prepared to start again. The $64,000 question (take a deep breath): Are theatergoers ready for another mind-blowing journey through the 20th century with the vaulting (yet often verbose) Wilson? If May's staging of… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Chester Lampkin

    Now, more than ever, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. There are dozens of websites that will quickly and (for the most part) accurately provide hourly and ten-day forecasts specific to any ZIP code. The public needs a little more incentive to sit through local human-interest stories and sports recaps than simply a curiosity… More >>
  • Best Book by a Local Author

    The Might Have Been

    Most baseball stories end in triumph. Joe Schuster's debut novel, The Might Have Been, is too smart, and too rooted in reality, to condemn its protagonist, Edward Everett Yates, to a clichéd happy ending. Edward Everett, who spent a month with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1976 before his career was wrecked by a cataclysmic knee injury in the middle… More >>
  • Best Strip Joint

    Larry Flynt's Hustler Club

    The lovely ladies of East St. Louis know how to make a dollar go a long way. And while there's nothing cheap about a night out at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club (unless you're there for the infamous $2 Tuesdays), the strippers and servers know how to make any customer feel like royalty — even if he (or she) only has… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    WSIE (88.7 FM)

    This year marks the re-Birth of the Cool. In 2009 financial hardship reduced WSIE (88.7 FM) — since the 1980s the only all-jazz station in St. Louis — to running syndicated content 24/7. But its parent institution, Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville, committed to revitalizing the beloved station, and in 2012 WSIE has hit its stride, offering a full spectrum of jazz… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Plaza Frontenac Cinema

    We are no doubt several tax brackets south of Plaza Frontenac's target market, but we'll risk accidentally scratching some Huntleigh citizen's Range Rover for a seat at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema. Operated by the Landmark Theatres chain, champion of the oddball film, the six-screen PFC consistently showcases the strange and beautiful, eschewing megaplex popcorn fare in favor of foreign dramas… More >>
  • Best Hair on a Local TV Personality (Female)

    Sande Stevenson

    Sande Stevenson's coif fills all the requisite musts of classic anchorperson hair. It's big, big, BIG. Her curls, while probably rating somewhere between feldspar and quartz on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, look touchably soft on camera. But while most anchorwomen will just smile demurely and thank their behind-the-scenes stylist, Stevenson not only wants to tell her fans how… More >>
  • Best Comedy Podcast

    Tackling Tough Issues

    Standup comics tend to be needy, not to mention somehow damaged or fucked up, which goes a long way toward explaining why it is that listening to them emote and bust balls is wicked fun. This certainly holds true for Tackling Tough Issues, the comedy podcast of record in the St. Louis scene. It's the brainchild of local standup Steve… More >>
  • Best Comedy Open-Mic

    St. Louis Funny Bone

    Those eager to try standup have no shortage of open-mic options: O'Malley's in Benton Park, Fitz's in the Loop, Nick's Pub in Cheltenham. But if you're serious about doing comedy, Tuesday night's open-mic at the Funny Bone in Westport Plaza is the venue. For starters, it's a bona fide comedy club, with stage, lighting and seating set up specifically for… More >>
  • Best Kids' Thrill

    Circus Flora

    We live in a time when children read interactive stories on iPads and are babysat by televisions. But each summer when Circus Flora floods Grand Center with its candy-red big-top tents, tinny carnival music and the aroma of popcorn and cotton candy, the performers do more than entertain. They transform, taking guests back to a simpler time when entertainment meant… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    Foam

    Honestly, if there were a way to see every single local musical event at Foam, we wouldn't have a problem with it. By day, this Cherokee Street space is a comfortable spot to enjoy a latte or a beer, with couches in front and a Pachinko collection hanging from the back walls. By night, it becomes a cozy concert venue.… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    DD's Irish Pub & Karaoke

    For some, karaoke is simply another line item in the litany of embarrassing things that happen when blood-alcohol levels get a bit off-kilter. But there's an entire subculture of bar-dwelling aural sadomasochists who thrive off of ear-splitting renditions of Hall and Oates' greatest hits. And from the moment they flip that first laminated page in the very official three-ring binder,… More >>
  • Best Theater Festival

    St. Lou Fringe

    In the months leading up to St. Lou Fringe, the promotional materials were sassy and brashly irreverent. When the five-day festival began in June, a slew of adventuresome plays and dance events were diverting and provocative. Even the admittance buttons had a style all their own. The brand-new, breakthrough St. Lou Fringe had just about everything going for it —… More >>
  • Best Place to Slow Dance

    Blues Cruise on the Mississippi River

    As passengers cross the gangway to board the Becky Thatcher, they are scooted off to the side and instructed to pose for a picture behind an old-school life preserver bearing the date of the blues cruise that's about to get underway. "Oh, puh-leeeze," their eyes seem to say. But by cruise's end, two-and-a-half hours later, damned if they don't end… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    The Crow's Nest

    "Sorry, we're out of Stag," says Crow's Nest bartender Kenny Snarzyk, immediately upon our arrival. The words cut like knives; truly they are five of the most heinous in the English language. Reeling and in shock, we seek solace at the jukebox. This particular 'box has pedigree: It was the same that won the now bygone Bleeding Deacon its "Best… More >>
  • Best Underground Club

    Cusumano's Pizza

    From a promoter/booker-of-underground-shows perspective, Cusumano's Pizza is almost too damn good to be true. With its location in Maplewood on Manchester Avenue — roughly fifteen minutes from nearly anywhere in town — it's easy to convince even the most steadfast of stay-at-home couch potatoes to show up. Rental of the hall is free, putting overhead costs near zero and ensuring… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    The Firebird

    The Firebird undoubtedly earned this year's award for "Best Rock Club," but in this case the word "rock" may be a bit of a misnomer. Yes, the club frequently caters to a rock crowd, but its overwhelming appeal is primarily in its eclectic how-the-fuck-did-they-get-that-band booking. No matter what your personal tastes are, it is likely that one of your favorite… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups

    In a town with as many blues enthusiasts as St. Louis, the question of which blues club is best can be a topic of spirited discussion. Last year's "Best Blues Club" winner Beale on Broadway remains a strong contender for the honor, for all the reasons cited in its 2011 entry. But for 2012, the nod returns once again to… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Jazz at the Bistro

    The principal venue of not-for-profit presenter Jazz St. Louis, Jazz at the Bistro shows up on just about every list of best jazz clubs compiled anywhere, from USA Today to the jazz trade magazine Down Beat. And while the RFT doesn't just go along with the journalistic pack as a matter of course, in this case, we have no choice… More >>
  • Best Club DJ

    18andCounting

    18andCounting hasn't stopped for so much as a breath for several years now. Better known to some as Stan Chisholm, he has added an Akai MPD and a MacBook to his live arsenal. Holding down a constant schedule around town, Chisholm faces the world head on. His collaborations with DJ Needles, Black Spade and numerous others solidify one truth: He… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Just John Nightclub

    The proof is in the pudding, folks: Gays have more fun. And what better form of sexual freedom and expression is there than dance? Pulsating at the entrance to the Grove, Just John Nightclub offers the city's hottest dance floor, regardless of your preferences. Bumpin' and bangin' seven days a week, the club keeps the party going from 3 p.m.… More >>
  • Best Bouncer

    Cliff Charles

    To sufficiently handle threats in all their forms — drunk dummies and actual dangers — a bouncer must exude an aura that's equal parts authority and ass-kicker. Size doesn't necessarily matter if those two prerequisites are met, but muscle doesn't hurt when it's your job to lay down the law in a bar or club. Halo Bar at the Pageant… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic

    The Livery Company

    When the Livery Company opened its doors in Benton Park West in July, its combination cocktail lounge and music club brought a fresh face to a classic concept. While clever concoctions are slung at the bar, a main attraction for stopping in the Livery is its focus on featuring live music, including performances by local bands and musicians, as well… More >>
  • Best Theater Discovery

    Samantha Massell

    Most of the pre-production publicity about Aladdin, the Muny's staging of the 1992 Disney movie, concerned the appearance of three live camels — whose laid-back performances were OK, though not particularly animated. (Camels always appear to be disdainfully above it all.) What caught us by surprise was the lovely and spirited performance from Samantha Massell as Princess Jasmine. Massell is… More >>
  • Best Venue to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Pig Slop Studios

    Pig Slop was not just some dude's basement. First of all, it was more like an attic, but that's not the important point. No, that would be the openness it held from day one for odd arts of all kinds. Pig Slop didn't even begin with shows in mind — it was vaguely meant as a visual-arts haven — but… More >>
  • Best Festival

    Lantern Festival

    So the event's full name was a little cheesy: "Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night." OK, a lot cheesy. It appeared to reference superheroes, bad advertising slogans and a certain subset of pornographic movies. But then we escorted ourselves to the Missouri Botanical Garden to view this lantern festival. Earlier this spring MoBot took delivery of four shipping… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    The Ambassador

    The newest club under the ownership of venerable St. Louis proprietor Craig Spruill is his biggest and most ambitious space to date — after losing the first incarnation of the Ambassador to a retail development, he moved from Northland Plaza into the current space in extreme north St. Louis. In the two-plus years he's been there, the place has hosted… More >>
  • Best Music Fans

    Stephen Houldsworth and Graham Matthews

    You've probably seen them around: Stephen's the shorter one with the David Crosby moustache, and Graham's the taller and skinnier one with the full beard. Together, they attend more local music events than any local without an alliterative, British Invasion-tinged nickname. The Offspring at Soldiers Memorial? A word-of-mouth basement show in south city? The latest happenings at Belleville, Illinois' Cheddr… More >>
  • Best Tribute Band

    El Monstero

    Now in its fourteenth year, El Monstero is an institution. Each December (and in the last two years, July), an all-star cast of premier St. Louis musicians combines forces to pay tribute to Pink Floyd and the bombastic spectacle that is its stage show in a series of sold-out concerts. What makes El Monstero special is that the production is… More >>
  • Best Band Name

    Totally Gay Cop

    Local artsy hardcore outfit Totally Gay Cop's name comes off as a mockery of Chick-fil-A homophobia, conjuring the image of a mustachioed officer protecting and serving the conservative public by day and going all Village People after-hours. It also touches upon the police-hating that runs deep within the punk-rock community and the unfortunate tendency for "totally gay" to translate to… More >>
  • Best Homecoming

    Darin Gray

    Between his family life in Edwardsville, Illinois, and his tours of Japan alongside folks like Jim O'Rourke and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, local performances by Darin Gray are rare. At January's New Music Circle-curated show at the Kranzberg Arts Center with Chris Corsano and Dave Stone, Gray summoned the pent-up energy of the four-plus years since his last St. Louis… More >>
  • Best New Band

    Foxing

    The revival of late-'90s-style emo among the barely legal demographic of Midwestern indie punks is upon us, and Foxing is poised to become the movement's local torchbearer. The quintet's members — some of whom cannot legally purchase booze — are lifers in the making, having honed their craft in bands like Hunter Gatherer, Family Might, Badger Hunt and Torchlight Red.… More >>
  • Best Punk Band

    Better Days

    You were just about to give up on the hardcore-punk scene in St. Louis. You had grown tired of the perceived elitism, the tough-guy posturing, the cramped basement venues and dive bars. As far as you were concerned, the diamonds had finally been overtaken by the rough, and you were ready to move on. Then you heard Better Days, and… More >>
  • Best Metal Band

    Fister

    The best metal band in town should be the one that goes at it full force. It should be unrelenting in its approach, bombarding you sonically and disturbing you emotionally. It should pour its blood, sweat and tears into its every release — pardon the cliché, but we're going somewhere with this. St. Louis' Fister fulfills each of these requirements… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Peggy Billo

    Evidently Peggy Billo doesn't read reviews. If she did, she'dve known her role in Max & Louie Productions' staging of Paul Rudnick's The New Century was a loser. Rudnick's comedy is mostly an evening of monologues about tolerance vs. fear. The New York critics loved the first monologue, which is a talk to the audience at the Long Island chapter… More >>
  • Best Local Album of the Past 12 Months

    Girl Talk

    Jenn Malzone has never lacked outlets for her estimable piano chops or her smirking, strident vocals. In the past few years, she has performed and recorded with the chamber-pop quartet Paper Dolls (RIP) and the buzzy, hook-handy Tight Pants Syndrome. But with the piano-centric Middle Class Fashion, Malzone has found her sweet spot. Along with bassist and harmony vocalist Brian… More >>
  • Best Country Band (Alternative)

    Shooting With Annie

    Nothing should be clearer than the line between alternative country and commercial country, but the roots of twang are twisted if nothing else. You could trace the twining back to Brooks & Dunn's classic, hard-kicking Red Dirt Road, or you could just turn up the latest offering from Shooting With Annie, the most successful and professional of St. Louis' left-of-center… More >>
  • Best Country Band (Traditional)

    The Five and Dimers

    The Five and Dimers bills itself as an "Americana" band, and if there's little arguing with that description, it's a little misleading — but in all the right ways. Directed by baritone singer and songwriter Matt Taul and propelled by fiddler Matt McGibany and guitarist Pete Klein, the band has all the classic twang elements, flush with banjo riffs and… More >>
  • Best Folk Artist

    One Take

    Any band that combines reggae, world music, country, folk, jazz and acoustic pop has its work cut out for it — not to mention the simplistic tag of "hippie music" waiting in the wings. Led by the creamy alto and fiddling of Danielle Aslanian and the songwriting of guitarist and singer Daryle Keefer — and featuring Dennis Ward on bass… More >>
  • Best Garage Band

    The Nevermores

    When Little Steven Van Zandt declares one of your tunes "The Coolest Song in the World," you know you're on the right garage-rock track. That bit of good fortune befell the Nevermores this summer, when the guru of all things underground singled out the band's track "Adeline" for featured play on his satellite radio show. The song is a worthy… More >>
  • Best Gospel Artist

    Cheneta Jones

    It would be impossible to write about young gospel starlet Cheneta Jones without first taking an inappropriately long pause to contemplate her sex appeal. Onstage, she's a sultry and riveting presence, and she clearly could have had a promising career on the urban R&B circuit. But in 2008, Jones left that scene to devote herself fully to musical ministry, to… More >>
  • Best Pop Band

    Middle Class Fashion

    The standard template for pop trios is guitar, bass and drums, but Middle Class Fashion eschews the electric six-string and adds the piano and synths of singer and primary songwriter Jenn Malzone. The result is a dark, lovely, angry, tightly harmonized and even more tightly arranged sound that suggests Exile in Guyville-era Liz Phair challenging Fiona Apple to a songwriting… More >>
  • Best Noise Band

    Ghost Ice

    Jeremy Kannapell is shy and mild mannered. The music he performs as Ghost Ice is anything but. He creates unsettling environments, often using little more than his own breathing noises as source material. Kannapell does not wrangle his aleatoric sounds into music as much as explore the unknown territories that result from their manipulation. His pursuit of "what if?" frequently… More >>
  • Best Guitarist

    Christopher Trull

    Guitarist Christopher Trull possesses the rare trifecta of unparallelled technique, endless creativity and excellent taste. He respects the instrument without succumbing to its pitfalls and pushes its sonic capabilities without the aid of effects. When Trull joined long-running avant-garde trio Yowie this year, the move was a win-win for all. Trull, who had been a relative recluse since his freakishly… More >>
  • Best Cover Band

    Lenny Klinger's Galaxy Band

    Galaxy is a special-event cover band headed by saxophonist Lenny Klinger, who employs a revolving team of the area's most professional and experienced musicians. It is not uncommon for the group's lineup to consist of a jazz drummer, a tech-metal guitarist, seasoned R&B singers and an internationally renowned veteran DJ — quite a pedigree for a wedding band. Klinger's promotional… More >>
  • Best Goose-Bump-Inducing Performance

    Donna Weinsting

    What's a mother to do? First Rose Kirk's daughter Claudia made a career choice — high-end prostitute in Manhattan — that was difficult to brag about at family reunions. Then Claudia went and killed one of her clients. Although Tom Topor's Nuts is mostly about Claudia's efforts to obtain the speedy trial guaranteed to her by the Sixth Amendment to… More >>
  • Best Local Act Gone National

    Volcanoes

    Many college kids form bands to pass the extra time while studying to enter the real world, yet very few aim or expect to take their act past the dorm rooms and Solo-cup-littered basement shows. This is not the case for Jon Ryan and Eric Peters of noise-rock band Volcanoes. Ryan and Peters signed to Afternoon Records late last year,… More >>
  • Best Side Project

    The Sidemen

    "It don't mean a thing if ain't got that swing," claimed Duke Ellington. But what does swing mean? In St. Louis, for decades, it has meant Swing Set, the most redoubtable proponent of that most irresistibly danceable of jazz forms. Formed in 2011, the Sidemen — an ensemble that features members of Swing Set, the Orbits, the Lettuce Heads and… More >>
  • Best Local Single of the Past 12 Months

    "Russian Blue"

    To see Ransom Note live for the first time is a bliss unlike any other we have experienced in all our time spent going to shows. The mangy-looking group of south-city regulars will have you thinking you're in for some sort of rough-around-the-edges folk or nostalgic rock & roll. Nothing wrong with that. But then they'll kick into an R&B… More >>
  • Best Band to Die in the Past 12 Months

    Theodore

    Allow us one last look back at a band unlike any we'll ever see again. Theodore was tearing apart at the seams long before its actual demise, and the result was a series of shows no attendee will soon forget. Justin Kinkel-Schuster remains a singular voice, both with his lungs and with his pen, and he was backed by as… More >>
  • Best Music Festival

    S.L.U.M. Fest

    It is in some ways music festival by committee — so large is the organizing body of St. Louis' best showcase of local hip-hop. As S.L.U.M. Fest expands, so too do its ambitions, which now it involve visitors from out of town and a dedicated awards show. Together, those two accomplish remarkable goals. The traveling acts strengthen the overall quality… More >>
  • Best Concert of the Past 12 Months

    Radiohead

    Here it is: Of all the thousands and thousands of shows in the St. Louis area in the last 365 days, the stop Radiohead made at the Scottrade Center stands alone. There were better moments, surely, and more important ones to individual bands and fans. But no show brought such a large group of people to such rapturous consensus —… More >>
  • Best Live Sound Engineer

    Pancho

    Ask any sound engineer worth his faders, and he or she will tell you: Garbage in, garbage out. But a soundman like Pancho, the veteran engineer who works many of the Duck Room's high-profile shows and who can handle any lineup of norteño bands in and around Cherokee Street, understands how to make a band sound "as good as the… More >>
  • Best Rock Band

    Bug Chaser

    Bug Chaser will overwhelm your festival with strange costumes and short shorts. It will blow your fuses with insane light shows and way, way too many people onstage playing a strange assortment of instruments. And all the gangly impracticality of this band is nothing to the music, which is a loud, exuberant, wonderful rock & roll séance. There is no… More >>
  • Best Local Record Label

    Tower Groove Records

    Tower Groove Records is not the first local label built on a communal mentality (see: the defunct utopian Collective Records), nor is it the first named for a St. Louis geographical pun (see: MapleHood Rekkids). But it might be the most gung-ho, best-organized new label, as proven by its elaborate first release, a double LP compilation with a track… More >>
  • Best Vocalist

    Morgan Nusbaum

    Anyone can sing, but it takes an electric cocktail of personality, talent and spark to front a band well. Morgan Nusbaum has it all in droves — so much so, in fact, that her energy and skills spill out of her two-piece punk band and into a singer-songwriter solo project that emphasizes her sweeter side, with honey-tinged vocals that ache.… More >>
  • Best Music Video

    "Good Times Ride"

    Part of Johnny Andrews' now-defunct LISTEN series for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Magic City's video for "Good Times Ride" embodies the DIY ruckus that is St. Louis rock & roll. Opening with Larry Bulawsky's preacheresque outstretched arms and the open-ended quiver of an organ key soon joined by a funk-fueled bassline, the band takes viewers to church. They dance, they… More >>
  • Pat Grosch

    Best Poster Designer (Concert Division)

    Pat Grosch

    As fans of the band know, the mop-topped frontman for Bug Chaser, Pat Grosch, is also its primary poster artist, which is why he doesn't have a design website. It also explains why the posters — like a visual sibling of the music — hum with a kind of carefully controlled artistic chaos. In an age of poster design when… More >>
  • Best Bassist

    Kenny Snarzyk

    Playing bass in an apocalyptic doom-metal band like Fister is akin to playing lead guitar in DragonForce. It's the dominating musical presence, the vehicle that drives the machine, and Kenny Snarzyk handles Fister like he's hauling a tank down South Grand. He speaks the language perfectly, with focused, deliberate lines that show shades of Sunn O)))'s incomprehensibly low, down-tuned blasts… More >>
  • Best Music Radio Program

    Bob's Scratchy Records

    Bob Reuter takes over the KDHX (88.1 FM) studio on Magnolia Street every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. His show — Bob's Scratchy Records — is insanity: Strange noises from long-forgotten slabs of vinyl with the host howling over the music whenever the mood strikes him. He tells stories and gives reports on his half-century of time served in… More >>
  • Best Music Blog

    Wrong Division

    The digital extension of the KDHX (88.1 FM) show of the same name hosted by Mabel Suen and Joseph Hess (both also RFT contributors), the Wrong Division blog is everything you might need to find your way into the world of this city's strange, vibrant, truly independent and underground music. The blog is anchored by weekly show recommendations, which highlight… More >>
  • Best Jam Band

    The Stone Sugar Shakedown

    When the average citizen thinks of jam bands, names like Phish and Widespread Panic come to mind. But Led Zeppelin jammed too, and Stone Sugar Shakedown's blues-steeped explorations tend to resemble the latter. The band sounds and looks transplanted from the 1970s, with hints of the Blues Brothers and Funkadelic, and it doesn't hurt that singer Tracy Gladden can alternately… More >>
  • Best Blues Artist

    Marquise Knox

    Though the renewed interest in pre-WWII blues among some younger St. Louis musicians has produced some interesting music over the last couple of years, many blues purists still see singer-guitarist Marquise Knox as the most likely candidate to push the music forward in the future. Immersed in the sounds of Mississippi, St. Louis and Chicago blues since his birth just… More >>
  • Best Jazz Artist

    Peter Martin

    Raised in University City, Peter Martin was able to establish himself as a first-call jazz pianist while living in New Orleans during the 1990s and early 2000s, and it's a testament to his talent that he's continued to be a much-in-demand sideman after relocating with his family to St. Louis after Hurricane Katrina. The long-time music director for singer Dianne… More >>
  • Best Producer

    Jay Fay

    It is fairly mind-blowing that teenage electronic musician Jay Fay has the public support of international tastemaker Diplo, a topnotch management team and the same booking agent as DragonForce. But the fact that he is sickeningly young is far less important than his unique voice as a producer. With only a handful of EPs and one-off remixes to his name,… More >>
  • Best Drummer

    Sam Meyer

    While at a recent Demon Lover show, marveling once more at the thump and purr coming out of Sam Meyer's drum kit, we found a local electronic artist doing the same thing. He told us about the time he was playing an improvised set with Meyer and became so entranced by the drummer next to him that he absently stopped… More >>
  • Best Ensemble Cast in a Play

    The Value of Names

    Peter Mayer and Bobby Miller got under one another's skin in the most tensile ways in New Jewish Theatre's The Value of Names. The play's plot concerns two lifelong friends who have been estranged since the plague years of the Hollywood blacklist. Now they are briefly, if awkwardly, reunited. Like the characters they portrayed, Mayer and Miller also are lifelong… More >>
  • Best Recording Studio

    Encapsulated Studios

    By its very nature, recording your band's music is stressful. You spend months holed up in your drummer's basement going over the same ten songs seemingly endlessly in preparation for the big day. Upon arrival, you are disheartened by how excruciatingly long it takes to mic instruments and set up, watching the clock and mourning in advance for the sorry… More >>
  • Best New Arts Organization

    Rebuild Foundation

    Combining community organizing with historic preservation and contemporary art, the Rebuild Foundation offers a bold and ambitious vision that speaks to the heart of today's most avant-garde visual practices. Disposing of the convention that an art space must present work that hangs demurely on the wall, Theaster Gates, a Chicago native and meteoric star in contemporary art, has molded the… More >>

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