2006 RFT Music Awards 

Dean C. Minderman|Kristyn Pomranz|Andrew Miller|Kristie McClanahan|Christian Schaeffer|Andrew Miller|Ben Westhoff|Annie Zaleski|Brooke Foster|Jaime Lees|Roy Kasten

The Riverfront Times congratulates the winners of the 2006 RFT Music Awards Thanks to all who attended the 2006 RFT Music Showcase or voted in the poll.



Blues Artist

Soulard Blues Band
www.soulardbluesband.com
Now working on its second quarter-century together, the Soulard Blues Band has had a remarkable run as one of St. Louis' most durable and popular blues acts. Fans have stuck with them through many personnel changes and stylistic shifts, and their continued patronage has always been rewarded by a fine crew of singers and players assembled by bassist and bandleader Art Dwyer. With former lead guitarist Tom Maloney now back in the fold, and former lead vocalist and one-time Blues Brother Larry Thurston returning for the occasional gig, the current edition of the band more than lives up to its hard-earned reputation. —Dean C. Minderman



Club DJ

DJ Kid Delicious
www.djkiddelicious.com; www.myspace.com/djkiddelicious
Mathematics is essential to being a great DJ; matching beats per minute is crucial, lest mixing become an exercise in futility. Lucky for DJ Kid Delicious, math is innately woven into her artistry. While she's particularly well-versed in progressive house, Delicious also deftly infuses tribal beats, making ululations as common as techno loops. Always upbeat without being too atmospheric, she juxtaposes sounds without jumbling elements, making for a seamless flow of danceable digs. In a world of DJs eager to mix it all, Kid Delicious shows what a little scrutiny and structure can do. — Kristyn Pomranz



Electronic Act

Femme Fatality
www.myspace.com/femmefatality; www.femmefatality.net
Incorporating a new member into an established act isn't easy, especially when said band is a duo that emphasizes on-stage interplay. But Femme Fatality pulse just as hard even after replacing Octavia Leito with Hephaestion Palermo last fall. The group wrings the sweat, style and sexiness from genres such as hip-hop, new wave and electroclash; their live shows are bawdy parties that use throbbing beats as foreplay fodder and turn akimbo indie scenesters into maniacs on the floor. Femme Fatality have vanished from local bills lately, a trend that's sadly going to continue: They've announced their breakup, effective after a final show in November. — Andrew Miller



Funk/R&B/Soul

The FuFops
www.fufops.com; www.myspace.com/fufops
Thanks to the FuFops, it's now impossible to mention the local R&B scene without including Belleville, Illinois. The group's sound is sometimes a throwback to soul of bygone times (albeit done in a style that's unmistakably fresh), as singer-songwriter MC Angel Z's words roll in rich and smooth over addictive, funky beats. Plus, the FuFops are reaching more fans than ever, bolstered by their opening performance for Afroman early last month at Pop's. — Kristie McClanahan



Garage/Rockabilly

7 Shot Screamers
www.7shotscreamers.com; www.myspace.com/7shotscreamers
Most rockabilly acts focus on hollow-body guitars and perfectly coiffed pompadours, and scrimp on vocals and decent lyrics. Not so with the 7 Shot Screamers: The thumping upright bass and slick licks are in place, but singer Mike Leahy croons smoothly above it all, mixing a little Bryan Ferry in with Brian Setzer. With the just-released In Wonderland, the Screamers have given their weight to the fledgling label Big Muddy Records, a cross-generational swap sure to please fans of all rockabilly varieties. — Christian Schaeffer



Hard Rock/Metal

Head-On Collision
Head-On Collision features former members of Very Metal — and while this thrashing-mad group certainly deserved to commandeer that moniker, their new name works well with the highway-accident-gruesome artwork on 2005's Arise from the Wreckage demo. Their dual guitarists play lockstep full-speed riffs, like chained-together sprinters racing to the manic beat of Jason Brooks ' drums. Singer Todd Robbins sounds like a demon-possessed version of Mighty Mighty Bosstones' Dicky Barrett, gruffly enunciating lyrics about grave topics. Should Head On Collision claim this category, their reign will be bloody. — Andrew Miller



Hip-Hop Artist

Earthworms
www.myspace.com/earthworms
The Earthworms don't pretend to be hardcore. Well, OK, they pretend, but nobody believes them. Instead, their hopeful, positive, surreal lyrics expose them for what they are: really nice guys. Kama and Mathias, formerly of Core Project, share the mic with Black Patrick, and the turntables are manned by DJ Mahf, who is almost as talented as he is cute. The production shines on their debut, No Arms, No Legs, Just a Head and a Body, but see their live show for the chance to hear DJ Crucial's remix of their song "OneTwo" — and to see Mathias cutting a rug in his own unique way. — Ben Westhoff



Hip-Hop DJ

Needles
www.myspace.com/djneedles
If you ever stumble upon a large cache of high-caliber rap, hip-hop or R&B twelve-inches in the used bins at Vintage Vinyl, chances are you've just discovered the latest collection purge by Needles. But it isn't reinvention that's kept the affable DJ consistently near the top of the St. Louis scene; it's seamlessly mixed sets. Whether you're seeing Needles spin at Boogaloo, the Hi-Pointe or 609 — where he helms the long-running "jazzyphatnappy" night of laid-back soul, Afrobeat, hip-hop and more — he drops encyclopedic music knowledge and mad skills almost as much as he drops killer beats. —Annie Zaleski



Indie Band

So Many Dynamos
www.myspace.com/somanydynamos; www.somanydynamos.org
Taking cues from destructo-pop bands such as Les Savy Fav and Thunderbirds Are Now!, So Many Dynamos make music that's off-kilter and somehow still danceable. In fact, the spazz-rockers upped the ante with their recently released album, Flashlights. The disc trades Moog explosions for contained guitar chaos — while pushing Aaron Stovall's yelps to the edge and jamming sing-along sections between buzzsaw guitars and lugubrious trombones. It's a juggling act that works, and Flashlights (along with its 7.3 rating on Pitchfork.com) should propel SMD toward greater acclaim. — Christian Schaeffer



Jam Band

The Schwag
www.theschwag.com; www.myspace.com/theschwag
It's paradoxical to consider a Grateful Dead tribute band as laid-back, spontaneous and organized all at the same time, but the Schwag is exactly that. And it has to be: The group regularly plays 60 cities in 18 states, and since 1997 it's organized several outdoor Schwagstock festivals per year, events that draw thousands of people. Together for fourteen years, the Schwag is enduring proof that when a band goes where the music takes it, the fans will follow. — Kristie McClanahan



Jazz Artist

Erin Bode
www.erinbode.com
Since the January 2006 release of Over and Over, her second album on the St. Louis-based MAXJAZZ label, vocalist Erin Bode has been winning new fans everywhere. Although she still plays a lot of local gigs in clubs and restaurants, in the past few months Bode has also performed twice on national TV, toured Italy and appeared at some of the better jazz clubs in cities from coast to coast. She's gained artistic confidence too, adding more original material to her repertoire of standards and selected covers — thus solidifying her reputation as an artist to watch. —Dean C. Minderman



National Artist

Nelly
www.nelly.net; www.myspace.com/nelly
Guilty pleasures of the year (so far): Snakes on a Plane, our "Without Me It's Just Aweso" T-shirt and Nelly's "Grillz." Sure, the song's a total style-over-substance thing, but it takes skill to make a track about optional orthodontia sound so tight. With verses from fellow Lunatic Ali, the Dungeon Family's Gipp and ultimate ice-man Paul Wall, this heavily rotated single is more pleasure than guilt. And one thing we'll never feel ashamed to admit? We love Nelly — then, now and for as long as he keeps showing love to the Lou. The notion that Nelly "put St. Louis on the map" is true but stale; what really matters is that, despite going multi-platinum, Nelly gives abundant time, talent and money back to his hometown. In an age of me-first musicians, Nelly's generosity and humility are as refreshing as they are rare. Smile for us, daddy! — Brooke Foster



New Band

Rats and People
www.ratsandpeople.com; www.myspace.com/ratsandpeople
Late at night below deck, the crew of the Rats and People pirate ship gathers to play their music. The old wooden boat creaks and sways as they duck down out of the sea spray to weave tales of travels, love and loss. Standard guitar and drums are layered with trumpet, violin and other instruments that will play in the wet, salty air. Their sound mixes in the drunken glory of the Pogues with the storytelling skills of the Dead Milkmen. The warm candlelight illuminates an unlikely ensemble band, ragged and strong on the open sea. — Jaime Lees



Noise/Experimental

Dancing Feet March to War
www.dfmtw.net
Few bands embody the DIY- (and free-) spirit and far-left-leaning politics of the Lemp-based noise scene better than Dancing Feet March to War. Formed by Stephen and Robert — no last names, please — in 2003, DFMTW have only released one album (2005's Movement) but continue to work on music as a trio, all the while perfecting throttling punk nuggets with anguished screams and smart, post-hardcore sensibilities. — Annie Zaleski



Punk

Sex Robots
www.myspace.com/sexrobots
Sex Robots are easily one of the most talented and hardest-working bands in St. Louis. They've earned their DIY-indie-rocker status by playing, recording and touring at a rate that outshines most other locals. And to describe the Sex Robots sound as pop-punk is a bit of an insult, because pop-punk usually doesn't sound this good; their songs contain both contagious hand claps and head-bobbing beats. — Jaime Lees



Reggae/Ska

MU330
www.mu330.com; www.myspace.com/11056464
While many of the ska bands that found popularity in the 1990s gave up the ghost years ago, MU330 have stubbornly stuck to their horns and skank-it-up riffs. New tunes that drummer-vocalist Ted Moll describes as "garage-surf" are in the works, and even though they don't play out as often now, they did manage to play gigs in Alaska earlier this year — leaving them only two states short in their quest to hit all 50. — Annie Zaleski



Rock

Ludo
www.ludorock.com; www.myspace.com/ludorock
Ludo manage the rare feat of writing and performing pop-rock songs that delight high school girls and jaded music critics alike. It's easy to be drawn to the band's happy-go-lucky sensibilities, which are informed by equal parts emo, ska and arena rock. But a closer listen reveals a band intent on challenging itself with varying time signatures, complex vocal harmonies and impressionistic storylines. All three of these traits can be found on the new track "Lake Ponchartrain" (available on Ludo's MySpace page), a dream-like travelogue through Louisiana that suggests hopeful new dimensions to the band's dynamic. — Christian Schaeffer



Roots/Americana

The Bottle Rockets
www.bottlerocketsmusic.com; www.myspace.com/bottlerocketsmusic
Thirteen years after its debut, the pride of Festus is now the pride of St. Louis (and Springfield, Illinois, home to their newest member, bassist Keith Voegele). Most of the other bands with their alt-country bloodline have broken up — or broken away from twang altogether — but the Bottle Rockets just keep making smart, tough, loud rock & roll with Missouri country soul that no stacked guitars could erase. Whether focused on love, lust, politics or their deep, abiding sense of place, the Bottle Rockets' songs are replete with real people facing real problems, dreaming real dreams — and rocking all the while. — Roy Kasten



Singer-Songwriter/Folk

Casey Reid
www.bigmuddyrecords.org/casey.html; www.myspace.com/caseyreid
The Tom Waits comparison is inevitable, so recognize it, but then do what Casey Reid has done to the obvious influence — listen to the voices inside him. The grit in his throat isn't artificial, and the blues in his folksy rock songs have been earned — not by paying his dues (he's 25) but by throwing all of himself, à la Jack White, into minstrelsy and coming out with an inspired mess of personal art, like a dark night of the juke-joint soul. — Roy Kasten

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