Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2001

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Used Jazz Selection
Zia Record Exchange

Don't ask the salespeople for help in the jazz section at these longtime Valley record emporiums; they're likely to scratch their heads and walk away in confusion. But if you know what you're looking for, or just love the notion of exploring a well-stocked record store by yourself (and don't want to spend a fortune), you're bound to have a bebopping good time at Zia. For example, take the letter "D." We found a ton of Miles Davis, Djavan, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Barbara Dennerlein, Eric Dolphy and many others, all for under $12 a pop. Now, if only the help knew that Thelonious Monk was a piano player.

Multiple Locations
Readers' Choices

Best Club For Blues/jazz
Rhythm Room
1019 East Indian School
602-265-4842

Best Club For Modern Rock
Cajun House
7117 East Third Avenue, Scottsdale
480-945-5150

Best Club For Rock
Mason Jar
2303 East Indian School
602-956-6271

Best Dance Club
Axis/Radius
7340 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
480-970-1112

Best Place To Buy New CDs
Best Buy
several Valley locations

Best Place To Buy Used CDs
Zia Record Exchange
several Valley locations

Best Radio Station -- Country
KMLE-FM 107.9

Best Radio Station -- Hip-Hop
KISS-FM 104.7

Best Radio Station -- Rock
KUPD-FM 97.9

Best Radio Station -- Alternative
KZON-FM 101.5

Best Radio Station -- Blues/Jazz
KYOT-FM 95.5

Best Venue For Local Acts
The Bash on Ash
230 West Fifth Street, Tempe
480-966-8200

Best Venue For National Acts
Celebrity Theatre
440 North 32nd Street
602-267-1600

Readers' Choices

Best Club For Blues/jazz
Rhythm Room
1019 East Indian School
602-265-4842

Best Club For Modern Rock
Cajun House
7117 East Third Avenue, Scottsdale
480-945-5150

Best Club For Rock
Mason Jar
2303 East Indian School
602-956-6271

Best Dance Club
Axis/Radius
7340 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
480-970-1112

Best Place To Buy New CDs
Best Buy
several Valley locations

Best Place To Buy Used CDs
Zia Record Exchange
several Valley locations

Best Radio Station -- Country
KMLE-FM 107.9

Best Radio Station -- Hip-Hop
KISS-FM 104.7

Best Radio Station -- Rock
KUPD-FM 97.9

Best Radio Station -- Alternative
KZON-FM 101.5

Best Radio Station -- Blues/Jazz
KYOT-FM 95.5

Best Venue For Local Acts
The Bash on Ash
230 West Fifth Street, Tempe
480-966-8200

Best Venue For National Acts
Celebrity Theatre
440 North 32nd Street
602-267-1600

Best Place To Buy CDs

How is it that the premier CD store in the Valley -- arguably one of the top in the entire nation -- can still be one of Phoenix's best kept secrets? For those lucky enough to have discovered the unique charms of CDGB's, it's been hard to keep a lid on the treasures contained inside, but it's time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Launched in 1994, this fantastic north Phoenix outpost claims the best selection of tunes in town. And while mom-and-pop stores are become increasingly scarce, the independently owned CDGB's has, in fact, expanded its operations over the past year, opening a second shop next to its main outlet. CDGB's Jr. specializes in niche styles like metal and punk, while the old store remains a collector's haven, thanks to an impressive selection of European "specialty" imports -- including tons of Beatles, Stones and Dylan releases -- plus hard-to-find platters from the likes of Tom Waits and Wilco, all priced quite reasonably.

Multiple sections, broken down into various subcategories (like rockabilly, guitar gods and classic rock), make browsing so fun, fast and easy you're bound to spend hours perusing the endless stream of Japanese Genesis long-players or the latest Guided by Voices-related releases. And with the stores' walls lined with a mass of boxed sets -- artists run the gamut from America to the Zombies -- you'll have no trouble finding the multi-disc gift you've been wanting to give to that special music fan.

For those with discerning tastes, it's time to give CDGB's a spin.

Best Place To Buy CDs

How is it that the premier CD store in the Valley -- arguably one of the top in the entire nation -- can still be one of Phoenix's best kept secrets? For those lucky enough to have discovered the unique charms of CDGB's, it's been hard to keep a lid on the treasures contained inside, but it's time to let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Launched in 1994, this fantastic north Phoenix outpost claims the best selection of tunes in town. And while mom-and-pop stores are become increasingly scarce, the independently owned CDGB's has, in fact, expanded its operations over the past year, opening a second shop next to its main outlet. CDGB's Jr. specializes in niche styles like metal and punk, while the old store remains a collector's haven, thanks to an impressive selection of European "specialty" imports -- including tons of Beatles, Stones and Dylan releases -- plus hard-to-find platters from the likes of Tom Waits and Wilco, all priced quite reasonably.

Multiple sections, broken down into various subcategories (like rockabilly, guitar gods and classic rock), make browsing so fun, fast and easy you're bound to spend hours perusing the endless stream of Japanese Genesis long-players or the latest Guided by Voices-related releases. And with the stores' walls lined with a mass of boxed sets -- artists run the gamut from America to the Zombies -- you'll have no trouble finding the multi-disc gift you've been wanting to give to that special music fan.

For those with discerning tastes, it's time to give CDGB's a spin.

Best Venue For National Acts
Celebrity Theatre

The famed rotating stage at Phoenix's Celebrity Theatre is a simply grand venue that's your best dollar-to-value bet for big-name live acts in the Valley. Nestled snugly in a part of town that is "rich in character" (i.e., near the women's prison), the Celebrity continues to expand its stylistic mandate, booking top-rank performers of all stripes -- gospel, country, neo-metal, Henry Rollins to Kids in the Hall -- into its copious space. The featured performer's long walk from the dressing rooms through the crowd, followed by the ascension to the slowly revolving stage, ranks as one of the best momentum-building tactics we've ever seen at a live gig. Row upon row of cushy, unimpeded seats will make you wonder why you ever stood up through a show without grumbling about it.

440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 85008-6205
MAP
602-267-0186
Best Venue For National Acts

The famed rotating stage at Phoenix's Celebrity Theatre is a simply grand venue that's your best dollar-to-value bet for big-name live acts in the Valley. Nestled snugly in a part of town that is "rich in character" (i.e., near the women's prison), the Celebrity continues to expand its stylistic mandate, booking top-rank performers of all stripes -- gospel, country, neo-metal, Henry Rollins to Kids in the Hall -- into its copious space. The featured performer's long walk from the dressing rooms through the crowd, followed by the ascension to the slowly revolving stage, ranks as one of the best momentum-building tactics we've ever seen at a live gig. Row upon row of cushy, unimpeded seats will make you wonder why you ever stood up through a show without grumbling about it.

Best Alternative Radio Station

Technically speaking, Mega 104.3 doesn't qualify under the traditional definition of an "alternative" station. KAJM is more an old-school R&B powerhouse, specializing in back-in-the-day cuts from the likes of Cameo, the Gap Band, LTD, P-Funk, and the Ohio Players. However, since most modern rap and hip-hop tunes are doing little but sampling those familiar grooves, the station -- dubbed "Arizona Jamz" -- is the place to get in touch with music's true originators and creators, making it the Valley's genuine alternative to the modern mainstream. Despite a split signal that can fade from time to time, the station and its cast of on-air talent have earned the right to say they're alt.

Best Alternative Radio Station

Technically speaking, Mega 104.3 doesn't qualify under the traditional definition of an "alternative" station. KAJM is more an old-school R&B powerhouse, specializing in back-in-the-day cuts from the likes of Cameo, the Gap Band, LTD, P-Funk, and the Ohio Players. However, since most modern rap and hip-hop tunes are doing little but sampling those familiar grooves, the station -- dubbed "Arizona Jamz" -- is the place to get in touch with music's true originators and creators, making it the Valley's genuine alternative to the modern mainstream. Despite a split signal that can fade from time to time, the station and its cast of on-air talent have earned the right to say they're alt.

Best-kept Vinyl Junkie Secret

It's true, we'll miss wandering the swamp-cooled aisles of this cavernous vinyl trove, which recently closed its 12th Street location after nearly 20 years. But we don't have to miss the Pair's impressive assortment of dirt-cheap albums and 45s because -- best-kept-secret alert! -- the owners haven't really shut down at all. Although little was made of it last spring when owners Roger and Elaine locked the doors on their fusty record warehouse, the duo is now located exclusively on the Web, offering undistinguished and downright hard-to-find records.

Another secret: The vinyl selection posted on the shop's cyber site is only a fraction of Prickly Pair's inventory. A quick e-mail to this site helped us find Sonny and Cher singing in French ("Je M'en Balance Car Je T'aime") and a copy of Bob Lind's debut disc that everyone told us we'd never see. The only thing we like more than scoring cool old vinyl in a cavernous old record shop is doing it from home in our underwear.

Best-kept Vinyl Junkie Secret

It's true, we'll miss wandering the swamp-cooled aisles of this cavernous vinyl trove, which recently closed its 12th Street location after nearly 20 years. But we don't have to miss the Pair's impressive assortment of dirt-cheap albums and 45s because -- best-kept-secret alert! -- the owners haven't really shut down at all. Although little was made of it last spring when owners Roger and Elaine locked the doors on their fusty record warehouse, the duo is now located exclusively on the Web, offering undistinguished and downright hard-to-find records.

Another secret: The vinyl selection posted on the shop's cyber site is only a fraction of Prickly Pair's inventory. A quick e-mail to this site helped us find Sonny and Cher singing in French ("Je M'en Balance Car Je T'aime") and a copy of Bob Lind's debut disc that everyone told us we'd never see. The only thing we like more than scoring cool old vinyl in a cavernous old record shop is doing it from home in our underwear.

Best Tribute To A Band

If a tribute band is good, it'll get some props from the organism it's replicating. But in the case of TNT, the Valley's AC/DC tribute band, the line between Who Made Who is getting ever blurrier. First the band did a Rattlers halftime show at America West Arena -- a venue the real AC/DC played just a few weeks later. Then TNT played a pre-AC/DC concert show at Jackson's, which the band's road crew checked out. They were knocked out enough to invite TNT backstage to meet Angus and the boys. More recently, AC/DC has given the green light for TNT to record an unreleased song. For those about to rock in their own AC/DC tribute band, we rebuke you: TNT is already miles ahead of you down the highway to hell.

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Best Used Jazz Selection: Zia Record Exchange

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