Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Club for Rock Music

    Nita's Hideaway
    1816 East Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe

    In a business known for short-lived triumphs, few would've thought local impresario Charles Levy could've captured lightning twice. After the original Nita's was sold, restyled as a hard-core club called the Heat, then reverted back to its old name without success, it seemed unlikely that even Levy's Midas touch could galvanize the club's sagging fortunes. But sure enough, under his… More >>
  • Best Club for Modern Rock


    Without the clink of glasses, the click of pool balls or the clatter of conversation, the alcohol- and game-free Modified has proved itself as the most unique and hospitable place for watching live entertainment. Whether it's obscure indie bands, performance artists or even the occasional straight-ahead rocker, anyone who performs here raves about the rapt attention Modified patrons lavish on… More >>
  • Best Musician You've Never Heard Of

    Chris Doyle, Big Blue Couch

    Grunge, neo-punk reggae and rock-rap have done nothing to propagate the species once known as "guitar hero." In an age where you can flip an audience the bird to tumultuous applause, it's no wonder new musicians don't get better acquainted with their instruments. That's why Big Blue Couch's science-fiction band bio, which claims the group was cryogenically frozen in 1969… More >>
  • Best Guitar Player

    Greg Simmons

    Think of a "guitar hero" and the image usually involves the over-the-top wankings of some limey with six-string phallus in hand, offering up trite "ROCK 'N' ROLL FOREVER!" proclamations. But the Valley's premier axman, Greg Simmons, has taken the road less extroverted to the top. A shy, sensitive sort offstage, Simmons becomes a reluctant firebrand when he straps on his… More >>
  • Best Local Act to Stave Off the Aging Process

    Carvin Jones

    It must be 10 years and holding for Carvin Jones and his familiar visage, ever grinning back at us from the local club ads. Ten years of wearing that black gaucho hat. Ten years with that heavy, solid-body Stratocaster slung over his back. Whew, just think of the pattern baldness and irreparable spinal damage this pose would cause someone who… More >>
  • Best Rock Club Sound Man

    Jamal Ruhe/Nita's Hideaway

    Some sound guys have been doing it so long that they've completely fried their main asset -- those things hanging from both sides of their head that used to be for listening. You tell them what you want and think they understand, but they just nod up and down like that for everyone. Congratulations, you and your band are on… More >>
  • Best Chain Store for New CDs

    Virgin Megastore

    The corporate side of the music world biz ain't all bad. If you doubt it, check out Virgin Megastore, located in the Arizona Mills mall. With its sweeping space, angular racks, neon accents, in-store coffee house and multiple listening stations, you can spend hours browsing nearly anything ever heard or seen on any music chart anywhere in the world. In addition… More >>
  • Best CD Store (Overall)


    What do country singer Lefty Frizzell, jazzman Bill Evans and octogenarian crooner Perry Como all have in common? They have obscenely oversize multi-CD boxed sets dedicated to their work! Furthermore, all of them -- along with those of hundreds of others -- can be found for a reasonable price at the Valley's best outlet for new and used discs, CDGB's. The… More >>
  • Best Excuse to Look at a Drum Riser

    Bob Hoag, Pollen

    Only once in rock history did a drummer have the gall to insist on having his riser 10 feet in front of the rest of the band, and that was Gary Lewis, a guy who didn't sneeze in a recording studio without a session drummer wiping his nose. If ever a trapsman truly merited an unobstructed view from the stands,… More >>
  • Best Used Record Store -- Rock

    Tracks in Wax

    Don't believe those who tell you that used record stores are a thing of the past because of online auctions. Your computer might offer the most convenient shopping hours (24/7), but nothing replicates the fun of searching through bins, trying out a rare album and buying it -- all on the same day! Without shipping charges or the need to… More >>
  • Best New Jazz CD Selection

    Best Buy

    The masters are here -- Monk. Armstrong. Holiday. Young. Ellington. Davis. Mingus. Rollins. Basie. Fitzgerald. So are all the "new" kids on the block -- Osby. Redman. Moran. Wilson. Hunter. Medeski. Lovano. Scofield. Marsalis. Watts. You'll find a ton of stuff by these giants of jazz at this superstore, and at a competitive price. So what if they spell tenor… More >>
  • Best Used Jazz CD Selection

    Zia Record Exchange

    Thanks to the evils of the "smooth jazz" radio format that's caught on around here like a dreaded disease, too many folks equate the slicked-up stuff done by the likes of the Antichrist -- a.k.a. Kenny G -- as "jazz." All the while, wonderfully inventive and prolific musicians such as James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Patricia Barber and Joe Lovano are… More >>
  • Best Place to See a National Act

    Celebrity Theatre

    Despite the outdated façade and the less than, um, stellar location -- right off a bleak stretch of Van Buren, abutting a women's correctional facility -- the Celebrity Theatre continues to be the best spot to view the entire musical spectrum up close and personal. After all, where else in town can you get an equally good view of Belinda… More >>
  • Best Record Store Staffed by Overeducated Underachievers

    Eastside Records

    Remember High Fidelity, the Nick Hornby novel turned hit movie in which the plot revolves around the owner of an indie record store and his small staff of pop-culture professors? Well, if you didn't know better, you'd think the story was written about the malcontents working the counter at Tempe's Eastside Records. On any given day or night, Eastside's employee… More >>
  • Best Hard Rock Station

    KUPD-FM 97.9

    A few months ago, KUPD inaugurated a new TV advertising campaign. In the ad, a crowd of rambunctious kids at a hard rock concert shouts out their devotion to KUPD, while the mother of morning DJ Dave Pratt holds a picket sign complaining that the station is too damn loud. More than any station in town, KUPD knows its demo.… More >>
  • Best Alternative Radio Station

    KEDJ-FM 106.3/100.3

    In 1993, when KEDJ debuted on the local airwaves, starting an alternative-rock radio station was a safe bet. Nirvana and Pearl Jam had shattered the old programming order, and Lollapalooza Nation was congregating every summer to celebrate the shared triumph of a new music revolution. In 2000, Nirvana and Lollapalooza are both history, and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder is about as… More >>
  • Best Jazz/Blues Radio Station

    KJZZ-FM 91.5

    By day, KJZZ is a National Public Radio affiliate, replete with talk shows and news reports. But when the sun goes down, KJZZ mutates into the Valley's premier (okay, only) source of authentic acoustic jazz, covering the gamut from legendary artists like John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie to modern torchbearers like Roy Hargrove and Wynton Marsalis. Local jazz chanteuse Blaise… More >>
  • Best Classical Radio Station

    KBAQ-FM 89.5

    Seven years ago, when KBAQ began broadcasting out of a cramped office space at Mesa Community College, local radio was caught in a classical drought. The Valley's lone classical station, KONC-106.3, had recently fallen off the commercial end of the dial to be replaced by the alt-rock ravings of KEDJ. For a few months there, the only chance you had… More >>
  • Best Country Music Station

    KXKQ-FM 94.1, Safford

    These days country ain't cool, and most of the blame can be placed on navel-exposing poseurs like Shania and She-Daisy, whose manufactured pop inundates the airwaves on the Valley's two country radio powerhouses. Meanwhile, true country music has remained buried, hidden way up on the AM side, usually nestled somewhere between the police band and the airport traffic station. But… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Station

    KKFR-FM 92.3

    Phoenix's unlikely reputation as a hotbed for the dance and DJ genres has always tended to obscure the other side of the urban music coin, hip-hop. Part of this can be blamed on the historical lack of a progressive broadcast powerhouse to bring the music to local ears. In more recent years, Power 92 has emerged as something of a… More >>
  • Best Place to Catch a Band on the Way Down

    Mason Jar Live!

    When Ian Hunter sang "It's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll" in 1973, he couldn't possibly have appreciated the profound insight contained in that lyric. The horrendous and brutal slides many have since taken from rock's dizzying heights to the primordial ooze of oblivion lend that line a frightening significance that makes one wonder whether Hunter and fellow… More >>
  • Best Free Concert Venue

    Charlie's Espresso on Mill

    Imagine an autumn evening at an outdoor cafe. As you sip a perfectly executed cappuccino, wisps of exotic languages drift through the evening mist of the nearby lake. Seated at the concert grand piano just inside the open glass doors is world-class pianist Jian Liu, playing as if his life, and yours, depends upon his perfect execution of an intricate… More >>
  • Best Club for Blues and Jazz

    Rhythm Room

    Most local music aficionados have heard that the Rhythm Room is being forced to move from its central Phoenix digs by early next year. It's been nearly a decade since the onetime go-go joint turned into a house of blues, a period in which booker/co-owner Bob Corritore has continued his one-man mission to keep that music form alive in Phoenix.… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Club Freedom at Pompeii

    Though some Valley danceaterias may be larger, newer or more glamorous, none has managed to merge aesthetics and content as well as Club Freedom at Pompeii (recently renamed, after an ownership change). From steady appearances by internationally known DJs (BT, Donald Glaude, Sasha) to regular sets from top local record spinners, this two-story Tempe hot spot is a mecca to… More >>
  • Best Swing Club

    The Bash on Ash

    Like Davy Crockett and the besieged band of rebels holed up at the Alamo, the local swing contingent refuses to wave the proverbial white flag and ditch the retro craze that's been replaced by Latin dance fever. Just as neo-swing bands have seen their sales and popularity dwindle, so too has the local movement of clubs and clubgoers that once… More >>
  • Best Joint for BPM Junkies and Fashion-Conscious Candy Ravers

    Swell Records

    Through police-instigated turmoil and the rave scene's unfortunate media-hyped drug hysteria associations, Swell has soldiered on for the past seven years selling the records that are spun at parties and the gear that the kids sport, throwing raves (including Musik, an annual event that's arguably the year's best consistently), and releasing cassettes, vinyl and CDs by local luminaries like the… More >>
  • Best Live Band to See in the Middle of a Three-Day Bender

    Grave Danger

    For those arguing that rock 'n' roll is truly the devil's music, they might just have the evidence they need in the form of local combo Grave Danger. It's not the band's sound -- which isn't really satanic rock, but actually a kind of surf-tinged rockabilly. Nor is it the songs -- usually sprite instrumentals or cartoonish tales of drunken… More >>

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