Arts & Entertainment

  • 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 --… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy CDs

    CDGB's

    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… More >>
  • 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,… More >>
  • Best Alternative Radio Station

    KAJM-FM 104.3/99.5

    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… More >>
  • Best-kept Vinyl Junkie Secret

    Prickly Pair Records

    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… More >>
  • Best Tribute To A Band

    TNT

    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.… More >>
  • Best Alternative To Alternative Radio

    KNIX-FM 102.5 and KISS-FM 104.7 playing simultaneously

    According to a report in Rolling Stone (the one with 'N SYNC on the cover), the current generation has no use for radio. Of course not, after five bleeping years listening to bleeping baseball-cap-wearing mooks making the middle finger innocuous and turning modern rock into a format with no future. Want a real alternative? Try to get your radio to hold… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Club Freedom

    Renamed once again over the course of the past year, this Tempe dance palace (formerly Pompeii, then Club Freedom at Pompeii) remains the premier location to shake dat ass. Regular bows from world-renowned turntablists ranging from LTJ Bukem to Paul Van Dyk, appearances by old-school legends like Afrika Bambaataa, and celebrity DJ sets from the likes of Boy George and… More >>
  • Best New Jazz Selection

    Best Buy

    We don't know who's behind the excellent jazz selection at these Valley superstores, but he or she is onto something. The Valley isn't exactly known as a jazz mecca, but to see the selection at Best Buy, you'd think that the late Thelonious Monk was in his prime. Best thing is, the stores aren't fixated on the "smooth" jazz pabulum… More >>
  • Best Rock 'n' Roll Restaurant

    Plaid Eatery

    Hidden in a modest strip mall and sandwiched between a coffee shop and a coin-op laundry in the shadow of ASU's campus, Plaid is the color of the East Valley's hippest little eatery. This nouveau Mediterranean bistro has become the top destination for Tempe's "in" crowd. Thanks to its extended hours and a menu heavy with healthful and vegetarian selections,… More >>
  • Best Classical Radio Station

    KBAQ-FM 89.5

    In accordance with NAFTA, KBAQ is prevented from broadcasting at too great a power lest its signal spill south into Mexico. Damned federal government, always keeping the little guy down. In eight years, KBAQ has established itself as not only a topnotch classical station but also a formidable community resource for the lively arts. Enjoying a close working relationship with the… More >>
  • Best Rock Radio Station

    KOOL-FM 94.5

    These days, recognizing a radio band as the best rock station is a fairly backhanded compliment. With unsettling styles like teen pop, rap-rock and nu metal dominating playlists, it's a wonder most folks haven't completely abandoned the FM dial for AM talk formats or the safety of CD players and tape decks. Without anything even approaching a progressive station here… More >>
  • Best Club For Modern Rock

    Modified

    No booze, no jukebox, no dress code, and no social-climbing clotheshorses. Just music, music, music. And lots of artwork on the walls. Modified, a tiny performance space in a converted antique shop in the middle of a street with nothing else on it, is one of those great ideas that shouldn't have worked. But in two and a half years Modified… More >>
  • Best Venue For Local Acts

    Lucky Dragon Restaurant

    When the restaurant/art space Lucky Dragon closed up its ancient, Burgundy-soaked digs on University Drive, those of us whose aesthetic tastes run to the outré were saddened beyond the telling. But the LD's new incarnation on McClintock, while cleaner and better lit, has delivered on its promise to keep down-and-dirty local arts alive in the Valley. And it still makes… More >>
  • Best Swing Club

    The Bash on Ash

    Frankly, this is a category that's probably past its retirement age. After all, it feels like it was a million years ago that the film Swingers was hip and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was cool. Even swing revivalist Brian Setzer seems to have reverted back to his rockabilly roots. Locally, Tempe's Bash on Ash hasn't given up the fight as… More >>
  • Best Mixed Media Show

    The Hypnotwists

    Most bands' idea of a mixed media show is wearing hand-painted tee shirts from their girlfriends, which is why the Hypnotwists' sensory assault never meets with a mixed reception. Holed up at the Emerald Lounge on Wednesday nights, the band has turned the place into one of those sweaty Swinging '60s nightclubs where Terence Stamp might walk in and meet… More >>
  • Best Tribute Band

    Satellike

    Phoenix has long been a town rife with tribute bands. Groups of every size and style -- from Mötley Crüe, the Cure and the Cult to indie sensations like Guided by Voices -- have been represented by local cover outfits. But this past May witnessed perhaps the most original and disturbing such homage, as Billy Gordon's in Tempe served as… More >>
  • Best Promotional Blunder

    The Cremains

    Promotional blunders can usually be blamed on the band: a sexist flier, an offensive tee shirt or a show where some form of wildlife inadvertently gets neutered. But here's a case where the band was duped by a duping house. The Cremains had a great idea -- passing out free copies of their new CD to the crowds exiting annual… More >>
  • Best Club To Mine The Past

    Emerald Lounge

    Inside the easeful Emerald Lounge you won't find any big-screen TVs for beer-gutted armchair athletes, or barmaids whose hopped-up attitudes are in direct proportion to their surgically augmented breasts. What you will find is a bohemian atmosphere straight out of 1966, a place where cheap booze is served up by genial drink-slingers in an ambiance of unaffected warmth. On any… More >>
  • Best Onstage Fisticuffs

    Big Blue Couch

    This now legendary incident happened on September 23, 2000, at Long Wong's on Mill. Big Blue Couch's show ended abruptly just a few minutes into its set because of equipment troubles. But the barflies at the longtime Tempe watering hole got their money's worth when a minor argument between bassist Jon Demrick and drummer Jayson Gilbert got nasty, turning into… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Used CDs

    Zia Record Exchange

    Someday, sometime, somewhere, somebody is going to sell his copy of that album you've always wanted, but could never afford at full price. When he does, he's gonna sell it to Zia, and Zia's gonna sell it to you, at a big fat discount. This venerable Valley institution has better than a quarter-century of history under its belt, starting with its… More >>
  • 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… More >>
  • Best Blues/Jazz Radio Station

    KJZZ-FM 91.5

    Lurking beneath the façade of an NPR affiliate is a substantial blues and jazz format helmed by two of the brightest jewels in Phoenix's musical crown. Music coordinator and classically trained performer Blaise Lantana hosts the 7-to-11 block, bringing her discerning ear to an acoustic jazz playlist that regularly features a generous stock of the greats as well as the often… More >>
  • Best Country Radio Station

    KXKQ-FM 94.1

    As country music's popularity and sales continue to fall from its mid-'90s high point, the blame can be laid squarely at the doorstep of radio programmers who continue to promote hopelessly manufactured-sounding pap and try to pawn it off as country gold. Not so with KXKQ, which is based in Safford in eastern Arizona but broadcasts in the Valley. Though… More >>
  • Best Hip-hop Radio Station

    KKFR-FM 92.3

    Starting with the morning Wake Up Show featuring Chino and the ever-horny Clarissa Jenkins, through multiple-mix sets like the midday Digging in the Crates show, to Flashback Fridays, Power 92 has put a lock on its ownership of the Valley's hip-hop airwaves. Meanwhile, the Power 92 van has become a ubiquitous presence on city streets, and the station has reached… More >>
  • Best Club For Rock

    Nita's Hideaway

    Guided by the shrewd vision of local arts wunderkind Charles Levy, Nita's is a welcome midsize venue in a town with more than its quota of overpriced stadiums and cramped coffee houses. Ever supportive of local talent, Nita's has become a necessary rite of passage for Valley bands looking to graduate from dad's garage to Phoenix's club scene, but Levy's… More >>
  • Best Club For Blues/Jazz

    Rhythm Room

    Mercy, it's hot, and that can only mean that the spotlight's going up at the Rhythm Room, where co-owner and booker Bob Corritore has been keeping the dirty blue flame lit for nigh onto a decade. The site plays host to legends of the form like R.L. Burnside and Henry Gray, and it also provides a historically rooted training ground… More >>
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