Arts & Entertainment

  • BEST VINYL RECORD STORE

    Memory Lane Records

    We probably shouldn't admit this, but we were in hot pursuit of a vinyl LP by the Love Generation, a 1960s pseudo-psychedelic rock band no one's ever heard of -- including most of the local record dealers we visited. (One of them tried to sell us a Love album; if we want Arthur Lee, we'll ask for him!) Finally, we… More >>
  • BEST CLUB FOR SWING

    MacAlpine's Soda Fountain and Coffee Shop

    Lindy-hoppers and East Coast swing dancers have never had a Valley nightclub to call their own seven nights a week. In other words, they don't drink enough of the hard stuff and they demand too much real estate on the dance floor to make them attractive to bar owners. But MacAlpine's old-fashioned soda shop, a local landmark since 1928, at… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A ROCK BAND

    Modified Arts

    At some point before the millennium, it was decided by the under-25 independent recording community that it was all right to say the word "rock" again in interviews and in the same sentence with "vital." Those bold semantic steps explain why the foremost venue for all-ages shows in Phoenix should be the one to wear the rock crown proudly, even… More >>
  • BEST FM MYSTERY MAN

    Ted Tucker, KCDX-FM 103.1

    You'll never hear Ted Tucker's voice on KCDX -- or any other DJ's, for that matter. But for the past 18 months, this shy former pharmacist has simply been playing his favorite couple thousand old album tracks, totally commercial-free, from a 2,700-watt tower located somewhere between Superior and Globe -- and in the process creating a delicious radio mystery that's… More >>
  • BEST CLUB FOR BLUES

    The Rhythm Room

    If, as its faithful devotees seem to believe, the blues is a religion, then the Rhythm Room, at least for Phoenicians, is church. And this church, as club owner and gifted harmonica player Bob Corritore would have it, knows no limit to its worship. In July, the club hosted a live recording session featuring Robert Lockwood Jr., who at 88… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY USED CDs

    Zia Record Exchange

    Zia, a long-standing Valley institution, caters increasingly to buyers of new CDs, as its stores feature listening kiosks for new material and displays new discs along its back walls. But never fear -- this is still the prime spot to find bargain used CDs at prices from $8.99 and up. The selection is wide-ranging -- local jewels like the Gin… More >>
  • BEST STAGE SHOES

    Bruce Connole, Busted Hearts

    Bruce Connole of Tempe bluegrass band Busted Hearts is cooler than you. His polished white-and-black wingtips are the kind you generally see only in early photos of Elvis the aspiring hillbilly singer. They can blind you with the glare, even in a dark barroom full of blurry drunks. They're beautiful, and in this case, they seem to define the man… More >>
  • BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC STATION

    KBAQ-FM 89.5

    The digital age has given classical and chamber music its best-ever recording quality and fidelity, yet the masters are still getting the short shrift by technology. With LED display push-button car stereos and receivers tuning in whatever signals aren't putting up too much of a struggle, it's near impossible to find a station in Phoenix that gives a flyin' fugue.… More >>
  • BEST DRIVING SOUNDTRACK

    KSLX-FM 100.7

    Classic rock in the commercially viable sense is deader than the Soviet Union. With hip-hop, drum machines and jailbait starlets on the front burner, it ain't coming back, either. But, like a good mummy, classic rock is a well-preserved music, as radio stations all across the country honor thy Crosby Stills & Nash and keep the coked-out sounds of the… More >>
  • BEST UNDISCOVERED BLUES VENUE

    Monroe's Blues Bar

    Since blues music by design doesn't pack many surprises -- you know, 12 bars, repeated first line, misery and horndog sentiments -- it's up to the clubgoer to come up with the variations. With an assortment of blues establishments and institutions in place in Phoenix for decades, it's hard to find a new blues hangout that's underground enough to spotlight… More >>
  • BEST PUNK ROCK JUKEBOX

    The Rogue

    Located in a two-building strip mall next to a family-owned convenience store, the Rogue modestly sits south of ostentatious downtown Scottsdale. When the Rogue replaced the Blue Ox last year, a diminutive, wall-mounted jukebox set the new hole apart from its predecessor. Selections from the Stooges, Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies, the Descendents, the Dead Kennedys and early Social Distortion -- what… More >>
  • BEST VENUE FOR LOCAL ACTS

    Long Wong's - CLOSED

    Long Wong's remains an old faithful, supporting promising bands seven days a week in its delectably cramped 99-person-capacity confines. These days, pop craftsmen Gloritone, noise-core rockers Hot Fought Cold, bluegrass ensemble Busted Hearts and satirical metalheads Steppchild are among the old jangle-pop headquarters' mainstays. Tempe, with its smoking ban and redevelopment goals, may now be roadhouse unfriendly, but Wong's is… More >>
  • BEST CLUB FOR HIP-HOP

    O'Mallys Sports, Spirits & Grill

    For amateur hip-hop hopefuls, O'Mallys is tantamount to Ed McMahon's auditioning den. The club, essentially a sports bar tailored to an urban-music-loving crowd, with dance floor and plush booths thrown in with the pool tables and televisions, holds open nights for DJs and for rappers, the latter of which culminates with single-elimination freestyle battles between the combatants. By the end… More >>
  • BEST LIBRARY FOR CD AND DVD BURNERS

    Burton Barr Central Library

    It wouldn't take that much research acumen to find out who Burton Barr is, but we prefer to think of him as a home bootlegger's best pal. While the Recording Industry Association of America continues its crusade against those dirty downloaders, we prefer to fatten our CD and DVD collections the old-fashioned way -- we buuuuuuurrrrrrn them! And the best… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ DJ

    Blaise Lantana

    Blaise Lantana works on both sides of the music business. Not solely a DJ for KJZZ-FM 91.5, she's a jazz musician as well, singing at joints such as the Rhythm Room and My Florist Cafe. To hear rarities such as Carmen McRae's' "Ruby My Dear " or Roy Hargrove's "The Joint" along with standards from Duke Ellington's orchestra or Thelonious… More >>
  • BEST ALTERNATIVE ROCK RADIO STATION

    KEDJ-FM 103.9

    The Edge deserves credit for its brand of survival and redemption. Since skating dangerously close to demise in 2001, it has bounced back to become the Valley's preeminent source for all things punk -- new power-pop, lighthearted rap-rock, latter-day grunge and occasional detours into vintage punk and mid-'90s college rock from Sublime and others. The station's status as an independent… More >>
  • BEST VENUE FOR NATIONAL ACTS

    The Marquee Theatre

    Formerly the Red River Music Hall, the Marquee Theatre opened its doors this past March, admittedly on the premature side by its new owners, the regional promotional powerhouse Nobody in Particular Presents. Though NIPP is still working on $1 million in renovations, improvements to parking and the installation of a permanent sign advertising the theater, it has as good a… More >>
  • BEST COUNTRY RADIO STATION

    KNIX-FM 102.5

    KNIX-FM is Clear Channel Communications' local holding in country radio, which isn't exactly the sexiest distinction these days. But Phoenix is a long-standing C&W stronghold with a tradition that stretches back to Marty Robbins, Waylon Jennings and friendly frequent visitor Buck Owens. And the folks at KNIX reflect a devotion to the music you would subsequently expect. While the station… More >>
  • BEST C&W NIGHTSPOT

    Handlebar-J Restaurant and Saloon

    If the saying "wherever you hang your hat is home" means anything, at least a hundred cowboys with names like Buck and Billy have hung, dated and donated their head coverings to the rafters of this country and western institution, which has been here in north Scottsdale since the barren days of 1966. Back then, it was called Wild Bill's… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP RADIO STATION

    KKFR-FM Power 92.3

    Proof positive that radio sucks? Hordes of people on the Internet are swapping tapes of DJ air checks, station promos and entire jock shifts from whatever "golden age" of radio they champion. Proof positive that radio doesn't suck? Power 92.3 FM -- and its irrefutable 2003 slogan "The Station That Doesn't Suck" (see?). People who miss personality-driven radio have their… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY NEW CDs

    Circles Records & Tapes

    Shopping for new music can be a pain, especially these days as record stores grow increasingly more cavernous and the suggested retail prices for new major-label CDs creep above $20. The trick is to find a good markdown on price -- a necessity for struggling retailers these days -- and to be able to get in and out as quickly… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BAND

    Ticker Tape Parade

    If Tempe's power-pop upstarts Ticker Tape Parade remind listeners of Jimmy Eat World and the Gin Blossoms -- fellow East Valley bands that struck gold before them -- there's good reason. TTP's guitarist and chief songwriter Aaron Wendt worked with Jimmy Eat World's leader Jim Adkins before forming his own band, and almost every local guitarist who's strummed a tasty… More >>
  • BEST RADIO PERSONALITY

    Alex Santamaria

    As any large, multigenerational black family can attest, no generation gap cuts deeper than the one between fans of old-school R&B and their hip-hop-loving kids. Folks who once felt confident enough to bust a move on the Soul Train dance line can be made to feel about as limber as Christopher Reeve once their teens start showing off the new… More >>
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