Best Local Band: Playboy Manbaby
Playboy Manbaby is one of the most popular bands in Phoenix for good reason. The group makes
Best Latin Rock Legends: Lawrence and Mark Zubia
Fixtures in the fabled Tempe scene of the 1990s, the
Best Girl Band: Betty Duarte-
They've never topped the charts like the Supremes or the Spice Girls, and they're definitely not going to play Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville — no matter how much you beg after tossing back too many tequila shots. But Mariachi Pasion, a 13-member girl band that mixes strength with femininity, is a local legend. With hot pink sashes, bow ties, and flowers in their hair, these musicians and vocalists are energetic evangelists for traditional mariachi music played with guitar-like stringed instruments, violins, trumpets, and a flute.
Best DJ: Benjamin Cutswell
Over the last 18 years, DJing has pretty much been the sole purpose in Benjamin Cutswell's life. As a matter of fact, it's akin to an obsession. "My whole life is about DJing, everything I do," he says. "I'm completely consumed." Since getting his hands on some
Best Turntablist: Tricky T
Tommy Laurie enjoys the sort of career that any local DJ would envy. A onetime protege of Z-Trip, the performer known as Tricky T honed his considerable skills during Phoenix's DJ heyday of the late '90s, battling local legends like M2 and Pickster One, melting wax at influential venues like the old Nita's Hideaway, and opening for the Roots and Outkast. He's able to drop hip-hop and party-rock sets with aplomb, he can beat-juggle and trick-mix with the best of 'em, and his remixes and mashups are both innovative and creative.
Best Non-Latino Latino: Danny Torgersen
Danny Torgersen is the quirky frontman of local psychedelic rockers Captain Squeegee, but he has been touring a lot lately with the Phoenix-based reggae/Latin rock outfit Fayuca. He may speak the universal language of music, but his pasty skin and red hair make it impossible to not notice that he is
Best Local Band to Get You Moving: Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra
You know when you hear a song and you can't help but react? The bass syncs up with your hips, and the drums seem to tell your feet exactly when to move. Pretty much every single one of the songs by Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra (charmingly known as PAO by fans) holds this power to make you move. And we mean move. We dare you to sit still while this 15-piece orchestra does its jazzy thing, and singer Camille Sledge demonstrates the actual definition of funk.
Best Genre-Bending Band: Sunn Trio
There's a woozy, heatstroke feel to Sunn Trio's innovative blend of surf rock, free jazz, mystical drone, and world music. Consistently recording and releasing material via self-distributed cassettes, the Trio's sound mutates in concert, with fantastic flurries of distorted guitars butting up against mantric psychedelic saxophone runs and looping bass.
Best Local Punk Rock Comeback: The Exterminators
In 1977, punk rock wasn't necessarily exploding in Phoenix, but it was happening. There were the Consumers, the Liars, and the Exterminators at the forefront of the local movement which was in its infancy in the desert, like the first bulb on a saguaro cactus getting ready to bloom. The Exterminators would only survive until
Best Female Vocalist: L. Hotshot of Scorpion vs. Tarantula
Rock 'n' roll is best at its most dangerous, and L. Hotshot of Phoenix garage rockers Scorpion vs. Tarantula is undoubtedly the most dangerous vocalist around. Screaming over the band's turbo-charged riffs — which owe as much to classic rock as they do the punk underground — Hotshot is as physically imposing as she is sonically, her face painted, her hair wild, and her towering stature clad entirely in leather.
Best Male Vocalist: Corey Gloden of Wyves
Best Bilingual Rapper:
Priscilla Rodriguez is a Nogales-born bilingual rapper, currently living in Mesa and performing as independent hip-hop artist
Best Mariachi Band: Mariachi de Grand Ave
Mariachi de Grand Ave only has been around for about a year, but these centrally located folks do it right. Led by David Marquez (of the renowned Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra), the traditional mariachi band regularly performs at ThirdSpace on Grand Avenue (at the junction of Grand and 11th avenues) as well as other venues around the city.
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Best Rapper: Mega Ran
Nerd rap may be a subset
Best Country Band: Junction 10
Inspired chiefly by the late Merle Haggard, Junction 10 plays Bakersfield-style country (to quote Dwight Yoakam's quoting of Waylon Jennings, Phoenix is just "Bakersfield East," anyhow): twangy, hard-edged, and soulful. Vocalist/guitarist Robert Perez, a big man with a big voice and a big heart, leads the band with ambling charm, and his band always matches him with worn intensity.
Best Jazz Guitar: Tommy Connell at Cibo on Sunday nights
Guitarist Tommy Connell doesn't need much to make his Sunday night performances on the Cibo pizzeria patio special — just his small amp, his tasteful effects pedal, and his big Gretsch guitar, which he utilizes to weave a stream of classic jazz, quiet lounge melodies, and rustic Americana.