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  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Local Rock Band Zoo Station Best Hip-Hop Artist E-40 Best Radio Station KFOG Best Music Festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Best Place to See Live Music The Fillmore Best Drag Show Cocktailgate Best Film Festival San Francisco International Film Festival Best Theater Company American Conservatory Theater Best Stage Actor Sarah Kathleen Farrell Best Local Artist Phillip Hua Best Art Gallery City Art Gallery… More >>
  • Best Live Magazine

    Pop-Up Magazine

    Want another example that the print world is dying? How about the fact that the best new locally based periodical can't be held in your hands? Hell, it can't even be viewed on the Internet. Pop-Up Magazine is the world's first live journal — an irregularly held event that takes place in front of an audience. Each show unfolds like… More >>
  • Best Solo Theater Performer

    Ann Randolph

    If you've never seen Ann Randolph perform, then you might think it's strange to say that she keeps finding new and amazing things to do with her face. But in her one-woman shows at the Marsh — including the long-running Squeeze Box and current hit Loveland — she demonstrates just how inventive you can be when your features appear to… More >>
  • Best Up-and-Coming Playwright

    Enrique Urueta

    Comedy seldom gets taken seriously. But a good comedic playwright is a serious find, especially when he or she writes with the zany energy and boundless tastelessness of San Francisco's Enrique Urueta. His newest play, Learn to Be Latina, plays like an episode of VH1's Behind the Music as reimagined by Eric Cartman — a sharp satire exploring the intersection… More >>
  • Best Theater Company

    The Jewish Theatre San Francisco

    The Traveling Jewish Theatre is itinerant no more. Founded in 1978, the company began by roaming to dozens of cities worldwide before establishing a venue of its own at San Francisco's Project Artaud Studios in 1994. Last fall, the theater finally changed its name to acknowledge its status both as a permanent fixture in the Mission and as a major… More >>
  • Best Comedy Nights

    SF Sketchfest

    Of all the festivals in the city, Sketchfest is the most crucial, the most necessary, and — don't underestimate this one — the most funny. It creates its own weather. All year long, the comedy scene goes from low simmer to low boil: a few stages, a few hyped locals, a steady influx of touring vets, but nothing spectacular. Then… More >>
  • Best Performance Artist

    Monique Jenkinson

    Monique Jenkinson lives with two obsessions (more than two, but we'll only talk about two of them right now). For a lesser person, the pairing of "high fashion/outward beauty" and "social justice" might be a horrible curse. But in a very San Francisco way, Jenkinson simply melded them in the performance art crucible, and out popped Fauxnique, our best-known —… More >>
  • Best Aerial Burlesque Dance Troupe

    Cirque Noir

    San Francisco has gone burlesque crazy in recent years, with troupes and reviews popping up all over the city. But even people who think they aren't into dance would do well to check out Cirque Noir, the four-woman group that mixes cheeky burlesque with stunning aerial choreography. The evolving show (performed in intimate venues around town) is both modern and… More >>
  • Best Public-Transit Ballet

    San Francisco Trolley Dances

    Graffiti and a foul-smelling dude's "performance art" of wild gestures are usually as inspired as it gets on Muni. Yet each October, Kim Epifano's Epiphany Productions stages "San Francisco Trolley Dances," a free series of dance pieces that brings art to the people, using Muni train stops as its stage. Last year, folkloric Mexican dancers greeted the passengers-audience in Dolores… More >>
  • Best Flamenco Show

    Misión Flamenca

    San Francisco has one of the top flamenco scenes in the country, and this monthly show in the Mission is the most exciting new offering. Fans often pack the place, so arrive early to get a seat right up next to the stage at the intimate venue. (Cover is $10 to $15.) Take in the rapid-fire footwork of Sandra Gabas,… More >>
  • Best Local Filmmaker

    George Kuchar

    The godfather of underground DIY cinema, George Kuchar started making no-budget 8mm narratives in New York in the '50s (with his twin, Mike) that simultaneously embraced and mocked the emotional excesses of Hollywood melodramas. An acknowledged influence on John Waters and countless other outsider artists, Kuchar relocated to San Francisco in the early '70s, producing a steady torrent of brash,… More >>
  • Best Film Festival

    Noir City Film Festival

    Every January, when Frisco is at its darkest and dankest, the Noir City Film Festival comes to town with its world-weary tough guys and lethal dames; crisp, terse chitchat; and shadowy aesthetic. The brainchild of film noir authority Eddie Muller, the festival celebrates the lesser-known treasures and pleasures of the genre, which flourished in the decade of existential ennui brought… More >>
  • Best Fancy Movie Theater

    Sundance Kabuki Cinema

    The Sundance Kabuki is a fantastic place to watch movies for the same reason that your house is a great place to watch movies: 1. You can drink beer. 2. You can recline in your big-ass seat, which you reserved ahead of time, and rest your beer on the table next to you. 3. You can eat something other than… More >>
  • Best Holga Photographer

    Jesse Schlesinger

    Digital cameras capture hundreds of images easily lost on laptops and social-network labyrinths. At Triple Base Gallery and General Store, the photographs of multimedia artist Jesse Schlesinger have broken through the clutter with their vintage aesthetic. The California College of the Arts graduate works with a Holga, a cheap, unpredictable plastic camera beloved for its ability to give photos a… More >>
  • Best New Digital Art Hub

    Gray Area Foundation for the Arts

    If you fancy yourself an art technologist — or an art enthusiast with a penchant for beautiful data visualizations and a curiosity about what something like the city's taxi usage looks like in real time from a bird's-eye point of view — you'll love Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Born out of a revamp of a porn movie theater… More >>
  • Best Gallery Alley

    Minna Street

    If you're going on an art walk, it helps when the galleries are actually within walking distance of one another. Minna Street, the SOMA alley between Mission and Howard, has long been the home of gallery-cum-club 111 Minna (111 Minna at Second St., 974-1719, Since 1993, the brick space has been ground zero for international and local street and… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Art and Hydroponics Lights

    Lake Gallery

    The first clue that there are two distinct aesthetic experiences going on at 661 Divisadero is the signage. Plant'It Earth, a one-stop shop for all gardening, soil, and hydroponics needs, announces itself in big splashy letters painted on the side of the building; hanging back from the street is an understated notice for Lake Gallery. This relatively new space (opened in… More >>
  • Best New Warehouse Space


    What does a household of creative twentysomethings do upon moving into a converted warehouse loft space in the vibrant cultural epicenter of S.F.'s Mission District? They turn it into an underground arts and music venue, of course. Last summer, art students Myrina Tunberg, Nikki Mirsaeid, and Taj Robinson formed Kitsch, "an alternative, collaborative attempt to develop and sustain bonds between artists and… More >>
  • Best Postpunk Garage Bands

    Artwork by Jonathan Burstein Young Prisms Weekend The Art Museums Most garage-rock bands take inspiration from one place: the original Nuggets,/i> double LP, compiled by future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye and Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman in 1972. That album featured a slew of groups like the Chocolate Watchband, the Standells, and the Knickerbockers trying to sound like the Rolling Stones, the… More >>
  • Best Wild Things Artist

    Ferris Plock

    Like Maurice Sendak before him, the wilds of local painter and illustrator Ferris Plock's imagination are populated by beasts with exaggerated features and human characteristics. He keeps the devils in the details, and his surreal creatures with oversized eyes and canines are more cartoonish than nightmarish. The sharp lines and swirls that embellish his images — and those of Kelly… More >>
  • Best Husband-and-Wife Muralists

    Jet Martinez and Kelly Ording

    For years, painter and muralist Jet Martinez has been making memorable work around San Francisco. That odd fuchsia scalloped pattern at 16th and Folsom streets? The rainbow-hued color on Community Thrift? Both Martinez. But one of the best things to come out of the S.F. Arts Commission's Storefronts project was work by Martinez and his wife, fellow artist Kelly Ording.… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    Language of the Birds

    Take a nighttime walk down Columbus Avenue in North Beach, and you'll come across a whimsical installation of glowing books that seem to have spread their pages and taken flight like a flock of pigeons in nearby Washington Square Park. The books were set aflutter in 2008 by artists Dorka Keehn and Brian Goggin, the latter of whom was already… More >>
  • Best Art Walk

    Mission Arts and Performance Project

    The Mission Arts and Performance Project always manages to strike a near-impossible balance between a sense of community and a high quality of art. The long-running, loosely organized bimonthly art walk encompasses literary readings, musical performances, afternoon kids' projects, and visual arts of many kinds. Many formal galleries participate, but so do people with garages, sidewalk chalkers, and roving troubadours.… More >>
  • Best Sing-Along Aboard a Tall Ship

    Sea Chantey night at the Hyde Street Pier

    Most people don't know they know a sea chantey, but they do — whether it's "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor?," "Good Night Ladies," and "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," or something incredibly obscene that after 150 years of social progress still isn't fit for polite company. That's because sea chanties are sailor songs, and people out at… More >>
  • Best DIY Opera Company

    San Francisco Parlor Opera

    Here's an idea for your next soirée: Instead of shuffling through your iPod, why not have San Francisco Parlor Opera treat your guests to a full-on production of Mozart's Così fan tutte? (Gounod's Faust and Massenet's Thaïs are available, too, if the evening calls for Satan or for courtesans reformed by tortured monks, respectively — prices upon request.) Since its founding… More >>
  • Best Homegrown Diva

    Patricia Racette

    It may be a stretch to claim this gifted soprano as wholly one of our own — she hails from New Hampshire, and was educated in Texas — but San Francisco Opera is where Patricia Racette's star truly began its rise. After her 20-plus-year career singing some of opera's biggest roles on the world's most prestigious stages, it's probably safe to say… More >>
  • Best Classical Music

    San Francisco Renaissance Voices

    Oh, so you think you know classical music just because you've heard a little Mozart, is that right? Think you once listened to a Bach cello suite and now you know what it's all about? Got some Vivaldi under your belt and you're acting like it's a big deal? Kid, if you don't know the San Francisco Renaissance Voices, you… More >>
  • Best Kid Band

    Futuro Picante

    In a time when funding for school music programs is scarce, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts has picked up some of the slack by putting together a totally smokin' salsa band of musicians ages 8 to 16. Futuro Picante isn't some typical kid band that honks out-of-tune trombones. Shredding through standards from salsa's golden age as well as… More >>
  • Best Country Yodeler

    Toshio Hirano

    Toshio Hirano was born in Tokyo, but his passion for music couldn't be more all-American. At various dive bars and cafes in the Mission and Hayes Valley, the ESL teaching assistant drops his mild-mannered veneer to yodel like he was raised in southern Appalachia. Hirano has gained quite the following for his covers of classic songs by Hank Williams, Ernest… More >>
  • Best Pedal Steel Guitarist

    Joe Goldmark

    Joe Goldmark is part owner of Amoeba Music and founder of Escape from New York Pizza. But for fans of the twang, he's best known as the king of pedal steel. Goldmark has been playing this challenging instrument — a variation on the guitar involving complex string and pedal combinations — since the '60s. Together with his band, the Seducers,… More >>
  • Best All-Gal Bluegrass Band

    Barefoot Nellies

    The Barefoot Nellies were one of only two local acts picked to play last year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that they're as comfortable covering Led Zeppelin and Nancy Sinatra as they are retooling the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe. Or that all four women are red-hot players — from Betsy Maudlin's… More >>
  • Best Noise-Punk Grrl Band

    Brilliant Colors

    Brilliant Colors formed in 2007, but the all-female trio sounds like it could've been birthed in 1977 or 1987. On the threesome's debut LP, Introducing (released last year on local label Slumberland), the band re-creates the speedy tempos, buzzsaw guitars, and yelping vocals of such earlier grrl-fronted postpunk acts as Kleenex and the Shop Assistants. Such music seems like it'd… More >>
  • Best Gay Pop Band

    Hunx and His Punx

    When Gravy Train!!!! went on hiatus a few years back, the Bay Area lost one of its funnest bands. The only upside, really, was that coleader Hunx was forced to start a new group, one that was even more homoriffic than the last one. Hunx and His Punx's debut collection — released in February on Panther Sounds, also home to… More >>
  • Best New Electronic Import from L.A.


    Electronic beatsmith Shlohmo, the 20-year-old producer born Henry Laufner, recently relocated here from Los Angeles and immediately snagged his own corner of the local bass music market. He has already dropped his first record, Shlomoshun Deluxe; had his distorted, warbled beats lauded by tastemakers XLR8R magazine and Mary Anne Hobbs of BBC Radio 1; and has played at electronic-friendly venues like Project… More >>
  • Best Bleep Beats Blowing Up


    In a world of mundane indie electronic acts, live performer Brendan Angelides stands out, and overseas musical heavyweights have taken notice. Respected U.K. labels Warp Records and Planet Mu have both released material by Angelides, who goes by the production and stage tag Eskmo. Local imprints like Surefire Sound and Full Melt have also embraced his innovative music, which pairs… More >>
  • Best Voice for Hire

    Audio Angel

    Rashida Clendening is a voice to be reckoned with. The Florida native first turned heads in the '90s as San Francisco's most recognizable and frequently booked drum 'n' bass MC and singer, a role that landed her a prominent spot on Northern Ireland artist Calibre's 2001 album, Musique Concrete (Creative Source). Since then, her angelic articulations have lit up music… More >>
  • Best New Hip-Hop Clique

    The Honor Roll Crew

    Honor Roll leader Trackademicks' Web site proclaims that his crew is bringing "the best notes from the freshest coast." It's not an empty boast. Backed up by Josie Stingray, Mike Baker the Bike Maker, Tap-10, Moxmore, 1 O.A.K., and Spank Pops (whose late 2009 release, Beautiful Noise, is undoubtedly the best rap EP ever recorded by someone with a day… More >>
  • Best Indie-Rap Producer


    Keelay's beats first came to fruition during the era of hyphy hype, but his sound has progressed since then. His 2009 album with MC Zaire, Ridin' High, showcased a soulful signature sound slicker than the usual indie-rap beats, with songs that boomed with the professional weight of something that might emerge from Dr. Dre's stable. But as expansive as Keelay's… More >>
  • Best Rap Ode to San Francisco

    Napalm and Erruption feat. Gold Toes, "In San Francisco"

    "San Francisco, man, I love this place, 'cause ain't nowhere like this place." The chorus to real-life cousins Erruption and Napalm's "In San Francisco" might not win any awards for intricate internal rhymes, but for a pure blast of chest-out, hometown pride, it's certified anthemic. Over a rousing, uptempo beat, the Mission District rappers run through a roll call of… More >>
  • Best Go-To Rap Video Producer

    Tha Razor

    With a client list that includes Yukmouth, Lee Majors, and Bay Area rap pioneer Richie Rich, Afghanistan-born director Ramin Wahab, aka Tha Razor, has effectively locked down the local video market. Since debuting with the Jacka's "Fuck Everybody" in 2008, he has quickly produced more than 100 hip-hop flicks. But despite his prolific output, Razor's productions don't skimp on quality:… More >>
  • Best Local Version of Radiohead


    At first listen, you wouldn't compare Geographer to Radiohead. The local trio consists of a skinny, long-haired dude playing one of those electronic cellos, a boxy-shaped baldie behind the drum kit, and a bearded New Jersey transplant with his fingers on stack upon stack of keyboards. But when the threesome launches into a tune like "Original Sin" from its recent… More >>
  • DJG, Babylon System, Spit Brothers, and Kozee

    Best Dubstep Ambassadors

    DJG, Babylon System, Spit Brothers, and Kozee

    Illustration by Nate Van Dyke S.F. clubbers were early adopters of dubstep, the bass-heavy cousin of U.K. garage music, which originated in South and East London. In recent years, local DJs, producers, and artists have established San Francisco as the leading American city for original dubstep creations. Here are a few of our big-time, globe-conquering dubstep ambassadors. DJG Dean J. Grenier's productions revel… More >>
  • Sexiest Singer-Songwriter

    Thao Nguyen

    On her two albums with the Get Down Stay Down, including 2010's Kill Rock Stars release Know Better Learn Faster, Thao Nguyen makes heartbreak and bee stings sound sexy. Hell, she makes pretty much everything she sings about sound sexy. If she did a concept album about Hurricane Katrina or the devastation in Haiti, people would say, "Hells yeah, gimme… More >>
  • Profile: Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Performance Artist

    By Lauren Smiley Performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña left his native Mexico City in the 1970s to start his "geographically eccentric" trek through the art scenes in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Yet when it came to deciding where to establish the headquarters for La Pocha Nostra, his Chicano performance troupe, 15 years ago, he chose San Francisco. Why here? "San… More >>
  • Profile: Stephen Elliott, Author

    By Michael Leaverton Photograph by Jaleen Francois We hate to resort to name-calling, but fuck it: Stephen Elliott is the quintessential local writer. It's not just that his novels are about himself and his crazy past (but it helps), or that he writes about S&M (really helps). It's also that he has drunk deeply of the local elixir that makes our writers… More >>
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