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  • Readers' Poll

    Best Local Band/Musician ing Best Radio Station KUSF-FM (90.3) Best Movie Theater Red Vic Movie House Best Rep Film Theater Castro Theatre Best Film Festival S.F. International Film Festival Best Local Magazine 7x7 Best Art Museum SFMOMA Best Art Gallery 111 Minna Gallery Best Local Label Devil in the Woods Best Jukebox 540 Club Best Club 12 Galaxies Best New Club 12 Galaxies Best Dance Club Mezzanine Best Club Theme Night "Catholic School Karaoke," 540 Club Best Theater American Conservatory... More >>

  • Best Rock n Roll Band

    Naked Barbies

    Aside from the Dead, we can't think of another band as enduring as fellow locals Naked Barbies. Founded in 1990, the group has retained essentially the same lineup over three albums (four, if you count the one under the Vagabond Lovers banner): Patty Spiglanin, vocals and guitar; Mike Conner, keys, accordion, and harmonica; Evan Eustis, bass; and Dan Lashkoff, drums. The exception is guitarists, who have a recurring tendency to explode, à la Spinal Tap. (Well, not all of them... More >>

  • Best Country Band

    Red Meat

    Don't dare label Red Meat altcountry or Americana. It is, first and foremost, a country band, drawing primarily from the sparkling, twang-laden, whiskey-spiked well of the Bakersfield sound (cf Buck Owens, Merle Haggard), as well as from iconic honky-tonker George Jones. But neither is it retro or purist: Pop/rock and bluegrass influences are evident, and the songs' subjects cover everything from answering machines to S/M to the terminal gentrification of San Francisco. The act has three fine, distinctive lead singers... More >>

  • Best Art Sans Art School

    Friday the 13th West

    If you prefer art minus the poseurs, overclever conceptuals, and screeching-edge technology, check out this small gallery featuring the work of Jimmie Lee Sudduth. The Alabama artist, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday, got his start at age 4 by painting an image with mud on a tree stump. When it was washed away by rain, he tried again, this time mixing the mud with syrup and achieving a lasting result. Today the prolific self-taught artist continues to use mud... More >>

  • Best Underground Art -- Literally

    Duboce Tunnel

    If you think San Francisco's once-flourishing graffiti scene has lost its emphasis on piecing (more elaborate, murallike work) and degenerated to tepid tags, take the N Judah through the tunnel between Duboce Park and the Cole & Carl stop. Hug the windows to cut the glare: Both sides are lined with some of the coolest street art on any continent. The spot is known to serious graffiti writers from all over the world, many of whom have left their marks... More >>

  • Best Underfoot Art

    "Substrada" by Brian Goggin

    Set into the sidewalk and nearly indistinguishable from utility covers, these nine pieces by Brian Goggin will be overlooked by all but the most perceptive shoe-gazers. You suddenly notice underfoot, amidst manhole covers and PG&E access caps, one that says "Hunt" (or "Job," "Feed," or "Grow"). The background doesn't look like the usual crosshatching either: It's a pattern made by the imprint of tin cans, wood, oranges, or -- are those rows of tamales? Do yourself a favor and ignore... More >>

  • Best Way to Get your Asian-American Pop Culture Fix

    Stir TV

    A couple of years ago, executives at the Brisbane-based Asian-language TV station KTSF began to notice that an increasing number of their viewers were younger, American-born, and English-speaking. They brought their research to Asian-American media veteran Jeff Yang (who used to run the now-defunct A. Magazine and is Stir's editorial director) and to the cable station International Channel, and soon, Stir TV was born. It's the first nationally televised English-language show of its type, a weekly, half-hour magazine-style program "for... More >>

  • Best Beatboxer

    Kid Beyond

    What takes most people an entire band to produce, Kid Beyond (aka Andrew Chaikin) executes with his own mouth. Cupping his hands to manipulate the sound, and moving his lips and tongue in mysterious ways, Kid Beyond can replicate drum sets, Latin beats, hip hop grooves, and turntable scratches. But his talent extends beyond percussion: He also sings in and around the beats, and records bits and pieces of his performance in real time using foot pedals, then loops it... More >>

  • Best Locally Filmed TV Show

    MythBusters

    Now in its second season, the Discovery Channel's MythBusters -- starring San Francisco prop designers Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage -- puts old wives' tales and urban myths to the test through bizarre, hilarious science experiments. Using Hyneman's Potrero Hill warehouse as home base, the team has disproved numerous legends, including "A sinking ship will pull you down with it" (they sprung a leak in an old tugboat and stood on deck in scuba gear). In an episode called "Stinky... More >>

  • Best Swing Dance Party

    "9:20 Special"

    Most San Franciscans went through a swing-dancing phase with those kids in the Gap khaki commercials -- and then moved on. But the craze left in its wake a small but intensely loyal population of hard-core swing-dance hobbyists who couldn't give a hoot that what once made them cool now makes them big geeks. The "9:20 Special" dance party in the grand ballroom of the San Francisco Russian Center is the place to see them -- or be them. Like... More >>

  • Best Jazz Education

    Jack's Record Cellar

    Collectors know Jack's Record Cellar for its impressive selection of 45s, stacked high in their yellowed sleeves. But this tumbledown store in the Lower Haight is also a great place for neophytes whose love of jazz starts and ends with the fact that they once made out to A Love Supreme in college. Owner Wade Wright, a chipper, avuncular man with a walrus mustache, loves helping people learn about -- and enjoy -- jazz. He answers even the most clueless... More >>

  • Best Fun Place for Kids

    Zeum

    Want to explore how it feels to fly using digital technology? Dance your way up a cone through a motion-sensor soundscape? You've come to the right place. This innovative museum geared to kids and teens is full of enough high-tech gadgetry and other neat stuff to appeal to grown-ups as well. Hands-on interactive exhibits allow visitors to create clay figurines, design their own Web sites, and experiment with digital photography. Located atop the Moscone Center in Yerba Buena Gardens, Zeum... More >>

  • Best Musician Wed Rather Didnt Quit His Day Job

    JBOT/Jay Vance

    By night, Jay Vance is JBOT, the captive of a multicyborg band that humiliates its human member, forcing him to produce heavy-metal-influenced jokes and grinding rock 'n' roll. By day, Vance repairs amplifiers, microphones, and other music-related equipment at the Haight Ashbury Music Center. By night, JBOT is celebrated in publications such as The New Yorker, SF Weekly, and Wired for his bizarre, hilarious shows. By day, Vance takes orders by phone from the music store's basement as he works... More >>

  • Best Place to Throw Shit at Bands

    12 Galaxies

    When it comes to live music, we all love intimate venues like the Bottom of the Hill, Cafe Du Nord, and the Make-Out Room. But there's a problem with such joints: What if you want to throw shit on your favorite band? What if you and your friends want to act like a screaming, frothing mob and yell at hardworking musicians like mobsters watching a bare-knuckle boxing match? For that you need to scuttle on down to 12 Galaxies (the... More >>

  • Best Music Community

    Thee Parkside

    Many locals complain that our music scene has a lot of bands and a lot of fans but very little community. That's not the case at Thee Parkside, where, as its Web site boasts, "the staff drinks right along with you." As many who've been to Thee Parkside's budget rock Fridays can attest, this place is one of the coolest, cheapest, most hospitable spots to catch garage, punk, and country-fried rock in town. What you may not know is that... More >>

  • Best Next Big Thing

    Rogue Wave

    It seems like only yesterday that we fell in love with Rogue Wave's debut CD, Out of the Shadow, a collection of frontman Zach Rogue's bedroom recordings that melts contemporary indie rock into '60s and '70s sunshine pop. Come to think of it, it was only yesterday that we fell in love with that disc. In less than a year, though, Rogue has led his assembled band -- multi-instrumentalists Pat Spurgeon, Gram Lebron, and Sonya Westcott -- onto nearly every... More >>

  • Best Live-Music Venue

    The Independent

    When the Justice League closed more than a year ago, a lot of us gave up hope that the space at 628 Divisadero -- which has played home to a never-ending parade of doomed concert halls over the last two decades -- would reopen. But in February, it did just that, with a bang. Boasting new owners, newly upgraded facilities, and a new promoter booking its shows -- none other than Another Planet Entertainment, the indie promotions company that's giving... More >>

  • Best Bet for Wandering Street Minstrels

    Esperpento

    Sure, the grub at Esperpento is great. The restaurant's paellas (Spanish rice stew cooked with meats and veggies), sangria, and tapas dishes are among the best in the Mission. But for those of you who want to treat your taste buds and your ears simultaneously, this breezy eatery is also a magnet for the many música norteña groups (which typically play the harmony-rich, guitar-based folk music of northern Mexico) that troll the area. On the weekends the joint is jumping,... More >>

  • Best-Sounding Venue

    Slim's

    In years past, Slim's has picked up a shoddy reputation for sound. Countless shouts of "Turn up the vocals" and deafening squelches of feedback have soiled many a listener's experience. But we're happy to report that Slim's has turned that ship around. Of the many midsize halls in town, Slim's now sounds the best, whether the act onstage is playing thrash metal or delicate folk. And, aside from the noise, it's just a great place to catch a show. The... More >>

  • Best Intimate Venue

    Hemlock Tavern

    If you get off on fringe music and a little frottage (as in the act of rubbing against someone in a crowd to attain sexual satisfaction), there is no better venue than the Hemlock Tavern. It's not the spacious bar area that'll excite your inner desire for some friction, it's the teeny, tiny, constantly crowded back room. That's where the club's stage hosts a parade of locals and nonlocals showcasing atypical sounds, from avant-folk to avant-noise to avant-avant. The drinks... More >>

  • Best-Value Strip Club

    New Century Theater

    Ah, the New Century Theater. Like a fine wine, it seems to get better with the passing time. It has all the things that make a strip club worth shelling out the big bucks to get into -- women who love getting nekkid (or who can at least pretend to love it) and a bumping sound system for shaking your moneymaker -- yet it's cheaper than most. So while some might consider the New Century in the titty-bar farm league... More >>

  • Best Weekly Jazz Jam

    Bruno's

    Bruno's location, near the quick-beating heart of the Mission District, might be partially responsible for the distinct mix of players that crosses the club's stage. There's a little bit of everything -- from slickly dressed scenesters and burned-out hepcats to boho music students and tenor-wielding street poets. Though the club has recently undergone a booking facelift, now presenting mostly fusion-minded groove bands, the open Monday night session has become one of the most compelling jazz jams in the city. Starting... More >>

  • Best Free Mariachi Music

    La Rondalla

    This little place might not look like much from the outside, but La Rondalla is San Francisco's unrivaled home for brassy, classic mariachi. Here, an eight-piece band hits it every day of the week except Monday. Dressed in matching jackets, studded pants, and shiny boots, the musicians offer patrons classic Mexican folk music on a traditional battery of instruments. The action in the place is nearly overwhelming: Waitresses dart to and fro between band members with steaming trays of Mexican... More >>

  • Best New Club

    Mezzanine

    The years when rock clubs and discothèques were mutually exclusive are behind us. Electronic music is no longer the sole province of the DJ; rock is no longer just for guys with guitars. Funk-punk, electroclash, glitch-hop, broken beat -- these days, virtually every subgenre you can name is a schizophrenic mix of sounds. Nightclubs need to be able to handle them all, and Mezzanine does it as good as or better than any. Swanker than the hippest house clubs, yet... More >>

  • Best Beginners Jam Session

    Skip's Tavern

    You got a shiny new guitar for Christmas and you've been jamming along to Steppenwolf for four months straight. Put on some snazzy duds, champ, you're ready for the big time! Well, almost the big time, at this unassuming Bernal Heights dive. The owners survived a recent tussle with ASCAP that threatened to quiet the bandstand, and now the bar hosts three open jam sessions a week (Sunday, Monday, and Thursday). The cast of regulars is welcoming toward newcomers, capably... More >>

  • Best Busker

    Moses Dixon

    When the weather is nice and you decide to take a sunny stroll down Market, keep your ears open for Moses Dixon, the 62-year-old vibraphone player who frequently busks on the corner of Grant and Market on balmy afternoons. Dixon sets up his vibes outside the Wells Fargo building and jams for tips. And he deserves big ones. A tape of prerecorded, hard-swinging bop blares from his tinny boombox as accompaniment while his mallets sprint up and down the keys.... More >>

  • Best BART Stop for Buskers

    Montgomery Street

    A true cheapskate with a tuneful ear should head to the Montgomery Street BART station, where some of the best music in the city can be enjoyed for pocket change. This particular public transportation hub is the place where San Francisco's top-notch buskers come to pass the hat. While suits rush by with lattes in hand, a cast of instrumentalists fills the air with compositions and improvisations from around the world. Regulars include Chen Kai Chou, a 71-year-old, half-blind player... More >>

  • Best Hip Hop Radio Show

    Ghetto Gumbo

    Keep your dial pinned to the commercial urban radio stations in the area, and it's easy to come away with the impression that little, if any, hip hop is created outside of Los Angeles, New York, or Atlanta. With the exception of MC E-40, our beloved wordsmith from Vallejo, KMEL and Wild 94.9 largely ignore local artists these days. Flip it, reverse it, and add some community service and political activism announcements, and that pretty much describes Ghetto Gumbo. Rather... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Movie Theater

    Balboa Theater

    Back before the monolithic octoplex darkened the cinematic landscape, every proudly individual San Francisco neighborhood had its own movie theater. But like the fabled Market Street movie palaces of yore, most of these anchoring icons are either extinct or endangered (although the excellent Castro is an enduring genre unto itself). One happy exception is the Balboa, which has been hosting Outer Richmond moviegoers since 1926. Owner and movie stalwart Gary Meyer presents double features of (relatively) new flicks for a... More >>

  • Best Free Party

    Saturday Night at Anú

    So you're strolling down the colorful part of Market with a restive outlook, no particular itinerary, and scarcely a pfennig in your pocket. It's Saturday night and the primordial urge to interact with your fellow beings is upon you. Luckily, the stipend-free recesses of Anú beckon from just around the corner. Inside the club's cozy, dimly lit, and unexpectedly stylish surroundings, an interesting mix of the black-clad, Cosmo girls, local celebs, and crusty neighborhood types meet, mingle, listen to the... More >>

  • Best At-Home Double Features

    Lost Weekend Video

    Sure, you could rent your movies at the nearest soul-sucking corporate chain outlet. But if you did, you'd miss out on an endearing program run by this neighborhood video store: employee-selected double-feature rental packages. Movie lovers can pick up two VHS features for two nights for a mere $2.50 (or a shockingly reasonable $1.25 on Wednesdays, when rentals run half price) if you accept the catch -- Lost Weekend employees must pick the videos. The puckish staffers are fond of... More >>

  • Best Cross-Genre DJ Night

    "Frisco Disco"

    During an interview last year, "Frisco Disco" founder Jefrodisiac (aka Jeff Fare) complained about the strange boundaries that music scenes erect. "Certain people say, 'I'd never go here' or 'I'd never go there.' It's like, your record collection is the same, your clothes are about the same, but for some reason there's a line that some people don't want to cross." Well, "Frisco Disco" goes beyond crossing that line: The dance party obliterates it. Jefrodisiac and Richie Panic's weekly event,... More >>

  • Most Improved Rock Club

    Cafe Du Nord

    Cafe Du Nord has been a venerable local institution for years. But venerable doesn't always mean exciting. By the early '00s, the Upper Market club was floundering a bit, wallowing in long-running residencies and past-their-prime regulars. (How many weeks in a row can you see Ledisi or Lavay Smith anyway?) But following the venue's sale to one-time Hotel Utah booker Guy Carson in March 2003, the Du Nord changed course. Carson knocked out a wall to make for better sight... More >>

  • Most Improved DJ Club

    House of Shields

    The House of Shields used to serve mainly as a happy hour bar for the suits and stockings crowd, a place for a quick drink before heading back to the burbs. Hell, it still does. But thanks to new owners -- who reopened the downtown joint in September 2003 -- the venue now has a bunch of great late-night events, too. Run by some of the same Burning Man theme-campers who opened Sublounge, the House of Shields leans toward hip... More >>

  • Best Jump-Rope Team

    Double Dutchess

    If there's one thing the Bay Area never seems to tire of, it's retro kitsch. In the past decade, we've cheered the revival of Mexican wrestling, burlesque dancing, swing music, boxcar racing, and marching bandery. Now S.F. has its very own jump-rope team, Double Dutchess. Founded in the summer of 2002, the sexy four-woman troupe transforms the grade-school activity into a jaw-dropping two-ropes-at-a-time display full of acrobatics, comedy, and music. For most gigs, the girls set up guerrilla style, performing... More >>

  • Best Cross-Cultural Band

    Neung Phak

    We live in the age of cross-cultural exploration, a time when musicians look across the globe for fresh sounds. Today, the hip hop scene is crawling with dancehall riddims and Bollywood samples, the sounds of urban America made exotic by international flavors. At the same time, tons of genres -- Mexican rock, French disco, German electro -- take their cues from foreign sources. Not surprisingly, the Bay Area houses one of the more intriguing cross-continental rock bands to date: Neung... More >>

  • Best Concept Band

    Cookie Mongoloid

    San Franciscans love a good cover act. Over the years, we've witnessed local bands pay tribute to Metallica, AC/DC, the Fall, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Smiths, Herb Alpert, Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, and Devo. Now, from the creators of the latter combo (Mongoloid), comes a tribute group that plays Sesame Street songs as speed metal. This unholy alliance comes complete with motorcycle entrances, a frontman in a blue Cookie Monster head and leather pants, and scantily clad Cookie Girls... More >>

  • Best Hip Hop Label

    Quannum Projects

    There are a number of record labels that consistently release smart, well-produced underground hip hop -- New York's Definitive Jux, Minneapolis' Rhymesayers, Emeryville's Anticon, to name a few -- but one towers over them all. Run by producer DJ Shadow and the members of Blackalicious and Latyrx since 1992 (when it was called SoleSides), Quannum Projects is the go-to imprint for indie rap. Since morphing into Quannum in 1999, the collective has had a remarkable winning streak, with nary a... More >>

  • Best Art Gallery

    Rx Gallery

    Even in San Francisco, art galleries aren't exactly fun places. Sure, 111 Minna is technically an art space, but the works there serve mostly as eye fodder for when you're dancing or as conversational fodder for when you're macking. But now comes the Rx Gallery, a venue curated by multimedia artist Gregory Cowley and blasthaus owner William Linn. Anyone who's been to a blasthaus event -- be it the spaced-out lounge of "Joypad," the experimental buzz of "Further," or performances... More >>

  • Best Radio Show

    Desert Island Jazz

    A rare case of whimsy and eclecticism in radio programming. Hosted by Alisa Clancy on the jazz station KCSM, the show is nothing more than that old barstool exercise of choosing your desert-island music. Every week, a jazz type -- a musician, a producer, a promoter, a teacher -- selects and introduces eight pieces of music he would take to the island. The result is a fascinating hour of radio in which Led Zeppelin and the Police might be followed... More >>

  • Best Museum

    Cartoon Art Museum

    Around the corner from the ghastly Barcalounger of the SFMOMA building, this tiny museum offers a welcome antidote to the bloated self-importance of its neighbor. The CAM, established in large part because of a 1987 endowment from Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, features 6,000 pieces in its permanent collection, ranging from old editorial cartoons to Sunday comic strips to framed cels from Fritz the Cat. Half of the museum's space is given over to its special exhibitions; right now, there's a... More >>

  • Best Underdog Drag Revue

    Hot Boxx Girls

    Sure, "Trannyshack" gets the nod for the most inventive and outlandish drag revue in the Bay Area, if not the world; its reputation is well deserved. But the Hot Boxx Girls at Aunt Charlie's Lounge sashay under San Francisco's drag radar, the underdogs who get little attention, and that's a shame. The Girls' jaw-dropping, highly entertaining performance is akin to the classic burlesque drag shows of yesteryear -- only slightly bent and a bit rough around the edges. Led by... More >>

  • Best Cabaret

    The Plush Room

    Andrea Marcovicci, Patti LuPone, Spencer Day, and Connie Champagne are just a few of the renowned international and local names who've recently shown up to croon a tune or two at the York Hotel's Plush Room. With a stained-glass ceiling and cozy, intimate setting, this '20s-era speak-easy is one of the most enjoyable and comfortable venues in the city at which to catch a live show. Sure, we enjoy the Bottom of the Hill, the Hemlock Tavern, and the Fillmore... More >>

  • Best Quiz Night

    Edinburgh Castle

    Having honed his skills in theater and stand-up comedy years ago while living in New York City, Carl Gibbs, host of the Edinburgh Castle's "Quiz Night," reveals that one of the reasons the Tuesday trivia event proves so popular is that it's "the only chance to use your liberal arts education." How true. Gibbs is an outstanding MC. Each week he comes up with 70 shiny new brain-teasers to hurl at his loyal, unusually bright triviaphiles. From nail-biting rounds like... More >>

  • Best Queer Fiction Journal

    Lodestar Quarterly

    Sometimes it feels like more ink has been spilled on the subject of homosexuality (and all of its confusing subcategories) than on the daily foibles of Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Tom Cruise combined. So we're not surprised that it's difficult to wend your way through the rustling forest of scribbling plumes to find first-rate writing on the popular theme of bent sexuality. San Francisco's Lodestar Quarterly, which bills itself as an "online journal of the finest gay, lesbian, and... More >>

  • Best Burlesque Troupe

    Harlem Shake

    Don't you wish you could have seen Josephine Baker perform? In her honor -- and in tribute to many other talented hotsy-totsy ladies of color from burlesque history -- comes Harlem Shake, with the motto "Changing history one shake at a time." Founded by local sex symbol Simone de la Getto, the troupe shimmies and sways across the stage, fluttering feathery sweet nothings around scantily clad, voluptuous bods. Pearls and fringe evoke the forward-thinking, anything-goes attitude of Europe in the... More >>

  • Best Nouveau Old-Timey Musician

    Jolie Holland

    Ever get in one of those moods, the kind where people all seem the same, busy going to the gym and buying groceries, while you wonder if there isn't something more to life? If you're lucky, at about that time you'll run across a live performance by Jolie Holland and emerge feeling simultaneously ignorant of and comforted by her sharp, creepy Americana. Holland's self-described "music nerd" tendencies seem to have afforded her a broad range of influences: She sounds like... More >>

  • Best Post-Punk Folkie

    Kelley Stoltz

    Post-punk and folk music don't often go together. Post-punk is all black clothing and abrasive guitars, punk's energy and noise sculpted into something artier. In contrast, folk is flannel shirts, wide-brim hats, and quiet, mournful yarns. Somehow, though, Kelley Stoltz combines the two styles. Live, he looks something like a thrift-store pinup, sporting battered suits and frayed jeans, his hair chaotically anti-styled. His tunes -- like those on his impressive second LP, Antique Glow -- swing all over the map,... More >>

  • Best Arcade Game

    Dance Dance Revolution

    Most arcade games encourage you to kick, bludgeon, and occasionally decapitate a conveniently gruesome-looking opponent while you sit on your butt and absorb EMF emissions. Dance Dance Revolution is not only closer to the spirit of Gene Kelly than the governor of California, it gives you a real aerobic workout, too. The idea is to stand on a platform with different colored panels and to step on a given panel when it lights up. The screen in front of you... More >>

  • Four Best Outdoor Festivals

    Frolicking alfresco is a way of life here in sunny California -- even in foggy S.F., where season (late spring or early fall) and location (anywhere but the Avenues) can conspire to create a festive meteorological setting. Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate the great outdoors. San Francisco Blues Festival September at Fort Mason, 979-5588, www.sfblues.com The blues is about cheap whiskey and unrequited love and killing a man and 20 years in the big house, but... More >>

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Local Band/Musician ing Best Radio Station KUSF-FM (90.3) Best Movie Theater Red Vic Movie House Best Rep Film Theater Castro Theatre Best Film Festival S.F. International Film Festival Best Local Magazine 7x7 Best Art Museum SFMOMA Best Art Gallery 111 Minna Gallery Best Local Label Devil in the Woods Best Jukebox 540 Club Best Club 12 Galaxies Best New Club 12 Galaxies Best Dance Club Mezzanine Best Club Theme Night "Catholic School Karaoke," 540 Club Best Theater American Conservatory... More >>

  • Best Rock n Roll Band

    Naked Barbies

    Aside from the Dead, we can't think of another band as enduring as fellow locals Naked Barbies. Founded in 1990, the group has retained essentially the same lineup over three albums (four, if you count the one under the Vagabond Lovers banner): Patty Spiglanin, vocals and guitar; Mike Conner, keys, accordion, and harmonica; Evan Eustis, bass; and Dan Lashkoff, drums. The exception is guitarists, who have a recurring tendency to explode, à la Spinal Tap. (Well, not all of them... More >>

  • Best Country Band

    Red Meat

    Don't dare label Red Meat altcountry or Americana. It is, first and foremost, a country band, drawing primarily from the sparkling, twang-laden, whiskey-spiked well of the Bakersfield sound (cf Buck Owens, Merle Haggard), as well as from iconic honky-tonker George Jones. But neither is it retro or purist: Pop/rock and bluegrass influences are evident, and the songs' subjects cover everything from answering machines to S/M to the terminal gentrification of San Francisco. The act has three fine, distinctive lead singers... More >>

  • Best Art Sans Art School

    Friday the 13th West

    If you prefer art minus the poseurs, overclever conceptuals, and screeching-edge technology, check out this small gallery featuring the work of Jimmie Lee Sudduth. The Alabama artist, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday, got his start at age 4 by painting an image with mud on a tree stump. When it was washed away by rain, he tried again, this time mixing the mud with syrup and achieving a lasting result. Today the prolific self-taught artist continues to use mud... More >>

  • Best Underground Art -- Literally

    Duboce Tunnel

    If you think San Francisco's once-flourishing graffiti scene has lost its emphasis on piecing (more elaborate, murallike work) and degenerated to tepid tags, take the N Judah through the tunnel between Duboce Park and the Cole & Carl stop. Hug the windows to cut the glare: Both sides are lined with some of the coolest street art on any continent. The spot is known to serious graffiti writers from all over the world, many of whom have left their marks... More >>

  • Best Underfoot Art

    "Substrada" by Brian Goggin

    Set into the sidewalk and nearly indistinguishable from utility covers, these nine pieces by Brian Goggin will be overlooked by all but the most perceptive shoe-gazers. You suddenly notice underfoot, amidst manhole covers and PG&E access caps, one that says "Hunt" (or "Job," "Feed," or "Grow"). The background doesn't look like the usual crosshatching either: It's a pattern made by the imprint of tin cans, wood, oranges, or -- are those rows of tamales? Do yourself a favor and ignore... More >>

  • Best Way to Get your Asian-American Pop Culture Fix

    Stir TV

    A couple of years ago, executives at the Brisbane-based Asian-language TV station KTSF began to notice that an increasing number of their viewers were younger, American-born, and English-speaking. They brought their research to Asian-American media veteran Jeff Yang (who used to run the now-defunct A. Magazine and is Stir's editorial director) and to the cable station International Channel, and soon, Stir TV was born. It's the first nationally televised English-language show of its type, a weekly, half-hour magazine-style program "for... More >>

  • Best Beatboxer

    Kid Beyond

    What takes most people an entire band to produce, Kid Beyond (aka Andrew Chaikin) executes with his own mouth. Cupping his hands to manipulate the sound, and moving his lips and tongue in mysterious ways, Kid Beyond can replicate drum sets, Latin beats, hip hop grooves, and turntable scratches. But his talent extends beyond percussion: He also sings in and around the beats, and records bits and pieces of his performance in real time using foot pedals, then loops it... More >>

  • Best Locally Filmed TV Show

    MythBusters

    Now in its second season, the Discovery Channel's MythBusters -- starring San Francisco prop designers Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage -- puts old wives' tales and urban myths to the test through bizarre, hilarious science experiments. Using Hyneman's Potrero Hill warehouse as home base, the team has disproved numerous legends, including "A sinking ship will pull you down with it" (they sprung a leak in an old tugboat and stood on deck in scuba gear). In an episode called "Stinky... More >>

  • Best Swing Dance Party

    "9:20 Special"

    Most San Franciscans went through a swing-dancing phase with those kids in the Gap khaki commercials -- and then moved on. But the craze left in its wake a small but intensely loyal population of hard-core swing-dance hobbyists who couldn't give a hoot that what once made them cool now makes them big geeks. The "9:20 Special" dance party in the grand ballroom of the San Francisco Russian Center is the place to see them -- or be them. Like... More >>

  • Best Jazz Education

    Jack's Record Cellar

    Collectors know Jack's Record Cellar for its impressive selection of 45s, stacked high in their yellowed sleeves. But this tumbledown store in the Lower Haight is also a great place for neophytes whose love of jazz starts and ends with the fact that they once made out to A Love Supreme in college. Owner Wade Wright, a chipper, avuncular man with a walrus mustache, loves helping people learn about -- and enjoy -- jazz. He answers even the most clueless... More >>

  • Best Fun Place for Kids

    Theater at the Children's Creativity Museum

    Want to explore how it feels to fly using digital technology? Dance your way up a cone through a motion-sensor soundscape? You've come to the right place. This innovative museum geared to kids and teens is full of enough high-tech gadgetry and other neat stuff to appeal to grown-ups as well. Hands-on interactive exhibits allow visitors to create clay figurines, design their own Web sites, and experiment with digital photography. Located atop the Moscone Center in Yerba Buena Gardens, Zeum... More >>

  • Best Musician Wed Rather Didnt Quit His Day Job

    JBOT/Jay Vance

    By night, Jay Vance is JBOT, the captive of a multicyborg band that humiliates its human member, forcing him to produce heavy-metal-influenced jokes and grinding rock 'n' roll. By day, Vance repairs amplifiers, microphones, and other music-related equipment at the Haight Ashbury Music Center. By night, JBOT is celebrated in publications such as The New Yorker, SF Weekly, and Wired for his bizarre, hilarious shows. By day, Vance takes orders by phone from the music store's basement as he works... More >>

  • Best Place to Throw Shit at Bands

    12 Galaxies

    When it comes to live music, we all love intimate venues like the Bottom of the Hill, Cafe Du Nord, and the Make-Out Room. But there's a problem with such joints: What if you want to throw shit on your favorite band? What if you and your friends want to act like a screaming, frothing mob and yell at hardworking musicians like mobsters watching a bare-knuckle boxing match? For that you need to scuttle on down to 12 Galaxies (the... More >>

  • Best Music Community

    Thee Parkside

    Many locals complain that our music scene has a lot of bands and a lot of fans but very little community. That's not the case at Thee Parkside, where, as its Web site boasts, "the staff drinks right along with you." As many who've been to Thee Parkside's budget rock Fridays can attest, this place is one of the coolest, cheapest, most hospitable spots to catch garage, punk, and country-fried rock in town. What you may not know is that... More >>

  • Best Next Big Thing

    Rogue Wave

    It seems like only yesterday that we fell in love with Rogue Wave's debut CD, Out of the Shadow, a collection of frontman Zach Rogue's bedroom recordings that melts contemporary indie rock into '60s and '70s sunshine pop. Come to think of it, it was only yesterday that we fell in love with that disc. In less than a year, though, Rogue has led his assembled band -- multi-instrumentalists Pat Spurgeon, Gram Lebron, and Sonya Westcott -- onto nearly every... More >>

  • Best Live-Music Venue

    The Independent

    When the Justice League closed more than a year ago, a lot of us gave up hope that the space at 628 Divisadero -- which has played home to a never-ending parade of doomed concert halls over the last two decades -- would reopen. But in February, it did just that, with a bang. Boasting new owners, newly upgraded facilities, and a new promoter booking its shows -- none other than Another Planet Entertainment, the indie promotions company that's giving... More >>

  • Best Bet for Wandering Street Minstrels

    Esperpento

    Sure, the grub at Esperpento is great. The restaurant's paellas (Spanish rice stew cooked with meats and veggies), sangria, and tapas dishes are among the best in the Mission. But for those of you who want to treat your taste buds and your ears simultaneously, this breezy eatery is also a magnet for the many música norteña groups (which typically play the harmony-rich, guitar-based folk music of northern Mexico) that troll the area. On the weekends the joint is jumping,... More >>

  • Best-Sounding Venue

    Slim's

    In years past, Slim's has picked up a shoddy reputation for sound. Countless shouts of "Turn up the vocals" and deafening squelches of feedback have soiled many a listener's experience. But we're happy to report that Slim's has turned that ship around. Of the many midsize halls in town, Slim's now sounds the best, whether the act onstage is playing thrash metal or delicate folk. And, aside from the noise, it's just a great place to catch a show. The... More >>

  • Best Intimate Venue

    Hemlock Tavern

    If you get off on fringe music and a little frottage (as in the act of rubbing against someone in a crowd to attain sexual satisfaction), there is no better venue than the Hemlock Tavern. It's not the spacious bar area that'll excite your inner desire for some friction, it's the teeny, tiny, constantly crowded back room. That's where the club's stage hosts a parade of locals and nonlocals showcasing atypical sounds, from avant-folk to avant-noise to avant-avant. The drinks... More >>

  • Best-Value Strip Club

    New Century Theater

    Ah, the New Century Theater. Like a fine wine, it seems to get better with the passing time. It has all the things that make a strip club worth shelling out the big bucks to get into -- women who love getting nekkid (or who can at least pretend to love it) and a bumping sound system for shaking your moneymaker -- yet it's cheaper than most. So while some might consider the New Century in the titty-bar farm league... More >>

  • Best Weekly Jazz Jam

    Bruno's

    Bruno's location, near the quick-beating heart of the Mission District, might be partially responsible for the distinct mix of players that crosses the club's stage. There's a little bit of everything -- from slickly dressed scenesters and burned-out hepcats to boho music students and tenor-wielding street poets. Though the club has recently undergone a booking facelift, now presenting mostly fusion-minded groove bands, the open Monday night session has become one of the most compelling jazz jams in the city. Starting... More >>

  • Best Free Mariachi Music

    La Rondalla

    This little place might not look like much from the outside, but La Rondalla is San Francisco's unrivaled home for brassy, classic mariachi. Here, an eight-piece band hits it every day of the week except Monday. Dressed in matching jackets, studded pants, and shiny boots, the musicians offer patrons classic Mexican folk music on a traditional battery of instruments. The action in the place is nearly overwhelming: Waitresses dart to and fro between band members with steaming trays of Mexican... More >>

  • Best New Club

    Mezzanine

    The years when rock clubs and discothèques were mutually exclusive are behind us. Electronic music is no longer the sole province of the DJ; rock is no longer just for guys with guitars. Funk-punk, electroclash, glitch-hop, broken beat -- these days, virtually every subgenre you can name is a schizophrenic mix of sounds. Nightclubs need to be able to handle them all, and Mezzanine does it as good as or better than any. Swanker than the hippest house clubs, yet... More >>

  • Best Beginners Jam Session

    Skip's Tavern

    You got a shiny new guitar for Christmas and you've been jamming along to Steppenwolf for four months straight. Put on some snazzy duds, champ, you're ready for the big time! Well, almost the big time, at this unassuming Bernal Heights dive. The owners survived a recent tussle with ASCAP that threatened to quiet the bandstand, and now the bar hosts three open jam sessions a week (Sunday, Monday, and Thursday). The cast of regulars is welcoming toward newcomers, capably... More >>

  • Best Busker

    Moses Dixon

    When the weather is nice and you decide to take a sunny stroll down Market, keep your ears open for Moses Dixon, the 62-year-old vibraphone player who frequently busks on the corner of Grant and Market on balmy afternoons. Dixon sets up his vibes outside the Wells Fargo building and jams for tips. And he deserves big ones. A tape of prerecorded, hard-swinging bop blares from his tinny boombox as accompaniment while his mallets sprint up and down the keys.... More >>

  • Best BART Stop for Buskers

    Montgomery Street

    A true cheapskate with a tuneful ear should head to the Montgomery Street BART station, where some of the best music in the city can be enjoyed for pocket change. This particular public transportation hub is the place where San Francisco's top-notch buskers come to pass the hat. While suits rush by with lattes in hand, a cast of instrumentalists fills the air with compositions and improvisations from around the world. Regulars include Chen Kai Chou, a 71-year-old, half-blind player... More >>

  • Best Hip Hop Radio Show

    Ghetto Gumbo

    Keep your dial pinned to the commercial urban radio stations in the area, and it's easy to come away with the impression that little, if any, hip hop is created outside of Los Angeles, New York, or Atlanta. With the exception of MC E-40, our beloved wordsmith from Vallejo, KMEL and Wild 94.9 largely ignore local artists these days. Flip it, reverse it, and add some community service and political activism announcements, and that pretty much describes Ghetto Gumbo. Rather... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Movie Theater

    Balboa Theatre

    Back before the monolithic octoplex darkened the cinematic landscape, every proudly individual San Francisco neighborhood had its own movie theater. But like the fabled Market Street movie palaces of yore, most of these anchoring icons are either extinct or endangered (although the excellent Castro is an enduring genre unto itself). One happy exception is the Balboa, which has been hosting Outer Richmond moviegoers since 1926. Owner and movie stalwart Gary Meyer presents double features of (relatively) new flicks for a... More >>

  • Best Free Party

    Saturday Night at Anú

    So you're strolling down the colorful part of Market with a restive outlook, no particular itinerary, and scarcely a pfennig in your pocket. It's Saturday night and the primordial urge to interact with your fellow beings is upon you. Luckily, the stipend-free recesses of Anú beckon from just around the corner. Inside the club's cozy, dimly lit, and unexpectedly stylish surroundings, an interesting mix of the black-clad, Cosmo girls, local celebs, and crusty neighborhood types meet, mingle, listen to the... More >>

  • Best At-Home Double Features

    Lost Weekend Video

    Sure, you could rent your movies at the nearest soul-sucking corporate chain outlet. But if you did, you'd miss out on an endearing program run by this neighborhood video store: employee-selected double-feature rental packages. Movie lovers can pick up two VHS features for two nights for a mere $2.50 (or a shockingly reasonable $1.25 on Wednesdays, when rentals run half price) if you accept the catch -- Lost Weekend employees must pick the videos. The puckish staffers are fond of... More >>

  • Best Cross-Genre DJ Night

    "Frisco Disco"

    During an interview last year, "Frisco Disco" founder Jefrodisiac (aka Jeff Fare) complained about the strange boundaries that music scenes erect. "Certain people say, 'I'd never go here' or 'I'd never go there.' It's like, your record collection is the same, your clothes are about the same, but for some reason there's a line that some people don't want to cross." Well, "Frisco Disco" goes beyond crossing that line: The dance party obliterates it. Jefrodisiac and Richie Panic's weekly event,... More >>

  • Most Improved Rock Club

    Cafe Du Nord

    Cafe Du Nord has been a venerable local institution for years. But venerable doesn't always mean exciting. By the early '00s, the Upper Market club was floundering a bit, wallowing in long-running residencies and past-their-prime regulars. (How many weeks in a row can you see Ledisi or Lavay Smith anyway?) But following the venue's sale to one-time Hotel Utah booker Guy Carson in March 2003, the Du Nord changed course. Carson knocked out a wall to make for better sight... More >>

  • Most Improved DJ Club

    House of Shields

    The House of Shields used to serve mainly as a happy hour bar for the suits and stockings crowd, a place for a quick drink before heading back to the burbs. Hell, it still does. But thanks to new owners -- who reopened the downtown joint in September 2003 -- the venue now has a bunch of great late-night events, too. Run by some of the same Burning Man theme-campers who opened Sublounge, the House of Shields leans toward hip... More >>

  • Best Jump-Rope Team

    Double Dutchess

    If there's one thing the Bay Area never seems to tire of, it's retro kitsch. In the past decade, we've cheered the revival of Mexican wrestling, burlesque dancing, swing music, boxcar racing, and marching bandery. Now S.F. has its very own jump-rope team, Double Dutchess. Founded in the summer of 2002, the sexy four-woman troupe transforms the grade-school activity into a jaw-dropping two-ropes-at-a-time display full of acrobatics, comedy, and music. For most gigs, the girls set up guerrilla style, performing... More >>

  • Best Cross-Cultural Band

    Neung Phak

    We live in the age of cross-cultural exploration, a time when musicians look across the globe for fresh sounds. Today, the hip hop scene is crawling with dancehall riddims and Bollywood samples, the sounds of urban America made exotic by international flavors. At the same time, tons of genres -- Mexican rock, French disco, German electro -- take their cues from foreign sources. Not surprisingly, the Bay Area houses one of the more intriguing cross-continental rock bands to date: Neung... More >>

  • Best Concept Band

    Cookie Mongoloid

    San Franciscans love a good cover act. Over the years, we've witnessed local bands pay tribute to Metallica, AC/DC, the Fall, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Smiths, Herb Alpert, Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, and Devo. Now, from the creators of the latter combo (Mongoloid), comes a tribute group that plays Sesame Street songs as speed metal. This unholy alliance comes complete with motorcycle entrances, a frontman in a blue Cookie Monster head and leather pants, and scantily clad Cookie Girls... More >>

  • Best Hip Hop Label

    Quannum Projects

    There are a number of record labels that consistently release smart, well-produced underground hip hop -- New York's Definitive Jux, Minneapolis' Rhymesayers, Emeryville's Anticon, to name a few -- but one towers over them all. Run by producer DJ Shadow and the members of Blackalicious and Latyrx since 1992 (when it was called SoleSides), Quannum Projects is the go-to imprint for indie rap. Since morphing into Quannum in 1999, the collective has had a remarkable winning streak, with nary a... More >>

  • Best Art Gallery

    Rx Gallery

    Even in San Francisco, art galleries aren't exactly fun places. Sure, 111 Minna is technically an art space, but the works there serve mostly as eye fodder for when you're dancing or as conversational fodder for when you're macking. But now comes the Rx Gallery, a venue curated by multimedia artist Gregory Cowley and blasthaus owner William Linn. Anyone who's been to a blasthaus event -- be it the spaced-out lounge of "Joypad," the experimental buzz of "Further," or performances... More >>

  • Best Radio Show

    Desert Island Jazz

    A rare case of whimsy and eclecticism in radio programming. Hosted by Alisa Clancy on the jazz station KCSM, the show is nothing more than that old barstool exercise of choosing your desert-island music. Every week, a jazz type -- a musician, a producer, a promoter, a teacher -- selects and introduces eight pieces of music he would take to the island. The result is a fascinating hour of radio in which Led Zeppelin and the Police might be followed... More >>

  • Best Museum

    Cartoon Art Museum

    Around the corner from the ghastly Barcalounger of the SFMOMA building, this tiny museum offers a welcome antidote to the bloated self-importance of its neighbor. The CAM, established in large part because of a 1987 endowment from Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, features 6,000 pieces in its permanent collection, ranging from old editorial cartoons to Sunday comic strips to framed cels from Fritz the Cat. Half of the museum's space is given over to its special exhibitions; right now, there's a... More >>

  • Best Underdog Drag Revue

    Aunt Charlie's Lounge

    Sure, "Trannyshack" gets the nod for the most inventive and outlandish drag revue in the Bay Area, if not the world; its reputation is well deserved. But the Hot Boxx Girls at Aunt Charlie's Lounge sashay under San Francisco's drag radar, the underdogs who get little attention, and that's a shame. The Girls' jaw-dropping, highly entertaining performance is akin to the classic burlesque drag shows of yesteryear -- only slightly bent and a bit rough around the edges. Led by... More >>

  • Best Cabaret

    The Plush Room

    Andrea Marcovicci, Patti LuPone, Spencer Day, and Connie Champagne are just a few of the renowned international and local names who've recently shown up to croon a tune or two at the York Hotel's Plush Room. With a stained-glass ceiling and cozy, intimate setting, this '20s-era speak-easy is one of the most enjoyable and comfortable venues in the city at which to catch a live show. Sure, we enjoy the Bottom of the Hill, the Hemlock Tavern, and the Fillmore... More >>

  • Best Quiz Night

    Edinburgh Castle

    Having honed his skills in theater and stand-up comedy years ago while living in New York City, Carl Gibbs, host of the Edinburgh Castle's "Quiz Night," reveals that one of the reasons the Tuesday trivia event proves so popular is that it's "the only chance to use your liberal arts education." How true. Gibbs is an outstanding MC. Each week he comes up with 70 shiny new brain-teasers to hurl at his loyal, unusually bright triviaphiles. From nail-biting rounds like... More >>

  • Best Queer Fiction Journal

    Lodestar Quarterly

    Sometimes it feels like more ink has been spilled on the subject of homosexuality (and all of its confusing subcategories) than on the daily foibles of Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Tom Cruise combined. So we're not surprised that it's difficult to wend your way through the rustling forest of scribbling plumes to find first-rate writing on the popular theme of bent sexuality. San Francisco's Lodestar Quarterly, which bills itself as an "online journal of the finest gay, lesbian, and... More >>

  • Best Burlesque Troupe

    Harlem Shake

    Don't you wish you could have seen Josephine Baker perform? In her honor -- and in tribute to many other talented hotsy-totsy ladies of color from burlesque history -- comes Harlem Shake, with the motto "Changing history one shake at a time." Founded by local sex symbol Simone de la Getto, the troupe shimmies and sways across the stage, fluttering feathery sweet nothings around scantily clad, voluptuous bods. Pearls and fringe evoke the forward-thinking, anything-goes attitude of Europe in the... More >>

  • Best Nouveau Old-Timey Musician

    Jolie Holland

    Ever get in one of those moods, the kind where people all seem the same, busy going to the gym and buying groceries, while you wonder if there isn't something more to life? If you're lucky, at about that time you'll run across a live performance by Jolie Holland and emerge feeling simultaneously ignorant of and comforted by her sharp, creepy Americana. Holland's self-described "music nerd" tendencies seem to have afforded her a broad range of influences: She sounds like... More >>

  • Best Post-Punk Folkie

    Kelley Stoltz

    Post-punk and folk music don't often go together. Post-punk is all black clothing and abrasive guitars, punk's energy and noise sculpted into something artier. In contrast, folk is flannel shirts, wide-brim hats, and quiet, mournful yarns. Somehow, though, Kelley Stoltz combines the two styles. Live, he looks something like a thrift-store pinup, sporting battered suits and frayed jeans, his hair chaotically anti-styled. His tunes -- like those on his impressive second LP, Antique Glow -- swing all over the map,... More >>

  • Best Arcade Game

    Dance Dance Revolution

    Most arcade games encourage you to kick, bludgeon, and occasionally decapitate a conveniently gruesome-looking opponent while you sit on your butt and absorb EMF emissions. Dance Dance Revolution is not only closer to the spirit of Gene Kelly than the governor of California, it gives you a real aerobic workout, too. The idea is to stand on a platform with different colored panels and to step on a given panel when it lights up. The screen in front of you... More >>

  • Four Best Outdoor Festivals

    Frolicking alfresco is a way of life here in sunny California -- even in foggy S.F., where season (late spring or early fall) and location (anywhere but the Avenues) can conspire to create a festive meteorological setting. Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate the great outdoors. San Francisco Blues Festival September at Fort Mason, 979-5588, www.sfblues.com The blues is about cheap whiskey and unrequited love and killing a man and 20 years in the big house, but... More >>

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