Arts & Entertainment

  • BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

    Rhymesayers Entertainment

    There's no denying that Rhymesayers Entertainment is the biggest and most well known record label in the Twin Cities. But it's not the best local record label based on reputation alone. Over the past 12 months, we've seen P.O.S. become a breakout star and the sleeper hit of last year's Warped Tour, Brother Ali rapping alongside the legendary Roots crew… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    First Avenue

    Except maybe when the Quest was around a decade ago, has there ever been a better dance club than First Avenue? This year alone the place not only revamped its popular ass-shaking crevice formerly known as the VIP Room (now titled the Record Room), but it also housed the most successful dance nights in the city. Among them: Get Cryphy,… More >>
  • BEST DANCE NIGHT

    Get Cryphy at First Avenue's Record Room

    There were certainly major contenders for this category this year, like Bomp! at Bedlam and Too Much Love at First Avenue. But Jimmy2Times and Plain Ole Bill's Get Cryphy hip-hop monthly at the Record Room surpasses them both when it comes to character. Packed to the gills by midnight with a diverse array of folks getting wild to the behind-the-decks… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    Mike 2600

    Mike Davis, a.k.a. Mike 2600, is the epitome of a DIY dude. His résumé includes contributions to both the music and art scenes, which, in Davis's life, "really inform one another," he says. The St. Louis import co-founded Burlesque of North America graphic art and screenprinting company in northeast Minneapolis in 2003, which later gave rise to the First Amendment… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    Sauce Spirits and Sound Bar - CLOSED

    Nothing can ruin a good time like bad music. You've been there: You're sitting in a bar tipping back a few pints with your buddies, and suddenly "Higher" by Creed comes blaring through the speakers. It's a mood killer. This won't happen at Sauce Spirits and Soundbar. They have the best jukebox in town. First, the machine is free. As… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    Sinners

    Washington Avenue's sex row makes a slightly disappointing red-light district compared to those in less heavily Lutheran cities around the country. But one of the best things about the deviant little neighborhood is Sinners. With a swanky red vinyl interior, great lighting, and a friendly staff, it's a big, classy step above other neighborhood joints. The twin-poled, mirror-lined stage hosts… More >>
  • BEST RADIO STATION

    Radio K (104.5 FM, 100.7 FM, 106.5 FM, 770 AM)

    College students and late-night music go together like beer and pizza. That's why it was almost criminal that the University of Minnesota's Radio K was held to a daylight-only schedule. The station originally began broadcasting on 770 AM in 1993 and had been lobbying for a spot on the FM dial ever since. Finally, late last year the station was… More >>
  • BEST TV SPORTS ANCHOR

    Randy Shaver

    Shaver, KARE 11's sports director, doesn't really have a shtick or an electric personality, but he does have competency and a passion for his work, which is best on display when he hosts Prep Sports Plus (let's face it, garnering an intricate knowledge of high school athletics requires more than just glancing at the sports section or reading from a… More >>
  • BEST FM RADIO PERSONALITY

    David Campbell

    You've heard the story before: Minor-league pitcher gets called up to the bigs to suck up innings while the starter rehabs, shows he can throw heat, and ends up becoming the star of the team. It's the same story for David Campbell, host of The Local Show on 89.3 the Current. Back in 2007, the Electric Fetus store clerk and… More >>
  • BEST MOVIE THEATER

    Riverview Theater

    We have just one complaint related to the Riverview: Why can't more theaters be like this? From its 1950s-style art deco lobby and lounge, to its small but complete concessions stand where you can buy (reasonably priced!) popcorn topped with real butter, to its comfy (non-vintage, cup-holder included) seats perfectly placed for viewing the screen in the large auditorium, the… More >>
  • BEST MIDNIGHT MOVIE

    The Room at Uptown Theatre

    If you haven't enjoyed the midnight-movie madness in town, we've got one film you can't miss seeing with a live audience. The Room is a 2003 independent masterpiece written and directed by its main actor, Tommy Wiseau. When we say "masterpiece," we really mean the worst movie ever created, which makes it the most entertaining and hilarious movie to see… More >>
  • BEST AM RADIO PERSONALITY

    John Gordon

    KSTP 1500Last fall the Metrodome reminded our nation why baseball is its pastime. When the Twins played the Detroit Tigers for 12 innings of unreal baseball in a one-game playoff, men wept, women yelled, and bar patrons wailed at plasma screens. But for those without television, stuck on the road with hundreds of miles ahead of them, John Gordon provided… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS TALK RADIO HOST

    Paul Allen, KFAN-AM 1130

    Sports junkies the state over appreciate Paul Allen for two reasons. First, you won't hear him waxing on minutiae outside his purview (read: no politics). He sticks to sports. Second, within that realm he's exceptionally versatile. Whether he's doing play-by-play for the Vikings, analyzing the Wolves' failures on FSN, or calling the horse race at Canterbury Park, Allen brings an… More >>
  • BEST DRAMA

    The Whipping Man at Penumbra Theatre

    Penumbra Theatre's take on Matthew Lopez's drama was dark, complex, and short on easy answers. The action began with Joseph Papke's injured Civil War reb busting through the door of his ransacked family plantation immediately after the cataclysm of Appomattox; waiting for him was his former slave Simon (James Craven), now free. Duane Boutte rounded out the cast as a… More >>
  • BEST TV NEWSCASTER

    Don Shelby

    If an asteroid were hurtling toward Earth, imperiling humankind, we'd want to hear the news from Don Shelby. How would the planet's imminent demise affect us locally? We know Shelby would give it to us straight. The distinguished co-anchor of WCCO's 10 p.m. newscast since 1985, he has become the most trusted man in Twin Cities news, a throwback to… More >>
  • BEST COMEDY

    Funny Money at Old Log Theater

    Old Log staged Ray Cooney's cynical, grown-up comedy with ace performances and a black heart beating beneath its madcap capering. Tom Stolz was an accountant arriving home from his soul-crushing job with one priority on his mind: getting a plane ticket to anywhere, and fast, after picking up the wrong briefcase on the train and finding it stuffed with cash.… More >>
  • BEST MUSICAL

    Caroline, or Change at Guthrie Theater

    The Guthrie's staging of Tony Kushner's volcanic, spiritually ambitious musical struck with explosive force, particularly the breakout performance of Greta Oglesby in the title role. It was, in a sense, a slight story revolving around change left in a boy's pocket and whether or not his family's maid should be allowed to keep it. But it rode currents of memory,… More >>
  • BEST TV WEATHERPERSON

    Paul Douglas

    There are men who report on the weather, and there are men who predict the future. Paul Douglas is among the latter, a soothsayer of all that hails from above. The man who made a cameo in Twister is also a guy who made a killing off cloud systems, by creating weather software applications that he sold to Hollywood and… More >>
  • BEST ACTOR

    Patrick Bailey

    In Frank Theatre's Palace of the End, Patrick Bailey delivered a wrenching, wracked monologue as the late British weapons inspector David Kelley, who confessed that he had been made to falsify Iraq WMD data in order to justify war. Less than two months later, Bailey was onstage in the Jungle's production of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer, playing a hapless drunk… More >>
  • BEST ACTRESS

    Mo Perry

    Mo Perry has found an increasing amount of work over the last couple of years on Twin Cities stages, and that is a very welcome thing. She can bring a sense of deep, knowing silliness to her characters, which was in abundance in a pair of roles in Torch Theater's The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her Georgette was so full… More >>
  • BEST DIRECTOR

    Michelle Hensley

    Ten Thousand Things' Michelle Hensley gets a lot of (deserved) attention for her theater's mission to bring art to disenfranchised audiences (viewing a TTT production in a prison or rehab facility is nothing less than mind-expanding and ennobling). But the drive of that mission shouldn't eclipse the consistently stellar standards of TTT's work, much of it under Hensley's direction. She… More >>
  • BEST LARGE THEATER

    Children's Theatre Company

    CTC may aim its work at the younger set, but the theater has never been childish. At it's best, though, it's childlike—full of enthusiasm for the new, willing to take chances because that's what life is for, not afraid to fail because it doesn't know how. The theater had a particularly strong year in 2009, led by a terrific promenade… More >>
  • BEST SMALL THEATER

    Ten Thousand Things

    Ten Thousand Things has a singular mission—play to audiences that usually don't have a chance to see theater—and they attack it with gusto. The company performs at prisons, shelters, and community centers. The approach makes for a singular experience for the theater veteran as well. No sets. Minimal props. House lights that stay on throughout the performance. And there's nothing… More >>
  • BEST STAGE DESIGN

    Joel Sass, the Jungle Theater

    The Jungle has always been a home for great stage design, often from the fertile minds of founder Bain Boehlke and John Donohue. Joel Sass took the reigns of the theater in 2009 while Boehlke was away on sabbatical and showed that his own considerable talents stretched to design as well. His work through the season proved that past efforts… More >>
  • BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Kenna Sarge and the Battlecats

    This shared program featured works by Kenna Sarge and the Battlecats at the Southern in January, cutting a swath through African, contemporary modern, and hip-hop dance forms that had the audience (including many teenagers) bouncing in their seats. Sarge's "Dedicated to Guinea" started the program off with traditional West African dance and drumming by the Voice of Culture Drum and… More >>
  • BEST DANCER

    The mass in En Masse

    Consummate solo dancer Isadora Duncan wrote, "When I have danced, I have tried always to be the Chorus. ...I have never once danced a solo." Last July, the 69 performers in Vanessa Voskuil's En Masse demonstrated how a chorus can function as a single, multidimensional dancer. Not that these ethnically, gender-, and age-diverse folks—none of them professional dancers—ever displayed the… More >>
  • BEST CHOREOGRAPHER

    Morgan Thorson

    Morgan Thorson also earned Best Choreographer in 2008, but her recent full-evening piece Heaven, at the Walker Art Center, was so good that she deserves a second mention. Her collaboration with Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk of the Duluth band Low showcased the intense thought and rigorous movement processing that Thorson puts into all her work. The subject matter was… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO DANCE

    Zenon Dance Company and School

    Gotta get your groove on but don't have the moves? Help is available on the fourth floor of the Hennepin Center for the Arts. Zenon Dance Company and School trains dancers of all ages and skill levels, and while the classes are a good value (individual rates start below $15, and class cards or package deals are available), the best… More >>
  • BEST COMEDY CLUB

    Acme Comedy Co.

    Standup is alive and well in the Twin Cities. With new clubs opening recently, the area now has no fewer than five venues supporting the comedic arts and bringing in some of the country's top acts. Acme Comedy Co., however, is the stage that stands apart from all others. By packing its schedule each month with hilarious headliners, both rising… More >>
  • BEST IMPROV COMEDY THEATER

    ComedySportz

    Comedy isn't usually considered a spectator sport, but it is at this longtime improv institution. Except that in this game, everybody wins. A typical show consists of two competing comedy teams who vie for laughs with clever musical numbers, film noir scenes, rap battles, and more, all made up on the spot based on suggestions from the audience. True, the… More >>
  • BEST OPEN MIC

    Acme's Caught in the Act

    Imagine a Twin Cities open mic where the likes of Jeremy Messersmith, Aby Wolf, and Lucy Michelle stopped in weekly to debut new songs, and which occasionally played host to stars like Brother Ali, Bob Mould, or even His Purple Eminence. The standup comedy equivalent of this improbably stacked show takes place every Monday at Acme, where some of the… More >>
  • BEST SLAM POETRY EVENT

    SlamMN Erotic Slam

    The slam poetry scene too often comes to mind laden with stereotypes, fostered by bad slam scenes around the country, where partisan politics or recounting traumatic personal experiences trump the earnest creation of good art. While it would be inaccurate to claim the Twin Cities scene sees none of this hackery, it is accurate to say that we have one… More >>
  • BEST STORYTELLING EVENT

    Two Chairs Telling

    The premise of Two Chairs Telling is simple. Once a month, two skilled spoken-word performers are given a stage together, and everything else—the themes addressed, the tone, and the stories told—is up to the pair to decide. The results become something greater than the sum of the artists involved, thanks to Loren Neimi's deft hand at arranging interesting and provoking… More >>
  • BEST MUSEUM

    Minneapolis Institute of Arts

    The Twin Cities is blessed with a glut of worthy local museums. Each boasts attractions galore, from the sprawling Science Museum of Minnesota's Omnitheater to the compact Bell's dioramas. But none caters to us half as vigorously as the mighty Minneapolis Institute of Arts. General admission is always free, and special attractions often follow suit. Take "Foot in the Door."… More >>
  • BEST MUSEUM EXHIBITION

    "The Louvre and the Masterpiece," Minneapolis Institute of Arts

    The Twin Cities' splashiest big-ticket exhibit of the last year was also the best. "The Louvre and the Masterpiece" brought more than 60 works of art from the world's greatest museum to MIA in October for a three-month run. The exhibit, sparely but elegantly hung on dark-gray walls, spanned 4,000 years of visual art, from ancient Egyptian statuary to Renaissance… More >>
  • BEST ART GALLERY

    First Amendment Arts

    There's a lot more to galleries than what hangs on their walls. Sure, art is important, especially in a metropolitan area where so many people make and buy it. But most of the area's outstanding spaces excel more because of things their proprietors do than the fruits of any given artist's labors. One of the most important is bringing people… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MAKE LIKE REMBRANDT

    The Art Academy

    Too often, artistic souls lose confidence in their abilities because they lack the technical skills to develop their vision. The Art Academy's philosophy is to rectify that by teaching artists, both young and old, traditional drawing and painting techniques. For adults, the school offers courses in traditional drawing and painting, renaissance painting styles, watercolor, and drawing figures without the aid… More >>
  • BEST COLUMNIST

    Garrison Keillor

    We admit picking Garrison Keillor for Best Columnist is about as creative as picking Joe Mauer as our favorite Twins player. But this year Keillor showed up the powdered-milk haters with humility. Item one: his column dedicated to the passing of his brother, Phillip. If you're human, you couldn't help but tear up. "When your brother dies, your childhood fades,… More >>
  • BEST BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR

    Never Trust a Thin Cook, by Eric Dregni

    On a quest for the best food in the world, Eric Dregni, a prolific local author and assistant professor at Concordia University, traveled to Italy in search of a dream—and a really good plate of food. He and his girlfriend, whom he met at Uptown's Leaning Tower of Pizza, began their sabbatical in Milan, then ventured to the small town… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL MUSIC COMPILATION

    Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol. 1

    At first blush, the concept of a bunch of local bands recording Beatles covers for a charity fundraiser sounds, well, terrifying. Does the Minnesota music scene really need to weigh in with their renditions of one of the most-covered bands in history? It turns out that yes, yes they do. From Mark Mallman's upbeat, electro-pop version of "Fool on the… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    A Badly Broken Code by Dessa

    It's not auto-ass-kissery to call the last year of local music an embarrassment of riches. A glance at the release calendar shows not just a clutch of stellar albums but significant successes by bands of all makes and models. A dazzling prog-rock vinyl release with an accompanying Holy Book? Thanks, Moonstone. Adroit neo-folk, tender enough to cut with a butter… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (LOCAL)

    Gay Witch Abortion and Knife World on the Mississippi River

    For last summer's Art-a-Whirl, art-rock duo Gay Witch Abortion announced that they would turn themselves into a piece of living, breathing, pummeling modern art by mounting a small raft stacked with power generators and performing a set as they floated down the Mississippi River. The sheer implausibility of the stunt was enough to draw a crowd to the dock behind… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (TOURING)

    Beyoncé

    What did we do before Beyoncé? A timid glance back at our Top 40 stash from years prior is proof enough of how sorely we had settled in the pop-star department before Beyoncé's arrival (why hello, Miss Lavigne). But the limpid, disaffected, possibly deranged years that marked the Spears administration were dispelled this summer with one proud bellow by the… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    7th St. Entry

    Some will argue that the 7th St. Entry is too small to be the best concert venue in the Twin Cities. These people are wrong. In fact, the best thing the Entry has going for it is its size. It's small enough to promise an intimate performance—i.e., no line of knuckle-draggers in security T-shirts between you and the band—but big… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    Triple Rock Social Club

    You can do a bunch of things at the Triple Rock that you can't do at any other music venue: order a vegan-friendly mystery meal ("The Cook's Revenge"), drop a few quarters into a Zaxxon game while tipping back a Surly Bender, or set up an all-N.W.A./Thin Lizzy/Discharge playlist on its famous jukebox. But those are just the finer points… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ CLUB

    The Turf Club's Clown Lounge on Mondays

    Jazz has been in a state of quiet crisis ever since first-wave boomers started rejecting the '60s and '70s tendency toward innovation in favor of fare they could easily talk over. Hence the problem at some metro jazz clubs: No matter how storied or formidable the talent at the area's most esteemed institutions, too many patrons are likely to treat… More >>
  • BEST COUNTRY MUSIC VENUE

    Lee's Liquor Lounge

    Sure, most of the big-name country acts end up 45 minutes north of the Twin Cities at some gaudy casino. But unlike those Top 40 hacks, most of the singers who perform on Lee's stage came by their twang (and their hard-luck stories) authentically—no corporate-manufactured country music here, folks. Lee's has been a Minneapolis mainstay for decades, with the decor… More >>
  • BEST ALL-AGES VENUE

    Eclipse Records

    "Someday," think the teenage music fans riding down University Avenue, "I'll hit 21 and finally get to find out what goes on behind those doors at the Turf Club." Then they stop a few blocks later and walk into a place of their own—a high schooler's music Mecca, one of those great classic record stores that happens to also contain… More >>
  • BEST ROCK BAND

    Gay Witch Abortion

    After three years, we're running out of praises. So Gay Witch Abortion needs to start sucking, lest we be driven to (gasp) consult a thesaurus. In bathing suits and rock bands, you simply can't beat a well-appointed two-piece, and Gay Witch Abortion is as well fitted as bands come. From a drum kit and a stack of guitar amps comes… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST

    P.O.S.

    If the last year has belonged to any Twin Cities artist, it's P.O.S. He has become a household name in indie circles, thanks to the success of his solid sophomore effort on Rhymesayers, 2008's Never Better, and the ridiculous amount of touring that followed in both in the States and abroad. From Paris to Stockholm, Chicago to New York, and… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ ARTIST

    David King

    The Twin Cities suffer no dearth of nationally and internationally renowned jazz musicians. Anthony Cox, George Cartwright, Michael Lewis, Carei Thomas, Adam Linz, and countless other local players and composers have left their mark on the world at large. For whatever mysterious reason, we're especially rich in globally resonant, multidimensional drummers: J.T. Bates, Alden Ikeda, Stokely Williams, Tim Glenn, Joey… More >>
  • BEST BLUES ARTIST

    Willie Murphy

    After 40 years of playing music, Willie Murphy is not only still alive and kicking, he's still producing some of the most soulful, barrier-breaking rhythm and blues around. With the release of his two-CD album A Shot of Love in a Time of Need on Red House Records this year, Murphy returned to the radar of West Bank fans, delivering… More >>
  • BEST R&B ARTIST

    Mayda

    The R&B category seems to get trickier each year, as contemporary artists are mixing elements of funk, soul, and rhythm and blues in with more modern genres like dance and house music, hip hop, and indie folk, pulling the genre into a myriad of different and equally appealing directions. Mayda is no exception. Her R&B-infused pop is undeniably fresh, as… More >>
  • BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER

    Spirits of the Red City

    Spirits of the Red City are the real deal—no amps, no microphones; even the squeeze organ is analog. A group of eight musicians swell and sway in unison, gathering around one another to listen for breaths and pauses, squeezing their eyes shut as they strum banjos and mandolins, bow cellos, and brush an old snare drum while singer Will Garrison… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

    Maggie Morrison

    The songs of electro duo Lookbook often glance to the digital past, but Maggie Morrison's pitch-perfect, brazenly unaffected singing instrument is perhaps their most well-selected keepsake from the glory days of the discotheque. Live or on record, Morrison never slumps, never slides, never half-asses a single note. Like an Annie Lennox sans buzz cut, Morrison has a voice that manages… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (MALE)

    Peter Miller

    At first glance, Peter Miller, the burly and stone-faced lead singer of We Are the Willows, seems the least likely candidate for delivering the soft, strained, high-register vocals on his band's promising debut. More than once Miller's voice has been mistaken as coming from another gender altogether, but the androgynous nature of his voice and lyrics makes the Willows' music… More >>
  • BEST LIVE ARTIST

    Mark Mallman

    There's no two ways about it—Mark Mallman's live shows are a spectacle. And after a decade-plus of touring relentlessly and attempting larger and larger stunts, Mallman's performances have evolved into must-see, ever-changing affairs. When Mallman performs, it isn't a rock show. It's an event. The glam-inspired piano rocker has never been one to rest on his laurels, so it's no… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    Dessa

    A challenge for listeners: Cue up Dessa's debut album, A Badly Broken Code, play it from start to finish once, three times, ten times, and try not to hear something new every single time. It's a testament to the Doomtree rapper-turned-solo-artist's ability to weave so many truisms into every line of her lyrics, her words so elegantly composed and arranged… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    Rogue Valley

    Okay, they're not really new, per se, but God bless the artists' ability for reinvention. Chris Koza has spent the past half-decade establishing himself as one of the most well-versed and dexterous singer-songwriters in the Twin Cities. Now he's ditching the solo moniker for one that better expresses his foray into expansive and haunting folk-pop, rounding up a band of… More >>
  • BEST OLD BAND

    The Twilight Hours

    Former Trip Shakespeare bandmates Matt Wilson and John Munson have been playing music together on and off for years, but their collaboration in the Twilight Hours puts the duo back at square one as they re-establish themselves in an entirely new project. And the results are profound: On the duo's debut, Stereo Night, Wilson's songwriting takes center stage, his innate… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BAND MADE GOOD

    Solid Gold

    With P.O.S. touring Europe, Brother Ali cracking the Billboard Top 100 for the second time, and a whole host of big-shot locals crisscrossing the U.S. and elsewhere on tour after tireless tour, this race came down to a photo finish. Well, cash your tickets at the nearest window, ladies and gentlemen. It's Solid Gold by a nose. The local lads… More >>
  • BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    The Wars of 1812

    When the Wars of 1812 played their final gig at the Cedar last November, it wasn't just sad—it was downright unjust. The band was still in the mixing process of finishing a new album at the time they disbanded, and though the record has yet to be released (it was recorded with Justin Vernon last year and, as of press… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

    Chickadee Mountain Martyrs

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