Best Of 2015

Best Expanded Local Tribute
Photo by Jim Leatherman
ralphameduri.com

As if this musical celebration and remembrance of slain local player Ralph Ameduri weren’t worthy or virtuous enough, the fourth annual edition took a beautifully inclusive turn to become a catchall memorial to passed dignitaries of Orlando’s cultural scene. Expanding this year to specifically honor Sam Rivers, Mark Wayne, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Dave Gage, Jeff Kaplan, Tracy Irwin and Alan Jordan in the festival logo, it’s an event that reminds us that we’re all a kind of family here.

Music & Nightlife

Music & Nightlife
Best Music Festival Pivot
Photo by James Dechert
floridamusicfestival.com

As the city’s most established annual festival, FMF has long become synonymous with major label business. But rather than topple with that crumbling paradigm, the organizers this year made some seismic and, frankly, surprising shake-ups. First, they ditched the headliners because the fallacy of paying big bucks for washed-up names finally sunk in. Then they got back to refocusing on unsigned, mostly indigenous talent. Finally, and most notably, they made the shows free, thereby removing all barriers to what this is all supposed to be about: the music.

Best Club DJ
1. The Angel of Boom, realradio.fm

2. DJ BMF, facebook.com/deejaybmf

3. Jimmy Joslin, soundcloud.com/jimmy-joslin

Best Club Nights
1. Backbooth, 37 W. Pine St., 407-999-2570, backbooth.com

2. Dancers Royale, 5221 E. Colonial Drive, 407-281-0120, dancersroyaleorlando.com

3. Pulse Orlando, 1912 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-3888, pulseorlandoclub.com

Best Electronic Act
1. XXYYXX, xxyyxx.bandcamp.com

2. Queens of Noise, facebook.com/queensonoise

3. Moon Jelly, soundcloud.com/moonjellyband

Best New Imaginative Music Series
The Gallery at Avalon Island, 39 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-913-1426, avalongallery.org

Exhibit turnovers are usually the least public, least artistic times of a gallery. At the hands of gallery director Pat Greene and the network of art-forward musicians in his orbit, however, the Gallery at Avalon Island now uses this brief window each month to present a relaxed but engrossing evening of live conceptual music that has so far included percussive, electronic, audiovisual and orchestral performances. It’s cultured, it’s progressive and it’s free (but donations gladly accepted).

Best Folk/Country Act
1. Thomas Wynn and the Believers, thomaswynnandthebelievers.com

2. The Bloody Jug Band, bloodyjugband.com

3. Terri Binion, terribinionmusic.com

Best Hip-Hop Act
1. Solillaquists of Sound, solilla.com

2. Luscious Lisa, facebook.com/lusciouslisamusic

3. Table for Three, facebook.com/tableforthreefl

Best Jazz Act
1. The Groove Orient, thegrooveorient.com

2. The Absinthe Trio

3. The Cook Trio, thecooktrio.com

Best Surprising New Indie Venue
445 S. Magnolia Ave., drphillipscenter.org

Of all the hype and expectation leading up to the opening of this new crown jewel of the city’s cultural scene, practically none of it was about music, or at least cool music. This was supposed to be your parents’ nightlife. But it’s demonstrated some real taste already by making smart moves like partnering with leading Orlando indie promoter Foundation Presents to do excellent shows like Hundred Waters, Mark Kozelek and Justin Townes Earle. Bravo and encore to that.