These folks have a whole lotta collective talent, and they keep the rest of us from being bored to tears. Where’s the best place to catch a flick or a play? Where does one find the best art? Our readers will tell you; they voted for these following all-stars of Charleston’s culture, arts, and entertainment.


Best Local Theatre Company (Tie)
Charleston Stage Company
Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church St. Downtown
Theatre 99
The American Theater, 446 King St. Downtown

Best Movie Theatre
Palmetto Grande
1319 Theater Dr. (Hwy 17 N) Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre 216-8696

Best Local Actor/Actress
Trevor Erickson

Best Local Comic
Timmy Finch of The Have Nots!

Best Local Author
Dorothea Benton Frank

Best Music Concert of 2004
David Byrne
Charleston Music Hall Oct. 29, 2004
37 John St. Downtown 853-2252

Best Museum
Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown 722-2706

Best Art Gallery
Wells Gallery
103 Broad St. Downtown 853-3233
One Sanctuary Beach Dr. Kiawah Island 576-1290

Best Art Gallery Show (TIE)
The College of Charleston Visual Arts Club’s Cheap Art Auction
Old City Jail
Corner of Magazine and Franklin streets Downtown
Rhythms of Life: The Art of Jonathan Green
Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown 722-2706

Best Place to Buy Art
The Market

Best Local Visual Artist
Kevin Taylor

Best Rock Music Club
Music Farm
32 Ann St. Downtown 853-FARM

Best Female Musician/Vocalist
Cary Ann Hearst

Best Jazz & Blues Club
301 King St. Downtown 577-9469

Best Local Band

Best House Band
The Secrets

Best Cover Band
Plane Jane

Best Male Musician/Vocalist
Kally Knight, quench

Best Club DJ
DJ Kurfew


Best Sticker Campaign
“Banana Blows”

Sure, there were some great bumper stickers out there last year. But far and away the most entertaining campaign was one that had squat to do with automobile bumpers. A rash of circular yellow stickers began appearing around town last October featuring a cartoonish drawing of a man’s bare rear end with a banana about to be … er, you get the idea. “BANANA BLOWS” read the text at the top of the sticker. Beneath the picture was the URL to a website: The anonymous operators of the website, and the minds behind the sticker campaign, made no secret of the fact that they wanted to see Banana Joe’s, the latest tenant of the accursed northwest corner at King and Wentworth streets, die a painful and humiliating death. Which, come to think of it, the maritime-themed dance club did just two months later. Hmmm. If only the Kerry campaign had known about these guys … —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Route to Sanity for Parents
Lowcountry Children’s Museum Membership
25 Ann St. Downtown

Parents, a membership to the local kids’ museum is the best $75 you’ve ever spent, hands-down. You roll up to the quirky spot on Ann Street and let your children loose in a hands-on environment that includes an awesome castle replica, an imagination-stirring shrimp boat, and a full-scale art room. You have to escort your little monsters through the museum, but rest assured that the sights, sounds, and scores of other little happy kiddies will amuse them for hours, better than any television or video game. —Shawnté Salabert

Best Hollywood-Style Product Placement
Mini Coopers at Movies in Marion Square
May 13, 2004

The Italian Job rounded out the CP’s free Movies in Marion Square series last spring, a movie in which several Mini Coopers fly through traffic, weave through subway tunnels, and race down sidewalks as only a Mini can. When a cavalcade of Mini Coopers came careening around Marion Square with lights flashing and horns honking, it took everyone by surprise. Parents, children, and dogs ran around screaming like Chicken Little, “The Minis are coming! The Minis are coming!” —Ida Becker

Best New City Paper Event (tie)
Charleston Comedy Festival
Movies in Marion Square
Calhoun St. Downtown

We’re not normally ones for patting ourselves on the back (OK, maybe we are), but we can’t resist. Last spring’s inaugural Movies in Marion Square was successful beyond any of our expectations, pulling more than 2,500 people to one of Charleston’s coolest civic spaces for an awesome four-week communal experience. (The beer may have helped.) And more recently, in January, we partnered with The Have Nots! for our first Charleston Comedy Festival, bringing improv, sketch, and stand-up artists to Charleston from around the country to perform shows in three King Street venues over three days. You can bet we’ll be bringing beefed-up versions of both events again in the coming year. (Get your blankets ready for our second outdoor film series, beginning Thursday, April 14.) —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Celebrity Sighting/Run-In
Anne Heche at ‘Circle of Light’ Gala
Nov. 18, 2004

When actress and spokesperson Anne Heche tried to push past me and cut in the bathroom line at Darkness to Light’s “Circle of Light” gala, I said to her without a second thought, “I’m not just standing here for my health. Beat it.” Call me crazy, but there are no velvet rope concessions when standing in a rented trailer-turned-wood, er vinyl, -paneled bathroom. Runners-up: Rue has the paparazzi on full alert! At different times last year, Quincy Jones and Samantha’s boy toy from Sex in the City were spotted at this John Street hot spot. —Ida Becker

Best Artistic Comeback
Charleston Symphony Orchestra

It’s been a tough couple of years for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, but then the CSO is a tough little orchestra. While the Savannah Symphony keeled over and died after hemorrhaging its way into insurmountable debt in 2003, the CSO, facing virtually identical problems, refused to go quietly into that good night. They hired a new executive director, shook up the board of directors, eliminated a full-time administrative position, slashed expenses across the board, and cut salaries all around — including that of the 46 musicians, who agreed to a blood-letting 17-percent chop. Last spring, for the first time in three years, the CSO ended its season in the black, if not out of debt then at least having met its $2.24 million budget. They’re not out of the woods yet, but there are no funeral dirges on the program either. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Public Lecture Series that won’t put you to Sleep
1950s Documentary Series at the Library
68 Calhoun St. Downtown 722-7550

Lectures don’t often get us excited, but we looked forward to attending these. Maybe it was because the films screened offered insight into 1950s life with an emphasis on the political and social issues of the time. If we missed a screening, the tapes and associated reading materials were available from the library. Maybe we went for the talks, led by the Friends of the Library program coordinator Sarah Breibart, and given by experts on everything from women’s issues to military history. Or maybe it was because the series was free and we’re a bunch of cheapskates. But the informal atmosphere and thoughtful programming gave us a unique taste of Southern life 50 years ago, and we don’t feel quite as ignorant as we used to. The Friends of the Library are planning a groovy follow up entitled “Making Sense of the ’60s,” drawing from the Hoffman collection for its screenings; we count ourselves lucky to have programs like this on our doorstep. —Nick Smith

Best Entertainment for a Girls’ Night Out
Mary Kay Has a Posse
American Theater 446 King St. Downtown 853-6687

Forget the typical girls’ night activities of watching sappy chick flicks and drinking cheap wine. For an unforgettable night of laughing ’til your face hurts, check out the fun, fearless females of Mary Kay Has a Posse, part of the Theatre 99 family. These witty women will have you in tears from the get-go. The View-style talk show format provides the perfect lead-in, after which some hysterical improvisation based on previously discussed topics sends up everything from moms on Ritalin to “Freedom Fry” politics. Watching these women is sure-fire entertainment for a girls’ night out, but there’s plenty here for the guys too. —Anna Hofford

Best Space You Didn’t Know Was Great for a Show
Humanities Center
554 Rutledge Ave. Downtown

If somebody were to ask you to name the best live performance venues on the city’s East Side, you might think you could count them all off on your fingers without ever getting past zero. But hold on: you may have never been to the Humanities Center at the corner of Rutledge Avenue and Elizabeth Street, a desanctified church the Humanities Foundation is slowly renovating and turning into a cultural locus for the depressed neighborhood. The facility has hosted a gaggle of cool, unconventional multimedia arts events over the past couple of years, and the theatre upstairs is on the short list of top venues anywhere in the city, even if a little rough around the edges. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best-Selling Local Author You’ve Never Heard Of
James Oliver Rigney Jr.

Never heard of him? We’re not surprised. Rigney’s better known to millions of readers across the globe, now in six languages, as Robert Jordan, the pen name under which the Sullivans Island native has written 11 volumes of the Wheel of Time fantasy series, as well as seven books of the Conan series. Begun in 1990 with The Eye of the World, Jordan’s massive Wheel of Time series (at 12,355 pages and counting) now boasts a total of 11 million copies in print, making it one of the most popular fantasy series of all time. Books Eight, Nine, and Ten in the series all hit number one on bestseller lists across the country, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Dorothea Benton Frank who? Paging Peter Jackson … —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Choral Experience
The College of Charleston Concert Choir

The College of Charleston Concert Choir isn’t just one of the best choral ensembles in Charleston. They’re not even merely one of the best in South Carolina. Director Rob Taylor’s handpicked group of student singers is one of the best choirs in the entire nation. This fact became common knowledge when the group was invited to perform in February at the National Association of College Choral Directors Conference in Los Angeles — the single highest honor a college choir can achieve. Taylor compares it to a college basketball team making it into the Final Four — except there are vastly more college choirs than there are college basketball teams. Look for his gang periodically at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul on Coming Street singing “We Are the Champions.” —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Evidence Local Artists Need MARKETING HELP
Readers’ Pick for Best Place to Buy Art
(The Market)

Nobody’s questioning our readers’ taste, much less the depth of their pockets. But voting the Market as the best place to buy artwork? Pardon the pun, but what’s the hell’s wrong with this picture? Charleston has one of the highest per-capita populations of working artists on the East Coast; there’s original artwork spilling out of every coffee shop, restaurant, bookstore, and closet-sized clothing boutique in town, to say nothing of the oodles of actual galleries on the peninsula alone. Every other week there’s a group show, often mentioned in these pages, that’s chock full of talented but starving artists who’ll sell you an amazing piece of original artwork for a song. The Market? Wake up, people. Let the tourists buy that stuff. You can get an original piece of cool, progressive art for less than the price of a pair of designer jeans. And you’ll never have to look at a watercolor of Rainbow Row again. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Fresh Art
Townsend Davidson
Fresh Works Oct.-Dec. 2004 at the Halsey Gallery

With his images of a sock suspended in the sky or household objects standing in lonely landscapes, Townsend D. Davidson’s imagination matches his artistic competence. He brought a much-needed sense of fun and vibrancy to the Halsey Gallery’s Fresh Works exhibition, sharing his love for common objects that don’t usually warrant our attention, but are intrinsic to our lives. Davidson has found that every object is informed by our memories of its existence, light and shadow adding life to even the most inanimate pieces of bric-a-brac. —Nick Smith

Best Local Printmaker
Stacey Bradley

Local printmaker Stacey Bradley is the design whiz behind the stylish Perla Anne line of greeting cards available at stores in 18 states and at a variety of local hipster shops including Celadon Home, Poe Studio, and Metropolitan Deluxe (where she was once a manager). This former in-house artist for Tower Records in New Orleans has left behind the days when she created three-dimensional displays for artists such as the Neville Brothers, turning her attention full-time to her one-of-a-kind cards. —Ida Becker

Best Example of Hollywood Coming to Charleston
Schwag Bags

These days, no swanky Hollywood affair is complete without a bag bulging with the latest beauty products, cell phones, resort vouchers, blingtastic watches, and decadent fragrances. A number of local party hosts have embraced this trend, although local schwag contents tend to range from chocolate and vodka to olive oil, sweet nuts, bubble bath, and lip balm. The grand opening of Whole Foods in Mt. Pleasant sent party attendees home with a giant bag of groceries. The Gibbes’ fall soirée took the idea of gifting to a new level with keep-worthy blue bags filled with emollient lotions, a mini-bottle of Finlandia vodka, a custom-decorated chocolate bar depicting artwork from the exhibition, and Stella Nova treats. The opening of Waterworks, the bathroom fixtures showplace on King Street: a large container of shower gel and the world’s heaviest catalog. The recent Jonathan Green ballet gala: biscotti, Costco coffee, and an old issue of a local magazine. Although the items may be frivolous and funny, the concept is quite schwag-tastic! —Ida Becker

Best Case of Spoleto Sour Grapes since Marlin Adam Gertsacov of the Acme Miniature
Flea Circus
Piccolo Spoleto 2004

Every so often, the bile rises in the throats of theatre practitioners who feel slighted by the CP. Even the highly respected, well-traveled artists who visit from other parts of the world for Spoleto and Piccolo aren’t above being dirty. “World-class” doesn’t necessarily denote class. Marlin, artist in mime light theatre, the generator of his own air of mystery, the man who made angry, sweaty phone calls over a Spoleto 2002 review, held the record for Biggest Baby until now. Adam Gertsacov, creator of Acme Miniature Flea Circus, now has the proverbial crown. CP is hardly the only paper in America to give Gertsacov a crappy review, yet he sure acted like we were. Apparently his ire didn’t end with complaints to other Piccolo performers. He groused on CP’s Spoleto blog and a separate website message board, saying, “no one seems to read the review or take this reviewer that seriously,” “I drew the short straw for reviewers,” and “not sure if she had a bad day or what.” Class, indeed. —Jennifer Corley

Best Performance in a Box
A Large Attendance in the Antechamber
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

Brian Lipson provided the most animated and mind-bending show at last year’s Spoleto, portraying the Victorian scientist Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, pioneer in meteorology, and champion in the controversial field of eugenics, or selective breeding. The play featured a tortured, possessed Lipton struggling with the soul of Galton, who was trying to overtake his body. Lipson’s remarkable set mirrored Galton’s cramped brain. A tiny parallelogram, the box set was packed with books, papers, lamps, and various pieces of lab equipment. Lipson made use of the props magnificently, twisting himself more and more as the play went on, entwining with the flotsam and jetsam of Galton’s increasingly frustrated mind. It was a beautiful display of ingenious and integral set design. —Jennifer Corley

Best Good Time Ruined by Rain
The Spoleto Finale
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

Spoleto’s finale, traditionally held on the greensward at Middleton Place during the final Sunday of the 17-day arts binge, is always a hoot and a holler. Thousands of festival picnickers make an entire day of it on the lawn — munching on food, socializing with friends, enjoying bite-sized performances on the nearby Piccolo stage, and taking long strolls about the grounds before a concert by the Festival Orchestra and a cheerful fireworks display over the Ashley River. But last year’s rain-soaked finale was one of the worst in memory. Even the F&B crowd, usually willing to get drunk and loud anywhere and everywhere without regard to circumstance, eventually threw in the towel. A very wet towel. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Taste of the Orient
The Peony Pavilion
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

Last year’s Spoleto Festival was notable for many reasons — a two-week visit from Mikhail Baryshnikov being one of them. But the 28th festival will ultimately be remembered as the year of The Peony Pavilion. With more than 160 characters, 12 musicians, 600 hand-embroidered costumes, and a ridiculously elaborate set in Memminger Auditorium perched over an 1,800-gallon pond filled with goldfish, water plants, and meandering ducks, the 400-year-old, 18-hour opera was — for lack of a suitably over-the-top superlative — remarkable. The succession of miracles director Chen Shi-Zhing and Spoleto general manager Nigel Redden worked to get the massive Chinese production staged here defy imagination. But even more extraordinary was the fact that Spoleto-goers couldn’t get enough of it, uncomfortable seats and all. Even a taste of one of The Peony Pavilion’s six epic cycles was a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience, and those who were lucky (or prescient) enough to be there will never forget it. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Hip-Hop Job II: Demon of the Eternal Recurrence
Piccolo Spoleto 2004

Jerome Saibil and Eli Batalion blew audiences away with their follow-up to 2003’s Hip-Hop Job: The Musical. The Canadian Ivy League duo excels at theatre and, yes, rap. They seemed to have improved their vocal stylings and increased their lung power for Job II, to the great benefit of their diaphragm-busting rhymes about theology and philosophy. The sequel continued the story of dueling MCs Cain and Abel, this time delving into Nietzschean philosophy. Saibil and Batalion performed terrifically, wrote a good script with great songs, and avoided much of the cheesiness found in the first Hip-Hop Job. They approached their second show more seriously, and it worked. —Jennifer Corley

Best Mixed-Media Performance by an Awesomely Cool Artist
DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

New York’s DJ Spooky (a.k.a. Paul Miller) is a rarity. He’s gracious in interviews, willing to talk (which cannot be said of all Spoleto artists), stylish, nice, humble, and not at all pretentious. And those qualities have nothing to do with his talent-filled Spoleto premiere, Rebirth of a Nation, in which he melded a 1915 film with computer graphics, animation, photography, and his own musical compositions. He stood high in a constructed DJ booth in the Sottile Theatre, while his grand show played onscreen and kept audiences transfixed. While maybe a bit superfluously flashy, his presentation of the evolution of race perceptions was just so darn cool. —Jennifer Corley

Best Use of Puppetry in a Year with No Ping Chong
Forbidden Christmas or The Doctor and the Patient
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

Rezo Gabriadze, born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia, set his remarkable play The Doctor and The Patient (starring Mikhail Baryshnikov) in his hometown as a representation of a time from his childhood. One where a harsh Stalinist environment left the emotional landscape as cold and bleak as the physical one. The play tells the story of Chito — a traumatized sailor who comes to believe he’s a car — and the doctor he summons on a snowy Christmas night to help a sick child. Along their journey, the pair endure blizzards, wild dogs, and much more. Gabriadze’s use of puppetry made the otherwise tedious show interesting and at times beautiful. Since we haven’t seen the amazing works of Ping Chong (Obon, Kwaidan) at Spoleto in a while, Gabriadze (who also brought his Battle of Stalingrad to Spoleto in 2003) fills the void — for now, anyway. —Jennifer Corley

Best Theatre Set Dressing
I Capuleti e I Montecchi
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

When Paul Curran, director of Spoleto opera I Capuleti e I Montecchi discussed its staging in the Sottile Theater, he rolled his eyes and called it a challenge. His vision of Vincenzo Bellini’s opera as an updated, robust production required a set that would bring the performers closer to the audience than a regular stage would allow. In order to do this, and bring some added dynamism to an already ambitious show, Kevin Knight created some astounding scenery. The result was a colorful transformation that occasionally threatened to upstage the singers. Audiences struggled to find relevance in Knight’s monstrous industrial set. Sure, this was an update of Romeo and Juliet by way of The Sopranos, but the metal and glass construct clashed with Bellini’s melodic score. If this set was a character in its own right, then it was the bad guy, loud and excessive as a ballet-dancing buffalo, jarring as any wrong note. Perhaps the colorful backdrop was designed to draw attention away from Curran’s sloppy direction; unfortunately, it also detracted from the music — the highlight of the production. Knight worked wonders with the set and made the Sottile his own. It’s a shame that his vigorous designs didn’t suit the opera they were supposed to sustain. —Nick Smith

Best Programming/Brilliant Marketing Ploy
Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Dock Street Theatre
Spoleto Festival USA 2004

Regardless of what you thought about writer/director Rezo Gabriadze’s Forbidden Christmas or The Doctor and the Patient at last year’s Spoleto Festival, there’s no denying the play benefited from the presence of its brightest star, Mikhail Baryshnikov, fresh off a profile-raising run on HBO’s Sex and the City, who brought to the Dock Street a grace, a sweetness, and a slapstick sensibility that few other actors could have achieved. But whatever he did for the play Baryshnikov did 10 times over for the festival as a whole. Last year’s record-breaking box office numbers? Don’t kid yourself by thinking it had to do with anything but Misha. Celebrity sells, baby, and don’t you forget it. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Jesus Hopped the A Train
Presented by Pure Theatre, Sept. & Oct. 2004

Edgy, well-acted, and provocative, Sharon Graci and Rodney Lee Rogers’ production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play embodied the beautiful intensity possible only in small-venue theater. What does it mean when a convict who’s righted himself uses faith to set an impressionable new prisoner straight, but then suffers a lapse when faced with his own death sentence? We’re never fed the answer, but this play challenged us to face the conundrum. —Spencer Deering

Best Stage Drug We Wish We Could Get Our Hands On
The Fast-Acting Ecstasy from Trainspotting
Presented at Stage 145, Feb. 2005

Stage & Screen’s production of Trainspotting at Bar 145 featured photos and video segments of human feces in sheets, in a toilet, on a bathroom floor, and on people. Plus there were onstage heroin scenes, where the characters engaged in some serious intravenous pleasure. Yet nothing was as disturbing and exciting as the ecstasy given to Tommy (Ashley Starkey) by Alison (Andrea Evans). The second the little stage pill hit his tongue, the wondrous delights, which in the real world take a while, began working their magic as he watched the virtual trails from his hand in giddy, giggling delight. They may be on to something here. They just might have their hands on what has the potential of becoming the biggest underground moneymaker of 2005. Can we get in on this? —Jennifer Corley

Best Child Actor Voice that STICKS in Your Head
Johanna Schlitt from Into the Woods
Presented by Village Playhouse, Oct. 2004

A seventh grader at the Charleston County School of the Arts, Johanna Schlitt is also the daughter of Bill Schlitt and Maida Libkin, founders of Charleston’s The Company Company, who bring you the seasonal The Good Time Variety Hour. Schlitt performed the role of Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods at the Village Playhouse in October. Performing in a Sondheim musical is difficult enough for adults, much less children. But she did it well, and she also captured just the right amount of grating impertinence particular to the fussy character. Surely, anybody who saw the show still has a broken record playing in their brain of Schlitt’s shrill voice singing “Into the woods, to grandmother’s house!” —Jennifer Corley

Best Heaving Bosoms
The Female Cast Members of Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Presented by Village Playhouse, Jan & Feb. 2005

Let’s face it: rarely in Charleston are live theatre audiences presented anything racy or sexy or naughty, so we have to award whomever gives us a little titillation, so to speak, even if it does hail from the 1700s. Keely Enright, Julia Burns, and Alaina Corley Lagroon had their mamms virtually floating out of their dresses like hot air balloons. Julie Ziff’s elaborate costumes, with their push-up corsets, enhanced the ladies’ womanly figures so lavishly that husbands and boyfriends across the tri-county area were asking their significant others if they could go see the play again. (Of course, the fact that Lagroon took off her top didn’t hurt either.) —Jennifer Corley

Best Shocking Exposition
Suddenly Last Summer
Presented by Village Playhouse, Nov. & Dec. 2004

So you say you’re tired of the same old, ho-hum, blasé murder scenarios of modern drama? Murder by jilted lover. Boring. Murder by religious zealot who thinks he’s “cleansing.” Yawn. Well how about this then: A man, Sebastian, is violently beaten by a gaggle of young islanders — whom he’s previously taken advantage of sexually — and then is eaten by them. Now there’s a twist for the books. For newcomers to this 1958 Tennessee Williams play, hearing the secret of Sebastian’s death causes gasps. It’s something you’re dying to hear about for the entire play, and when you finally hear it, it’s the doozy you’ve been waiting for. —Jennifer Corley

Best One-Man Show Since Cul-de-Sac
Underneath the Lintel
Presented by Pure Theatre, Jan. & Feb. 2005

Pure Theatre’s most recent production featured terrific acting by L.A. native Stephen White and nimble direction by Sharon Graci. Remember Cul-de-Sac, the explosive and brilliant Daniel MacIvor piece from Spoleto 2003? Cul-de-Sac explored loneliness in a tale about the brutal murder of a gay man and the isolated lives of his nosy neighbors. MacIvor wowed audiences with his stunning portrayal and flawless acting in several different roles. Pure’s production, while not quite the same caliber, was still reminiscent of Cul-de-Sac in a few ways. First, it takes a high-quality actor to enrapt an audience singlehandedly for an hour or more. That is an enormous feat and responsibility for one person to bear, and even good actors can’t always do it. White did a great job at keeping the audience sucked in. Two, the heart behind the theme is very similar. Both characters were incredibly, abysmally lonely and desperate to be acknowledged. While the two shows were different in mood, ultimately their effect was the same: great examples of the art of the one-man show. —Jennifer Corley

Best Use of Performance Space
Into the Woods
Presented by Village Playhouse, Oct. 2004

The Village Playhouse’s October production accomplished something big: maximizing every inch of performance space. Too many people ignore the space above actors’ heads and in front of the proscenium, instead only concentrating on what’s directly surrounding them in terms of a realistic room, even when the text leaves ample space for set interpretation. Dave Reinwald’s set had trees extending their branches up to the pipes in the ceiling. Performers sat in one particular tree at the opposite wall from the stage, and he had a curving path, a stump in the middle of the cabaret seating, and stowaway fold-up sets that scooted on and off. Any more set, and there wouldn’t have been room for the audience. But it wasn’t too crowded; it was just right. —Jennifer Corley

Best Local Music Trend
Ensemble Shows

From Cary Ann Hearst’s burlesque show to Kevin Hanley’s Chord and Pedal gatherings, including the Scene: Not Herd summer festival and the Holiday Revue, some of the best shows of last year were the ones that involved a wide variety of Charleston acts. An ensemble show offers the best of all outcomes: if you don’t like one band, just wait 20 minutes and another, completely different one will take the stage! Here’s hoping this trend continues into 2005 — it’s off to a good start already with last month’s Nick Packard tribute, which swung from space-pop to old school rap to power punk in less than an hour. Viva la difference! —Sara Miller

Best Send-off
Cary Ann Hearst’s Caburlesque
Cumberland’s, Nov. 13, 2004

Although having to bid adieu to one of Charleston’s best-loved female vocalists was a sad affair, how else could Cary Ann Hearst go out but with a bang? Unless you were smart and got there early, the 45-minute wait outside Cumberland’s allowed for plenty of catching up on the good gossip before weaseling inside to see Hearst and her girl posse shakin’ it in their skivvies during and between performances from Hearst, Bill Carson and his Checkered Past, and the Defilers. It’s so nice to see a packed room here in Charleston, and for a local, no less! We’ll miss you, Cary, but we’ll be such braggarts when we can say we knew you when… —Sara Miller

Best Venue for Jazz that’s Now a Yoga Studio

When the Mezzané opened in the cool space above Sermet’s, it quickly became part of a weekly ritual for local music fans. Needed something to do Tuesday night? Take your cool out-of-town friends to see the Gradual Lean. Of course, you can still catch them at FIG, but it’s just not the same, dammit. Mezzané was one of the best places to take a date: if you wanted a dark nook and privacy, you were set; if you wanted to have enough noise to not have to make small talk, it was all golden. The crowded shows and the candlelit atmosphere will never be replaced, certainly not with a yoga studio. —Sara Miller

Best Replacement for Mezzané
Lite Affair
137 Calhoun St. Downtown 722-0023

We’ve had to accept the fact that Mezzané is gone, however difficult it may be. Luckily, a scant few blocks away is an heir apparent to Mezzané’s intimate, jazzy throne: Lite Affair. With a dimly lit bar and some pool tables out of the way of the crowd, Lite Affair is one of the best bets for a low-key night on the town. Sunday nights are especially date friendly, with La Calle playing their experimental jazz accompanied by Rich Yessian’s home movies. —Sara Miller

Best Repulsive stage Act
Treephort Drinking Urine
Cumberland’s, Nov. 16, 2004

We headed to Cumberland’s that night to see local band Genrevolta. Little did we know that headlining band Treephort had stage antics on their minds that were far beyond Genrevolta’s Philip Estes dangling from the rafters of the old Cumberland’s. Of course, we had fair warning. An article in this paper that week detailed Treephort’s penchant for things like drinking Yoo-Hoo until they vomited onstage, but who knew that lead singer Satterfield would end up taking off his adult diaper just before the second song? It was around this point that we headed for less-naked pastures, but reportedly the licentiousness didn’t end there: Satterfield apparently drank his own urine! The things people will do in the name of entertainment… —Sara Miller

Best American Idol Wish Fulfillment
Karaoke Stabbing at Skipper’s
1175 Folly Road James Island 762-2255

Some people just couldn’t wait for the next season of American Idol to roll around. Such must have been the case with the winter stabbing of a patron at Skipper’s Sports Bar & Grill on James Island — the Stabber was busy making sweet love to the microphone while the would-be Simon Cowell (a.k.a. the victim) threw out his very unappreciated two cents. Let’s hope they have metal detectors on the American Idol set — or that Paula knows kung fu. —Shawnté Salabert

Best Place to Channel Axl Rose
Metal Monday at Cumberland’s
301 King St. Downtown 722-4672

When Metal Monday kicked off this summer with members of Jump and The Films playing backup band to a host of amateur karaoke singers, the theme night’s popularity took everyone by surprise. Now there’s a slew of regulars elbowing each other for space on the wildly popular weekly event’s limited roster, a John Pundt-created poster for sale, and an imitator — Tacky Tuesday. What’s next — a karaoke-fueled stabbing? Oh … —Shawnté Salabert

Best ‘Likes’ List from a Local American Idol
Quiana Parler’s Website

The Charleston-based vocalist and former contestant has a great website with a bio and calendar and everything a fan could want — including a fantastic list of Parler’s “likes.” Highlights include “favorite snack” (yogurt nut mix), “favorite cars” (Mercedes Benz, Range Rover) and “favorite television shows” (Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, People’s Court, etc…) —T. Ballard Lesemann

Most Rambunctious Local
DJ Dave @ Art’s Bar & Grill
413 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 849-3040

The locals at this Mt. Pleasant watering hole take their karaoke spotlight seriously … and seriously wild. On Sunday evenings, the not-so-dapper-but-always-enthusiastic DJ Dave serves as the circus ringleader, guiding participants through staggering renditions of anything from Sir Mix-A-Lot to Toby Keith. —T. Ballard Lesemann