Paul McCartney — Colonial Life Arena
Runner-up: Pearl Jam — Colonial Life Arena
Free Times Arts & Entertainment Editor Jordan Lawrence was at this massively anticipated June 2015 tour stop by the former Beatle. He was impressed: “Understated enough in his demeanor to let these striking scenes take hold, but powerful enough with his vocals and playing to still leave a profound imprint on the proceedings, McCartney lived up to his reputation as a world-class showman.”
Best Music Venue
Runner-up: Colonial Life Arena
Columbia’s Music Farm is a well-appointed, large-scale rock club with a nice bar, an impressive stage setup, and ample space for a big standing-room crowd. But none of that would mean anything if the venue didn’t bring the shows, and since opening in 2014, it’s offered some great ones, still-talked-about appearances from the likes of Jason Isbell, tUnE-yArDs, Run the Jewels and Jump, Little Children.
Best Bar to See Live Music
Runner-up: Tin Roof
Music Farm’s only failing as a bar is that isn’t open often enough, only hosting a handful of shows a month. When it is open, and when a good crowd comes out for one of those big national acts or local showcases, it’s a comfortable place to grab a brew that also boasts a great stage, nice lighting and good sound.
New Brookland Tavern
Runner-up: DJ Snow
NBT doesn’t host the most frequent karaoke nights in the Midlands, because it’s also busy fulfilling its role as an awesome rock club. But when host Blake Arambula cranks up the old’ karaoke machine, you know you’re going to have a good time.
Best Local Band
The Root Doctors
Runner-up: Tokyo Joe
“WE ARE THE FUNKIEST BAND AROUND,” proclaims the message at the top of The Root Doctors’ online homepage. And while you could quibble with that statement if you considered it on a worldwide scale, the Root Doctors are still, without doubt, one of the best and most popular party bands in Columbia, affirming a solid touch for funky originals on last year’s Side A.
Best Local Solo Artist
Runner-up: David Adedokun
Brent Lundy’s been lugging his rugged croon around the Midlands — whether in singer-songwriter appearances or full-band contexts — for quite a while now, offering a style readymade for pleasing people who grew up appreciating rockers in the mold of Springsteen, Mellencamp, Young, etc.
Preach Jacobs wins Best Local Hip Hop Artist. Photo by Thomas Hammond
Best Local Hip Hop Artist
Runner-up: Fat Rat da Czar
An emcee, DJ and founder of Sounds Familiar Records, Jacobs’s dynamic flow has been the beat of the Capital City for more than a decade. Of particular note is his work as part of Analog (with Dose) on the 2014 LP Arrow of God, an album on which Jacobs’ socially conscious — and at times revolutionary — rhymes take centerstage. Free Times reviewer Eric Tullis once noted that, “As an emcee, Jacobs seems determined to change the world with every record.” Today Columbia, tomorrow the world.
Best Blues or Jazz Artist
Runner-up: Mark Rapp
This category actually seems a bit limiting for Reggie Sullivan, especially when it comes to leading his namesake band, which definitely can churn out some smooth and enticing jazz sounds, but also flecks its tunes with boisterous rock and muscular funk. Sullivan is more a shining example of how Columbia’s various scenes can bleed, creating something more interesting by twisting things together. But he is definitely still great at jazz — thus his victory here.
Best CD Store
Papa Jazz is known as a great place to buy vinyl. But they have CDs, too, offering a wide and well curated selection spanning jazz, rock, folk and various corners in between, both common and obscure. And if you need a little guidance in figuring out what you want to hear, the attentive, knowledgeable staff will steer you right.
Best Store For Vinyl
But, again, as previously stated, Papa Jazz is the place for Columbians who love vinyl records, bursting with a diverse array of new releases and used titles. Whether you’re looking for a rare punk import or a used jazz LP, or you need to special-order a hot new dubstep record, they’ve got you covered.
Best Musical Instrument Store
Musicians flock to Sims for its excellent selection, good prices and helpful staff. It’s diverse, too, serving everyone from marching band flautists to metal drummers.
Best Recording Studio
Runner-up: Strawberry Skys
Outside of Columbia, the Jam Room is probably the most well-known aspect of the city’s music scene. It is renowned for having cut some truly legendary metal and punk records (Baroness’ Red, for instance), and its reputation in that regard remains strong. But the Jam Room also does well with music of other stripes, hosting various kinds of bands from around the country — and some from other countries. The adjoining hip-hop-focused Boom Room further expands its versatility.