BEST ART GALLERY
Loft Beats Gallery
And they’ve managed to do it again! It seems the on-going activity brought to you by the Loft Beats Gallery has made them a fan favorite for another year running. The art hub is often lit with creations of all mediums and artists from all across the map. If it isn’t enough to keep constant events happening for every art walk night, it’s no surprise for Loft Beats to have their hands in something on the weeks in between. Check out an event and you’ll see the perfect mix of artistry and interaction. (K.J.)
262 W. Second St., Pomona, www.loftbeats.com.
BEST ART BAR
dba256Gallery Wine Bar
If your palette has yet to mature to that of a local wine connoisseur—never fret—the friendly people at dba256 are happy to assist all of its patron’s needs. The mellow, laid-back atmosphere was basically constructed for those mystic Pomona evenings where good tunes, a potent beverage and something stimulating to gaze at is all you need. Dba shows itself to be an ideal backdrop for just this—encompassing a drink list to rival any and all local bars with a collection of ever-changing art that is both fresh and visually appealing. (K.J.)
256 S. Main St., Pomona, (909) 623-7600; www.dba256.com.
BEST PLACE TO CATCH AN ACT BEFORE THEY BLOW UP
The Glass House
It’s been noted time and time again as the go-to location for the hottest performances east of L.A. From Snoop Lion’s Chucks to Davey Havok’s Creepers, the soles and heels from stars all over the legendary timeline have stepped foot on this stage. That definitely includes those of up-and-coming bands we’re sure to soon follow. A strong history of kick-ass lineups and an equally kick-ass team has given The Glass House the notoriety and trustworthy eye for booking up-and-comers. (K.J.)
200 W. Second St., Pomona; www.theglasshouse.us.
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre
This establishment, iconic for its tiki-themed shenanigans, has been around since Buddy Holly was in his heyday. Bringing the all-American dependability of the beloved drive-in theatre and matching it up with a quirky tiki-themed atmosphere, this drive-in gives a definite twist to the movie-going experience. It seems others have been taking notice to the Mission Tiki as well. They now have IE Weekly’s voter chosen “#1 Best Drive In” title to add alongside their OC Register nod as one of the best drive-ins in the nation. (K.J.)
10798 Ramona Ave., Montclair, (909) 628-0511; www.missiontiki.com.
Marcy Johns Photography
The voters have spoken, and they like what low desert photographer Marcy Johns is serving up. Specializing in women’s beauty portraiture and high school senior portraits, she is also available for any headshot, modeling portfolio or children’s photography that you can dream up. While working in Palm Springs and the many surrounding cities, Johns keeps her talents easily accessible in another way as well. She also offers up regular Facebook contests to spice up the photo experience and give her fans a chance to win extra shots, products or photo-time with her. (K.J.)
BEST DRAG QUEEN
Bet you didn’t know Raven, star of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, is a Riverside native, did you? Yep, the first runner-up on season two of the hit show represents her Riverside roots with pride. In a triumphant spin off from Drag Race success, Raven has made a career out of being a celebrity personality, not only for the locals, but also abroad. With a burgeoning music career, glam-filled drag shows from the mountains to the valleys and even some screen time on America’s Next Top Model, it’s no wonder she is our top pick for best drag queen. (K.J.)
BEST TATTOO ARTIST
Justin “Panda” Brophy, Empire Tattoo in Upland
Empire Tattoo might be in need of a website overhaul, but don’t let the Geocities-like homepage fool you: there’s some serious talent working in this Upland parlor, including Justin “The Panda” Brophy. Snapshots of his work are available both on Empire Tattoo’s site, and on Brophy’s own Instagram account, the bio of which says he “live[s] to create.” That statement is immediately backed up by evidence of his intricate designs, bursting with gorgeous, vivid colors and meticulous shading. (T.V.)
2176 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland, (909) 985-8889; www.empire-tattoo.com.
BEST THEATRE COMPANY
Ophelia’s Jump, Claremont
This young theater company opened its inaugural production one year ago with a play that tipped off the public to its big ambitions; August: Osage County is a massively acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning piece, difficult even for an established company to mount. Ophelia’s Jump isn’t about playing it safe, though. Its mission is to challenge the region with thought-provoking, dramatic works, whether from national and international playwrights or local talent. (T.V.)
(909) 621-1058; www.opheliasjump.org.
BEST LOCAL RADIO STATION
Alternative rock station X103.9 is kind of all over the place, and that’s just the way you like it. Just take a look at one of the station’s most recent weekly charts, bookended by 16-year-old pop newcomer Lorde and her catchy hit “Royals” at the No. 1 spot, and alt-metal veterans Korn’s “Never Never” at No. 10. That variety shows the IE’s musical diversity. (T.V.)
103.9 FM, (909) 890-1010; www.x1039.com.
BEST MORNING RADIO CREW
Stu, Tiffany and Jimbo at 96.7 KCAL Rocks
It has been anecdotally, if not scientifically, proven that mornings are just the worst. From the first buzz of the alarm clock to finally dragging yourself out the door to battle morning traffic, there are nearly zero perks to that time of day—almost. Thanks to Stu, Tiffany and Jimbo at KCAL Rocks, waking up is a little less brutal. At this point, after 15-plus years on the air together, it’s like tuning in to catch up with energetic, insane old friends. (T.V.)
96.7 FM KCAL Rocks, (909) 431-4967; www.kcalfm.com.
BEST RADIO TALK SHOW HOST
In November, Lanny Swerdlow will be able to celebrate six years as host of “Marijuana, Compassion and Common Sense.” Broadcast on KCAA, Swerdlow and his show address topics in medical marijuana while advocating for legislative reform, featuring lively and thoughtful commentary from members of the pro-legalization community, including Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. As a registered nurse and the founder of the Inland Empire Patients Wellness Center (a medical marijuana collective that was shut down earlier this year), Swerdlow is an expert on the topic, and a voice the IE trusts. (T.V.)
“Marijuana, Compassion and Common Sense” on KCAA 1050 AM, www.kcaaradio.com.
BEST ART WALK
Pomona Art Walk
So far, Pomona venues have coveted many of our “Best Of” titles. It comes as no surprise that the city makes a clean sweep this year as champions of the art walk arena. It could be the colorful variety of galleries, work spaces, music stores and venues that draw in the artistically inclined, but whatever it is—it’s working. Pomona’s art walk, attended monthly by visitors in the thousands, is a twice-monthly mini-fest (2nd and in your own backyard. (K.J.)
119 W. Second St., Pomona; www.downtownpomona.org.
BEST OPEN MIC
If the singer/songwriter in you is ever itching to make an appearance, set aside a Monday night and pop in to Redlands Underground. The stage of this triple threat restaurant/bar/venue is garnishing this year’s Best Open Mic title with good reason. The business has been working hard to encourage local talent to their stage since its start-up seven years ago. From our end, it looks like audiences and performers are leaving pretty satisfied, taking their support to the ballot in an overwhelming onslaught. (K.J.)
19 E. Citrus Ave., Redlands, (909) 798-1500; www.redlandsunderground.com.
BEST COMEDY SHOW
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? you’ve got a basic idea of how improv comedy works—and of how hilarious it can be. Redlands’ own Sha’Dynasty has been bringing the local laughs for the past two years, at gigs fueled both by suggestions from the audience and the troupe’s ability to think on their feet. Sha’Dynasty was on hiatus until recently, returning to plenty of giggles and guffaws with a performance at Katz Alley, and have more dates in the works.
BEST COMEDY NIGHT
Tuesdays at Liam’s Irish Pub
Ah, the classic Irish pub. A place where you can go to find a properly poured Guinness, a nice Shepherd’s Pie, and…standup comedy? Maybe that last part isn’t typical at Irish pubs, but it comes standard at Liam’s in Colton, which has built a reputation for its Tuesday night comedy showcase. Now seven years strong, Tuesdays at Liam’s offers more than just laughs: there are also the specials, like $1 tacos and $3 Coronas. We’d ask what tacos are doing in an Irish pub but, like the rest of you, we’re too busy eating.
1087 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., Colton, (909) 422-9900.
BEST FILM FEST
909 Film Festival
California has no shortage of film festivals, but 909 Film Festival stands out as one of the most unique. Not only is its purpose specifically to highlight films with local themes or ones that prominently feature locations in the 909 area code, but every film must clock less than nine minutes and nine seconds in length. As if that’s not enough, all this year’s submissions were due by September 9, and each accepted filmmaker paid a $9.09 submission fee. Talk about repping local pride.
BEST DRAG NIGHT
In business for 30 years, The Menagerie is an LGBT mainstay all on its own. But toss in its long-running Thursday night drag show, and the club gets kicked up another notch. Each week, drag queen Raven gets the party started with his colorfully titled show, “Snatch.” If you think she looks familiar, you’re not imagining things: Raven was the first runner-up of season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Since then, she’s toured the country, but her gig at Menagerie shows that she hasn’t forgotten her hometown roots.
3581 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 788-8000; www.clubmenagerie.com.
BEST AIR SHOW
The Chino Air Show
They fly through the air with the greatest of ease, with more than 35,000 people oohing and aahing from the ground. The Planes of Fame Airshow, performed in the skies above the Chino Airport, is an annual effort by the air museum of the same name—and the 2013 show last May set attendance records thanks to nearly 40 planes in action, daring acrobatics and rare treats like five of the world’s seven airworthy Lockheed P-38s. Look for the show to dazzle yet again next year, when the team takes to the skies May 3 and 4, 2014.
7000 Merrill Ave., #17, Chino, (909) 597-3722; www.planesoffame.org.
BEST FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS
University of Redlands
Fourth of July without a fireworks show is like a spring without baseball: practically un-American. Not only does the celebration at University of Redlands deliver, the day-long Independence Day festivities also includes a parade, live music, a flag ceremony, flyovers and skydivers. With all of this happening before even the first firework explodes, talk about getting some serious bang for your buck. There’s a reason this event is going on 46 years strong.
Ted Turner Stadium at University of Redlands, 1200 E. Colton Ave., Redlands, www.redlands-events.com/July4.htm.
BEST INDEPENDENT RECORD LABEL
Grim Reality Entertainment
If you’re into “West Coast, dark and aggressive hip-hop,” and it looks like a lot of you are, then Grim Reality Entertainment has got you covered. The local label was founded in 2001 by artists JP Tha Hustler and Andrew “Cyco” Holiman, the latter of whom was frontman for Insane Poetry, one of hip-hop’s first horrorcore groups. If you know what horrorcore is, then you can understand where Grim Reality is coming from. And if you don’t? Just be warned, these beats aren’t for the faint of heart.
BEST LOCAL SINGER/SONGWRITER
What do you think when you hear the phrase “singer-songwriter”? Probably something folksy, and likely a dude with an acoustic guitar. But if you’re picturing a local version of Jack Johnson in this category, brace yourselves. Instead, we have Riverside’s own Robb Ba$$, a songwriter, performer, DJ and producer all rolled into one. He recently dropped what he calls his Riverside anthem, “Make My City Proud”—and considering his top honors this year, it looks like he’s on his way to doing just that.
BES HIP-HOP ARTIST
Jose Atilano, better known as 60 East, first got into hip-hop as a kid watching his big brother work on his own music. Since then, his reputation has grown steadily, thanks to a few high profile gigs and some legit tracks. One of those tracks is “Motivation,” which features the lyrics, “You can teach motivation, you can’t fake motivation, so please keep hatin’, ‘cause I could use the motivation.” That’s all well and good, but only issue is that not a lot of people appear to be hating.
BEST ELECTRONIC ARTIST
Make sure to grab your boogie shoes on your way out the door, because Adrian Aguirre, known on stage as DUBL_A, wants to make you move. The Riverside-based producer first fell in love with EDM (that’s Electronic Dance Music, for the handful of uninitiated folks) as a teenager, after his first encounter with drum ‘n’ bass. Now he’s dubstepping his way all over town and earning new fans with each DJ set.
BEST LOCAL FOLK/ALT-FOLK BAND
Even folk has an edge when it’s coming out of the Inland Empire. As far as its lovely, melodic vocals, The Calicos follow in the expected folk and alt-folk traditions. But its instrumentation adds just a touch of gruffness to the mix, with dense, grungy guitar riffs. The trio itself says their brand of folk is influenced by rock and hip-hop, with a bit of Otis Jackson, Jr., and Zach Hill thrown in for good measure. Not the usual suspects, but that’s exactly what makes you want to curl up The Calicos and purr along.
BEST LOCAL METAL BAND
Not only does Sangre’s music top the 2013 edition of this category, the name alone should win a couple honors for just being so badass. Speaking of badass, Sangre has proven itself in front of thousands of people in both the U.S. and Mexico and have shared the stage with some of the genre’s biggest names, including Slayer, Sepultura, Motorhead and more. These local metal mainstays boast that “Sangre eats, sleeps, sweats and bleeds heavy metal music,” and even though they’ve been rocking since 1999, they show no signs of stopping.
BEST LOCAL COUNTRY BAND
The Paper Crowns
The Paper Crowns released its debut album, See You Tonight, only last year, but it clearly made quite the impression with area fans. If you’re not typically a fan of country, don’t write off The Paper Crowns before you hear the music; the trio’s tunes are gentler, folksier and more thoughtful than the yee-haws that, quite stereotypically are associated with the genre. Plus, skipping over this band would mean you’d miss the highlight of its tunes: the sweet, boy-girl vocal harmonies that can lull practically any listener into tranquility.
BEST LOCAL BLUES BAND
Bring Your Own Blues
Bring Your Own Blues (also known as B.Y.O.B—see what they did there?) is no stranger to this list, having earned “Best Local Blues Band” honors in 2011, as well. It’s good to see that this quartet is still going strong, and still getting folks to groove to its old-school blues and rock and roll rhythms. Bring Your Own Blues can often be found playing local farmers markets and other community events, and if you haven’t yet experienced it for yourselves, it’s got a couple Chino dates lined up this fall.
BEST LOCAL PUNK BAND
It’s been a good year for fans of punk rock band The Logs, a quartet that formed all the way back in 1993 but eventually decided to take an extended hiatus from performing live. The good news is they’re back as of this summer, and have wasted no time in reclaiming their place atop Riverside’s punk scene. Not only are they working on getting some fall gigs scheduled, their tracks on ReverbNation have pushed them to No. 1 on the local punk charts, with fans eager to see what else is in store.