Best Of 2012

CAUGHT OFFSTAGE: The dancers in Moving Current.

The University of South Florida’s dance company in residence, led by Artistic Directors Shelley Bourgeois, Erin Cardinal and Cynthia Hennessy, is that stellar example of why Tampa is a little more culturally sophisticated than many think. When your friends from the big city pooh-pooh our metro, pop on a vid from movingcurrent.com and show them MC’s vivid dance narratives told through poetically inspired movement. No doubt they’ll see how masterfully the moods range from light and mischievous to intense and heart-wrenching. After getting that taste, take ‘em to see Moving Current live during their 15th anniversary season. The collective’s “current” is inspired by the idea of electricity, and Moving Current’s performances continue to electrify. 813-237-0216, [email protected]

Best Actor

Sorensen was all over Bay area stages last season, playing multiple lovers in Stageworks’ The Blue Room, a naïve young American threatened by omnisexual ghouls in The Rocky Horror Show, a smug would-be rescuer of females in Becky Shaw, and an earnest American come to Weimar Germany to find something to write about in Cabaret. And in every role, he was just about perfect.


Watch: Recently married Natalie Symons and Jim Sorensen — Most Promising Playwright and Best Actor — talk w. CL's David Warner during the Best of the Bay awards reception Sept. 19 at Creative Loafing, and Natalie almost spills the beans about a part she just might be writing for her husband.

Best Actress

Sargent had a near-impossible mission in Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Streetcar Named Desire: to make the audience forget Vivien Leigh’s iconic performance in the film. But Sargent did it: her Blanche DuBois was skittish, vain, manipulative, self-deluding, fragile and tragic. She dominated the play and brought down the house. Amazing work.

Best Album

An album 10 years in the making, Tin Year is an impeccably crafted LP by veteran local musicians and New Granada Records leaders Keith and Susie Ulrey, plus Brian Roberts, Melissa Grady and Michael Waksman. Longtime collaborators Susie and Michael whittled down years of songwriting to the 13 tracks that were recorded, mixed and mastered by this year’s Best of the Bay-winning sound engineer and studio, Mark Nikolich at Atomic Audio. Tin Year is a thoughtful and stunning collection easing between buoyant folk roots, warm indie pop and gently-driving alt rock. Susie's pure piping vocals soar bright and vibrant, or glide delicate and serene over shimmering cello-fused instrumentals, complementing the delicate masculine vocal harmonies and occasional turns on lead by Keith and Michael. Overall, salve to the soul.

Best Artistic Director

With remarkable rapidity, Davis has made freeFall Theatre into a jewel of a venue, a place where incisive straight plays and potently re-imagined musicals (this season’s Cabaret) are consistently offered on the highest levels of theatrical art. In Davis’ capable hands, first-rate Shakespeare has again become an annual event (The Comedy of Errors) and he’s shown an openness to local playwrights (Rip.Tied.) and a fine instinct for contemporary triumphs (Becky Shaw). He deserves our thanks.

Best Badass Debut

I'm not sure exactly what San Francisco composer/multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge and his "Venice Dawn" band played during their set at Antiwarpt 2012; aside from some cuts off latest release Something About April, it was all a blur of unadulterated badassness. A natural showman in hip aviator-style eyewear, Younge traded off instruments with his bandmates, from bass to organ and synths to flute and sax, then back to bass again. He expressed his excitement about being in Florida, struck a bargain at the beginning of the set — "Give us your all, and we’ll give you our all. Do we have a deal?" — and left both sides feeling like champions as the near full-house at State Theatre got the fuck down. Now that’s what I call a Sunshine State debut.

Best Band Resurrection

Weezer’s Pinkerton and Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister both dropped in 1996. It was also a good year for Tampa area music, as evidenced by the formation of Spiller and the release of their debut recording that year, Gold Leader EP, which features a catchy, sunshine-drenched mix of alt-rock and power pop. The reunion on April 7 at New World Brewery featured original members John McNicholas and Marcus McCord with new drummer Vinnie Cosentino. The Semis and Jensen Serf Co. opened, demonstrating the delightful progression of Tampa Bay indie rock through the years. Gigs at Heatwave and Antiwarpt have since followed; new music and more shows in the works. spiller.bandcamp.com

Best Band That Can't Drink Legally

The boys of Jensen Serf Co. will have to wait a good long while before they can publicly indulge in the ol’ alcamahol, but Benjamin Saylor and Peter Kokkinakos aren’t the types that need to build courage via booze. Their assault of salt-licked garage rock only gets better as the volume increases, and their live shows are tinnitus-inducing pleasure sessions. They’ve got new vinyl on its way to being pressed and will undoubtedly turn heads if they end up touring. They may be young but have still managed to prove themselves stellar ambassadors of Bay area music. jensenserfco.bandcamp.com


Watch: CL's David Warner talks to Benjamin Saylor and Peter Kokkinakos of Jensen Serf, who confirm that they are indeed The Best Band That Can't Drink Legally. Recorded during the Best of the Bay awards reception Sept. 19 at Creative Loafing.

Jeff Brawer, Dukes of Hillsborough

First, a perfunctory disclaimer: It’s totally not cool to douse a band with beer, no matter how awesomely punk rock it may seem. Musicians don’t get paid much, use expensive equipment that shorts out when wet, and because they are there to entertain with their songs, it’s lose-lose all around. That being said, if you’re merely sharing your beer to help quench a hard-working musician’s thirst, and if, while you’re draining your PBR down the lead singer’s throat, some happens to spill down his shirt or get emptied over his head — hey, these things happen. And no band takes a beering with more panache than The Dukes of Hillsborough. myspace.com/dukesofhillsborough

Best Broadway Puppet Revival

The puppetry, acting and singing were spot on in MAD Theatre’s August production of the Broadway hit Avenue Q, and the intimate setting of the Straz Center’s Shimberg Playhouse made the audience feel part of the show (especially when the puppets begged us for money). MAD’s naughty puppets and their very human issues led to nightly standing ovations. If you missed it, it sucks to be you. (Inside joke.) madtheatre.com.