Best Of 2019

Winner: The Castle castleybor.com

Second Place: Enigma enigmastpete.com

Runner Up: Blur Nightclub blurdunedin.com

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Previous Winners

Best of the Bay 2019 Music: Our readers and critics pick the best songwriters, rock and rollers, clubs, DJs and more.

BEST REASON TO REP 'CLEARWATER': They Hate Change


Critics' Picks

Best Free Music Video

Best Reminder That Record Stores Rock

Best Kool Reaction To A Shit Situation

Best Literally Underground Music Showcase

Best She’s Still Everything

Best Cool Party

Best Cover Band (Still)

Best Local Gone Global

Best Reason To Believe In Tampa Bay Hip-Hop

Best New Sound System

Best Free EP

Best Reason To Buy A Show Poster

Best Out Of State Rap Collab

Best Musical Summer Camp

Best Creepy Local Music Fan

Best Get At Me Dog

Best Heartbreak

Best Bowing Out

Best Bi-Coastal Reps For Tampa Bay Hip-Hop

Best Going Upstream

Best Family Friendly ‘Dick’s Picks’

Best Free Concert Series

Best Rebirth And Resurgence

Best Safe Haven For Songwriters

Best St. Pete Music-Scene Playground

Best Sober Country Concert

Best Big, Black Tampa Debut

Best Unsafe Music

Best Reason To Rep ‘Clearwater’

Best Musician And Mender

Best New Local Music Fan

Best Tribute Show

Best Weird Fruit

Best Young Yacht Rock

Best Big Ambition In Tiny Tampa

Best Living Legend Being Normal Like Us

Best Play On, Player

Best Bald Tampa Bay Debut

Best Undersung Champion Of Composers’ Dreams

Best Guy With A Guitar Show

Best Don't Even Try To Make It Trendy

Readers' Picks

Best Club DJ

Best Concert In The Last 12 Months

Best Country Act (Original)

Best Dance Club

Best Instrumentalist

Best Large Concert Venue (2,000-Plus Capacity)

Best Local Band (Original)

Best Local Bluegrass Band

Best Local Classical Musician

Best Local Experimental Act

Best Local Concert Promoter

Best Local Cover Band

Best Local Hip-Hop Act

Best Local Jazz Ensemble

Best Local Jam Band

Best Local Metal/Hardcore Band (Original)

Best Local Music School (Institutional/Academic)

Best Local Music School (Non-Academic)

Best Local Pop Act (Original)

Best Local Record Label

Best Recording Studio

Best Local Reggae/Ska Band

Best Local Rock Band (Original)

Best Local Roots/Alt-Country Act (Original)

Best Local Singer-Songwriter

Best Local Soul/R&B/Funk Act

Best Local Vocalist

Best Music Festival

Best Record Store

Readers’ Pick Best Release By A Local Band

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Jonny Fritz at Orpheum

It took Murder By Death and J. Roddy Walston dragging him here, but enigmatic, and ridiculously hilarious, L.A. songwriter Jonny Fritz finally made it to Tampa Bay for a short, sweet set filled with his deeply empathetic country songs. Americana fans may never see the bearded, bald bard around here again, but at least we got to see him (and his head) shine for a few minutes.

jonnyfritz.com 

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Best Bi-Coastal Reps For Tampa Bay Hip-Hop
MARLO MILLER

Gat$ And Rolling Loud

If there’s a Rolling Loud lineup, then Tampa rapper Gat$ is probably on it. He did it in December by appearing alongside the likes of he likes of Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Cardi B and Lil Uzi Vert at Rolling Loud Los Angeles. Pretty cool to see the Bay Area-born fest, and one of Tampa’s loudest supporters, repping for us on both sides of the country. Now send the guy to Hong Kong, Rolling Loud.

gats813.com

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Best Big Ambition In Tiny Tampa
MICHAEL JOHNSON

Symphonic distribution

You’ve got to go up four floors to get to Symphonic Distribution’s downtown Tampa office, but the sky really is the limit for the music company that’s grabbing the spotlight and making the industry look at Tampa as an important cog in the grand scheme of things. Repeat appearances on Billboard’s Power Players list — along with offices in cities around the world — are just the beginning. Thanks for singing the 813 song to the world, Symphonic.

symphonicdistribution.com 

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Best Big, Black Tampa Debut
KELSEY WALKER

Lizzo At Yuengling Center

Whoever stood to rake in revenue from Lizzo’s Jannus Live show was probably irked when someone above them made the call to move the gig across the Bay to the Yuengling Center, but folks at the old Sun Dome did good to roll out the red carpet in celebration of the Tampa debut for an artist that could represent America’s warming up to an artist that looked much different from the mostly white crowd in front of her that night. Will the Lizzo love last and help create a culture that truly embraces both black music and black people? Let’s hope so, and let’s hope that it’s that Tampa crowd that leads the way.

yuenglingcenter.com 

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Best Bowing Out
BRIAN MAHAR

Fubar Closure

The arrival of 2019 brought with it an eerie silence as Fubar celebrated its final night on the 600 Block of downtown St. Petersburg. For nine years, owner Jay Aresty and venue caretaker Todd Frain gave bands — especially locals — a place to cut their teeth and find an identity in the context of a rapidly changing metro. “Fubar was the spot that exposed us to the city. We then built a following in St. Pete, and Fubar was the place we did it,” said Shane Handal, guitarist for Bay area rock band Set and Setting, which now regularly plays festivals in Europe. With State Theatre still under renovation and Fubar sold, it’s been an awfuly quiet on that strip of Central Avenue. 

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Winner: Austen Van Der Bleek avbleek.com

Second Place: Jayson Chancey soundcloud.com/jayson-chancey

Runner Up: Jason Kitchen facebook.com/djjasonkitchen/

See all winners from Best of the Bay 2019.

Winner: Pride Closer stpetepride.com

Second Place: P!nk At Amalie Arena photos.cltampa.com

Runner Up: Gasparilla Music Festival gasparillamusic.com

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Best Cool Party
Riley Alexander


Sales at Emo Night Tampa Anniversary

It’s true, it was admittedly a little warm inside of NoHo art studio Pep Rally Inc. We’re blaming it on the beautiful bodies lucky enough to get a ticket to night three of Emo Night Tampa’s four-year anniversary weekend highlighted by a one-of-a-kind set from Orlando pop outfit Sales, which continues to rep hard for the Sunshine State. We’re excited to see the Emo Night crew top themselves in year five. emonighttampa.com

Winner: Soul Circus Cowboys soulcircuscowboys.com

Second Place: Have Gun, Will Travel hgwtmusic.com

Runner Up: The Cadillac Cowboys thecadillaccowboys.com

See all winners from Best of the Bay 2019.