Best Of 2020

Plies' Essential Worker Rant

Some employees at Publix, one of the Southeast’s most popular grocery chains, tested positive for the coronavirus, but one Florida man loudly said what so many of us think about that. That man is Algernod Lanier Washington. In April, the 43-year-old Florida rapper better known as Plies went on Twitter to post a minute-long video wondering why the hell Publix employees—plus other non-healthcare frontline workers like bank tellers and airline stewardesses —don’t get paid like they’re risking their lives. “People are here on the front line, still risking they fucking life, while you CEOs home quarantined with you goddamn family,” Plies noted, adding that even $30 an hour isn’t enough to risk your life.“You don't risk your fucking life but no $9 an hour, no $11 an hour, no fucking $30 an hour. Pay' em like they risking their life.” Kept it too real. twitter.com/plies —Ray Roa

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Best of the Bay 2020 Music: Our readers and critics pick the best songwriters, rock and rollers, clubs, DJs and more.

Best Encore: DJ Sandman


Music Critics' Picks

Best Acid Trip Comedown

Best Coronavirus Concert Livestream

Best Coronavirus Concert Livestream That Landed A Local Band On Forbes

Best Coronavirus Rallying Cry

Best COVID-19 Concert Scene Cage Rattler

Best Dojo Where There’s No Karate

Best Encore

Best Eerily Relevant Concept Album

Best Get Me Into The Cage

Best Guitarist (Senior Division)

Best Guitarist (Youngblood Division)

Best Hotel Party

Best Last Music Festival Before It All Went To Shit

Best Local Music Gear Transition

Best Local Who Technically Won A Grammy This Year

Best Mark Of A Beast

Best Musical Love For Tampa

Best On-Air Celebration of Local Music

Best Pandemic-Induced Exit-Entrance

Best Place To Get Irreparable Ear Damage And See A WMNF-er Twerk
Best Pube-y Product Placement

Best Rapper-Turned Ally For The Working Class

Best Show From A Showman

Best That Was Great While It Lasted

Best Tribute To An Adopted Local Legend

Best Unlikely Venue

Best Unlikely Venue That Got Saved By Its Community

Music Readers' Picks

Best Band (Original)

Best Bluegrass Band

Best Classical Musician

Best Club DJ

Best Concert in the Last 12 Months

Best Concert Promoter

Best Country Act (Original)

Best Cover Band

Best Experimental Act

Best Hip-Hop Act

Best Instrumentalist

Best Jam Band

Best Jazz Ensemble

Best Karaoke

Best Large Concert Venue (2,000-plus capacity)

Best Metal/Hardcore Band (Original)

Best Music Festival

Best Music School (Institutional/academic)

Best Music School (Non-Academic)

Best Opera Company

Best Pop Act (Original)

Best Record Label

Best Record Store

Best Recording Studio

Best Reggae/Ska Band

Best Release By A Local Band

Best Rock Band (Original)

Best Roots/Alt-Country Act (Original)

Best Singer/Songwriter

Best Small Concert Venue (Under 2,000 capacity)

Best Soul/R&B/Funk Act

Best Vocalist

Best Weekly Club Night

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Winner: The Wandering Hours @thewanderinghours on Facebook.

Second Place: Derrick Williams & The Gospel Voice Band derrickwilliamsvocalist.com

Runner Up: The Black Honkeys theblackhonkeys.com

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Winner: The Applebutter Express @TheApplebutterExpress on Facebook.

Second Place: The Wandering Hours @thewanderinghours on Facebook.

Runner Up: The Florida Mountain Boys @The-Florida-Mountain-Boys on Facebook.

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Winner: Stephen P Brown stephenpbrown.com

Second Place: Colleen Schmitt linkedin.com/in/colleen-schmitt

Runner Up: Mark Sforzini marksforzini.com

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Winner: DJ Mike Sklarz @djmikesklarz on Instagram.

Second Place: DJ Paul Santana djsantana.com

Runner Up: DJ Austen Van Der Bleek avbleek.com

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Winner: Gasparilla Music Festival gasparillamusic.com

Second Place: 97x Next Big Thing 97xonline.com 

Runner Up: Billy Joel at AMALIE Arena cltampa.com

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Winner: Brokenmold Entertainment brokenmoldentertainment.com

Second Place: FWDThinkers fwdthinkersmusic.com

Runner Up: TampaBayNightLife.TV tampabaynightlife.tv

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Kitty Daniels

Kitty Daniels is an octogenarian matriarch of the Tampa Bay jazz scene and the last person I expected to see jump on the coronavirus livestream bandwagon, but her sessions—bare bones with just a piano and whatever light was in the room—were some of the most heartwarming of those early shutdown days. Her love of the Great American Songbook shone through, and if you tuned in for even just five minutes, your day could be transformed. kittydaniels.com —Ray Roa

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'Underoath: Observatory'

COVID-19 still has the national touring industry in a chokehold. Across the country, venues are closing and musicians are having to quit their craft to keep food on the table (streaming services virtually eliminated income from album sales, remember?). Everywhere, artists at every level started livestreaming. Some of it was cringeworthy, but all of it was—and still is—a chance for the community to support its creative class. One local band, however, went all out. Granted, Underoath (which was supposed to open for Slipknot in arenas this summer) is in a different league when it comes to fanbase (the Grammy-nominated rock outfit sold-out Yuengling Center for chrissake), but it was able to use its resources to turn its ambitions into reality with a series of cinematically-shot, live full-album performances staged at an off-the-record soundstage in Tampa. The band sold exclusive online access to fans—and ask local venues to sell discounted tickets and make some money for themselves—but bundled a lot of it with merch to help the bottom line. On the day of the first show, Forbes reported that revenue from the band’s “Observatory” concerts was on pace to “compensate for all the touring revenue lost this year,” adding that when sales started for the concerts, there was “a conversion rate of $800 per email,” which led to the band passing “the six-figure threshold in the first two days of sales.” That’s a lot of money for crew, support staff and the band itself—and if other bands can pull it off, it looks like a model that could save bands with equally devoted and widespread fanbases. underoath777.com —Ray Roa

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Big Baby Scumbag

There are plenty of reasons to be more like Big Baby Scumbag right now, and the foremost is hygiene. The Tampa rapper born Tyrell Williams hasn’t changed his routine too much in the face of the coronavirus because he was pretty damn tidy to begin with. “Honestly, man,I wash my hands all the time. I’m not saying a lot of people are dirty, but people aren’t as clean as they need to be,” Scumbag, 25, told CL in April. Plus, the Town ‘N’ Country product is having a hell of a year. In January, Pitchfork gave his Big Baby Earnhardt mixtape a 7.1, adding that “The tracks on the Florida rapper’s latest tape overflow with jubilant maximalism and have a proudly Southern bounce.” A follow up (www.flexedupshawty.com), released in August) is a Windows 98-style throwdown, but our favorite single is March’s “Fuck Coronavirus 2020”—a full-blown trap rager where a masked Scumbag passes on dapping people or shaking hands all while spraying them down with Lysol and drinking Bud Light instead of White Claw. In the hook, Scumbag joyously sings, “Fuck coronavirus. I’ll punch him in his jaw.” If he was in office instead of DeSantis, we might have this thing under control by now. @bigbabyscumbag on Instagram —Ray Roa

See all winners from Best of the Bay 2020.