By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Reader's Choice: Sutra
Best Club DJ
Dennis Owens of Good Foot at Que Sera
1923 E. Seventh St., Long Beach
One of the key figures in Long Beach's thriving music scene, 35-year-old Dennis Owens plays bass for the outstanding bands Free Moral Agents and BlowUpBlow. But it's his role as DJ for the long-running Good Foot night at Que Sera for which he is probably best-known and -loved. Most club nights have trouble lasting nine months; Good Foot has been enabling people's groove addictions for nine years. That sort of durability in clubdom is extremely rare. Inspired by a 1997 visit to the Santa Monica drum-and-bass night Science with his best friend Rodi Delgadillo, the duo started Good Foot the next year, after Owens' band Action League folded. Rather than spinning drum-and-bass, though, Owens opted to shod the Good Foot mainly with vintage funk and soul, music that's moved humans of many ethnicities for decades. Owens can spring some unlikely cuts on you, amid the killer tunes you've probably heard before. He has a particular knack for finding awesome Brazilian artists (Emilio Santiago, Gal Costa, Antonio Carlos E Jocafi, Gilberto Gil, etc.) and plucking obscure gems from very popular musicians (e.g., "Maria" by Michael Jackson, "The Jugglers" by Average White Band). Whether your feet be good or bad, every second Friday, Owens will treat them (and your damned ears) with expert care.
Reader's Choice: Eric Cubiche (various clubs)
Best Night Out for Anglophiles
Definitely Maybe at Memphis
2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa
Where were you when we were getting high—on awesome British music? Seriously, where the hell have you been? You've been missing some incredible mixes from DJs TSC-1 (Sean Harris) and AM 180 (Darren Crandell), who've been dropping bloke-rockin' choons every Wednesday for four years at the cozy Costa Mesa Memphis Café. Attendance is way below what it ought to be. What makes Definitely Maybe interesting is that TSC-1 and AM 180 spin well-known artists such as Joy Division, Stone Roses and Morrissey, but they balance this familiarity with obscure gems by Ride, Slowdive, the Creation and other cult faves. It's refreshing to hear DJs catering to the highest uncommon denominator. Definitely Maybe's an oasis of cool sounds. Sort it out, mate.
Best Rock Club
843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa
This Costa Mesa fixture is really three clubs in one. There's the semi-intimate main room, where rock bands rock; there's the sleek, stylish lounge area, where one can hear rock bands rocking, or listen and/or dance to DJs deejaying, and/or get one's drink on, and/or buy band merch; and, finally, there's the homey back room, where one can play tunes on the digital jukebox and watch rock bands on television screens and shoot pool, or engage in the ancient art of conversation without wrecking vocal cords as one tries to be heard over the din of rock bands rocking. Linking the main room with the lounge is a huge, crooked-horseshoe-shaped bar. From the bar, one can both watch rock bands rocking directly or on a television screen. Finally, more sofas per square foot sit in this place than in a Levitz showroom. Aside from the superlative blueprint, Detroit Bar also boasts one of the county's finest sound men, Ken Tustison. This veteran knob-twiddler is actually someone with whom you wouldn't mind sharing a drink and geeking out to music trivia.
Detroit Bar also embraces musical diversity. Every last Saturday, Abstract Workshop puts on a hip-hop seminar, with world-class talent regularly wrecking (work)shop. And every Tuesday and Wednesday, those whippersnappers with their crazy turntables and Seratos and (you're not gonna believe this) vinyl bust out the fresh dance tunes that help you to bust moves, with the Kat Step and Busy Work nights, respectively. And, if you like to laugh, you can head to the joint early on Tuesdays for We Know Funny comedy showcases. Oh, you don't like to laugh? Then hit Detroit's Sunday night karaoke shindigs. Detroit's brain trust—owners Dan Bradley, Jon Reiser, Diego Velasco, Mike Harris and Scott Hamilton, as well as talent booker Chris Fahey—has connections, see. Detroit's executives use their power for good, and OC's music scene is much richer for it.
Reader's Choice: Detroit Bar
Best All-Ages Venue You Don't Know About
2208 S. Lyon St., Santa Ana
Ah, the all-ages venue. You love it when you're younger, ecstatically grateful to have a place where you are able to witness your favorites perform live-and-in-person . . . or just to have a place where you don't feel too young. But as you grow older, you start hating the very thought of it—kids milling about, the idea of even more people crowding up a show for your band (you were totally listening to them, like, way back when they only played garages and basements and had a self-recorded, three-song demo) and, the absolute worst, no alcohol.
Well, there's a happy medium. Sort of. There's still no booze involved, but at least it's a place you can still snoot about to your friends. You know how it goes: You always feel cooler knowing about a place not many others do. Santa Ana's the Clinic is a venue where mostly local punk bands play. Its No. 1 agenda is supporting the local scene and showcasing bands in an environment where everyone is able to watch. Best of all, the Clinic isn't one of those cursed pay-to-play venues (LA, we're looking in your direction) where bands are required to presell a certain quota of tickets in order to perform. The Clinic's official website makes a good point about the no-alcohol-thing, anyway: "Being an all ages venue, there is a strict no alcohol policy. Drunk kids/adults cause drama; we don't like drama."