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Readers Poll: Arts & Entertainment

by The Staff on April 10, 2014 · 8 comments


Best Movie Theater

1.  Spectrum 8 Theatres

2.  Regal Colonie Center Stadium 13

3.  Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas Saratoga

No contest: Spectrum 8 Theatres is the indie theater this town deserves as well as the anchor of the Delaware Avenue neighborhood. You guys chose it 2 to 1 over the big corporate megaplexes.

Best Museum

1.  New York State Museum

2.  Albany Institute of History & Art


It’s big, it’s free, and it has a carousel. It’s the New York State Museum and it won by a landslide.

Best Art Gallery

1.  Albany Center Gallery

2.  Sorelle Gallery

3.  Upstate Artists Guild

Albany Center Gallery endures and innovates. And gallerygoers responded with their ballots.

Best Local Performing Arts Organization

1.  Saratoga Performing Arts Center

2.  Capital Repertory Theatre

3.  Proctors

With a schedule ranging from rock to classical, jazz, opera, and ballet, SPAC wins this category with pliés to spare.



Best Live Theater Venue

1.  Proctors

2.  Capital Repertory Theatre

3.  Palace Theatre

The ageless grand dame of local theater, Proctors in Schenectady reigns supreme for its Broadway—and beyond—productions.

Best Children’s Arts Programming

1.  Steamer No. 10 Theatre

2.  Art Smarts

3.  Proctors

Where the child things are: Dramatically, they’re within this storybook-style theater, making it number one for youngster fun.

Best Local Visual Artist

1.  Jim Lewis

2.  Samson Contompasis

3.  Designz by Jewelz

It’s agreed: Troy artisan Jim Lewis’s sculptural, unique wood furnishings are a fine art.

Best Local Filmmaker

1.  Mike Feurstein

2.  Heidi Philipsen

3.  Jon Russell Cring

Mike Feurstein’s educational video, How to Unmake a Bully, was the making of this film and web-series director in the polls, where he was neck-and-neck with fellow Schenectadian Heidi Philipsen, director, writer, and star of the horror short Her Telling Heart.

Best Local Fiction Writer

1.  William Kennedy

2.  Dennis Mahoney

3.  Vince Zandri

Ironweed author William Kennedy is the Iron Man of local literature.

Best Local Non-Fiction Writer

1.  Brett Parker

2.  Paul Grondhal

3.  Don Rittner

Online movie reviewer Brett Parker, a.k.a. the Cinephile New York, tallied higher than the Times Union’s journalist-author Paul Grondhal and columnist-author Don Rittner.

Best Local Poet

1.  Brian Dorn

2.  Jay Renzi

3.  Mary Panza

Brian Dorn’s poetry collection is titled From My Poem to Yours. From his poems to your polls, he is this year’s top wordsmith.

Best Local Solo Musician

1.  Erin Harkes

2.  Maurizio Russomanno

3.  Sean Rowe

She’s a singer and a comedian and has a lot of local fans. No wonder Erin Harkes took top honors in both categories this year.

Best Live Music Venue

1.  Saratoga Performing Arts Center

2.  The Hollow Bar + Kitchen

3.  The Low Beat

SPAC and the Low Beat are about as different as concert environments get, but each hosts some of the region’s best acts. Props to the Hollow Bar for recently reinventing itself and quickly establishing itself as a star of Albany nightlife.

Best Dance Club/Dance Night

1.  Vapor Night Club

2.  Bootlegger’s on Broadway

3.  Fuze Box

When it comes to dancing in the 518, size matters, as Vapor Nightclub in Saratoga was voted as the primo location to get a groove on. Bootlegger’s in Troy wasn’t far behind though, proving that a pub can be as good as a club if the music’s right.

Best Open Mic

1.  Trick Shot Billiards & Sports Pub

2.  McGeary’s Pub

3.  Caffe Lena

McGeary’s and Caffe Lena have some of the most dedicated open mic scenes in the region. And Trick Shot has bar games to play while you wait for your turn at the mic. Don’t be shy.

Best Trivia Night

1.  The Ruck

2.  Bombers Buritto Bar

3. The Irish Times Pub & Restaurant: Trivia Night with Chad Koenig

It’s hardly news: All the smarties are moving to Troy.

Best Art Event

1.  Art on Lark

2.  Troy Night Out

3.  1st Friday Albany

Going on almost 20 years, Art on Lark, the annual block-long street fair of local art and music, beat out all the monthly city events.

Best Food Event

1.  Troy Pig Out

2.  Saratoga Chowderfest

3.  Albany Food & Wine Festival

Food and wine is mighty fine, but still can’t compete with piggies and crustaceans, as the barbecue bonanza of Troy Pig Out took first prize, followed by Saratoga’s clam-chowder chowdown.

Best Local Country Band

1.  Skeeter Creek

2.  Big Sky Country

3.  Eastbound Jesus

Whoa there, pardner. Skeeter Creek done wrangled this category by a mudslide. Do that many cowboy hats even fit in the same saloon together?

Best Local Blues/R&B Band

1.  Accents

2.  Holly & Evan

3.  The Chronicles

They’ve got a new album and a devoted following. The Accents won handily over stalwart duo Holly and Evan and jazz group the Chronicles.

Best Local Jazz Band

1.  The Chronicles

2.  Arch Station Quartet

3.  Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble

The Chronicles didn’t even need those misplaced blues votes (above) to pull this one out. All it took was solid chops and good tunes.

Best Local Punk Band

1.  The Last Conspirators

2.  Smittix

3.  Slaughterhouse Chorus

Frontman Tim Livingston is a punk road warrior, and his psych-tinged quartet have more than made an impact on the region.

Best Local Hiphop Artist

1.  Giant Gorilla Dog Thing

2.  MIRK

3.  Sev Statik, Mic Lanny (Tie)

The past couple years have seen a renaissance in the local hip-hop scene so, as per your requests, we’ll be adding more hip-hop categories to next year’s ballot (Best Rapper with a Beard, anyone?). Trumping all MCs, DJs, producers and bands this year is Pig Food Records’ banner duo Giant Gorilla Dog Thing.

Best Local Rock Band

1.  Chris Dukes Band

2.  Hard Soul

3.  John Morse Band

All of the above are stalwart bar acts with a loyal following. What it comes down to is how many of your friends you can get to fill out a ballot. And so Chris Dukes reigns supreme.

Best Local Indie-Rock Band

1.  Titanics

2.  Stellar Young

3.  Where’s Alex

Numbers one and two this year have already graced our cover, and for good reason: They’re some of the most talented and creative acts around. Where’s Alex is the dark horse here, and we’ll admit we’re unfamiliar. Someone tell us more . . .

Best Local Cover Band

1.  Skeeter Creek

2.  Funk Evolution

3.  Yankee Holler

Dang, Skeeter. Y’all play covers too? Between their two category wins, these guys are approaching Bob Kovachick-level popularity.

Best Local Metal Band

1.  Maggot Brain

2.  Brick by Brick

3.  Section 8

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds . . .”

Best Local Hardcore Band

1.  Brick by Brick

2.  Wartime Manor

3.  Stigmata

Upstate hardcore is still a force to be reckoned with thanks to bands like Brick By Brick.

Best Local Club DJ

1.  DJ Debonair Kendrick Ricci

2.  Nick Papa Giorgio

3.  DJ Trumastr

He’s got the most votes and the most letters in a DJ name probably ever. However, DJ Debonair Kendrick Ricci’s greatest feat might be that he defeated reigning champ Trumastr for the honor.

Best Comedian

1.  Erin Harkes

2.  Greg Aidala

3.  Jennifer McMullen

This category is a joke. Get it?

Best Local Arts Hero

1.  Samson Contompasis

2.  Howard Glassman

3.  Tim Reidy

A contender for best visual artist, Samson Contompasis wins this category for his enthusiastic promotion of contemporary artists near and not-so-near, from the gallery to the streets. Coming in at a comfortable second is former Valentine’s owner Howard Glassman, who continues to host the local music scene at his new joint, the Low Beat. And Metroland Ton Lokal columnist Tim Reidy is a showgoing hero if ever there was one.


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{ 1 comment }

Billy April 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I’ve seen Where’s Alex play at Rookies Bar&Grill and Centerfield Cafe. Apparently they are a fairly new band but they really rock, no doubt.

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