Myles Chavez, the guitarist and vocalist for The Riddims, takes home this year’s honors as Best of Burque Music Reader’s Poll winner for Best Songwriter. Chavez, who was also named this feature’s Best Musician of 2016, leads a band of extra-spicy local musicians whose band took home the number one trophy for Best New Band as well as placing in several other categories of this year’s awards.
2) Russell James Pyle
3) Adam Hooks
Kyle Martin/David McGuire/Adam Hooks (Three Way Tie)
Ah, now the competition begins. Here we have a rare three-way tie that represents the ultimate, stupendously suave essence of our local music scene. Sharing top reader’s rating this year for best composer are alien-country-cowboy west-rocker Kyle Martin—whose latest effort, “Alien Cowboy,” is jangly and searing, casual vocals and all; The Composer-in-Residence at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in the Burque’s North Valley, David McGuire—who also performs as a tenor in local choral groups, and Adam Hooks, the leader and source of all things radically restorative to the concept and reality of punk—though his work in Russian Girlfriends. Each artist in this category represents a formidable force in the deep waters of our town’s reservoir of sound.
2) Steve Hammond
3) Russell James Pyle
Kyle Martin: “Alien Cowboy”
Ryan McGarvey/Myles Chavez (Tie)
Perennial Best of Burque favorite Ryan McGarvey faced stiff competition this year. Despite a yuuge touring career (he spent much of 2016 touring Europe)that means McGarvey the axe-master performs in his home town about once a year (he last did it for the locals at the zoo in May 2016), he still knotted things up with local hero Myles Chavez, he of The Riddims, y’all. While McGarvey continues to enjoy the fruits of what jamming at places like Tin Star Saloon in Mayschoss, Germany will get you, Chavez is spreading his roots around here through a growing number of daring performances. In both cases the fretwork of these two is notable for attention to detail, timbres that are electrifying and solos that kill.
2) Dimi DiSanti
Ryan McGarvey at the Blues Garage, 2016
Bassist Artha Meadors has been playing music since he was 14 years old. Artha spent most of his youth cutting his teeth in the local rock scene, co-founding bands like Falling Process, and being a sideman for bands like Old Man Shattered and A Summer’s End. Growing up simultaneously in the gospel and R&B scene, Meadors studied under local gospel pianist Ricki Warren. In 2014, Artha became the Musical Director for JDS (The James Douglas Show) while also working with local guitarists Ryan McGarvey, Eric McFadden, and Chris Dracup. Currently he and his cohorts, Josef Scott and Chris Gadson, are in the middle of finishing the first EP for their new project, Citizens of Tape City, a mixture of progressive rock switches, R&B hooks and funk prowess.
2) Aidan Gardner
3) Maren Hatch
The Artha Meadors Quartet performs
The dude here is the drummer for ¡Revíva!, the band that won Best of Burque Music awards in the categories of Best Latin Band and Best World Band. They also placed in the category Best Reggae/Ska Band. All of this previous data points to the fact that Espinosa must be well-versed on the concepts and in the praxis of poly-rhythm, stuttering yet fluid time-changes and the general groovaliciousness that comes with owning a piece of the funk. Espinosa’s drumming drives the band through set-pieces like “La Verdad” and also acts as a subtle agent of rustling rhythmic change on tunes like “Illegal.”
2) Chris Cruz
3) Jon Bartlit
One of the most versatile, learned and daringly expressive musicians outta Albuquerque. Monica DeMarco plays in several important projects/bands/ensembles around town, including Chicharra, a super low-register string affair with percussive flair thrown in all avant-casually. She’s also composer in residence for AirDance New Mexico, a multimedia dance project, and owns a piano studio (Vivace Music) too. Educated at the storied University of New Mexico Department of Music (man, could I tell you some stories about that place ...) in music theory and composition, DeMarco’s piano playing is unconventional verging on experimental, yet often references or restates the tonal concerns of the modernists. She also rocks pretty solid with mad skills that put her in a realm apart from much of the competition.
2) Noah Wolters
3) Petey Chavez
Best String Player
Multi-instrumentalist Billey is another longtime contributor to the local music scene whose wisdom, talent, tenacity and ability to lead a continuing evolution of a community probably led our reader’s to rate her number one as a string player here in town. From her work in Death Convention Singers to her latest project, Jessica Billey and the Rib Wrenchers, Billey is a consummate violinist with a clear and seemingly clairvoyant intonation. She can make her instrument a portal that transmits the screams of Durga or also use the damn thing to lead a hoe-down that will knock your socks off. From dead-voiced 8-bit Beatle’s covers to expansive interactions with the likes of Milch De La Machina and Leeches of Lore, Billey’s stringy musicality is practically undisputed according to our readers and this reporter, too.
2) Donovan Ortiz
3) Kyle Martin
Best Horn Player
Lee Taylor, another proud product of UNM’s magic music school, is the number one selection for readers who like their horn playing heated hellaciously before serving. Taylor is one of the hardest working musicians in the city and if you don’t believe you’ve seen him around then check out his webpage which details gigs from here to Hell and back. Taylor is a member of the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra, has been recorded as a member of The Glenn Miller Orchestra and also gives back to the community as a teacher with a studio at Baum’s Music in the Heights. Known for his instrumental mastery, Taylor handles the saxophone as well as other woodwind instruments and also studied clarinet at UNM with maestro Keith Lemmons.
2) David Schripsema
3) Ret Zen
The Lee Taylor Quartet: “Cold Duck Time”
Best Other Instrumentalist
A trumpet player by trade, this year’s winner in the Best Other Instrumentalist is anything but other. Gonzales is a rock-solid member of the local scene, from his teenage placement as the first chair trumpet player in the All-State Symphonic Band through his founding of premiere Burque cool jazz ensemble Tetragon in the ‘90s to his current associations with Son Como Son and Straight Up, a post-bop, straight with no chaser ensemble led by Santa Fe percussionist John Trentacosta. Gonzales is another damn busy session and side man here in Burque who also james with Latin jazz group Tradiciones and Spanish popsters Sparx. And get this: While doing all that, dude used to be an Albuquerque firefighter, tambien. Not bad for someone who’s also a music professor and jazz DJ.
2) Skyler Loving
3) Josh Gingerich
Paul Gonzales performs as part of Son Como Son at the Telluride Jazz Festival, 2013
Best Female Vocalist
Smith also holds the scepter for Best Soul/R&B Artist for this year’s iteration of BoBM, so it’s not entirely surprising that our readers also designated her the Best Female Vocalist too. As keenly noted in that bit of wish-upon-a-star-flavored odes to the singer’s rich vocal tapestries, her groovy intonations are a sustainable force here in Duke City, USA. Of course Amanda Machon, of the championship band Red Light Cameras is in the top three; but in between, Lilah Rose—a sharp, silken and substantive popped-out new comer—continues to rise.
2) Lilah Rose
3) Amanda Machon
Hillary Smith performs with Chris Dracup at TEDxABQ Women
Best Male Vocalist
Russian Girlfriends, Russian Girlfriends, Russian Girlfriends. I wish there were more Russian Girlfriends in this list because this year’s reader selection for Best Male Vocalist (Adam Hooks, natch) highlights something that his band’s triumph in the Best Punk Band glosses over. That’s the fact that Adam Hook’s confidently casual vocal style, spilling out the latest in semi-surreal post-punk observations on life, et cetera adds a snarky special sauce to the proceedings that is for sure gonna help propel this unit out of the local orbit and into the maws of big-time rocanrol reality. Dylan O’Connor of Irish rockabilly roustabouts Quality Retreads came in as a close second and our city’s answer to Robbie Robertson, the earthy and intense Russell James Pyle finishes out the big three, here.