Best R&B Singer

TDE's first lady needs no introduction. Being on the same label as Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Isaiah Rashad certainly comes with a lot of pressure, and SZA does not disappoint. With the release of her debut album, CTRL, last year, audiences were left wondering, “Where the hell have they been hiding her?” With hit singles “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott, “Drew Barrymore” and “The Weekend,” SZA ended the year strong with four Grammy nominations and endless chart-breaking moments. Aside from thsee accomplishments, SZA is a strong, black female who isn't afraid to reveal her insecurities, with relatable lyrics we love to sing along to. —Shirley Ju

Best R&B Collective

It's hard to fully describe The Internet, as most view them as their own entity. Comprised of vocalist Syd, producer Matt Martians, guitarist-vocalist Steve Lacy, bassist Patrick Paige II and drummer Christopher Smith, The Internet break down all barriers in music genres, fusing together R&B, alternative, funk, pop and jazz. In 2015, the group released their debut album, Ego Death, which was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammys. With the release of “Girl” featuring Kaytranada, The Internet got their first taste of mainstream exposure. They're keeping the momentum going with their most recent single, “Come Over,” holding fans over until their forthcoming project, Hive Mind. —Shirley Ju

Jake&Papa; Credit: Flashpoint Grafix

Jake&Papa; Credit: Flashpoint Grafix

Most Slept-on R&B Singer

Anyone from L.A. can recognize Jake&Papa to be one of the most slept-on R&B acts in the city. With a sound reminiscent of '90s soul, the two brothers have been musically inclined since they could speak. They've worked with some of the greats, such as Ne-Yo and R. Kelly, and performed for the legendary Stevie Wonder. With a few loosies here and there, the duo released their first official project, Tattoos & Blues, last year. The EP's standout single, “Phones,” is bound to set the mood in any situation. Currently a proud member of ASCAP, Jake&Papa continue on with their independent grind, winning over newcomers with their slow jams and live performances. —Shirley Ju

Best R&B Album

Ty Dolla $ign continues to let his musical talents speak for themselves. In 2010, the L.A. native exploded on the scene with “Toot It & Boot It,” his breakout single with YG. Since then, he's inked a deal with Atlantic Records, penned records for some of music's most well-respected artists and even met his idol, Bad Brains, backstage at his show. Whether he's singing, rapping, producing, songwriting or playing the guitar, Ty$ puts his best work forward, creating timeless hits we'll never get sick of. With standout singles “Ex” featuring YG and “Love U Better” featuring The-Dream and Lil Wayne, Ty's most recent project, Beach House 3, is a reminder he is equally capable of creating a great piece of work from beginning to end. —Shirley Ju

Best R&B Single

Anderson .Paak is in his own musical lane. He started out as a producer but soon realized his own talents behind the mic. The singer-songwriter left his mark with his 2016 album, Malibu, which was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammys. .Paak serves as one half of music duo NxWorries, with producer Knxwledge, and tours with his own band called The Free Nationals. A collaborative effort, “Bubblin” was released just last month, reminding fans of the trials and tribulations .Paak had to conquer to get to where he is now. Beyond the inspirational message, this record will have you dancing in true Anderson .Paak fashion. —Shirley Ju

Best R&B Video

The only thing better than the actual Black Panther film is the soundtrack. With SZA leading the way for R&B singers and Kendrick Lamar leading the way for rappers, their collab “All the Stars” was one for the books. The collab follows the two's previous work, “Doves in the Wind,” off SZA's CTRL, which left fans in a frenzy. The trippy visual captures SZA flexing her vocals and Kendrick's signature flow, intertwined with captivating scenes from the film. Taking viewers through space, the 4-minute clip encourages everyone to go out there and pursue their dreams to the fullest. “All the Stars” currently clocks in at 128 million views and counting on YouTube. —Shirley Ju

Best Venue for Live R&B

Teragram Ballroom is where Sonder gave audiences one of the best performances of the year. Located in Westlake just west of downtown Los Angeles, Teragram sets the tone for a perfect evening of live music. The moment the artist hits the stage, you're instantly reminded you made the right decision on coming out to see them perform. The venue is small but not too small, and the open-format standing room allows fans to get as close, or as far, as they'd like. —Shirley Ju

Best Blues Singer

Janiva Magness is the kind of hopeless fool who really believes that love can change the world. Love, in its many disguises and forms, is the theme that ties together the songs on the L.A. blues singer’s recent album, Love Is an Army. “Hammer,” juiced with harmonica from guest Charlie Musselwhite, is a swaggering, funky and punchy hard-blues rocker, whereas such soulful tunes as “What’s That Say About You” and “Tell Me” demonstrate Magness’ ease with Stax-style R&B. “Our hearts know what to do,” she insists on the gospel-tinged title track. Magness knows firsthand how redemptive love can be. Raised in numerous foster homes after each of her parents killed themselves, the vocalist has worked much of her adult life on behalf of foster-care organizations. —Falling James

Suzanne Santo; Credit: Pat Mac

Suzanne Santo; Credit: Pat Mac

Best Folk/Roots Artist

The terms “folk” and “roots” can encompass so many forms of music, and there are numerous worthy practitioners of these and other related genres digging up traditional sounds and more modern variations in L.A. today. But Suzanne Santo stands out because of the combination of her catchy songwriting, lilting vocals and unexpectedly personal lyrics. Best known as half of the duo HoneyHoney, the singer-violinist is not a genre purist in her solo career, blending radio-friendly strains of pop, country, folk, rock and Americana in a series of mostly memorable songs from her recent Ruby Red album. “I want to smoke, and I want to drink and screw every time I think about you,” Santo declares at the outset of “Handshake,” before muted acoustic guitar gives way to restless surges of electric, funereal longing. —Falling James

Best Folk/Roots Group

There's usually nothing funny that happens when a comedian picks up a guitar — or, worse yet, a ukulele — and starts to sing. Suddenly, acoustic instruments become deadly dreary, emphasizing how much purportedly humorous folk ditties had better be actually funny if their lyrics are going to be heard so clearly in public spaces. Being funny doesn't seem to be a problem for Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, aka Garfunkel & Oates, whose romantic odes, such as “If I Didn't Have You (Bernadette's Song)” and “Fuck You in Heaven,” have been heard on television shows The Big Bang Theory and Another Period, respectively. On their 2015 album, Secretions, Micucci and Lindhome bravely confronted the perils of insincere late-night texters (“Self Esteem”), oral sex (“The BJ Song”) and the glorious absurdity of athletic achievements (“Sports Go Sports”). More recently, Garfunkel & Oates tried to bring conservatives and liberals together (with disastrous results) on “Both Sides Can Laugh.” —Falling James

Best Folk/Roots Album

A 43-minute moment of I'll-regret-this-in-the-morning, post-breakup weakness, Suzanne Santo's solo debut, Ruby Red, is an unabashedly intimate, ultimately defiant confessional that counterintuitively achieves universal resonance. Its soulful, borderline gothic Americana shuddering with lust, loss and lessons learned — not to mention a singular sense of accountability for these — Ruby Red finds the HoneyHoney multi-instrumentalist rewinding through romances and revisiting cold-shower carnal urges. Her delicately wrinkled, first-time-I've-told-anyone-this timbre blooms amid Butch Walker's organic and spartan yet articulate production. But it's the profound lyricism of Santo's songcraft — underlined by the almost narcotic nostalgia of its closing acoustic rendition of “Regrets” and her bare-bones live performances — that made Ruby Red the best album released last year, genre be damned. Unless you're somehow blissfully married to your first kiss, these 11 songs have something to share with you. —Paul Rogers

Best Outlaw Artist

In less than a decade, West Virginia–born, Southern California–based singer-guitarist Gethen Jenkins has gone from casual bluegrass jammer to fronting classic country bar band The Freightshakers to become one of the leading original outlaw forces in the nation — a progression consistently marked by the singer's fierce dedication to the form and undeniable involvement. This is hardcore, whiskey-soaked honky-tonk philosophy at its most resonant, and Jenkins' bandmates, particularly brilliant pedal-steel veteran Gary Brandin, perpetrate an idealized musical approach, never rushed or busy, full of open spaces and a rich atmosphere that Jenkins calls “that deep Telecaster sound.” It's paid off — they've gone from beer bar gigs to well-received tours through Texas and Tennessee, nabbing the Austin-based Ameripolitan Best Outlaw award. Fine stuff. —Jonny Whiteside

Tracy Dawn Thompson; Credit: Maurice Rinaldi

Tracy Dawn Thompson; Credit: Maurice Rinaldi

Best Country Artist

On the very day Kansas-born singer-songwriter Tracy Dawn Thompson finished school, she jumped in her car and took off for Los Angeles. In short order, the hard-driving teenager was headlining Friday nights at North Hollywood shrine the Palomino, pulling it off with a natural aplomb that tremendously enhanced the local mid-'90s country scene. Thompson's soulful, luminous pipes are a tremendous asset, but it's her writing that really distinguishes her — a deftly wrought approach that's equal measures of traditional and modern, always expressive and resolutely authentic. A true believer, Thompson defected for a spectacularly successful career in Christian rock during the 2000s (Warners and Atlantic both had her under contract), but her recent return to the honky-tonks is a stone blessing for country music fans. —Jonny Whiteside

Cody Bryant; Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Cody Bryant; Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Best Country Musician

Cody Bryant is a true California country zealot. The Whittier-raised multi-instrumentalist has devoted his entire life to the idiom, a passion readily evident in his playing, and whether he's roaring through a high-velocity bluegrass banjo breakdown, soaring into a flight of hot Western swing fiddle or swarming into a frantic honky-tonk work out, Bryant's raw talent, masterly technique and, most importantly, the feel and tone of his soloing are consistently impeccable. He has always gone for the jugular, enjoying a close, enduring alliance with the late, great Bard of Bakersfield, Red Simpson, and resurrecting, with family approval, 1940s-era Los Angeles cowboy swing orchestra Foy Willings' Riders of the Purple Sage. He's still working today with such West Coast country legends as steel guitarist Jay Dee Maness and pianist Skip Edwards. —Jonny Whiteside

Best Country Singer

Leslie Stevens has such an unusual and sweetly endearing birdlike trill in her voice that it’s no surprise that her honeyed, countrified singing has adorned Father John Misty’s record Fear Fun and Jim James’ upcoming solo album, Uniform Distortion. She puts her entrancing vocals to good use when she harmonizes with similarly angelic singers Kathleen Grace and Jamie Drake in the Americana trio Dear Lemon Trees. But Stevens reveals the full extent of her artful songwriting on her own recordings, such as Leslie & the Badgers’ Roomful of Smoke (2010) and the solo album The Donkey & the Rose (2016). “I have sailed the oceans, and they’re almost like your eyes,” Stevens rhapsodizes on “As Beautiful as You,” from The Donkey & the Rose. She frames such romantic sentiments in an engaging variety of homespun settings that range from similarly austere ballads and intimate folk workouts to uptempo country waltzes. —Falling James

Best Pop Star

Yeah, we know. Pop music isn't traditionally go-to fare for an alternative weekly. But screw it, we're gonna do it anyway. Hayley Kiyoko's performance at Coachella this year was so memorable, it seems inevitable that she'll rise to the top of the pop pile sooner rather than later. Her Expectations album was released this year, as her reputation continued to blossom. She's transitioned from teen star to bona fide artist. “I feel like with some albums, you think you're listening to the same song over and over again,” she told us recently, which goes some way toward explaining her thrilling blend of R&B and Latin music with her infectious pop. —Brett Callwood

Best Pop Concert/Spectacle

From the moment Katy Perry entered the stage in a cloud of white smoke — belting out “Witness” while riding atop a red-limned star that was flying through the pupil of a gigantic eyeball — her second of three concerts at Staples Center, on Nov. 8, was a nonstop, three-ring circus of fantastic visual distractions. The sensory overload never really let up as Perry presented her sugary early hits and sensual new songs from Witness while decked out in an endless array of vibrantly colorful, cartoonish outfits. The L.A.-based singer often soared precariously high above the rapturous faces of her adoring fams in a series of increasingly bizarre flying contraptions, but refreshingly she never took herself too seriously. New songs such as “Bon Appetit” and “Déjà Vu” had a lot more pop and verve compared with the studio versions. When Perry wasn't being swallowed up by gigantic floating red lips or attacked by oversize salt and pepper shakers, she thoughtfully took the time to phone her mom and to invite onstage a young girl, who asked the singer to grant her wish for a unicorn. —Falling James

Best Orchestra

L.A. Chamber Orchestra has done some mighty impressive things over the past year, from placing its horn and woodwind players throughout the audience for maximum aural depth in the U.S. premiere of Dai Fujikura's strangely enchanting Secret Forest to collaborating with composer Andrew Norman and drawing a diverse crowd of curiosity seekers to a downtown brewery for a soiree of angular avant-garde string works that were presented with a ritualized performance-art flair. But L.A. Philharmonic has been just as experimental, mixing this season's repertoire of traditional classics by Gustav Mahler, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann with thrilling new avant-garde compositions that poke and scrape past the currently recognized boundaries of time, space and sound. And some of the most daring new-music works have proved the most popular, especially when they've been combined with inventive visuals, such as the world premieres of such operatic sci-fi fantasies as Annie Gosfield's War of the Worlds and Norman's A Trip to the Moon. No matter what L.A. Phil performs, it remains one of the most full-bodied and expressive large orchestras on the continent. —Falling James

Best Conductor

Los Angeles is home to several significant conductors, each of whom has a distinct style and methodology for making the dry pages of sheet music suddenly come alive with verve and personality. L.A. Opera music director James Conlon is not only masterful at delivering classic operas and other works with a controlled passion and full dynamic palette, he is also an entertaining historian who provides amusing insights in his popular preperformance lectures. Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki, the first woman named as L.A. Philharmonic’s principal guest conductor, demonstrates astonishing range, whether she’s assuredly presiding over traditional symphonic works or wringing out every last quick, rhythmic twist in a jolting and undulating new-music piece. But L.A. Phil music director Gustavo Dudamel is still the king. He always seems to energize the musicians in the orchestra with a casual forcefulness, keeping things playful yet never losing his focus. Dudamel’s occasional Green Umbrella forays have proved that he’s still nimble, curious and alertly attentive to every sonic nook and cranny in an adventurous avant-garde deconstruction. And when he and the band kick into Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at full power, live music just doesn’t get any more magnificent and gloriously euphoric. —Falling James

Best Opera Production

If you’re a fan of loud, passionate voices that can change the fate of the world and/or an absurd opera plot line through little more than sheer volume and emotional intensity, then L.A. was a great place to be in the past year. L.A. Opera mounted several lavish and traditional but nonetheless satisfying big productions, including a bold and dramatic Carmen and a diverting and visually sumptuous Candide, as well as the lesser-known The Pearl Fishers, with its enchanting opening of sea-diving aerialists. Most of Pacific Opera Project’s presentations over the past year were bawdy good fun in generally intimate settings, and Long Beach Opera overcame a couple of clunkers with the stirring emotional resonance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s timely bureaucratic nightmare The Consul and Frank Martin’s romantic fable The Love Potion. But the best opera might have been one of the newest — L.A. Philharmonic’s West Coast premiere of local composer Andrew Norman’s A Trip to the Moon. Architectural-minded composer Norman’s angular, unpredictable work usually appeals to only the most open-minded listeners, but his melodious tunes in this opera were a delightful pairing with director Yuval Sharon’s fanciful visuals in evoking the Georges Méliès silent film. —Falling James

Best Opera Diva

A city that causes so much passion and mixed emotions requires a diva who can stir up and embody such feelings and then vault them out of her diaphragm and lungs through the roof as a kind of symbolic and cathartic ritual for the rest of us. Although opera soloists are often nomadic, several great vocalists — alternately fiery and more nuanced — reside in Southern California or were raised here, among them Julianna Di Giacomo, Hila Plitmann, So Young Park, Jamie Chamberlin, Peabody Southwell and Liv Redpath. But Suzan Hanson is a diva among divas. In recent years with Long Beach Opera, the soprano has portrayed a variety of repressed, uptight women, such as presidential wife Pat Nixon in John Adams’ Nixon in China and the confused mother of a U.S. soldier with PTSD in Fallujah. When Hanson opens her mouth, her characters’ hopes, fears, desires and secret thoughts come pouring out in a mellifluous rush of unbridled emotions that is amplified further by Hanson’s persuasive acting and intensity. —Falling James

Best Opera Company

You really can’t go wrong with any of the three major opera companies in the Los Angeles area. Long Beach Opera is the place to go if you want challenging, arty, modern and overlooked operas. L.A. Opera can’t be beat when it comes to traditional classic operas with massive sets, large choruses and colorful costumes, and the company’s Off Grand series of newer, more experimental works is often creatively exciting. Pacific Opera Project might seem like a joke with its campy and irreverent alterations of classic works and lesser-known obscurities, but the singing is always of a high level, especially in this past season’s witty and modernized (but ultimately still emotionally moving) versions of La Bohème and a gangster-style remake of Don Giovanni. Significantly, POP’s productions, set in warehouses, cemeteries and small playhouses, are usually held in intimate venues with ticket prices that generally start at $20. —Falling James

Best Jazz Band

Founded in 1961 in Los Angeles by composer and pianist Horace Tapscott, The Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra has — over the decades and with a constantly revolving roster of players — solidly and staunchly carried on the late Tapscott's dream of utopian living through jazz and inner understanding. Spiritual jazz has always found a home in Los Angeles, whether in the form of the Coltrane legacy or occasional manifestations of Sun Ra consciousness or singer Dwight Trible's Life Force Trio. The Arkestra's lifelong goal of performing and preserving African-American music hasn't wavered, and it's an ideal that the group have been able to take overseas to deeply enthusiastic appreciation. Spreading the good word of Tapscott's artistic philosophy as a way of life is an ideology that precious few other bands or artists ever consider conceiving. As such, the Arkestra shines like a gem you find was in your backyard all along. —David Cotner

Best Jazz Musician

There are numerous great jazz soloists in Los Angeles, but how many of them can ring out such vibrant, unerring and intrinsically melodious patterns and compulsively hypnotic grooves — from a seemingly endless array of percussion instruments — as Munyungo Jackson? Having worked with Miles Davis, Dianne Reeves and Stevie Wonder, among many others, the L.A. native can find the rhythm inside the rhythm, or stand outside the rhythm and jump back inside the beat at any time. Jackson does all this with a casually deft smoothness and real sense of swing instead of the stressed-out, overly busy huffing and puffing of other drummers. That’s not to say Jackson isn’t visually mesmerizing onstage, his magician hands a blur of controlled motion, touch and nuance as he turns nearly every piece of nearby furniture and solid surface around him into a launching pad for his dazzling, rattling tones and overtones. —Falling James

Best Avant-Garde Ensemble

Avant-garde music — that seemingly most difficult, complex, experimental and least melodically rewarding of all music genres — is oxymoronically growing in popularity in L.A. There’s a fairly large underground scene of young fans and musicians who are tired of predictable tunes and formal musical structures, and many of them prefer to witness new-music concerts in unusual venues with performance-art elements. Such ensembles as Wild Up, Gnarwhallaby, Lyris Quartet, Dog Star Orchestra and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra are often more interested in finding new ways in which old instruments can be refashioned to make music that echoes the jarring and shifting sounds of the modern world. Some musicians branch out from more established orchestras, such as LACO’s smaller ensembles and the L.A. Phil New Music Group, while others have more of a punk or jazz, DIY background. Exploring new music is actually an old tradition in L.A., from the long-running Monday Evening Concerts series to presentations by Piano Spheres and Salastina Music Society, which alternate classics with new works. Any one of these groups is worth celebrating, but Wild Up has been at the center of some of this city’s most adventurous concerts for nearly a decade, and the ensemble has long found beauty in the most unexpected places. —Falling James

Chicano Batman; Credit: Josue Rivas

Chicano Batman; Credit: Josue Rivas

Best Latin Band

Categories are kind of arbitrary sometimes. Chicano Batman could just as easily be awarded Best Soul Band or Best Band, period. The L.A. band have already been around for a decade, but the evocative, summery tunes on Freedom Is Free (2017) and Cycles of Existential Rhyme (2014) still feel like a cool new breeze blowing through this city. Their funky-pop songs, such as the idyllic “Passed You By” and “La Jura,” float onward in a soft haze of dreamy vocals and Bardo Martinez's keyboards. Despite such lovely musical settings, Chicano Batman aren't mindless escapists. “Mass killings and mass graves, globalization of slaves/Genocide and extinction, all the functions of civilization,” Martinez recites on “The Taker Story,” an unsparing look at oppression and environmental destruction in this supposedly enlightened modern age. —Falling James

Best World Music Act

The best world music is the kind that's so expansive that it creates a world unto itself. Dengue Fever — the Los Angeles sextet led by Khmer singer Chhom Nimol — began life as a loose-knit group of aficionados of Cambodian rock music. Their growing dedication to this music — as well as evolving a sound of their own that runs the gamut from girl-group to surf music to psychedelic rock — brought them to the attention of both Peter Gabriel and Tuareg rockers Tinariwen. They also wound up saving some older Cambodian music with their 2010 compilation, Dengue Fever Presents: Electric Cambodia — but as they tried to find the Cambodians behind those rare songs from the '60s and '70s, they came up against the grim realization that most if not all of those musicians had been murdered in the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. —David Cotner

Jon Hassell; Credit: Roman Koval

Jon Hassell; Credit: Roman Koval

Best Electro-Acoustic Landscape Painter

Composer-trumpeter-sound theorist Jon Hassell is the L.A.-based creator of connections whose composed and improvised “Fourth World” music crossbreeds rhythmic and tonal wisdom from the ancient world with the latest in digital technology. He has been enormously inspirational, to put it politely, among the hungry hordes of electronic, New Age and world-music artists of the last 40 or so years, owing primarily to the widespread influence of his collaborations with Brian Eno, Björk, Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel. The Memphis-born Hassell brings uncommon intuitions about how music, visual art, language, history, food, scents, “culture,” the body, the brain and just about everything else forming our beliefs about human nature can be viewed as individual threads in a single, very large fabric, and how that fabric might be endlessly rewoven. Bursting with ideas and better yet persuasive audio sensuality, his new album is titled Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) (Ndeya). —John Payne

Jeff Parker; Credit: Jim Newberry

Jeff Parker; Credit: Jim Newberry

Best Nu-Jazz Instrumentalist

As a mainman on the Chicago edge-jazz/experimental scene and member of post-rock titans Tortoise, guitarist Jeff Parker has made a big stamp on all things progressive music. You've got to give him a big-umbrella term like that because this beautifully different-eared musician probes an idiosyncratic vision that falls between genre cracks, as can be heard on his recent solo album, The New Breed (International Anthem); it earned critical raves for its gritty funk/jazz/hip-hop/other meltdowns whose choicely dusty grooves were built on compositional ideas Parker sampled from his collection of vintage vinyl LPs and 45s. Now an L.A. resident, Parker has of late been out and about in collaboration with a lot of our very best like-minded jazz mutators at our town's best prog-jazz venues; indeed, he has almost singlehandedly made L.A. the epicenter of the burgeoning avant-jazz boom. —John Payne

Pop Levi; Credit: Aldo Carrera

Pop Levi; Credit: Aldo Carrera

Best Electro-Pop Remake/Remodeler

The charismatic Pop Levi emits the glow of superstar no matter what area of endeavor he traverses. The London/Shrewsbury/Liverpool transplant got his start as a member of Ninja Tune's Super Numeri, played bass in Ladytron for a spell, signed a solo deal with Ninja Tune, moved to L.A. and set up shop. In the last few years, along with Grammy-nominated songwriting/production collabs with Childish Gambino and The Weeknd, he's done a few albums' worth of sheer electric-rock genius — awesome and admirably good-humored batches of high-gloss/lo-fi pop 'n' rock dittyness, all quite futuristic. Electro and retro, glam and sexy. Always way danceable, and far more intelligent than about 99 percent of other roots-disco product. Bah, that's the merest tip of the iceberg of what this imaginative artist has going on. Try checking out Pop's plethora of absurdly inspired videos on YouTube, which will link you to faraway, mysterious, painterly, funny places, where creativity has not died. —John Payne

Best Strip Club DJs

If you want to know which workers are really impacted by automation, look no further than your humble local strip club DJ. Both Spotify and jukeboxes have done a lot to replace strip club DJs — themselves responsible for replacing the trombone-and-drums combos of the burlesque halls of yesteryear. Jumbo's Clown Room has taken a novel approach: Put the power to choose the music into the hands of the workers. Strippers at Jumbo's are free to choose their own soundtrack to throw away their own clothes to — anything from “Photograph” by Def Leppard to “Back in Black” by AC/DC to the highly erotic “99 Bottles of Beer.” You get some insight into the personality of the person behind the persona when you hear what moves her to gyrate across the stage, and those ladies understand that music can be as arousing as bare skin or a glimpse of sensuality. —David Cotner

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