Eugene Weekly : Best of Eugene : 2008


Best of Eugene 2008-2009:
Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll


Best DJ

Best DJ: The Audio Schizophrenic

1. The Audio Schizophrenic

2. DJ Tekneek 

3. Casey Mitchell 

Shawn Mediaclast, aka The Audio Schizophrenic, not only owns the creativity-outlet variety shop Feinstein’s Museum of Unfine Art in downtown Eugene, he also carries his professed DJ philosophy of “precision, soul and caring” to gigs around town, most notably SNAFU’s Freaks Night on Saturdays. We pestered this eclectic electro-fanatic with some questions. 

Use three words to describe why vinyl is better than digital: Rich, warm, simulacrum.

One DJ gig that sticks out in your mind: Dance for Impeachment at the WOW Hall. It brought DJs, bands and modern dancers under one roof to raise awareness about why impeachment was necessary. (See for Mediaclast’s full response.)

Your latest inspired mash-up: Trans X’s “Living on Video (French-language version)” and Los Lobos’ “La Bamba.”

Name the one song that instantly gets people on the dance floor: Amy Stewart’s “Knock on Wood.”

Best Acoustic Musician/Band

Best acoustic band: The Conjugal Visitors

1. The Conjugal Visitors

2. Bad Mitten Orchestre

3. Jesse Meade

Besides having one of the greatest names in local music, the Conjugal Visitors have one of the most infectious sounds, consistently moving their audiences with rootsy beats and a mischievous sense of humor. Claiming influences from Guns n’ Roses to Elvis (and quite a few bona fide blues and bluegrass giants in between) this fast-picking, harmonizing acoustic powerhouse takes the prize as Eugene’s favorite unplugged performers. Fans of mandolins and washboards should check out their newly released album, Satchel’s Rag, as well as upcoming performances at the Axe and Fiddle, John Henry’s and Holiday Market.

Best Blues Band

Best blues band: Deb Cleveland

1. Deb Cleveland

2. Eagle Park Slim

3. The Vipers

This isn’t the first time Deb Cleveland has won in the Best Blues category — she also won in 2005 (with the Vipers) and 2006 — and surely it won’t be the last. Back in the ’90s, Cleveland was a backup singer in a now-defunct Eugene band whose name has been forgotten by most people, a band that clearly suffered by not having the vision to move this talented lady out into the spotlight. When she finally claimed her rightful position as front woman of her own Deb Cleveland Band, her roadhouse blues and soul instantly became a hit in Eugene and beyond. While she’s not quite as famous as her childhood idol, Tina Turner, Cleveland does have a powerful voice, a knock-out smile and a lot of heart. 

Best Jazz Band

1. Eleven Eyes

2. Mood Area 52

3. Disco Organica

Best Hip Hop Performer/Ensemble

1. Lafa Taylor

2. Animal Farm

3. Marv Ellis

Even though Lafa Taylor splits his time between Tokyo and Eugene, the man is a Eugene hip hop institution. Taylor’s music reggae-heavy beats provided by DJ DV8 as well as a live backing band is catchy on its own, but like the residents of his Northwest home, Taylor’s got a lot to say about progressive politics. But he doesn’t take himself too seriously. “Aneejidda,” a track in which Taylor tries his hand at a club jam, has a lot of personality (the refrain is “Work that squishy!”), but it’s not another wannabe Top 40 horny-guy egotrip. No, in this one, Lafa shows his love for all types of women — big, little or a little squishy. Eugene can definitely get behind that.

Best Reggae/World Band

1. I-chèle & the Circle of Light

2. Samba Ja

3. Norma Fraser



Best Rock Band


1. Volifonix

2. Reeble Jar

3. Yeltsin

The Red Hot Chili Peppers on some really mellow and smooth acid. Maybe Pink Floyd in bed with the Meters. Both are apt descriptions of Volifonix, the band Eugeneans voted best rock band. With Reeble Jar, a tribal fusion band led by an expert didgeridoo player, coming in a close second, it appears that you prefer your local rock bands to be heavily spiced with instrumental grooves and world flavor.

Best Bartender

Best bartender: Jeffrey Morgenthaler

1. Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Bel Ami Restaurant & Lounge 1591 Willamette St. 485-6242 ext. 1.

2. Ty Connor, The Horsehead 99 W. Broadway. 683-3154.

3. Somerfield Habener, Luckey’s 933 Olive St. 687-4643.

It seems appropriate that it’s this year that Jeffrey Morgenthaler tops the list as your favorite drink-mixer in town. In the last year, Morgenthaler’s had drink recipes appear in Playboy (the Bourbon Renewal) and Food and Wine Cocktails 2008 (the Batida Rosa, an “interpretation of a classic style of Brazilian beach cocktail”); his writing has spread beyond his popular blog to Germany’s Mixology magazine, where he’s now a regular contributor; and recently he gave a presentation on using the web to connect to the global bar community at the Berlin Bar Conference (the Germans, it appears, like him as much as we do). Voters love his Richmond gimlet, which won Best House Drink; unprompted, one of our writers penned an ode to his gin and tonics; personally, we like picking something new from the ever-changing cocktail list for the first drink — the Autumn Leaves is a current favorite — and asking Morgenthaler what else he’s got up his sleeve for the second. And third.

Best Bar

1. Sam Bond’s Garage 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.

2. The Horsehead 99 W. Broadway. 683-3154.

3. Davis’ Restaurant 94 W. Broadway. 485-1124.

Bar With the Best Amusements

1. Sam Bond’s Garage 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.

2. Jackalope Lounge 453 Willamette St. 485-1519.

3. Max’s Tavern 550 E. 13th Ave. 349-8986.

The first time we went to bingo night at Sam Bond’s, a tiny set of mounted antlers was one of the prizes. A friend decided from the get-go that the antlers would be hers, and lo and behold, she won them. Another friend wasn’t quite so lucky when a vintage food processor sat on the prize table; after she lost that round, the possibility of finding the winner in the parking lot and offering to buy it off him was discussed yet quickly abandoned. The point is, you never know what you might win (or lose out on) at bingo night, but you know it’ll be fun. And if it’s not Monday? There’s always another reason to go to the Whiteaker establishment readers have voted Eugene’s best bar for three years running. There’s the back garden, the rotating selection of beers on tap, the friendly staff, the low cover charges to see great bands from near and far, the pizza … 

Best Happy Hour or Drink Specials

1. Starlight Lounge 830 Olive St. 343-3204.

2. The Vintage 837 Lincoln St. 349-9181.

3. The Horsehead 99 W. Broadway. 683-3154.

At the Starlight it’s always a happy hour, with drink specials at all times of the night to cater to those who aren’t on a rigid 9 to 5 work schedule. Two buck Ninkasi pints are served up during the traditional happy hour at Starlight, but later in the night is the real draw: $2 shots of Patrón from 9:30 to 10:30 pm. After once paying over $40 for three shots of Patrón at a certain other Eugene watering hole, we figure the Starlight is a real bargain, especially when we manage to arrive at the right time!

Best Locally Brewed Beer

1. Total Domination IPA, Ninkasi Brewing

2. Believer Double Red, Ninkasi Brewing

3. tie: 

Espresso Stout, Oakshire Brewing

Tricerahops Double IPA, Ninkasi Brewing

Talk about total domination. Ninkasi nearly swept this entire category, but Oakshire Brewing’s Espresso Stout crept into a third-place tie with Ninkasi’s Tricerahops.  And hey: More people spelled Ninkasi correctly on this year’s ballots, which is clearly a sign of even greater public awareness, right? At the moment, Ninkasi’s MySpace page announces that the brewery is about to “go statewide in Oregon and Washington,” which is good news for the still-young company and for beer drinkers across the Northwest, who don’t yet know what a treat they’re in for. 



Best House Drink

1. Richmond Gimlet, Bel Ami 1591 Willamette St. 485-6242 ext. 1.

2. Chili Margarita, Ring of Fire 1099 Chambers St. 344-6475.

3. tie: 

Pama/grana/tana, Jo Federigo’s 259 E. 5th Ave. 343-8488.

Lavender Lemon Drop, The Vintage 837 Lincoln St. 349-9181.

We’d love to write up the Richmond gimlet, but the mere suggestion of this superb Jeffrey Morgenthaler-invented ode to the glories of Tanqueray 10 gin makes us want to take off for Bel Ami or one of the many other bars in town that now serve it. Some places prefer powdered sugar to simple syrup, some use sweet and sour, some substitute Rose’s for fresh lime — you can find, and create, several variations, but try one made by Morgenthaler for the original combo of sweet, sour, tangy and fresh that makes almost everyone who tries one happy. We’d like to propose Richmond gimlets as the official drink of the celebration we hope to have on Nov. 4. To the White House!

Best Winery

1. Sweet Cheeks Winery and Vineyards 26961 Briggs Hill Road. 349-9463.

2. King Estate Winery 80854 Territorial Rd. 942-9874.

3. Territorial Vineyards 907 W. 3rd Ave. 684-9463.

First-time winner Sweet Cheeks, which will celebrate its third year over Thanksgiving weekend, is known not only for its wines but also for the live music events that take place at the calm and pretty tasting room. The winery sits atop the twin mounds of Briggs Hills, which gave it the saucy name. The vineyard grows chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot gris and Riesling, and offers several estate wines. The award-winning dry Riesling is particularly good, offering lime and jasmine on the nose, grapefruit and kiwi notes and that characteristic mineral finish.

Best Selection of Beer on Tap

1. The Bier Stein 345 E. 11th Ave. 485-2437.

2. Good Times Café and Bar 375 E. 7th Ave. 484-7181.

3. tie: 

Eugene City Brewery 844 Olive St. 345-4155.

Sam Bond’s Garage 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.

Highlands Brew Pub 390 E. 40th Ave. 485-4304.

“This category is worthless with the Bier Stein in town,” wrote one voter, who may have been disgruntled or may have been speaking praise; it’s not entirely clear. We understand the voter’s point, to a point: The delightful Stein, with its ever-changing taps (they’ve even added a sign telling quaffers what’s coming soon), is a beer-lover’s heaven. This is the place to find things we’ve never seen on tap anywhere else in town, and we worry, when we haven’t stopped in for a while, that we might have missed something awesome. But still, we disagree about the category’s worthlessness. After all, the other establishments in the top three have their own very worthy charms, from Eugene City Brewery’s Track Town ales to the many, many taps of Highlands and Good Times to the small and always varied selection of mostly West Coast brews at Sam Bond’s. The point is, this town has a lot to offer beer drinkers. And we like to recognize that.

Best Live Music Venue

1. WOW Hall

2. Cuthbert Amphitheater

3. McDonald Theatre

Best Hangover Breakfast

1. Brails 1689 Willamette St. 343-1542.

2. The Glenwood 1340 Alder St., 343-8303; 2588 Willamette St., 687-8201.

3. The Keystone 395 W. 5th Ave. 342-2075.

Best Naughty Business

1. Silver Dollar Club 2620 W. 10th Place. 485-2303.

2. Imagine That 2727 Willamette St. 767-6816.

3. Freudian Slip 870 Pearl St. 345-7547.

Honestly, we’re a little surprised we didn’t win this category. Judging from some of our letter writers, we’re in the newspaper business to make them feel uncomfortable in their own skin. And we apparently encourage naughty behavior by writing about students who pay for their tuition by erotic dancing at bars and clubs. So it is a bit surprising that the naughtiest business in Eugene doesn’t feature a bunch of journalists geeking out on comma splices but a group of beautiful women dancing for their daily bread. The Silver Dollar, off West 11th and Conger, features hot tub and shower stages, VIP and champagne rooms and some easy-on-the-wallet drink specials so you can tip plenty and tip often.

Best Body Art & Mod Shop

1. High Priestess Piercing 675 Lincoln St., 342-6585; 525 E. 13th Ave., 343-3311.

2. The Parlour Tattoo 1097 Willamette St. 345-6465.

3. Black Lotus Tattoo 1011 W. 6th Ave. 434-8282.

It’s tough competition here in Eugene among the tattoo studios and piercing shops that specialize in decorating the bodies of everyone from frat boys to cool hippie mamas, but this is not the first time High Priestess has taken first prize in a body mod category. Stop by their campus location right next to the Copy Shop — you can conveniently pick up your course reader for class on your way over to get that little tattoo on your butt that you always wanted — or drop by the downtown location to pick up a new navel ring. HP also offers professional tanning downtown for those who prefer to color their skin with a melanin rather than ink. Got the urge for a tongue piercing while you’re on the road? High Priestess has also opened up studios in Roseburg and Corvallis. 

Best Place to Bust a Move

1. John Henry’s 77 W. Broadway. 342-3358.

2. Club SNAFU 64 W. 8th Alley. 342-3272.

3. Indigo District 1290 Oak St. 434-6553.

Best Place to Meet Someone You’d Never Take Home to Mom

1. John Henry’s 77 W. Broadway. 342-3358.

2. Diablo’s Downtown Lounge 959 Pearl St. 343-2346.

3. Club SNAFU 64 W. 8th Alley. 342-3272.

We hear it all the time: Are there any clubs left in Eugene in which to have a good time, dance to music that doesn’t degrade and meet exciting and colorful libertines? Judging from our readers’ poll, John Henry’s is the obvious choice here. Its ’80s Night is epic, its Burlesque Revue sassy and sexy, its occasional Michael Jackson vs. Prince dances legendary. And the clientele? Well, let’s just say that some may be ready to meet your parents, but most will be wondering why you want to take them home to Mom before you want to take them to your futon.

Best Place to Meet Someone You’d Take Home to Mom

1. Downtown Library 100 W. 10th Ave. 682-5450.

2. Saturday Market 8th & Oak through Nov. 15. 686-8885.

3. Sam Bond’s Garage 407 Blair Blvd. 431-6603.

Yes, we’ve heard stories from our library-workin’ friends about certain people who maybe didn’t wait to consummate their meeting until after they’d met the parental units, but hey, those are urban legends, right? No matter who’s grappling where, the gorgeously housed EPL (also the winner in the Best Public Space category) contains more knowledge in book, CD, DVD, video, audio, Braille and other formats — including those human search engines, reference librarians — than anyone could encompass. This means you’ve got plenty of opportunities to meet cute, from winking across the room during toddler story time to banging heads as you go for the microfilm of that 1982 issue of Commonweal to competing for the same episodes of Six Feet Under. And nothing could sound more wholesome to moms and dads than, “We met at the library.”



Civic Pride

Retail Therapy

Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll

Creative Endeavors

The Kitchen Sink

Eat Your Heart Out

Staff Picks

Best of the Ballots