Eugene Weekly : Best of Eugene : 2009-2010


Best of Eugene 2009-2010:
Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll


best band

1. Medium Troy

2. Complicated

3. Science Heroes

Local favorites Medium Troy play what the foursome call bohemian dub, “a mix of all sweet music, with extra emphasis on hip hop, funk, dub, rock and fat bass lines.” Local favorites JoJo, J Say Say, Muffin Man, Parker Cohen and Cornelius Dog are a supergroup of sorts based around good glass, good times and good rhymes. With quirky and comical rhymes like this from “Beautiful Day” — “What a beautiful day / I rode my bike to the cemetery / And I got high / My name is Jonaton let me get my stance on / We hold it tight like the belt that keeps your pants on” — no wonder they were voted Best Band by EW readers as well as Favorite Local Band in the WOW Hall’s poll in 2007. Plus, boys are so cute when they’re goofy.


best solo musical artist

1. Laura Kemp

2. Lafa Taylor

3. Frank Black

Laura Kemp has won Eugene’s favorite vocalist and solo performer categories so many times she’s lost track, but she still thinks it’s pretty sweet to win. “I love it!” Kemp says. “It feels good. I feel very fortunate.” That she bested two other extremely popular local singers (though Mr. Black of Pixies fame has only recently relocated here) might sting Eugene’s hipster crowd a little, but she has been playing her heart out here in Eugene for 20 years. Kemp spent six months of 2008 in India, studying yoga and volunteering at an orphanage, where the kids would teach her Hindu devotional chants played on harmonium and she would teach them American folk songs. She’s since been studying harmonium and exploring jazz standards with her new trio 3 On a Tree. 


best musician

1. Paul Biondi

2. Frank Black

3. David Jacobs-Strain

Paul Biondi’s a master saxophone player with lungs powerful enough to play two of the instruments at once. He has played with the biggest names in the biz: Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, among others, and he played on the theme to Animaniacs. He’s also the guy who was victimized when his flute, straight soprano sax and rare, curved soprano sax from 1928 (one of only about 40 in the world) were stolen from his car. He got them back, though they were damaged. “I’m very grateful to the community,” Biondi says. “There are so many other great people in our music community that are far more qualified. I really am thankful.”


best vocalist

1. tie: Deb Cleveland / Amy Picard

2. Halie Loren

3. Laura Kemp

It’s understandable that Eugeneans had a difficult time deciding between the powerhouse voices of Deb Cleveland and Amy Picard (pictured). It also proves that no matter what other genres may gain popularity in our town, Eugene will always have the blues. While Cleveland won in recent years both solo and with her band The Vipers, this is Picard’s first time in the top tier. As lead singer of Complicated, Picard sings mostly covers, “an extremely eclectic mix of music including soul, classic, rock, country,” Picard says with a smile, “and yes, rap.” Picard says that she is “very honored, and our fans rock!”


best locally released album

1. Volifonix, Oregonisms 

2. Ruins of Ooah, Ruins of Ooah

3. Medium Troy, Bohemian Dub

Volifonix, a self-described “fried-funk rock band,” was Eugene’s favorite rock band last year, with Reeble Jar a close second. That Reeble Jar spin-off band Ruins of Ooah came in second place this year is further proof that Eugene rocks and rolls to the rhythms of the world. But it was almost an upset. Medium Troy’s album Bohemian Dub, though a fine slab o’ hip hop, came out two years ago, which technically means it’s not qualified for this year’s award. Peeps liked Bohemian Dub so much, though, that it’s on the list in a respectable third. Volifonix describes their music best: “pure muso-theoretical kung fu served up with a muscley groove … an original hair-on-fire approach to the hot/rock/funk genre.”


best bar

1. Sam Bond’s Garage 407 Blair Blvd. 343-2635.

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

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

From the also award-winning Monday bingo night to the wide array of local and national bands, the pizza to the pints, the cheap PBR to the casual and tasty chow, the many charms of Sam Bond’s keep it at the top of Eugeneans’ favorite bars list year after year. We love it for the back garden, for the bartenders, for the worn wooden tabletops and the aloof cat who avoids outstretched hands and slips into musicians’ guitar cases. Sam Bond’s is at the heart of the Whit and a magnet for those of us who live just a little farther way; even in the middle of winter, it’s worth the chilly bike ride to slip into its warm, welcoming glow, ears burning, fingers tingling as we trade our debit cards for a pair of pints and a seat on a log along the wall.


best bartender

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

2. Jennifer Wasner, Adam’s Place. 30 E. Broadway. 344-6948.

3. Molly Powell, Tiny Tavern. 394 Blair Blvd. 687-8383.

We caught Best Bartender Ty Connor after he picked up his award at last Saturday’s Best of Eugene awards show and asked him for a comment — an acceptance speech, if you will — on his win. The next afternoon, the following missive arrived: “Although I am grateful to everyone who voted for me, I am quite sure there are a number of bartenders in Eugene who are more deserving of this award. On behalf of everyone in the service industry: please, ladies and gentlemen, respect your bartender, don’t drink and drive, and remember to wash your hands after using the restroom. Cheers!”

We’re tempted to suggest that this is why Eugeneans so like to vote Connor the best: He’s a friendly, unassuming guy who passes the praise on to his colleagues and seems unflappable, even in victory.


best happy hour or drink specials

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

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

3. McMenamins East 19th Street Café: 1485 E. 19th Ave., 342-4025. High Street Brewery & Café: 1243 High St., 345-4905. North Bank: 22 Club Rd., 342-5622.


best locally brewed beer (brewery AND style)

1. Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

2. Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout

3. tie: Ninkasi Believer / Ninkasi Radiant

Ninkasi’s aptly named Total Domination IPA is a bit like one of Raymond Chandler’s dangerous femmes: It comes on strong, all tasty seduction and gorgeous complexity, only to sneak up and kick your ass in the third act. “It’s the beer we wanted to drink, so it’s the beer we decided to make,” says co-founder Nikos Ridge of the first ale he and brewmaster Jamie Floyd unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 2006. Folks around here drink that stuff like water. So now it seems wildly prescient that this Eugene brewing company — which in just three years has pretty much taken charge of the local if not the Northwest’s beer scene — opted to inaugurate their operations with their yummy IPA, which is concocted from hops, malt and yeast harvested nearby, and fresh water tapped from the McKenzie River. “It’s the one that leads the way,” says Ridge of the conquering brew. In… hic… deed.


best house drink

1. Chili margarita, Lava Lounge/Ring of Fire 1099 Chambers St. 344-6475.

2. Rennie’s Lemonade, Rennie’s Landing 1214 Kincaid St. 687-0600.

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

Regular margaritas seem so declassé, somehow, once you’ve tried this spicy/sweet mixture that can simultaneously give an unwary gulper brain freeze and hot pepper mouth. Best to sip this pineapple/jalapeno treat slowly enough to swirl the flavors, taste the sweetness and truly experience the kick.


best winery

1. Sweet Cheeks Winery 27007 Briggs Hill Road. 349-9463.

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

Territorial Vineyards 907 W. 3rd Ave. 684-9463.  HYPERLINK “”


best selection of beer on tap

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

2. Eugene City Brewery 844 Olive St. 345-4155.

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


best live music venue

1. WOW Hall

2. Cutherbert Amphitheatre

3. Sam Bond’s Garage

With its functionalist architecture, realpolitik aura and an angular main room that brings to mind airplane hangars and high-school proms, Eugene’s WOW Hall is not everyone’s Platonic ideal of a live venue. Look past the surface, however, and the surface starts to make sense. This community centered, volunteer driven, all-ages Center for the Performing Arts — which this year hosted everything from the Meat Puppets to Ghostface Killah (pictured center), along with scads of local artists and bands — is about as hard-working and functionally cool as you can get. And when the lights dim on a packed house, the energy in that main room starts to crackle and pop like nowhere else in town. WOW puts the “live” in live music.


best hangover breakfast

1. Brails 1689 Willamette St. 343-1542.

2. The Glenwood 1340 Alder St., 687-0355; 2588 Willamette St., 687-8201.

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


best naughty business

1. olivejuice 543 Blair Blvd. 345-1618.

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

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

How can you not love olivejuice? The employees/owners wore gas masks during the store’s construction — really. Visit the MySpace page. There are pictures. It’s a store you won’t be embarrassed to be caught in. The folks are charming, and feather boas abound. They stock costumes, lingerie, local music and more. Unlike some so-termed “naughty” businesses (purveyors of naughty-dom?), this Whiteaker-owned and operated business won’t leave you feeling diseased. Personal favorite items available in-store: a pack of moustaches for every day of the week and local zine (and third-place Best Blog finisher) Urinal Gum.


best body art & mod shop

1. High Priestess Piercing & Tattoo 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.


best regular event night at a bar (trivia, theme nights, etc.)

1. Bingo Night at Sam Bond’s Garage 407 Blair Blvd. 343-2635.

2. ’80s Night at John Henry’s 77 W. Broadway. 342-3358.

3. Trivia Night with Keith Appleby at Villard Street Pub 1417 Villard St. 393-0960.


best place to go dancing

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

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

3. The District 1290 Oak St. 434-3387.


best place for a date night out

1. tie: Café Soriah 384 W 13th Ave. 342-4410.

David Minor Theater 180 E. 5th Ave. 762-1700.

2. Red Agave 454 Willamette St. 683-2206.

3. Belly 291 E. 5th Ave. 683-5896.

Now that’s a tie we can get behind. The new and the old share the honors as Eugene’s favorite places for a romantic evening: Head to the year-old David Minor Theater for a flick and a pint, and then to the longstanding, much admired Soriah for a nightcap and a snack from the late-night menu. Or do it the other way around: Start with dinner at Café Soriah — in the back garden, of course, when the weather’s right — and wind down with a scary movie (best for snuggling, we hear) at the DMT.


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

In a swiftly changing world, it is important to maintain connection with the past if only to avoid repeating the past’s silliness. We move forward into that golden future where everyone is good-looking and effusive only after we have acknowledged our roots. In Eugene, John Henry’s is saving culture by preserving the most basic of primitive mating rituals — dance and cheap drinks — and the most glamorous, classy decade the United States has ever seen. ’80s Night, anyone? That’s right. Rhinestones everywhere!



Civic Pride

Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll

Eat Your Heart Out

Dollars & Sense

Creative Endeavors

The Kitchen Sink

Staff Picks

Best of the Ballots