If a group of zombies had penned all the great classics of literature — from The Canterbury Tales to A Tale of Two Cities, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — the plot to each and every one of these works would be the same — BRAAAAINS. (And yes, you could try to argue with them that "braaaains" isn't exactly a plot, but they wouldn't listen. They would only groan and bite.) Speaking of artistic pursuits, Charleston's something of a hot bed of entertainment, both high- and lowbrow. On the one hand, there's Spoleto Festival USA, the CSO, and Bob Snead. On the other, there's Theatre 99, Heavy Metal Karaoke, and Bob Snead. If you're like us — and judging by your readers' picks, we're guessing you are — you like a bit of both.
Best Local Theater Company
280 Meeting St. Downtown. (843) 853-6687
More than laughs, more than improv, Theatre 99 is a comedy institution.
Best Piccolo or Spoleto Show
Spoleto. June 4, 2007. Gaillard Auditorium.
Verdi's Requiem, conducted once again by Joseph Flummerfelt, was the most anticipated return performance of the 2007 festival.
Best Play of 2007 (non-Spoleto)
Aug. 24-26, 2007. The Village Playhouse.
Gene Glave turned her ordeal with breast cancer into a touching one-woman play, inspiring us never to let illness dictate our lives.
Best Cultural Event
Spoleto Festival USA
May 25-June 10, 2007
What can you say about an international festival bringing some of the best artists and performers in the world to the Lowcountry?
Best Movie Theater
1319 Theater Drive. Mt. Pleasant.
Stepping through the doors of the Palmetto Grande in Towne Center is like stepping into the History of the Silver Screen.
Best Local Actor
A newcomer to Charleston's theater scene, Phillip Cohen made a big splash with his role in the Footlight Players' Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight.
Best Local Actress
She battled breast cancer, wrote The Mammalogues, and then starred in the 100-minute one-woman show — an inspiration few will forget.
Best Local Comic
He may eventually become an attorney (he's studying at the Charleston School of Law), but most know Finch as a funny third of The Have Nots!
Best Local Author
Dorothea Benton Frank
Dot Frank has finally surged past Pat Conroy (who lives on Fripp Island) as the best author in Charleston (even though she lives part-time in New Jersey). Her latest, Bulls Island, comes out on April 8.
Best Music Concert
Nov. 2, 2007. North Charleston Coliseum.
If there's a band that knows the value of longevity, it's the good fellas in Widespread Panic.
Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown. (843) 722-2706
It takes a museum to show us our past, but it takes an dynamic and forward-thinking organization to show us our future. Fortunately, we've got both.
Best Art Gallery
Redux Contemporary Art Center
136 St. Philip St. Downtown. (843) 722-0697
Every city worth a damn needs a place where grassroots artists can congregate, collaborate, and work without fear. Thanks, Redux.
Best Art Gallery Show
The Other Side
Oct. 5-18, 2007. Robert Lange Studios.
Twenty-three of Charleston's best and most high-profile artists from six galleries all in one location — collaboration at its best.
Best Local Visual Artist
The former curator of underground art at the Black Cart Bar, Julio Cotto remains one of the city's brightest pop art lights.
Best Rock Music Club
32 Ann St. Downtown. (843) 722-8904
Nearly 16 years after the original owners first opened on East Bay Street, the Music Farm reemerged this fall with new ownership, staff, and a fancy red carpet.
Best Jazz & Blues Club
Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
1205 Ashley River Road. West Ashley. (843) 225-7427
Winning the category for the second year in a row, Home Team maintains its popularity — not only among connoisseurs of Carolina and Tennessee-style barbecue, but music fans who appreciate authentic southern blues, folk, roots, and improvised music.
Best Local Band
The Plainfield Project
This newly-established rock/reggae/funk band must have earned a ton of new fans really quickly with those gigs at O'Malley's and along King Street this winter; featuring singer/guitarist (and TV reality show winner) Ben Fagan and former members of One Night Stand.
Best House Band
Fronted by singer and rhythm guitarist Mike Thompson (winner of this year's "Best Male Vocalist" readers' pick), country/rock quartet Sin County started out at the old Market Street Saloon and play regularly at K.C. Mulligan's and Necter, jamming on familiar honky-tonkers and classics.
They accurately claim to be one of the Carolinas' best party bands — and with their 400-song (and more) list of funk, disco, R&B, hip-hop, oldies, and rock covers, they keep the crowds moving at all events.
Best Male Musician
Drummer and Holy City native Quentin Baxter — the Jack DeJohnette of the Lowcountry — is a skilled and inspiring timekeeper with terrific chops, feel, and taste.
Best Female Musician
Cary Ann Hearst
Hearst may be a great vocalist, but her rhythmic skill and natural style on the acoustic and electric guitars ain't nothing to dismiss, either.
Best Jazz Band
Quentin Baxter & Friends
Led by the drummer man himself, Quentin Baxter & Friends are the main acoustic jazz band at the Charleston Grill Wednesday through Saturday evenings. The rotation of players includes vibes player Michael Hanf, bassist Jake Holwegner, pianist Gerald Gregory, trumpeter Charlton Singleton, bassist Kevin Hamilton, Brazilian singer/guitarist Duda Lucena, and others.
Best Female Vocalist
Cary Ann Hearst
Since returning to Charleston from a brief spell in Nashville in 2005, cute little thang Hearst has collaborated and performed with a spectacular variety of bands and musicians, adding her recognizably raspy singing voice to it all.
Best Male Vocalist
When he's not strumming and carryin' on with Sin County, mild-mannered singer/guitarist Thompson sings with raspy baritone and plays an upbeat blend rock, country, and originals.
Best Karaoke Night
Upper Deck Tavern
353 King St. Downtown.
The notoriously rascally Karaoke Chris (currently of AS/IS), runs the popular karaoke on Sundays at cozy Upper Deck Tavern
Best Club DJ
DJ Moo Moo
A longtime local favorite, this suave turntablist currently spins at Torch, Light, newly-opened Park Circle club The Chart, and other funky hot-spots.