Best Of 2023


Winner: Crossfire Creek Band
Finalists: MiniM, The Shakes Society
This fall, Cafe Hey celebrates 16 years in downtown Tampa, and while the spot on the corner of Franklin and E Kay Streets has changed in subtle ways over the years, the neighborhood just south of it is nearly unrecognizable. What’s remained, however, is Cafe Hey’s commitment to being an unshakable sentinel for underground culture in Tampa. Without fanfare, and on any given night, the space with mutual aid flyers in the windows stows away the chairs and tables and transforms itself into a home for open mics, comedy and concerts by bands and artists just getting off the ground or experimenting with new sounds.
Winner: Applebutter Express
Finalists: Boxcar Hollow, The Wandering Hours
There are less than a handful of tracks that clock in near three-minutes long, and some of the thoughts are as short as 49-seconds, but it’s hard not to keep coming back to the beat tape and experiment Johnny Champagne released in July. There’s a steamy, almost humid quality to Tha Cigar Box‘s production featuring samples sourced from across the African Diaspora (including one Tagalog-language intro on the super-funky, all-too-short “Whut's Hattnin Waltz”). Champagne, who teaches at St. Pete’s Arts Conservatory for Teens, regularly collaborates with up-and-comers in the local scene (and is credited on tracks with Tampa-rapper-gone-gobal Doechii) and is part of the new generation of Bay area creatives that hopefully takes the reins.
Winner: Melissa Grady
Finalists: Rose Mallare, Christopher Barbosa
Winner: DJ Skeelow
Finalists: DJ Sandman, Tom Gold
Winner: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour
Finalists: Luke Bryan, The Cure
Winner: Crossfire Creek Band
Finalists: Girls Rock St. Pete, Kind Villain Live at Crowbar
Winner: Face Melt
Finalists: No Clubs, Brokenmold Entertainment