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BOO 2011

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Photo by Alex Vega Photography

Music - Staff Picks

 

Best scoop

Billy Manes reviews Duran Duran’s newest album

He called it an impromptu album review – after all, his December 2010 exercise in torrid tongue speak was the world’s first taste of the new Duran Duran album, All You Need is Now – but we get the feeling that Billy Manes is always willing to gush a little ink for his favorite band. Yes, it’s a bit self-congratulatory on our part, but Manes scooped the back pocket music press, and we’re damn proud of him. How did he get ahold of the album before everyone else? Let’s just say that as a longtime fan and a friend of the band’s five still-hot-after-all-these-years members, someone may have telepathically communicated the raw intensity of this cathartic party timeline through ’80s paranoia, luxury and heartbreak. Or maybe they just accidentally sent him a copy. The review was tweeted and Facebooked into the stratosphere and became one of the most-read articles on our website. Duran Duran fans reveled in Manes’ interpretation of the album, and those born after 1985 gained something of a primer on one of the most awesome bands ever.

 

Best one-man band

Ben Prestage
benprestagemusic.com

Ben Prestage is the hobo king of Florida’s blues troubadour tradition. At any given performance you’ll hear him coax swamp blues, delta blues and traditional tunes from his arsenal of instruments – a guitar, harmonica, banjo, lap-steel guitar, drums and a lowebow cigar box guitar – many of which he plays simultaneously. That’s impressive but it’s not what makes him special. After all, there’s been a recent resurgence of one-man acts in Central Florida who are challenging his kingship, most notably blues banjo shredder Lone Wolf. But Prestage is a guy who came in second place for solo performer at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2006 and 2008. He has successfully exported his brand of blues; in June he toured mainland Europe and appeared at the U.K. Cigar Box Festival. And to witness him perform is to understand that he deeply, urgently wants you to love this music from a bygone era as much as he does. Continuing a family tradition that began with his granddaddy, a Mississippi sharecropper, and his great-grandma, a vaudeville musician, Prestage will pass along these songs just as those who’ve gone before.

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