Second Annual Best of the Web

While the amount of growth in Web presence among local bands, businesses and organizations seemed to taper a bit in 1997, the overall quality of sites improved dramatically. Apparently, as the medium continues its rapid development, smaller, less-interesting and (especially) static sites are being overlooked in favor of those with a large amount of content, as if Internet users are now more interested in finding complete albums rather than searching for specific tracks, or an entire magazine rather than tracking down individual articles. That said, there were a huge number of new sites related to the local music and entertainment scene debuted in 1997, but as this list attests, most of the notable Web developments involved improvements and additions to existing sites. So, without further blather, here’s the local Best of the Web for 1997.

Best Internet-Only “Radio”

With the development of streaming audio, which allows Web sites to send audio and video on demand to ‘net users who connect to the site, the terms “broadcast” and “radio” are somewhat vague in regards to the Internet. Many Internet “radio” programs are live broadcasts over the ‘net, but do not represent an actual radio station. Such is the case of The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation’s Radio Free New Orleans (www.neworleansonline.com/rfno.htm), a site that offers live feeds of recorded jazz, blues, gospel, funk and everything else New Orleans. As with most streaming audio sites on the Web, Radio Free New Orleans uses RealAudio.

Best Internet Simulcast Radio

Once again this year, WWOZ (www.wwoz.org) wins top props for their simulcast RealAudio streams of whatever they’re broadcasting over the airwaves. Hosted by AudioNet, the audio streams allow Internet users worldwide to tune into our local treasure, WWOZ, the community-supported jazz and heritage station. If you live here, turn on the radio for better sound quality, but if you’re from out of town, tune in to the Web site and catch New Orleans and Louisiana’s top music and top radio personalities.

Best Live Concert Archive

WWOZ’s live broadcasts from Tipitina’s still take honors for best live “netcasts,” but for the best archive of concerts check out the House of Blues/Liveconcerts.com (www.liveconcerts.com/listening/concerts) site. The archive contains, among many other RealAudio streams, a number of concerts recorded at the various Houses of Blues around the country. Any one of these 109 (and counting) concerts can be called up at any time by ‘net users who connect to the site. So, if you missed Beau Jocque at the New Orleans House of Blues on April 5, or want to see what the Radiators played on October 4, 1996, at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, connect to the site and give a listen.

Best Local Club Site

It still seems baffling that so few clubs have Web site to promote their shows, but of the few that are up, Tipitina’s (offbeat.com/tipitinas) took the forefront this year. Along with the club’s monthly calendar are a few brief histories of the club and it’s patron saint, Professor Longhair, as well as an extensive merchandise area, announcements and recaps of local events and shows at the uptown club and the Tip’s Warehouse, and a link to purchase tickets on-line from TicketWeb.

Best Local Music Web Index

Once again, Greg Hardison’s New Orleans-A Virtual Library site at Satchmo.com (www.satchmo.com/nolavl/nomusic.html) takes top spot as the best place to track down information on local bands and musicians on the Internet. The “Announcements” section at the top of the archive falls second place only to the Louisiana Music Commission’s “News” page (home.comm.net/~lmc/NewsFlashes.html) for recent announcements on local music happenings. The NOAVL is comparable to Yahoo as an index of local musicians, a valuable tool for finding sites dedicated to local music.

Best of the Beat Awards Winner Sites

First of all, thanks to all the musicians and music industry professionals who voted in this year’s ballot and chose the OffBeat Web site as “Best Music Web Site.” It means a lot that those in the industry appreciate the effort we put into the magazine and the site.

Following is a list of Web sites for bands, musicians and businesses that won awards in this year’s ballot. Many of these, particularly those of Galactic and the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, are some of the best out there among local band sites, so if you’ve got some time to kill, please browse around and check some of them out.

* House of Blues (hob.com), winner of “Best Club,” “Best Acoustics,” “Best Live Sound Engineer” (Chopper Brady, “Best Club to Hear Blues,” “Best Club to Hear Rap/Hip Hop” and “Best Club to Hear Gospel.”
* LMNOP — Louisiana Music, New Orleans Pride Music Conference (offbeat.com/lmnop), winner of “Best Thing to Happen Musically in 1997.”
* Louisiana Music Factory (www.neworleans.com/music_factory), winner of “Best Record Store.”
* New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (www.nojazzfest.com), winner of “Best Festival.”
* Rounder Records (www.rounder.com), winner of “Best Record Label.”
* Tipitina’s (offbeat.com/tipitinas), winner of “Best Club to Hear Funk,” “Best Club to Hear R&B/Soul” and “Best Club to Hear Cajun.”
* WWOZ (www.wwoz.org), winner of “Best Radio Station.”
* 3 Now 3 (www.satchmo.com/three/), winner of “Best New Contemporary Jazz Band or Performer” and “Best Instrument — Other” (Dave Easley on pedal steel).
* All That (members.aol.com/allthatweb), winner of “1997 Funk Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Eponymous Debut.
* Astral Project (www.astralproject.com), winner of “Best Overall Band,” “Best Contemporary Jazz Band or Performer,” “1997 Contemporary Jazz Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Elevado, “Best Guitar Player” (Steve Masakowski), “Best Drummer/Percussionist” (Johnny Vidacovich) and “Best Saxophone Player” (Tony Dagradi).
* Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes (turnipseed.com/sunpie.html), winner of “1997 Zydeco Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Lick A Hot Skillet.
* Coolbone (hollywoodrec.com/Bands/coolbone/index.html), winner of “Best New Brass Band or Performer.”
* Dash Rip Rock (www.dashriprock.com), winner of “1997 Cover Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Dash Rip Rock’s Gold Record.
* Dr. John (www.drjohn.com), winner of “1997 R&B/Soul Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Trippin’ Live.
* Galactic (www.fogworld.com/galactic), winner of “Best Funk Band or Performer.”
* Kermit Ruffins (www.justicerecords.com/~nancy/arp11.html), winner of “Best Overall Performer,” “Best Trumpet Player” and “Best Traditional Jazz Band or Performer.”
* J. Monque’D (offbeat.com/jmonqued), winner of “Best Harmonica/Harp.”
* Lenny McDaniel (offbeat.com/cafeaulaitmusic), winner of “Best Song of 1997″ for “Tired Angles.”
* Mark Mullins (www.mulebone.com/mm.html), winner of “Best Trombonist.”
* New Orleans Klezmer All Stars (www.neosoft.com/~klezmer), winner of “1997 World Music/Reggae Album by a Louisiana Artist” for The Big Kibosh.
* New Orleans Nightcrawlers (www.ikoiko.com/nightcrawlers/), winner of “1997 Brass Band Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Funknicity.
* ReBirth Brass Band (www.ikoiko.com/rebirth), winner of “Best Brass Band or Performer.”
* Reggae Revealers (www.icorp.net/music/rr), winner of “Best World Music/Reggae New Band or Performer.”
* Royal Fingerbowl (www.tvtrecords.com/bands/tvt/royalfinger2.htm), winner of “Best Rock Band or Performer” and “1997 Rock Album by a Louisiana Artist” for Happy Birthday, Sabo!
* Smilin’ Myron (turnipseed.com/smilin_myron), winner of “Best Album Artwork” for What About The People?