Boston Phoenix Announces the Best Music Acts in Each of the 50 States

July 1, 2008 — The Boston Phoenix and announced today the release of its inaugural “50 Bands/50 States”: a declaration of the Best All-Time Band, Best All-Time Solo Artist, and the Best New Band from each of the 50 states. The piece highlights defining moments for each of the 150 winning artists, delivered in the opinionated manner of America’s brashest alternative weekly. Some of the notable winners include Beach Boys (California), Velvet Underground (New York), James Brown (South Carolina), and 13th Floor Elevators (Texas). The entire list can be found at

The list also includes three people’s choice awards, in which readers will cast ballots via mobile-phone or online voting in the three following contests:

Minnesota, Best All-Time Solo Artist: Bob Dylan vs. Prince

New Jersey, Best All-Time Band: Four Seasons vs. Misfits

New Hampshire, Best All-Time Solo Artist: Jon Spencer vs. Ronnie James Dio

“I’m feeling bloodied and bruised,” said Phoenix editor Lance Gould. “This list led to so many arguments, hurt feelings, and actual skin abrasions that we could use some medical attention. Luckily, California’s Dr. Dre made the list.”

Here’s the criteria used to compile the list:

  • Best All-Time Solo Artist: One ground rule: The artist had to be BORN in that state. If the state you’re born in is good enough to follow you around on your passport for the rest of your life, it’s good enough for this list. Our winners range from Motown superstar Stevie Wonder (Michigan) to native Aleut psychedelic nuggeteer Agafon Krukoff (Alaska) to psychobilly pioneer Hasil Adkins (West Virginia).
  • Best All-Time Band: Based on where the band was formed. Winners range from the obvious (Velvet Underground, New York) to the historical (The Mississippi Sheiks, Mississippi) to the lesser-known (The Pink Slips, North Dakota).
  • Best New Band: Here we combed the country looking for the best 50 newish bands in the land. Our judges tried to balance “newness” with quality to achieve the perfect choice. (Some of the bands in this category have been around for a couple of years, but only a few have begun to really reap national attention.) Our winners range from experimental hip-hop (Minnesota’s Doomtree) to avant noise punk (California’s Health) to jangly indie rock (Alabama’s Wild Sweet Orange).

“One of the best residual effects of doing this story, for me, was learning about so many new acts,” said Gould. “I haven’t been able to stop listening to Vermont’s Yvel or Delaware’s The Spinto Band.”

Online readers of the piece will be treated to web bonuses, such as artist videos, mp3s, and slideshows featuring photos from the venerable rock and roll memorabilia collection of Phoenix legend David Bieber, who has one of the country’s largest rock and pop culture archives.

The Phoenix has a 40-year history of groundbreaking criticism, having been home to some of the country’s best-known music and movie critics (including Pulitzer-winning classical-music writer Lloyd Schwartz).

More about the PM/CG: The company was founded in 1966 when the Boston Phoenix began as a four-page arts-and-entertainment weekly, the Phoenix is the flagship property of the Phoenix Media/Communications Group, which in addition to the Phoenix weekly newspapers in Rhode Island and Maine and Stuff@Night comprises the FNX Radio Network; Phoenix Interactive (,,; Phoenix Ventures (the sports and magazine group that publishes the official year books for the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Marathon,; People2People Group (audiotext and social networking applications); g8wave (marketing and content using SMS and other mobile technologies); and Mass Web Printing (four-color offset printing).

Brian Appel
The Boston Phoenix
126 Brookline Ave
Boston, MA 02215
bappel (at)

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