The Columbus Theatre
BEST ART GALLERY: AS220
115 Empire St + 93 Mathewson St, Providence | 401.831.9327 | as220.org/galleries | To an art world that defines itself based on discriminating by taste, AS220’s slogan — “Uncensored, unjuried, always” — reads like a recipe for random bullshit. But somehow AS220 has become a consistent venue for great art, supporting green beginners and ripe veterans, theorists and activists and the occasional outsider sculpting a tape and cardboard Shangri-La. Maybe the secret is to be so wondrous and meaningful that all the cool kids want to get on the waiting list.
BEST COMEDIAN: FRANK O’DONNELL
twitter.com/frankocomedy | Frank has been making people laugh for more than 30 years. And his resume is beyond impressive: he’s written jokes for Bob Hope and Jay Leno, shared stages with the who’s who of comedy, hosted TV and radio shows, and discovered fresh talent with the long-running Catch a New Rising Star Contest. His new weekly gig (with bawdy hypnotist Frank Santos Jr.) is at Olives on Friday nights. Oh, and in October he’ll be the fourth inductee in the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame. Yep: He’s one of The Best.
BEST COMEDY CLUB: COMEDY CONNECTION
39 Warren Ave, East Providence | 401.438.8383 | ricomedyconnection.com | Comedy Connection has been the year-round destination for national headliners and the best homegrown talent for 25 years. A lot has changed since it opened its doors in a former bank building in 1989, but one thing hasn’t: people enjoy going to a room full of folks and laughing their asses off. Comedy Connection is Rhode Island’s Comedy Central. What’s so funny? Head to East Providence and find out.
BEST COVER BAND: RUN FOR COVERS
run4covers.com | Each year, this category is one of the biggest Best vote-generators, and for the second consecutive year, Run For Covers have earned the right to cover “We Are the Champions.” The quintet think way outside the cover box, having “made a vow to not cave to fit the norm and bring something truly new to the club circuit.” And their fans notice and appreciate the difference. Matt, Mark, Rusty, Dave, and Jesse know no boundaries, raging from the White Stripes to Metallica to Journey to Montell Jordan. For a double dose of Bestness, head to Rí Rá — the Best Cover Club (see the next item) — on May 16 and get ready for a helluva high-energy musical roller coaster ride.
BEST COVER CLUB: RI RA
50 Exchange Terrance, Providence | 401.272.1953 | rira.com/providence/ri-ra-late-night.html | We’re fond of quoting slogans in these Best blurbs, and Rí Rá has a good one: “Riverdance me arse! Live music, live DJs, and real live wires.” Rí Rá has you covered five nights a week, with the area’s top hit machines (the Rock, the Regulars, Little Blue Pill, and 2013/2014 Best Cover Band Run For Covers) on Friday and Saturday, Josh Cramoy taking requests on Wednesdays, and karaoke on Thursday and Sunday. Live it up!
BEST DANCE CLUB/NIGHT: THE SALON