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Boise Weekly's Top 5 Bands of the Year (in alpahbetical order)

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1. The Buckhorn Mountain Boys

What is bluegrass you might ask? Well, the folks at Princeton University define it as "a type of country music played at a rapid tempo on banjos and guitars." We here at the Weekly define it as "fiddle-funk", a recipe the Idaho foursome known as The Buckhorn Mountain Boys have perfected with a precise mix of talent, fun and instrumentation. Formed nearly thirty years ago, The Buckhorn Mountain Boys established themselves as one of the most popular bluegrass bands in the Northwest. They reorganized in March 2002 and have steadily positioned themselves as Idaho's premier boot-stompin', toe-tappin' bluegrass band. With Al Jackson on lead vocals, guitar and mandolin, Mike Bond on banjo, Rue Frisbee on fiddle and Donna Bond on stand-up bass, this quartet prides themselves on performance, perfection and tradition.

In May of last year, the band released their first album, Take The Backroad Home. Not only was it released on The BMB's own label, but it was produced entirely by them as well. Whether this ensemble is opening for national touring acts like The Del McCoury Band or playing a street festival in downtown Boise, expect a traditional bluegrass sound combined with a festive original style.

The Buckhorn Mountain Boys can likely be found performing at many of the festivals around town as well as regular appearances at the Kulture Klatch.

More info: www.buckhornmountainboys.com

2. Darkwood Consort

For a community its size, the Treasure Valley is lucky to have the diversity of music it does. Idaho's own chamber ensemble Darkwood Consort is one such example. With a repertoire spanning over ten centuries, this group has come a long way from their beginnings in a garden shed over a decade ago. Boasting the world's only touring bass clarinet and viola duo, Darkwood Consort's instrumental arsenal aims to "convert concert halls to classrooms and classrooms to concert halls". Whether its Aage Nielsen's impressive stylings on the bass clarinet or Jennifer Drakes enthusiastic viola, this duo creates a soundscape of collective musical instincts, experience and knowledge all while maintaining a fantastic sense of humor.

Future plans include the recording of follow up to their debut CD Tro og Håb Spiller (Faith and Hope are Playing) as well as an extensive tour of Michigan, Denmark and Washington in 2005. In addition, the consort will celebrate its 13th birthday with a Bar Mitzvah concert with a new jazz work commissioned from Tom Shook, principal clarinetist of the Boise Philharmonic.

Every Sunday that Darkwood Consort does not have a formal concert, you can find them performing at Le Café de Paris downtown.

More info: www.darkwoodconsort.com

3. Exit 51

With a fresh new band line-up and an impressive album under their belt (Fall of 2003's An Empty House Welcomes You), this 4-piece collective make a welcome addition to the music scene. Leaving the "alt-country" label behind for the "bourbon-tinged Northwest rock" sound, Exit 51 is a solid band that has finally seemed to find their niche. Lead by the I-was-born-to-be-a-rockstar vocals of Johnny Liszak, the band seems to be on a serious and directed career path both musically and professionally. The revamped lineup includes Johnny on vocals and guitar, Joel Putzier on bass, Josh Mcleod on guitar and back-up vocals and Joe Hensley on drums. Think of the Americana roots of Ryan Adams meets the retro sound of The Stokes finished with the effervescent coolness of Bono and you might capture the feel of Exit 51.

This year promises to be an exciting year for Exit 51 as Liszak continues his prolific songwriting and the band heads back into the studio to record their new EP, War Torn Love Cinema with a target release date set for June. The group is also gearing up for a series of small tours, beginning in May of this year.

Exit 51 fans will find the band at a variety of clubs in downtown Boise.

More info: www.exitfiftyone.com

4. Me and My Ego

When they are not shooting videos full of mock-rockin', mustaches and smoke, this trio puts out a sound best described as lo-fi, bass heavy, guitar rock with a melodic edge. Band members include Jason "Bug" Burke on drums, Larry Bishop on guitar and Phil Merrell on bass. They are regulars at JD and Friends, Sotano and the Neurolux and they are just as entertaining off stage as they are on stage.

When they aren't dressing like Don Johnson circa 1980s for video shoots, you can find Bug and Larry Bishop moonlighting with another talented local band, Tommy Dirtweed.

You can download tunes off their split CD Me and My EGO with Tommy Dirtweed off their website and a video shot with Tom F. who hosts the program "Too Much Distortion" on BSU student radio, will soon be released.

More info: www.meandmyego.com

Rebecca Scott

Rebecca Scott, folk-pop icon. Known as a staple in both the music scene and community alike, Scott has continued to wow audiences with her unique brand of original tunes and girl-next-door kindness for over ten years. With three all-original studio recordings and one live compilation to her name and a stellar band to back her up, she is a well-deserving BWammy recipient. Although completely solid as a solo performer, Scott credits her amazing band mates in the creation of the passionate and catchy melodies they produce. Band members include gifted guitarist Ben Burdick, sweet siren Debbie Sager and percussion perfectionist Greg Belzeski.

Making a name for herself both locally and across the U.S., Scott's first album, Wave to the Elephants, received national attention when the song Diggin' a Path was used in the MTV movie soundtrack The Anatomy of a Hate Crime: The Matthew Sheppard Story and Billboard magazine named her one of the country's top unsigned bands of 1999.

Local music seekers can catch the next performance of Rebecca Scott and her band at the Sockeye Brewery on May 7.

More info: www.rebeccascott.us

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