So when planning began for this year's Best of Cincinnati, we decided to go back to basics and focus on the essence of what's good about our hometown. And the main concept that kept coming up was Cincinnati's incredible music scene.
First of all, the quality and quantity of exciting original music being created in this area is at an all-time high.
Secondly, coverage of that music and the people who create it is one of key reasons CityBeat exists.
And so the 2007 Best of Cincinnati issue is dedicated to the friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers and total strangers in the Tristate who pour their time, energy and money into making music. Maybe they sometimes wonder if anyone else cares as much as they do -- let me assure you that CityBeat does.
Look for music-themed pig illustrations opening up each of the six major sections -- Goods & Services, Eats, Out & About, Public Eye, Urban Life and Jocks -- as well as on the cover. Look for mini "best of" lists from musicians sprinkled throughout the issue. And look for musicians to be included in many of the feature stories -- from musicians who own local businesses and musicians who work at City Hall to the best local music-oriented Web sites.
Here are some more highlights you'll find over the next 85 pages:
· Winners of 175 Readers Picks, compiled from more than 1,200 good ballots collected online.
· Winners of 300 Staff Picks that cover people, places and things the readers might have missed. We also offer six feature stories on further choices -- one in each major section -- ranging from a taste test of barbecue restaurants and a preview of camping options in area parks to an essay on why Pete Rose continues to be considered a local hero in Cincinnati.
· A roundup of four bars in Northside that have made that neighborhood the city's Mecca for fans of live up-and-coming local, regional and national musicians. The Comet, Northside Tavern, alchemize and Gypsy Hut have legions of followers now, and we find out why.
· For the 11th consecutive year, Cincinnati piggies lead you through these pages. This year's music-themed illustrations are done by Casey Riordan Millard.
· Revisit previous Best of Cincinnati® issues if you're not convinced at the depth and breadth of life in Cincinnati -- the good, the bad, the important events, the minor moments, the people, the businesses, the neighborhoods. Check out www.best-of-cincinnati.com for past years and have fun strolling down Memory Lane.
Before you do that, check out this year's issue and remind yourself of the area's amazing musical talent. Then go see a local band at a local club tonight.
-- JOHN FOX