Best of the CRANDIC 2021: Arts & Entertainment

The results are in! Browse the winners of Little Village’s 2021 Best of the CRANDIC competition in the Arts & Entertainment category, representing voters’ favorite artists, venues and events in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area.

Best 2021 Album by a Local Artist

The Great Unraveling by The Awful Purdies

Best 2021 Song by a Local Artist

“Something in The Water” by The Awful Purdies

The Awful Purdies are collaborating with FilmScene on the silent films featured during the Women’s March event. — courtesy of the band

“The genius of the Purdies, expressed throughout their career, is their unflinching commitment to beauty through collaboration. They achieve greatness by inviting others to share in it. … The album is resolutely uplifting. There are songs of empowered celebration, and the joy of being alive erupts and sparkles consistently throughout the whole. To hear this album and to really listen gives a lesson in how to be a better human in each facet of life.”

(From “Album Review: Awful Purdies —‘The Great Unraveling’” by Daniel Boscaljon, published Jan. 22)

Best Arts Presenter

The Englert Theatre

221 E Washington St, Iowa City, 319-688-2653

The Englert Theatre marquee on October 31, 2021. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

“As a longtime volunteer usher, I regularly witness the thrill of anticipation on the face of ticket holders as they enter the theater.”

— John B.

“Have you seen that marquee?”

— Mac C.

Best Community Music or Theater Group

Family Folk Machine

Jean Littlejohn directs FFM at the Veterans for Peace concert, February 2019. — Gary Clarke

Best Concert of 2021

William Elliot Whitmore with Dave Zollo & The Body Electric

June 27 at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City

“He is always an amazing performer, but to see his first performance since the pandemic (and the first of a monster country-wide tour) was truly inspirational.”

— Paula M.

Best Cultural Event

Iowa City Juneteenth Celebration

Johnson County Juneteenth organizers Keshia Fields, Royceann Porter and Laurie Nash. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Best Drag Performer

Frisbee Jenkins (a.k.a. Sasha Belle)

courtesy of Frisbee Jenkins

Best Festival of 2021

Iowa City Jazz Festival

Cory Wong performs during the 2021 Iowa Jazz Festival. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Best Free Fun

FilmScene in the Park

“Minari sets the stage for the first arc of FilmScene’s summer programming: critical darlings with cultural weight, somewhat headier than the usual late-night outdoor summer fare. … It’s the FilmScene “art house” experience, with only the location shifted — a testament to the way the pandemic has caused us to rethink our cultural institutions and how we engage with both art and entertainment.”

(From the article “FilmScene kicks off new outdoor movie series on April 24 with ‘Minari’” by Genevieve Trainor, published April 7)

Best Karaoke Night

Studio 13

13 S Linn St, Iowa City 319-337-6464

Best Local Author

Chuy Renteria

Dancer, arts organizer and author Chuy Renteria. — Jason Smith/Little Village

“I heard a book reading of We Heard it When We Were Young and I was struck by the authenticity of Chuy’s voice. An Iowan giving a voice to so many other ‘invisible’ Iowans.”

—Sonatina F.

“For a Latina woman who grew up in a town being a minority, his stories are relatable.”

—Elsa D.

“Have you read his stuff? It’s great! He tells a tale like a true storyteller, but it’s based on real experiences. Chuy’s sentences are filled with the most beguiling adjectives and adverbs to create a setting that just opens a door to an entirely different perspective of small-town Iowa!”

—Deborah W.

“No one is more homegrown than Chuy. Not only is he a fantastic up-and-coming author, he is deeply invested in our community and the community he grew up in, West Liberty.”

—Steph C.

Best Local Band

Dave Zollo & the Body Electric

Best Local Podcast

Rock Hard Caucus

“They have swag.”

—John G.

Best Local Record Label

Flat Black Studios (Long Play Records)

5012 540th St SE, Lone Tree

Best Local Recording Studio

Flat Black Studios (Long Play Records)

Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios, Feb. 2, 2018. — Jason Smith/Little Village

Best Local Stand-Up Comedian

Carson Tuttle

Best Local Theater Company

Riverside Theatre

121 E College St, Iowa City

Patrick DuLaney (L) and Elijah Jones in Riverside Theatre’s ‘The Comedy of Errors.’ — S Benjamin Farrar/Riverside

“Wonderful array of programs including the classic and the new. Free Shakespeare is wonderful.”

—Weijing W.

Best Movie Theater

FilmScene at the Chauncey

404 E College St #100, Iowa City 319-358-2555

FilmScene on the Ped Mall

118 E College St, Iowa City

Andrew Sherburne - FilmScene - Ped Mall
FilmScene Executive Director Andrew Sherburne in the newly renovated lobby at the theater’s Ped Mall location. — Jason Smith / Little Village

“Their new location is really nice, but their commitment to safety during the pandemic by moving certain showings to Zoom was really important to making things feel a little more normal.”

—Noah S.

Best Overall Musician

Randall Davis

Iowa City guitarist Randall Davis, November 2021. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Best Place for a Cheap Date

FilmScene in the Park

Best Place to Dance

Studio 13

Studio 13, 13 S Linn St, during Iowa City Pride Week 2019. — Nick Rohlman

Best Place to See Local Music

Gabe’s Iowa City

330 E Washington St, Iowa City 319-351-9175

Illustration by Claire Theole

Best Poet/Spoken Word Artist

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey in fall 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village

“Not only is his work amazing, he is always helping young artists find their way into the world of poetry.”

—Travis J.

Best Public Art

Downtown Iowa City murals

Best Radio Station

KRUI 89.7 FM

Based in Iowa City,

Inside KRUI 89.7 FM’s studio in the Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, November 2020. — Jason Smith/Little Village

“Default station on the car radio. A perfect soundtrack to whatever Iowa City has to offer on those mean streets.”

—Paula M.

Best Songwriter

Jordan Sellergren

Jordan Sellergren performs at the Grey Area Music Festival outside of Flat Black Studios in Iowa City in 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Best Theatrical Production of 2021

Sonnets for an Old Century, Riverside Theatre

Written by José Rivera, directed by Adam Knight, April 16-May 2

(L-R) John William Watkins, Mia Fryvecind Gimenez, Octavius Lanier and Karlē Meyers in ‘Sonnets for an Old Century.’ — courtesy of Riverside Theatre

“Production designer S. Benjamin Farrar created an astounding virtual waste for the characters to inhabit. It is not an attempt at verisimilitude; it is instead a masterful use of video to recreate the tension and imperfection of stage design. … [Director Adam] Knight has pulled off a coup in reframing the way we all will conceive of theater in our community going forward. There is hope for the future in Sonnets for an Old Century, and there is hope for our future in Riverside’s production of it. This is the work of a company on the cusp of something new.”

(From the article “Riverside dives deep and resurfaces with ‘Sonnets for an Old Century’” by Genevieve Trainor, published April 20)

Best Trivia Night

Andrew’s Bar Exam

@AndrewsBarExam on Facebook and Twitter

A team competes in Andrew’s Bar Exam trivia. — courtesy of Andrew Juhl

Little Village’s Best of the CRANDIC is presented by City of Iowa City.

See who else won!

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.