What a year: Preachers, funksters, Dumpsters

Before heading forward into the new year, I wanted to take a look back at some of the more meaningful prowls of 2005.

American Dumpster: Lemme see... the lineup went something like drummer on a three-piece, lead guitar, bass, washboard percussion, rhythm guitar, and keys/accordion. I was loving the fact that the lead singer's guitar was so well maintained and quite pristine, but ironically plugged into an amp that looked handmade and painted by three-year-olds with spray cans and ADHD. (January 20, 2005)

Cephas and Wiggins: Cephas and Wiggins made their music belong to everyone in the room– not just through education about the art form, or with the stories in the songs, or the skill with which they executed each note. They played with a feeling that comes from understanding the struggle at the root of the blues. (February 17, 2005)

Gogol Bordello: By the end of the show, Gogol had half the audience on stage and another quarter in the rafters. The whole event was so lively I was worried for people's safety. These guys are an insurance nightmare, that's for sure. (February 24, 2005)

Mofro: Mofro's lead man controlled the evening's vibe. When he wasn't rendering the message with soulful crooning or touching up the melodies with his fingers on the keys, he was taking his time with his drink, and delivering diatribes on life to a very attentive audience. He kind of reminded me of a dirty, drunken gospel preacher in an old Baptist church, the way he carried on with the music just grooving in the background. (April 14, 2005)

Just Blaze: Hit after hit, he dropped off songs he produced for rap powerhouses Jay-Z, Freeway, Beenie Sigel, Joe Buddens– and the list goes on. Just Blaze's supercool demeanor wasn't hurt any by the 80 grand (give or take) in jewelry hanging from his neck and wrist. He's rich for a reason. (April 21, 2005)

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe: Karl Denson's Tiny Universe played one long 90-minute set of relentless funk, jazz, and soul music. If that guy doesn't have great musicians in his entourage, I don't know who does. (August 11, 2005)

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings: Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings are like James Brown and the JB's. They took the music back to the days when soul was actually... soulful. It was like a Baptist Church revival, except the subject matter was love, life, and politics– not the father, son, and.... (September 15, 2005)

Blackalicious: Their formula remains the same: block-rockin' beats and brain-teasing rhymes. Sometimes the simplest equations are the most effective. (September 22, 2005)