The Stranger works hard to annually up the ante on what we can do for the local music scene. Sure we listen to local CDs, go to local shows, talk to local promoters, write about local bands and DJs, and occasionally buy a starving Seattle artist a drink, but we give budding musicians much more than that--we shower them with fabulous prizes. In the past we've sent bands down to Austin for SXSW, but this year we're tweaking the formula a bit, offering production, recording, and promotion help, along with a nice little chunk of cash.

Last month, we scoured The Stranger's Seattle-music library to come up with 14 Big Shot contestants--up-and-coming bands that span a variety of genres, from hiphop to house to post punk, pop, indie rock, and hardcore. From those, readers picked their favorites. Friday, March 4, we'll showcase the top-three Big Shots--Schoolyard Heroes, Mon Frere, and Razrez--and announce which one hustled the most votes. (The prize loot includes $2,000, slots at Endfest and the Capitol Hill Block Party, one day of free studio time, CD packaging and poster design/distribution, and lots of other cool shit.) The party will take place at Neumo's, it's free, and wait, there's more: Hiphop kings the Saturday Knights and the polyphonic pop of USE will round out the live lineup before DJs from the Baltic Room's popular Wednesday night weeklies (Members Only and WIRE) turn out an unforgettable dance party. Support local music and give our Big Shots a boost--the only thing you'll have to pay for are your drinks.

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