Best Acoustic Performer Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2002 - Bill Cruz
You don't see Bill Cruz around very much anymore. In fact, the last time we spotted him (November 2001), he opened a Little Havana concert for difficult ingénue Cat Power, who suffered an on-stage breakdown that created a most uncomfortable evening for performer and audience alike. But her rather unglamorous self-implosion served to illuminate Cruz's polish and effortlessness. His 1998 release, Three Shades, still stands among South Florida's best indie-folk albums of all time; it's studded with Cruz's poignant, pin-prick guitar work and introspective but never self-obsessive lyrics. The guy can make himself sound like Mark Eitzel or Jeff Buckley, but he's best when he just sounds like himself. If only the cheerfully obscure Cruz would come out of hiding more often.