ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

part 1 of 3
Best Contract Rider
Warren Zevon

For a September 1994 date at the Ogden Theatre, Zevon's contract stated that he would not play if the sound mixer cried.

Best Music-Fan Mom
Lois Smith
Smith's son is Kevin Smith, an Arvada native who plays bass for the Austin-based rockabilly band High Noon. And she does much more than go to shows and clap loudly for her little boy. She's overseen the High Noon newsletter and handled the group's merchandising, and she continues to handle some of the trio's publicity chores. Now, don't you wish your mom cared this much?

Best Music-Fan Dad
Lonnie Lynn
Lynn, a former professional basketballer who once played with the Denver Rockets, is proud of his son Rashid, aka Common Sense, a rapper whose fine album Resurrection appeared last year. And Common Sense is proud of his dad, who heads the Denver branch of the Amer-I-Can Foundation, a life-skills program founded by football legend Jim Brown. The result of this mutual respect is "Pop's Rap," a track on Resurrection in which Common Sense keeps quiet while his father does the talking. The result is a tribute to the father-son bond that's as cool as it can be.

Best Official Teen Hangout
The Spot
2019 Stout St.

Denver's teens were all stressed up with nowhere to go--the rec centers closed down early, and curfews kept them off the street--when a few activists spotted a solution. Specifically, a 6,000-square-foot building that, with the help of some seed money from the state, they turned into the Spot. Now kids gather at the activity center to paint indoor graffiti, listen to music, smoke cigarettes and just hang out.

Best All-Ages Club
St. Mark's Coffeehouse
1416 Market St.

Okay, it's not a dance club. There's no live music. But patrons don't come to St. Mark's to shake their stuff or check out the bands. Under-twenty patrons say they frequent this joe hole where rotating artworks cover the brick walls and classic jazz can be heard for stimulating coffee and neo-intellectual conversation. In short, airhead funseekers usually find the place a stuffy drag and don't return, making it an invigorating atmosphere for postmodern baby bohemians. And the industrial, no-frills decor adds a subterranean appeal that just can't be found in the suburbs.

Readers' choice: After the Gold Rush

Best Latin Dance Club
Los Cabos II
2727 W. 6th Ave.

If you're just looking for a quick cha-cha partner, go elsewhere. Los Cabos II is the place where you can first eat Peruvian and talk quietly with friends before ushering your sweetie onto the dance floor. And the DJ at Los Cabos varies the musical mix, spicing up the salsa with merengue, rumba and other styles.

Best Jazz Club
Vartan Jazz
231 Milwaukee St.

Last year, jazz lover Vartan Tonoian took the old Bay Wolf--a chic room with lousy acoustics--and installed a high-quality sound system that befits the live recordings now made there on a regular basis. On Monday nights, Vartan Jazz is home to Denver's own Neophonic Big Band, and on Tuesdays, Ellyn Rucker is often the featured player; this past year, the club took an adventurous step on Wednesdays, presenting more progressive jazz sounds booked by the Creative Music Works. The club also frequently runs a weekly Latin/Brazilian-flavored show and brings quality players--Eddie Gomez, Lew Tabackin and others--in from other areas. And keeping abreast of cigarette taboos, Vartan's boasts a "smoke-free environment."

Readers' choice: El Chapultepec

Best Blues Club
Brendan's Pub
1624 Market St.

Every time we get the blues, we head to Brendan's Pub, where they've got live blues seven nights a week. This LoDo hep spot features an open jam on Mondays, it's the best place to catch the hottest local moanin' glories, and touring stars like Johnny Copeland and Jimmy Johnson regularly stop by to lament life's little miseries. It hurts so good.

Readers' choice: Ziggie's

Best Blues Jam
Billy Blues Barbecue Restaurant
695 Kipling St., Lakewood

The suburban rib joint known as Billy Blues doubles as a hopping blues club after the dinner dishes are cleared away. While touring acts are occasionally showcased, the real killer attraction is the club's blues jam, held each Wednesday. It's your best bet for catching local blues players in the act.

Best C&W Club
Grizzly Rose
5450 N. Valley Hwy.

Two-step right up, folks. Other country-music specialty houses have tried to knock the Grizzly Rose off its perch, but they can't hold a candle to Denver's honky-tonk behemoth. The Rose simply has more of just about everything: more room on the dance floor, more food options, more souvenirs and more interesting artists gracing its stage. The bookers have proven adept at snaring national talent on the way up, as well as legendary performers like Willie Nelson (the club's a regular stop on his itinerary). The night life's a good life at the Rose.

Readers' choice: Grizzly Rose

Best Folk-Music Venue
Swallow Hill Music Hall
1905 S. Pearl St.

Singer-songwriters are best seen--and heard--in a warm, supportive atmosphere conducive to intimacy and truth-telling. That, in a sentence, is Swallow Hill Music Hall. The room sounds great whether the performer on stage is wielding a single guitar or a gaggle of exotic instruments, and the seating alignment allows viewers to get up-close and personal, as though the musicians were serenading them. It's a room with a view--a great one.

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