Unfortunately, fewer music-oriented shows have been taking place at the Bug of late, in part because "the theater's not really set up for that," Thornton says. "There's not really a dance floor. It works best for sit-down performances." Still, gigs featuring touring artists Jeff Buckley and Three Fish were successful, and local musicians such as Ron Miles, who's appeared at the Bug on numerous occasions, are apt to return, thanks to their affection for the place. In the meantime, the room (which began life as a nickelodeon in 1912) is returning more and more often to its filmic roots. On Friday, December 6, a Colorado filmmaker's showcase takes place (CU avant-gardist Stan Brakhage is among the featured directors); a week later, on Saturday, December 14, the theater screens Frank Capra's holiday chestnut It's a Wonderful Life. "These kinds of events help us with some of our other goals--working with performers, nonprofits, school groups, filmmakers who need a space," Thornton points out. "The Bug is a wonderful place, and we want to keep it available for people."

Listen to the local music.
Smothered Deelux is another dose of wisdom from D-Town Brown, and it's tastier than ever. Lead voice Shatta Mejia hasn't lost any of his edge, and his words are on the nose: In "Duck & Cover," he declares, "I strive and live by what the ancestors taught/Giving mile-high props to conscious thought." The hip-hop beats are live and lively, and the flow on tracks such as "Superlyrical" and "Corrido de Zapatista" is as striking as the themes. You may think that there's nothing all that intriguing going on in Denver rap, but you'd be wrong: D-Town Brown is going on (available in area record stores). Wendy Woo may be seen as a folk singer, but on Wendy Woo, her six-song cassette, she shows that she's got far more sides than one. "Johnny's Hero" is an ambitious narrative sprinkled with Paul Armstrong's vivid keyboards, while "Spice," "Freeze Tag" and "Doctor Doctor" are memorable vamps. (Are there any other kind?) Woo is a genuine talent who's bound to get even better (Skytrail Productions, 360 Skytrail Road, Boulder 80302).

There's no denying it: A Walk in the Park, an EP by the Snatchers, is muddy; it sounds as if it's being played through a pillow. But underneath the goo is a band that plays straightforward rock at punk velocity. Singer Don Moss has a Pete Shelley voice that he can take into the upper registers when the fancy strikes him, and guitarists Eli Brown and Nick D. put a decent charge into "Drive U Blind," "It's Not Me" and the other four tracks. If I could have heard it better, I'll bet I would have been even more entertained (274-5432 or 458-8355). From the grave of Cynics Bane has risen Spiteboy, whose cassette Penelope's Marionette represents a journey into the gothic realm. "Angora Naif" (featuring the lines "Make you squeal like a pig being killed/Make you dead as wood being drilled") is distinguished by showy, chiming guitars; "Forgive" echoes with anguished wailing; and "Random" drips with the usual melodrama. It's all a bit silly and overweening, but it's also extremely well-played and filled with angst-ridden loopiness. Fans of the genre should approve (446-2865). Although Paddywack isn't what you'd call a Denver band (it's officially based in Alabama), it has a Denver connection: Bassist Dave Clark is a full-time member even though he lives here. On the unit's new self-titled CD, the instrumentalists mine the modern-rock mother lode, but what they dig up isn't always all that rare: "As the Tide Goes By," for one, goes nowhere that other bands haven't been many times before. Fortunately, these guys display good taste in covers: Paddywack includes nice renditions of the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" and "This Crazy World of Drugs & Hippies," a 1968 Fifth Dimension artifact (Paddywack, P.O. Box 361454, Hoover, AL 35236).

Colorado Springs' Star 13 is represented by a self-titled CD that finds the act surveying pop-rock territory in a melodic, fresh-faced way. There's nothing outstanding here, and there are a few stiffs (most notably "Winter"), but when the players hook into a strong composition--like, for instance, "Motorbike"--they know how to make the most of what they can do. The blending of fuzz-tone guitar and acoustic chording is convincing, the singing of Jamey Keith is sweet, and the mood is sunny. Have a nice day (Big Ball Records, P.O. Box 1949, Colorado Springs 80901-1949). Recent Westword profile subject Stephen Scott is doing something new under the sun. On Vikings of the Sunrise (issued by New Albion Records), this Colorado Springs-based composer uses a team of helpers who pluck and bow the strings of a single piano. (The technique calls for the assistants to huddle around the inside of the instrument instead of using the keys.) It's a complicated way to make music, but the results are both gorgeous and astounding. The sounds heard on "Tangora" and the two-part title epic suggest that Scott has an entire orchestra at his command. His pieces are rich, lyrical and multifaceted, exuding an aura of darkness and brooding. Exceptional (available in area record stores).

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