By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
None of which makes Michael White, a talent booker who runs Denver-based NBT Productions, any happier. He did a lot of business with the Brewery Restaurant (one of his clients, Yoda's Basement Band, provided the sounds there on December 6, the eatery's last full night), and he was planning to return to the Brewery the next night for an event dubbed "The First Annual Bella Ball." According to White, he'd put a great deal of effort into pulling together the bash, which was intended to benefit two charitable outfits--Santa's Toy Bag and the Adopt the Children program. On the bill were three bands (Bella Coyote, Fast Action Revolver and 3.0), a comedian (P.J. Moore), a jazz performer (Jack Wright), three belly-dancers (Letifa, Patty and Heidi), a poet (Tia) and a performance artist (Eric Rieger). Also slated was a raffle for which various merchants donated prizes. Understandably, White had high hopes for the ball. "We had figured to raise about a thousand dollars and collect a bunch of toys for some less-fortunate kids for Christmas," he says. But it was not to be. He received a phone call just five hours before the planned start time from Brewery manager Brad Vokac informing him that the restaurant and club had been shuttered.
In the weeks since the closure, rumors continue to swirl around the decision made by AHEC executives. Some suggest that the beginning of the end came a month before the plug was pulled, when shots were fired in the (america) parking lot. (No one was injured in the altercation.) Others argue that Auraria authorites were uncomfortable with the types of patrons the nightspot was attracting and were looking for any excuse they could find to lock its doors forever. Right now it looks unlikely that we'll learn which of these scenarios is most accurate--or if something entirely different was at play. What matters most to White, though, is the cancellation of his gala. "Unfortunately, there was no way to reschedule everything," he points out. "It just wasn't feasible--not in time for Christmas, anyway. But what I was most disappointed about was that we didn't get an opportunity to do what we wanted to do for the kids. Because that's what the whole thing was all about."
I just received a holiday CD that arrived too late for inclusion in last week's roundup ("Christmas Seasoning," December 12) but is too juicy and off-kilter to leave unreviewed: Christmas on Death Row (Death Row/ Interscope). Yep, it's an offering from Suge Knight and your friends at Death Row, the world's foremost distributor of gangsta rap--and if I'm not mistaken, it's also the first disc of its type to sport a parental-advisory sticker. The album's cover is wonderfully outrageous; it pictures Santa Claus, clad in trademark red suit and a black hood, strapped into an electric chair in front of a Christmas tree and a roaring fire. As for its contents, over half the songs are surprisingly traditional--Danny Boy's soulful but straightforward readings of "Christmas Song" and "This Christmas" are typical--while the remainder hilariously juxtapose sweet sentiments and hardcore dialogue. On the first track, "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto," Snoop Doggy Dogg delivers such classic couplets as "On the first day of Christmas/My homeboy gave to me/A sack of that crazy glue/And told me to smoke it up slowly"; during "I Wish," a member of Tha Dogg Pound verbalizes the hope that he won't die that night, because if he does, he'll "go to hell"; and at the midpoint of "Christmas in the Ghetto," the lead rapper for O.F.T.B. interrupts a Christmas reverie with reminiscences about the worst of his bad times ("When I think about those days/Shit was fucked up"). Put this sucker in a time capsule, because its strangest moments say more about 1996 than nearly anything else heard this year.
Furious George and the Monster Groove (profiled on page 82) isn't the only area band of note to be giving up the ghost: Also retiring from the Denver music scene is Spoon Collection, a pop-rock combo previously lauded in these pages ("Spoon Tune," June 7, 1995). According to bandmember Bill Wardlow (aka S'aint Willy), "I decided I don't want to be playing Cricket on the Hill when I'm thirty. So I'm going back to school to study entertainment law in San Diego--classes start January 2." He adds, "From there, I'll certainly have to move back to L.A. to practice, but I have no doubt that I will end up back in Denver at some point. I still think that Denver is one hit single away from becoming a real musical hotbed. My money is on Slim Cessna."