Music Showcase, Take Three

Nominated in Blues/R&B
8:15 p.m. The Sports Column

Because Kingdom, one of the Denver area's fastest rising rappers, is from Los Angeles, you might expect him to see West Coast hip-hop as the be-all and end-all. But he's not interested in boundaries. "My style touches everybody, every coast, every part of the U.S. It's a universal style, and that's what more people need to be going for. We really need to open our eyes and think not just about where we're from, but to think about other parts of the globe." That's ambitious talk, but Kingdom is an ambitious performer. At present, he's best known in Colorado for "Killing Spree," a tune on The Bizness, a popular rap compilation. But he's already completed a full-length, I Reign Omnipotent, and he claims to be entertaining offers for it from at least six labels. The songs were largely produced by Auto, an industry vet who has worked with entertainers as varied as Coolio and Vanessa Williams. As Kingdom tells it, they met by happenstance. "I was in Los Angeles for my grandfather's funeral, and he was at my friend's house. My friends told Auto about my capabilities, and me and him actually had an MC battle. And he was so impressed that he said he had to work with me immediately." The material on Omnipotent runs the hip-hop gamut, from "Black Family," which Kingdom says "talks about saving our race by strengthening the family," to "Letters From Lockdown," a narrative about "an old drug dealer who's running his empire even though he's in jail." He rejects complaints from moralists who seem to believe every song needs to be uplifting. "It's just entertainment. That's all it is. And I have a style that suits everybody. I talk about positive things, but I can get down and dirty if I'm tested." Kingdom views his CD as the spark the Colorado hip-hop scene needs to break out, and if it does, he and his partners in 3 the Hard Way Entertainment, a fledgling label, are ready to capitalize. "Hopefully, this will springboard Denver into the future."

Nominated in Hip-Hop/Funk
8:30 p.m. Rock Island

Throughout the Nineties, Kizumba has been spreading Afro-Caribbean sounds across Colorado, and locals have noticed. The combo was the top vote-getter in the Latin/Tejano category at last year's Westword Music Awards Showcase. For Yamal Rima, the singer, conga player and leader of Kizumba, the reason for the band's renown is quite simple: "People like to dance." Rima and his allies (lead singer/dancer Magally Rizo Antuna, background singer/dancer Angela Espinoza, bassist Eric Thorin, keyboardist Mike "Miguelito" Turnbull, saxophonist Eric Dalio, trumpeter Chris Lawson, trombonist Eric Staffeldt, percussionist Jose Espino and drummer Scott Seiver, who's also part of Judge Roughneck) have had a busy summer, playing for a variety of festivals before crowds that have been anything but homogeneous. These days, they're attempting to increase the percentage of original songs they include in their sets. But to Rima, doing so is secondary to Kizumba's real purpose: to get people moving. "When we play, everybody dances. It doesn't matter how they do it, or if they know the right steps. They dance anyway."

Nominated in Latin/Tejano

Since signing with the Mountain Division of Hollywood Records, Leftover Salmon has played a staggering number of shows. So what else is new? "Nothing, I guess," acknowledges singer/guitarist Vince Herman with a laugh. The idiosyncratic combo's highest profile gig was a slot on the H.O.R.D.E. festival, which this year attempted to go beyond its neo-hippie origins with a roster studded with acts such as Morphine, the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Attendance declined as a result, but Herman says, "I think H.O.R.D.E. did a pretty good job of tapping into the diverse world out there. There's a certain kind of music that's associated with hippies, but hippies definitely don't come from a monolithic musical culture." An illustration of this concept came "at Jones Beach in New York, when Neil came out and played on a couple of songs, and everybody--even the hippies--went crazy. That was definitely a rock-and-roll-summer-camp highlight." As for "Better," the single from Euphoria, Leftover Salmon's Mountain Division-released disc, it's not being heard on a lot of radio stations, but Herman isn't about to sound the alarm. "Radio stuff is icing on the cake, and not something that we count on. Our focus is getting in the bus and playing live music for live people and making them sweat and have fun." He adds, "I think we're lucky to have Hollywood interested in us at all. We just hope they don't find out what we're really playing. I mean, we're playing bluegrass and Cajun music and polkas. We're not supposed to have major-label distribution. If they find out, we're in big trouble." At this writing, the Leftovers (Herman, bassist Tye North, drummer Michael Wooten and multi-instrumentalists Drew Emmitt and Mark Vann) are gearing up for a headlining tour of the South and East. "We like playing festivals," Herman declares, "but when we're out on our own, we can play the three-hour shows that we really like to do." But thus far, their dream concert has eluded them. "Someday we all want to play 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at Coors Field. Anything you could do to help us with that would be much appreciated."

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