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Among Wikstrand's challenges is convincing people that Grandma's Area 39, which is open Thursdays through Saturdays, isn't all that far off the beaten path. "We're really only five minutes from Larimer Square," she says. "But people are still leery of the neighborhood, even though we don't have half the crime that you have in Capitol Hill or Larimer. So we hired some door guys and extra security and put up lights to make people feel safer." These alterations seem to have helped, but Wikstrand is still frustrated that "nobody's supporting the scene like they used to. It seems like people get stuck only going out to see one band. They don't even think to go out and see somebody they've never heard of, and that's too bad, because there's a lot of talent in Denver."

To nurture new artists, Wikstrand is holding a Battle of the Bands contest every Thursday and doing her best to come up with interesting combinations of groups on other nights. On Friday, July 10, for instance, she's spotlighting Millionaire Freaks and DANK (formerly Crush Automatic); the next night, Mad Bastard, Back Alley Poets and Taos take the stage. Acts like these give Wikstrand hope for the future. "The music's been good, and people who come have a good time--and they come back," she says. "And we support the bands. Because if we don't, I don't know who will."

Ike and the Capers (see page 90) are only one of the draws at the Denver Rock N' Rhythm-Billy Weekend, Friday and Saturday, July 10 and 11, at the Holiday Inn DIA. Also on tap are a vintage fashion show, a parade's worth of custom hot rods and a dance contest with cash prizes. Call 455-8408 to get the lowdown.

No, Boz Scaggs won't be attending. On Thursday, July 9, the Poland Brothers travel to 'Round Midnight (the group plays the next night at the Ogden Theatre), and the Ben Sidran Quartet entertains at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center. On Friday, July 10, the marvelous Mr. Quintron joins his lovely wife, Ms. Pussy Cat, at the 15th Street Tavern; Unsane gets it together at the Bluebird Theater, with Today Is the Day; and car81mob debuts a new recording, Like a Razor, at Cafe Euphrates, with Lost Marbles. On Saturday, July 11, Cosmic Soul Surfers and others gather at the State Bridge Lodge in Bond, Colorado (call 1-970-653-9999 for more info); the Damnations and Slobberbone salivate at Quixote's True Blue; Westword contributor Marty Jones teaches students how to build and play a washtub bass at Swallow Hill (dial 777-1003 for times and prices); and Buzz Bomber and the M-80s explode at the Skyline Cafe. On Tuesday, July 14, ManDingo pays tribute to Ken Norton at the 15th Street Tavern with Barnyard Ballers, and the Flying Aces teach you how to lindy hop at the Mercury Cafe. And on Wednesday, July 15, San Diego singer-songwriter Mary Dolan visits the Coffee Nut, 1028 South Gaylord. Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com.

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