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In addition, Mueller hopes to use KVCU to build better and more vibrant live and original music scenes in these parts. "Starting next month, we're going to start sponsoring some of the shows that are coming out here by some of the small but popular college bands--and maybe some groups that would never have thought of coming here will change their minds when they find out that we're playing their songs. And we also want to get more people to go out to see local music. You see great bands from here, like the Apples and 16 Horsepower, that can go to other cities and sell out shows, but when they play here, they end up doing shows that are pretty large but not packed--and we want to change that. We want people to support local music, and we want to serve as the bridge between the audience and the bands so we can tell people who they are and give them a way to hear them."
KVCU should do just that. Although the station is rated at only 5,000 watts, it should be accessible to listeners from Fort Collins to Castle Rock. Musil, who is also teaching a class in radio at CU's journalism school, hopes that KVCU will provide these folks with a genuine alternative to the usual commercial-radio fare. "With college stations, I've noticed that two groups usually control them--either the music-heads or the professional-radio-heads," he says. "And whenever one of these groups is more powerful than the other, you end up with this sort of bland, stereotypical product. So what I see my role as is to find the students who are interested in working in radio and the ones who really love music and combine them to make a great station."
The Lion's Lair, at 2022 East Colfax Avenue, has a new owner. Michelle Landes, who purchased the wonderful dive in November 1995, has sold it to one of the most prominent music-biz types in town: Doug Kauffman, head of nobody in particular presents. Counting the Ogden Theatre and the Bluebird Theater, Kauffman now has a piece of three live-music venues in Denver.
The Lair (capacity 120) has a lot of history: It was founded by John Lyons in 1967 and had a brief association with the Playboy Club chain. As the years went by, the venue shrank (it once included the space now occupied by a tattoo parlor next door) and the neighborhood became dicier. By the early Nineties, it was primarily a hangout for the thirstiest folks in the area, but that changed when Landes and Tony Meggitt, both Lair employees, started hiring bands. In short order, the room became one of the hippest places in town to play--an atmospheric hole with an edge. When Chris Whitley wanted to schedule a three-night run in Denver to introduce new material, he could have gone to any number of theaters. Instead, he went to the Lair.
Kauffman has been booking shows at the club for several years now; the acts he's brought there include John Doe, G. Love, the Refreshments, Gravity Kills, Chris Whitley and the Presidents of the United States of America. Moreover, he's been a frequent patron of the venue, especially since nobody in particular presents' offices opened across the street from it earlier this year. By adding the Lair to his properties, he believes he'll be able to help area groups develop audiences. "It's a good test of a band's draw," he says. "If you can put a crowd in there, you can build on it--and it's not as small as it seems. There aren't a lot of local bands that can fill it. But once they do, they can graduate to the Bluebird or wherever."
The acoustics in the Lair aren't sterling, but Kauffman feels that they can be improved. "We're going to hang some curtains on the back wall and hang some acoustic tile on the ceiling to absorb the sound a little more so it won't be so ear-splittingly loud. We're also going to put in a stereo p.a., and we're changing the mix position on the p.a. to get it out front so we can make sure that it's more comfortable for the customers." However, Kauffman promises that these alterations won't spoil the club's off-kilter ambience. "I like that part of it just the way it is," he notes. "It kind of reminds me of some of the great places in Detroit, like the Get Down Lounge. It's not a rough place in and of itself, but it does combine, shall we say, a sense of camaraderie with a certain gritty social discourse."
In other words, the Lair's aura will remain slightly dangerous, and so will its schedule: The hippie-ish Hello Dave headlines at the club on Thursday, October 29; the Foggy Mountain Fuckers and the Down-N-Outs climb onto its stage on Friday, October 30; and First Action Revolver and TARD join the party on Saturday, October 31. Kauffman expects live bands to appear at the Lair as many as five nights a week, with DJs filling in the gaps; for instance, DJ Dave Kerr will be spinning soul music on most Thursdays. "We want to give the events a higher profile in the music community," Kauffman adds. "We'll be putting them in our ads and using nobody in particular presents to push them. And since the place gets a rush before some of the shows we do at the Ogden and the Bluebird and then another one afterward, we're definitely going to run promotions to capitalize on that. We just want people to come down, because if they do, they'll want to come back."