Backwash

Have you heard that more than thirty bands are playing at the Westword Music Awards Showcase in LoDo?

Yet even if some folks might question -- or fear -- Barajas's inventory, there's no denying that his promotional efforts are impressive. Barajas's store carries more than thirty local releases, including singles and full-lengths from Hydro Bass and A-Trues and showcase nominees Apostle, Nyke Loc and Dez. In the next month, Barajas will have to make room on the shelves for a handful of new ones, including recordings from solo MCs Angel Cruz, Spookie T, Lucky Chuchiano and the D-Side Locos.

So if Denver doesn't support hip-hop and rap, how has Barajas stayed in business for five years? He'll tell you it's a combination of niche marketing and sheer force of will.

"I've always carried local music in addition to national, independent releases," he says. "My store is known for locals. They come in to look for locals, and they know that this is the spot.

"We work so hard, and it just feels like it's time for someone to break out," he adds. "I don't care so much if it's me or my bands, but somebody. There's just not enough going on here, not enough support. But I don't want to stop."

Exhibit C: Johnny Briggs

Friends of Johnny Briggs packed into the Lion's Lair on Saturday, April 1, for a live show by the Derailers, the hard-driving hardcore outfit in which Briggs served as guitarist for eight months. It wasn't unusual for the Derailers and their fans to gather at the Lair -- Briggs and his bandmates were regulars at the club -- but on this night, the show had a special, solemn meaning. Briggs committed suicide on Saturday, March 25, at the age of thirty, after what friends describe as a long battle with alcoholism and depression. The gig was a wake of sorts, a chance for friends to say goodbye, with Briggs in attendance -- symbolically, at least. His bandmates hung his photograph on his guitar amp, where it remained throughout the night. Briggs was a longtime member of the area hardcore scene who played with a number of bands, including Hell's Half-Acre, and friends characterize him as a person to whom music meant the world. That's probably why his family thought it appropriate to bury him with his guitar.

Exhibit D:

Fifteen-year-old pianist A.J. Salas celebrates the release of his self-produced recording, 88 Reasons, on Sunday, May 7, at Angie's Place, 8525 W. Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, with Mary Flower and A.J.'s Little Big Band. And on Saturday, May 6, United Dope Front, mamaSutra and Manatee Junction will convert the Gothic Theatre into an underwater extravaganza. Organizers promise that the combined use of props, lighting and video footage of oceanic occurrences will have audiences swimming in funky vibes. Also on May 6, 16 Horsepower alumnus Jeffrey-Paul offers another rare glimpse of his new performance and sexy project Hoitoitoi on at the Raven. And, oh, yes, did we mention the thirty bands that will be performing downtown on Thursday, May 4? I believe we did.

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