By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
Before it opened its doors as a concert venue in 1994 under the direction of a then-newish local promotional company called nobody in particular presents, the Bluebird Theater was empty, old and mildew-ridden. But back in the day, this space on East Colfax enjoyed an existence as a movie theater -- a porn theater, to be exact, where those who preferred to be horny en masse did so beneath the watchful eyes of the fresco-style angels adorning the walls. (The film Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead includes a scene shot in a Bluebird dressed in all its porn glory, even though the production took place after NIPP's renovation.)
As we all know, the Bluebird is now one of the area's primary venues for mid-sized regional bands on tour, as well as for more high-profile locals; it's a reliable space for both the quality of its sounds and its calendar. But now nobody in particular's national booking agent, Peter Ore, is poised to reintroduce the Bluebird to a bit of its past (no, he's not showing skin flicks). On January 25, Ore will inaugurate Cinema, Sips & Sounds, a series that marries film, live music and cheap drinks on one Thursday each month. The premiere event will feature a set from Space Team Electra followed by a screening of Terror Firmer, the latest release from the roguish Los Angeles-based production house Troma Films. Admission is $5. Future programs pair the LaDonnaswith Gimme Shelter (the Stones documentary that showed why the Hell's Angels don't always make good security guards) on February 22, and the Down-N-Outs and Quadrophenia on March 15. A monthly companion event, Cinema Draught Night, will provide cheap drinks and cult films on Sunday nights (think '50s-era sci-fi -- The Day the World Ended, Bucket of Blood, that sort of thing). And while this is not the first time that film has been incorporated into the Bluebird's schedule -- Ore and company introduced a double-feature film series three years ago and hosted free movies on sporadic Sundays last year -- Ore feels confident that the new series comes with a heightened sense of purpose.
"We're calling it the real film series," he says. "The last ones didn't really have a theme; there was no grand purpose behind it or any real push for it. There was a definite lack of purpose. This series is designed to be more of an event, an experience. I kind of got sick of the Bluebird just being music. I don't know if you can say it's a cultural thing, but there's a lack of diversity. When we started it, music wasn't the only thing that the Bluebird was supposed to be about. We want to do some kooky stuff."
Ore's excitement about the project is palpable, particularly when he discusses a potential best-case scenario for the local entertainment scene. Beyond providing a social alternative for those who have seen a gazillion bands in a million clubs yet aren't quite ready to chuck club life for, say, a coffee-shop existence, he hopes the series will foster appreciation of film as an artistic and expressive medium. The selection of a Troma film for the series' debut seems in step with that goal, as it comes from one of the more enduring and boundary-pushing film companies in the United States. And while the bulk of films scheduled for Cinema, Sips and Sounds are classic, music-related titles, Ore foresees a day when experimental, international and local films will all get their shot on the Bluebird's big screen. Given that independent film is still enjoying a local renaissance, Ore's idea seems more than plausible. Wonderful as they are, the Mayan, Esquire and Chez Artiste theaters can cover only so much ground.
"I would love to build a kind of film society around this," Ore says. "Maybe host some conferences, some filmmaking workshops. People could meet local directors and producers and get inspired to make some more local Denver films. Before you can do that, though, you have to sort of get people used to watching and thinking about films."
People of Denver, let's go to the movies.
Regis Christau is one smart cookie. Over the past twenty years, he's built a veritable empire of Denver-based nightclubs and become a constant in an uncertain business. Currently, he operates the Church, the Funky Buddah, the Deadbeat and Vinyl -- clubs that are usually packed to the gills with beautiful people every Thursday through Saturday night. Part of Christau's success, it seems, lies in his ability to attract and keep good people on his staff; urban legend holds that loyal employees are sometimes bestowed with gifts ranging from cash to cars.
It makes sense, then, that Christau would seek the talents of Hardy Kalisher, the club whiz who has turned Boulder's Soma into one of the most progressive dance clubs going. In addition to snagging a Westword Best of Denver award in 2000, the space was also selected as one of the best clubs in the country by the British publication MixMag. And when praise is heaped on Soma, it usually involves some mention of Kalisher's knack for booking national and international DJs and dance artists, as well as hosting interesting residents and theme events and creating a general groove-y vibe. In March, Vinyl -- which reopened last October after a fire (and the fire department) wreaked havoc on its interior early in the year -- will adopt a similar format when it turns into Next, with Kalisher at the booking helm. Prior to the official re-launch of the club, located at 1082 Broadway (artists TBA), Next will host a few pre-grand reopening events: On February 2, Christopher Lawrencewill spin as part of the Moonshine Records tour, and on February 9, Ben Wattof Everything but the Girl will appear with his DJ partner, Jay Hannan. Not a bad way to start the club's new life.