Sink or swim: Randall Shipp leads a one-man attack against CityLights Pavilion.

"We may still have a hearing," she says, "but unfortunately, it doesn't look like Mr. Shipp's supporters will be allowed to speak, because they are not technically connected to what is going on."

And as Kim Qucera, aide to Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega (whose district includes the Pepsi Center), points out, there already have been plenty of opportunities for concerned neighbors to air their grievances. As a provision of the lease signed when the Pepsi Center opened in 1999, Kroenke representatives are required to meet monthly with neighbors and business owners who live or operate in its vicinity. In other words, the public hearing has been ongoing and comprehensive; Shipp just hasn't been invited to the party.

"The meetings have been heated sometimes, but the spirit is generally of trying to work things out," Qucera says. "We've had more complaints about people who spill into the neighborhoods after sporting events than concerns about the CityLights project. From what we can tell in our office, most of the people are actually pretty excited about it."

There is, of course, at least one person who serves as a vocal exception to Qucera's statement.

"I feel like I'm bending over backwards and sideways to at least generate a discourse about this," Shipp says. "I just want people to realize that not everyone thinks this is such a great thing."

Sports get all the attention in Denver. But isn't watching live local bands a type of sporting event? Certainly keeping up with scene happenings requires you to be fleet of foot and occasionally strong of stomach.

Some highlights of the week ahead: 1999 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour award winner Libby Kirkpatrick returns to Boulder, her former stamping ground, for a solo performance at Trilogy Wine Bar on Thursday, May 2. Singer-songwriter Reed Foehl, late of Acoustic Junction, opens the show and unveils his new release, Spark...Gregory Ego, Ralph Gean and PW3 round out a pleasingly eccentric evening of music at the 15th Street Tavern on Saturday, May 4. Ego is preparing to release his latest CD, I Want to Be a Billionaire, next month; he promises the effort will include "Cinderella City," a loving homage to the late, lamented Englewood shopping empire...Los Luchadores offer an alternative to watching cars cruise Federal Boulevard on Cinco de Mayo. Performing in support of their debut seven-inch release, DAMF, Los L appear on Sunday, May 5, at the Lion's Lair, with the Invectives and the Skulls, a Misfits cover band. Should we look forward to seeing a tiny Glenn Danzig impersonator in the mix? Let's hope so.

Smallish indie retailer Double Entendre Records (on South Broadway) continues its intermittent tradition of bringing quality underground acts into an all-ages environment with a double bill from Carrissa's Weird (from Seattle) and local songwriter/guitarist Rachel Pollard on Friday, May 3. Pollard is creative kin to Cindy Wonderful and other artists who orbit the Monkey Mania/Wonderground world, which means her music is both off-kilter and inspired. In other words, good...Calexico fans have plenty of reason to celebrate this week: The band provides two chances to indulge a desert vibe with shows on Saturday, May 4, at the Bluebird, and Sunday, May 5, at Tulagi in Boulder. The addition of excellent local acts to both bills lends these shows a hefty one-two punch: Tarantella and DeVotchKa open Saturday's show, while the Czars handle warm-up duties on Sunday. Luz De Luna, an amazing and award-winning mariachi combo from Tucson, appears both nights. ¡Viva!

Backwash is saddened by the passing of Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra founder and leader Ron Cope, who died of complications from leukemia on Sunday, April 21. He was 46. Cope, a pianist who possessed a deep love for swing and jazz music, led the Tomatoes for nearly twenty years after founding the ensemble while still a music student at Metropolitan State College in 1982.

Under Cope's direction, the Tomatoes became one of the most popular big bands in Colorado, a group that played the old-style music before, and after, the swing craze. The Orchestra, a three-time winner in the Westword Music Showcase, will continue under the leadership of drummer Ted Fulte.

But anyone who ever saw Cope perform, or met him in person, knows how difficult it will be to replace him: A sincerely kind and talented person, he will be missed by friends, family -- and fans. Swing low.

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