The Show(case) Must Go On!

Tired of the rut they were running, the players started hosting what Trinidad dubs "promo-pack parties" -- where they'd gather to assemble and send materials to anyone who might listen. Following this torrent of mail, Love.45's goods landed in the hands of 3 Doors Down guitarist Chris Henderson, who liked what he heard and passed it on to a couple of A&R reps for Universal.

Remaining "cautiously optimistic," Trinidad and bandmates Micki Shivers, Danny Elster and Jim Messina accepted an invite from Henderson to put a new demo together at London Bridge, with Henderson also lending a hand with arrangements and acting as producer. The EP, Love.45 - The Seattle Sessions, consists of three previously unrecorded songs and a remix of "Smile," which appeared on last year's Larger Than Life CD. The recording, which the band plans to use primarily as a demo, will be available to fans in July.

Local .45 lovers have been a loyal group, suffering through some dismal venues as the band worked its way toward better gigs, with a recent slot at Red Rocks (as part of the Film on the Rocks series) making up for early shows at an empty Lion's Lair. And even if Universal's flirting doesn't lead to commitment, there's always the next promo-pack party. -- Soltero

Mark Farina
Mark Farina

RON MILES
NOMINATED IN JAZZ/SWING
8:30 P.M., ACOMA CENTER
How long has Ron Miles been part of the Denver jazz scene? Long enough to have made the transition from promising newcomer to elder statesman -- and yet Miles has kept his thinking and his playing fresh by constantly placing himself in challenging situations. Of late, he's performed alongside a disparate group of jazz standouts, including veteran clarinetist Don Byron, new-schooler Charlie Hunter and Denver-bred guitarist Bill Frisell, with whom he recorded Heaven, a duet album, last year. More recently, in March of this year, he cut Laughing Barrel with a quartet featuring local drum pro Rudy Royston, as well as bassist Anthony Cox, who calls Minneapolis home, and guitarist Brandon Ross, a New Yorker who serves as Cassandra Wilson's musical director.

"The focus was not so much on me as it was the whole band," Miles says. "I wanted to see if we could develop the material and move it forward together."

Because of the distances that separate the players, regular gigging is a struggle, but Miles and company have an Iowa City show in July and some East Coast appearances slated for the following months, with a European tour likely. Such travels should bring more attention to Barrel, which is being released by the Boulder-based Sterling Circle, a label that's in the process of expanding its distribution. Still, Miles sees the advantages of keeping things close to home.

"The older I get, the more I'm feeling the importance of community, whether it be supporting the local record stores or whatever," he allows. "I think it's nice to have folks nearby who you can talk to and work things out with, so a local label seems like a good idea, especially when they're really excellent people doing good work. I like being a part of it." -- Roberts

MINEZAI
NOMINATED IN HIP-HOP
Nathan Graham doesn't just live for hip-hop; he seems to live because of hip-hop. "Hip-hop saved my life," says Graham, also known by his stage name, Microphone Jones. "If it weren't for that positive outlet, I would've continued down the wrong path."

Graham, one of the founding members of the three-piece crew Minezai, is reticent when asked to expound on what, exactly, the wrong path was. "I did some stuff back then," says the MC, pausing to collect his thoughts, "that I'm ashamed to talk about now. Let's just say it [hip-hop] gave me the self-confidence I needed to stand up and be a man. It made me a somebody in my eyes."

Minezai, which also includes fellow MC Neil McIntyre and DJ Thought (Leroy Saiz), is in the midst of recording its debut disc, Fear of Lack Planet, at Toys for Noise studios in Denver, with noted hip-hop instrumentalist Gunther B at the helm. According to Graham, the group will be exercising a good, old-fashioned, do-it-yourself work ethic on the album and plans to self-release and distribute it on its own dime.

In addition to the outfit he helps front, Graham is also a member of local favorite Yo!, Flaco, and together with McIntyre co-hosts Denver's only weekly live hip-hop showcase -- You Night -- every Monday at the Soiled Dove.

The mere existence of You Night is proof positive that the local hip-hop scene is steadily gaining speed. "When we first started out, the only way I was able to get a show was to make friends with a rock band and they let us play on their bill," recalls the MC.

Needless to say, these days Graham has little to be ashamed of; in fact, someday hip-hop may be crediting him for saving its life, at least locally. -- Herrera

DJ MLE
NOMINATED IN DJ/DANCE/ELECTRONIC
Despite being known as "that hot DJ" in many circles in Denver, DJ MLE (aka Emily Javors) has earned her recent appointment as a resident DJ at Club Vinyl the hard way -- with her high-energy style of new-school breakbeats and progressive house. Her success is proof that a good-looking girl with fashion sense and attitude has a rightful place behind the tables, not just decorating them.

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