The old rock-and-roll cliche dictates that aspiring musicians head to New York or Los Angeles if they're halfway serious about taking a shot at the bigtime. But when Melissa Ivey officially reached adulthood, she fled the oversaturated Southern California scene and headed to Denver, where she's been plugging and gigging away since 2001. A five-foot, dark-haired spark plug of a singer/guitarist, Ivey, now twenty, packs a lot of panache into a little frame. Though her songwriting is straightforward, blues-tinged and usually performed with nothing more than a single acoustic or electric guitar, there's a fieriness to her presentation that recalls Ivey's not-so-distant past as a member of Manic Notion, a California punk combo. She's a sincere and increasingly skilled player, as interested in mood and atmosphere as composition. But she's also saucy enough to smash the contrivances of the girl-with-a-guitar genre. Ivey's set to release a full-length debut on Denver-based label Peak Entertainment sometime early next year. In the meantime, you can catch her Tuesday, November 18, at Cricket on the Hill, with Elea Plotkin, and Wednesday, November 19, at Swallow Hill.