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Pssst... this just in: The Democratic National Convention kicks off next week here in Denver. After nineteen months of hyperventilation in all the fishwraps (including this one), on talk-radio shows and on the evening news, it's hard to believe it's finally upon us.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as stoked as anyone that the Dems picked the Mile High City for this historic event. It's the biggest thing to happen here since His Holiness did a flyby in '93, even if the town has worked itself into a lather over something that a) will be over in about the same time as an average Rockies homestand, and b) relatively few will actually get to participate in — at least officially. While we may be able to steal a glimpse of the dignitaries, most of us don't have a prayer of rubbing shoulders with them on the convention floor. Clearly, the main party isn't for the unwashed masses (unless you're one of those Tent State folks going without a shower all week). We just happen to be hosting it.

Still, for a few days, Denver will be the world's stage, with thousands of delegates and media types parachuting into town. No reason for you not to try to join the party! So here's a cheat sheet on some of the week's most ballyhooed events and your chances of getting in. (For a more comprehensive list, visit Backbeat Online at blogs.westword.com/backbeat).


Saturday, August 23

What: DNC Media Party

Where: Elitch Gardens

Details: We've heard that this kickoff event will feature performances by the Flobots, the Railbenders, and a third, as-yet-to-be-determined act — though city officials refuse to confirm this.

Odds of Getting In: Slim and none, unless you're one of the 15,000 credentialed members of the media, 6,000 delegates, alternates or assorted Democratic VIPs

What: After 5 Jazz & Blues Festival

Where: Five Points (26th & Welton streets)

Details: This multi-day festival, which runs from Saturday, August 23, through Friday, August 29, is geared toward smooth-jazz fans and boasts a lineup that includes Gerald Albright, George Duke, Hugh Masekela, Warren Hill, Kirk Whalum, Walter Beasley, Pieces of a Dream, Jeffrey Osborne, Jonathan Butler, Maysa and Kurt Carr, among many others. (For more information, go to DenverJazzFestival2008.com.)

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. Tickets range from $59 to $119. If you've got the dough, you should be good to go.

What: Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Where: Bluebird Theater, 9 p.m.

Details: Aside from distinguished social agitator and Boulder alum Jello Biafra as the MC, this show doesn't really have anything to do with the DNC. Even so, with Slim and Munly and the boys playing songs from their exceptional new record, Cipher, this could be the closest you can come to having a religious experience in the Mile High City without scoring tickets to see Obama make his acceptance speech at Invesco.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent, unless it sells out.


Sunday, August 24

What: Funk the War

Where: City of Cuernavaca Park (20th Street and Little Raven), 5-7:30 p.m.

Details: This is the first in a series of events being put together by the Tent State folks. Starting from four points of the city at 1 p.m. (Union Station, the MEP center on 19th and Stout, the Denver Skatepark and Curtis Park), activists will make their way to the 16th Street Mall, where they'll dance and play instruments as a way of expressing their opposition to current war efforts, then head to City of Cuernavaca Park for a concert featuring Ryan Harvey, Fulcrum, David Rovics and Son of Nun.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. All of Tent State's events are free.

What: Friends of New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya

Where: Fillmore Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Details: Great googly moogly, this is one stellar lineup! After playing a private DNC welcome party at the convention center earlier in the day, Tab Benoit's Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars will share a bill with a reconstituted Meters featuring Zigaboo Modeliste, George Porter Jr. and Leo Nocentelli, bolstered by guests Allen Toussaint, Terence Blanchard, Henry Butler, Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Randy Newman. Harry Shearer will host the event, and Victor Dixon will also be on hand to offer up a few selections from the musical Brother Ray: The Life, the Loves and the Music of Ray Charles, which is set to debut on Broadway next year.

Odds of Getting In: Got a spare $500? This is a fundraiser, and that's how much loot you'll have to part with for the distinct privilege of seeing this incredible show. Given the lineup, there's bound to be a high demand for tickets. Go to www.livenation.com and search for "New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya" to see if you can still get some.


Monday, August 25

What: Cinemocracy Rocks!

Where: Red Rocks, 6 p.m.

Details: Presented by GOOD magazine and sponsored by the Denver 2008 Host Committee, the Denver Film Society and the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, Cinemocracy Rocks! will offer a batch of the best films submitted by independent filmmakers, as well as a performance from those amiable friends of The Colbert Report and masters of pop, the Apples in Stereo.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. If you're willing to part with $20, you'll gain entry to the festival, as well as a one-year subscription to GOOD. All proceeds benefit the Denver Film Society; go to www.cinemocracy.org for more info.

What: Rock the Vote Ballot Bash

Where: Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 10 p.m.

Details: This is probably the week's most (pop) star-studded bill, with a lineup that includes Fall Out Boy, N.E.R.D. and Jakob Dylan. (Wyclef Jean was initially touted as confirmed for this show but is no longer included in any mentions of it by Rock the Vote's publicist and isn't listed on the website.) After the show, Nick Cannon will man the decks at an after-party in the Grant Chambers salon in the basement of the Ellie.

Odds of Getting In: Moderate to difficult? Ticket information is scarce. We do know that this is a fundraiser, and there's ample use of the term "lucky" on the website with regard to attending. For what it's worth, when we requested credentials several weeks ago, we were told that while we couldn't be guaranteed a seat, we were on the list. Whatever that means. To see if you can get lucky, visit www.RockTheVote.com/rocktheconvention.

What: Women for Peace Concert

Where: Cuernavaca Park, 6:30 p.m.

Details: Women for Peace is presented by CodePink, an insurgent, grassroots, female-centric organization united in its opposition of the war in Iraq, working toward peace and social justice. Fittingly, this show comprises a cast of strong, iconoclastic female performers led by Michelle Shocked and Jill Sobule, with (local fans take note) the return of Melissa Ivey.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. Like all of the other Tent State events, it's free.


Tuesday, August 26

What: Rock to Win

Where: Fillmore Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Details: Being billed as a celebration of GLBT equality, Rock to Win is the brainchild of Cyndi Lauper, who will perform at the Fillmore alongside Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright and Thelma Houston. The whole impetus of the Human Rights Campaign-sponsored concert is to educate and inspire folks on the importance of taking part in the political process (which seems to be a popular sentiment this week, for whatever reason), especially when it comes to making their voices heard regarding human rights.

Odds of Getting In: Good. Rock to Win is open to the public. Tickets, which range from $98 for general admission to $500 for VIP can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

What: GRAMMYs Rock the Convention

Where: The Church, 10 p.m.

Details: Next to the Rock the Vote Ballot Bash, this could be the week's biggest show — at least in terms of pop-star power. Being billed as an up-close-and-personal acoustic evening, it's slated to feature Daughtry, Everclear and the Flobots (in their second of three DNC appearances). Curious how this lineup was conceived — at a wedding, perhaps? Something old, something new, something...uh, Daughtry?

Odds of Getting In: Dunno. Ticket info is scarce on this one, too.

What: Public Enemy

Where: Civic Center Park, 2 p.m.

Details: Following their Monday night performance at the Boulder Theater, Chuck D., Flavor Flav and the rest of Public Enemy will bring the noise to the Mile High City for a show at the Greek Ampitheatre sponsored by Re-create '68. To quote our man, Flav, yeah, boooyeee! It's going to take a nation of millions to keep us from taking an extended lunch break on Tuesday.

Odds of Getting In: Hmm. I guess that all depends on your boss, and if he (or she) will let you take an extended lunch break.


Wednesday, August 27

What: Tent State Music Festival to End the War

Where: Denver Coliseum, 11 a.m.

Details: This show, presented by Iraq Veterans Against the War and Tent State, is the most eagerly anticipated, hands down. Last Thursday, when the news came that noted firebrands Rage Against the Machine had been added to the bill (which includes likeminded acts the Flobots, the Coup, State Radio and the MC5's Wayne Kramer), word spread across the blogosphere like a Malibu wildfire. Rage was an obvious addition. The band's inclusion bridges the Flobots, which Rage presaged, to the MC5, Kramer's former outfit, which begat (at least ideologically) Rage. Besides that, every revolution needs a bomb track, and Zack de la Rocha and company are DNC veterans, having performed on the streets of Los Angeles during 2000. (I seem to recall RATM playing around that same time at the Coliseum during its Battle of Los Angeles tour. Coincidence?)

Odds of Getting In: Decent, or at least as good as anybody else's. Tickets to the event are free, but will only be available by lottery. To be eligible, you need to make your way to City of Cuernavaca Park with a photo ID between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. from August 24 to August 26. Those selected will be notified via e-mail. Presumably to curtail potential scalping, the lucky lottery winner and his/her guest will both need to be on hand to pick up the tickets at the Coliseum on August 27, and must then immediately enter the venue (doors open at 9 a.m.). Any unclaimed tickets will be made available to the public after noon on a first-come, first-served basis.

What: Unconventional '08

Where: Andenken Gallery Outdoor Stage (2990 Larimer Street), 6 p.m.

Details: Presented by Manifest Hope and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome, Unconventional '08 features a slew of indie-rock acts such as the Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Nada Surf, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, as well as a performance by DJ Z-Trip. The event is being produced in tandem with Manifest Hope Gallery, an exhibition of visual artists including Shepard Fairey, Sam Flores and Ron English, among others, that runs from Sunday, August 24, through Thursday, August 28, at Andenken.

Odds of Getting In: Slim and none, unless you're among the fortunate few who have been "pre-allocated" tickets. Ditto the VIP after-party, which will feature performances from Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Zooey Deschanel (She and Him), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf) and Jonathan Rice.


Thursday, August 28

What: The War for the White House Gala

Where: La Rumba, 8 p.m.

Details: Headlined by alt-comedy yuksters Eugene Mirman and Neil Hamburger, the War for the White House Gala will also feature a steady dose of pure indie rock from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and DJ sets from Lipgloss residents Tyler Jacobson and Michael Trundle. Make laughs, not war.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. Tickets are free and available by sending an RSVP to vip@theonion.com.


Friday, August 29

What: Rock the Vote Denver 2008

Where: Denver Performing Arts Sculpture Park, 10 p.m.

Details: Yes, the DNC will have packed up by the time this concert takes place, but we're still here — and the local scene is reason to party all year long. Starting now. Kicking off at noon in the Sculpture Park on Speer Boulevard, this show will go until midnight with performances by ALL, Rose Hill Drive, the Heyday, Kinetix, Animo, the Photo Atlas, the Mansfields, Meniskus, American Relay, Spools of Dark Thread and more.

Odds of Getting In: As good as Obama's chances of securing the Democratic nomination the night before.

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