By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
The Bianchi brothers opened the original Quixote's True Blue at 9150 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora more than a dozen years ago, as a place where Deadheads and kindred spirits could gather after the passing of Jerry Garcia. The bar was partly dedicated to their father, who had recently succumbed to cancer and whose life and work had been influenced by the Don Quixote character in the Miguel de Cervantes novel of the same name. The inspiration for the second part of the venue's name? The song "True Blue," written by Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick after Garcia died.
From Aurora, the club moved to 7 South Broadway (now the hi-dive), then in 2003 made the ambitious move of taking on the old Casino Cabaret at 2637 Welton Street, moving Quixote's there and also creating Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom. By then, the Bianchis had opened Sancho's Broken Arrow and Dulcinea's 100th Monkey on East Colfax, too. Jay Bianchi would later buy into the Oriental Theater and then open Owsley's Golden Road at 2151 Lawrence Street. "I knew I didn't need another place, but Owsley's walked in front of me, and it was a beautiful place," he explains. "It was really, truly irresistible, but once again, I could not give that place the attention it deserved. But somehow it felt necessary to get."
When the economy went south, though, so did all the clubs' profits; Jay Bianchi says they were seeing 20 percent losses at each spot. Since Dulcinea's had always struggled, the brothers decided it made sense to sell it to former Sancho's bartender Pete Penzastadler, who turned it into Pete's Monkey Bar in October. That same month, the Bianchi brothers sold Cervantes' and Quixote's to a group that included Duncan Goodman, Joshua Sonnenberg, Jeff Howell and Scott Morrill, a co-owner of Cervantes' since it opened.
Over the past few months, the new owners have been busy renovating both venues, adding a fresh coat of paint and installing a new sound system, lights and stage; overhauling the women's bathroom at Cervantes' was also a top priority, Goodman says. Some of these improvements will be unveiled this weekend, when Cervantes' celebrates its grand reopening, as well as its seventh anniversary, on Friday and Saturday, January 22 and 23. The Motet will play some of the best material from its Halloween shows over the years, including music by Talking Heads, Herbie Hancock, Jamiroquai, Prince and Stevie Wonder.
The former Quixote's space next door, which debuted as Cervantes' Other Side on January 1, is a much more functional room now, Goodman says. A wall that had separated the front and the back of the club was removed, as was one of the bars — and the front bar, which dates back eighty years, was moved to the middle of the room. But that's not the end of the changes. Although the new owners will be booking similar bands into Cervantes', they'll also bring in more electronic and dubstep acts that the 16- to 22-year-olds really dig, Goodman says. They also hope the improvements will make both venues more appealing for corporate or private functions.
Finally, when the Quixote's name became available again, Jay Bianchi changed Owsley's into Quixote's True Blue. "Owsley's has all the feel of the first Quixote's," he says, "the place that I never wanted to leave, but had to simply because it was not big enough and then it became out of the way as we moved into Sancho's Broken Arrow. Owsley's was a step back to the beginning, so it needed to become Quixote's as we went full circle. Owsley's has the family feel that the original Quixote's had. Although it's now Quixote's, it is, and always will be both, for it is the golden road that led me back to the True Blue Quixote's."
Club scout: Thirty-two bands have competed over the past two months, and on Friday, January 22, Herman's Hideaway (1578 South Broadway) will hold the first round of Westword's Best of the West semi-finals. Kill City Bombers, Forth Yeer, Sound Traffic and Goldie & the Bears, which each won weekly competitions, will compete in this first semi-final round; Fresh Breath Committee, the Epilogues, Synthetic Elements, SoFo and Yerkish will face off January 29. They're all competing for $20,000 in prizes, including $4,000 in cash, a $7,000 recording package with Colorado Sound and producer/engineer J.P. Manza, a main-stage slot at Red Rocks opening for Film on the Rocks 2010 and more. The finals will be held Friday, February 26.