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It's Friday night at Paris Wine Bar (1549 Platte Street), and every seat in the place is occupied. People pack the aisle, too, making it tough to get to the back room, which was part of the adjoining Paris on the Platte coffeehouse until late last year, when the wall that separated the bar from the back was torn down.
At the same time the wall came down, the entire Paris complex went smoke-free. "We've definitely taken a hit from the non-smoking," says Heather Kammerer, Paris's general manager, "but that's why we're really trying to take a different focus right now, so we don't feel it too hard. We just felt it was the right thing to do."
The new focus includes offering live music and DJs on the weekends, as well as having open-mike nights on Wednesdays and comedy on Thursdays. And former Lipgloss DJ Tyler "Danger" Jacobson just launched a monthly night here called Split, when he and co-host Jake Ryan spin indie rock, '90s Brit pop and soul. With a new sound system and a stage set up in back, the space is an ideal listening room for acts like Theodore Black, a six-piece group that's playing alt-folk with a slightly European flair to an enthusiastic crowd that includes a few gals dancing right in front of the band.
Next door, the java shop at 1553 Platte Street retains much of the charm it displayed when it opened in 1986, making it Denver's oldest surviving coffeehouse. Before the bar opened, in 2004, this space was used to sell books and tobacco — and those sales helped Paris get grandfathered in as a cigar bar when the state's restaurants and bars went smoke-free. But after two years, the owners decided it was time to clear the air. And while some regulars still miss the books and cigarettes, the dimly lit bar, with its new back room and lots of live music, is a very good consolation prize.
Club scout: The former Grand Slam Sports Bar space, at 9660 East Arapahoe Road in Greenwood Village, will celebrate its grand opening as Slam Bar Friday and Saturday, February 26 and 27. Jaima Manley, the bar's general manager, says the place has been completely redone, and this weekend's naughty-and-nice-themed party will introduce the new VIP room, which has couches, a pool table, a separate bar and bottle service.
Ginger Perry has started a new night, called This Good Old Country, on Wednesday at Interstate Kitchen & Bar (901 West Tenth Avenue) to celebrate her roots. Her maternal grandparents live in Kansas, where they still do everything country, from auctions to horse racing to cattle ranching, and with her new night, Perry will bring the country to the city. She'll even spin some of her grandmother's 45s, as well as dip into '60s country, Southern soul, renegade and hillbilly stuff. "The older the better," she says. And for an even bigger taste of country, Interstate has an all-you-can-eat fish fry for $12. There's no cover for the night, which starts at 8 p.m. and runs until midnight.
Westword's Best of the West battle of the bands wraps up on Friday, February 26, at Herman's Hideaway (1578 South Broadway), where 32 bands have competed over the past three months. The four finalists — Goldie & the Bears, Yerkish, Forth Yeer and the Epilogues — will face off for a chance to win $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 for the opening of Film on the Rocks 2010 and more.