Corey Elbin's departure from Denver puts Gorinto at a crossroads
Corey Elbin has been the driving force behind Gorinto, the Mercury Cafe's Wednesday-night food and music gathering, since its inception almost two years ago. For tomorrow night's edition, Gorinto will team up with the people behind Communikey -- the Boulder electronic arts festival set for April 25-29 -- to showcase DJs and audio-visual artists from the metro area.
But when we connected with Elbin to talk about this week's program, we learned that Gorinto itself may be coming to an end. As Elbin prepares to move to Ohio for an agricultural internship on a family-owned farm, he's been grappling with the fate of the community-centered night -- and how (and if) it will carry on without him.
Ever since Gorinto's inaugural night, Elbin has always been there; he creates the menu and cooks the food, books artists and bands, mans the soundboard during performances and, when he can, promotes each week's curation.
"I was handed the project in March (of 2010) through Marilyn (Megenity, the owner of the Mercury), and it was sort of all or nothing," say Elbin. "I knew the space and the stage inspired me; I mentioned to Marilyn that I wanted food to really be an aspect, and that's where it got complicated."
Elbin had been working on the line in the Merc's kitchen for two years, as well as doing occasional sound gigs in the building's upstairs space, which inadvertently made him the perfect candidate to run the multi-functioning weekly party. Megenity gave him the creative freedom to book performers and create the vegetarian-based menu he desired.
"Gorinto was a tough project to get off the ground," Elbin says of the juggling act, noting that promoting the event was often the last thing on his mind. Even so, people showed up, and a community built itself around Gorinto's basic concept of an all-ages-welcome activity.
He's booked local films for the gatherings, thrown benefits for advocacy groups such as Mission Supports, and offered non-traditional themed meals like the Edible Cadaver, which drew an attentive audience.
"Andrew Novick came for a Wax Trax night and ranted about shows nobody cared about over the last thirty years," Elbin jokes. Other memorable editions of Gorinto included sets by Modern Witch, Dugout Canoe, Pink Hawks and Bad Weather California; performances by local avant-garde music legend Bob Drake; and University of Colorado professor Mark McCoin leading a 25-student experimental ensemble.
The basic rules guiding Gorinto have always been to keep it local, keep it open to all, and keep it affordable -- shows are always $5 and just $5 more for the fresh, veggie-friendly cuisine. "There have been nights where I can't believe that all of these people are playing, in Denver, for five bucks," says Elbin.
Though he's not sure how or even if Gorinto will continue without his direct connection to the community, Elbin has faith in what has been created thus far. "A seed has been planted, a confidence has been built, and hopefully that sparks more creativity," he says. "There's not hype, really. It's just this product I created with the hope that people consume and enjoy it fully."
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.