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Best Of 2006


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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment


DeVotchKa deserves more awards -- and cash and Grammys and groupie-filled hot tubs -- than there are room or resources for here. It's never seemed, however, that this group's been in it strictly for the filthy lucre. After all, gypsy-tango-sousaphone rock hasn't climbed very high on the Amazon charts lately. And yet DeVotchKa's universal appeal is undeniable -- as is the arcane charm and fluttering lilt of leader Nick Urata. He swigs wine from the bottle on stage. He clangs the tambourine with impeccable savoir vivre. He sings in tongues -- four, at last count -- and moves like a matador conducting an orchestra of trained Miuras. Long after Urata's become rich and famous and embarked on a Sting-inspired world-jazz solo career, he'll still know how to slay the crowd with a smirk and a warble.


Kudos to the City and County of Denver for finally adding a drive-thru box office for Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Patrons no longer have to park and then hike up the hill; they can just zip up and be on their way. And considering how much walking is already required at the park, this is a much-welcomed change. All you have to do now is find your spot and get down to the music.

The Blue Cow

When concert season opens at Red Rocks, the crowds run rampant throughout the tiny burb of Morrison. It's enough to make anyone long for a stiff drink and a classic Americana meal, which is exactly what the Blue Cow provides. Whether you prefer a Bloody Mary, a margarita or a mimosa, the staff can hook it up; they serve everything from Budweiser and Corona to microbrews and Mike's Cranberry Lemonade -- even a martini in a pinch. They also brew the strongest espresso in town, and the soft-serve ice cream and shakes are ideal on a hot summer day. It's the perfect place to nurse away a hangover before the big show -- or to kick-start the next drinking marathon.

316 Bear Creek Ave., Morrison, 80465

The title of Lawrence Argent's sculpture isn't very catchy, and most people will draw a blank when hearing "I See What You Mean," but if we say "The Big Blue Bear" at the Colorado Convention Center, you see what we mean. The piece was an instant hit with the public, and it has become a nationally known icon for Denver. Even the normally artless business boosters hijacked it, sending out a guy in a cheesy blue bear suit to promote the hotel tax during last year's election. For all the love, however, it's the fact that the sculpture is sophisticated, contemporary and by a hometown artist that makes it one of the best things downtown.


In 2003, Carol Dickinson was facing retirement from directing the Foothills Art Center in Golden, and she decided she wanted to leave a lasting monument. A take-charge sort of gal, Dickinson went to the Foothills board and suggested having Texas artist Jesus Moroles create a sculpture garden in his signature minimalist style. (Truth be told, it was more than a suggestion; she presented the idea as a fait accompli.) The board agreed, and Moroles teamed up with architect Ted Shultz and landscape designer Susan Saarinen while Dickinson began cajoling donors for funds. Typically, projects such as this take five years to finish, but Dickinson got it done in just two and half, bringing Golden into the 21st century in the process.


Aurora's partly seedy, partly rebirthed main drag gets extra marks for effort in 2005. Last fall, Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria put up his "Aurora Eterna: A Public Spectacle" mural atop Pasternack's Pawn Shop, shedding brilliant neon lights on a series of stylized symbols of Aurora history. "Aurora Eterna" is the perfect companion to the stretch's other murals (by Jason Needham and Susan Cooper), and it adds a touch of class to the tawdry.

9745 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 80010

BEST FRONTMAN: Nick Urata DeVotchKa


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