Best Of Arts & Entertainment
Best New Building
Denver Art Museum Administration Building
The 1200 block of Bannock Street is a difficult place to build something, not because the topography is difficult, but because the level of competition for architectural excellence is so fierce nearby.
Best Reuse of a Historic Building
The railroads were essential to Denver's development, and there has been a train station at 17th and Wynkoop since the 1880s. Union Station, in its present form, was built in 1914 by the renowned firm of Gove and Walsh.
Best New Library
Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Branch Library
The Denver Public Library's system of branches features many little architectural gems, some of them dating back a century, and the newest one has taken a spot in this worthy tradition.
Best Image Makeover for a Building
As part of her job as cultural-affairs director for Denver Arts & Venues, Tariana Navas-Nieves oversees what visitors see and do at the city's malleable McNichols Building.
Best Attempt to Stand Out in LoHi
When Pagliacci's closed in 2012 after 66 years of serving Italian food, the fate of the funky old building where it was located was sealed.
Best Attempt to Fit In in Curtis Park
Mile High United Way Morgridge Center for Community Change
Mile High United Way's new headquarters, called the Morgridge Center, was designed by the Davis Partnership so that it would resemble the low profile of the nearby structures.
Best New Thing in Curtis Park
Designed by W.J. and Frank Edbrooke in 1882, the old Temple Emanuel building has been reincarnated many times, but it also spent several seasons boarded up and in disrepair.
Best Denver Arts District
Art District on Santa Fe
The Art District on Santa Fe has gone through a number of changes over the years, but it bolted to the front of the pack in 2014, thanks to a trio of major additions.
Best New Public Art
"Connected," by Christopher Weed
At more than 22 feet high, Christopher Weed's monumental "Connected" is as tall as, or taller than, nearby buildings, and since it's on a raised circle in the middle of a roundabout, it seems to soar even higher.
Best New Mural
Hari & Deepti
Last summer, Denver's Birdseed Collective and the Urban Arts Fund worked with art couple Hari Paniker and Deepti Nair — best known for their haunting, backlit cut-paper dioramas — to add a mural to a growing project on the walls of the I-70 underpass at Lincoln Street and 46th Avenue in Globeville.
Best Tribute Mural
Robin Williams as Mork
After the death of comedian/actor Robin Williams last year, we were hard-pressed to find new reasons to smile; the Colorado connection from his show Mork & Mindy made us feel like we'd lost a native son (even though the Mork character was from outer space).
Best Back-Alley Art Walks
Guerrilla Art tours
In our city of wheels — cars, bikes, scooters, 'blades and skateboards — taking a walk has almost become an oddity.
Best Local Art Booster
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Though Denver's art scene is starting to catch a national buzz, local museums have had relatively little to do with that hometown success.
Best TV Newscast
At times, the term "newscast" can seem like a misnomer, since so much of what fills too many thirty-minute shows doesn't actually qualify as news.
Best Citywide Arts Collaboration
30 Murals Project
This past summer, it seemed as though beautiful, cosmopolitan, street-smart murals were blossoming everywhere, as teams of artists began painting walls throughout the city and along the Cherry Creek and Platte River greenways, thanks to funding from the city's Urban Arts Fund graffiti-prevention program.
Best National Arts Honor
2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award
Downtown Aurora Visual Arts has been providing at-risk kids from the neighborhood with mentoring and positive art experiences for more than twenty years.
Best Two-Fisted History Lesson
El Movimiento, History Colorado
Chicano, Museo de las Americas
The hoopla in February over the opening of the touring exhibit 1968 at History Colorado overshadowed El Movimiento: The Chicano Movement in Colorado, a locally produced 1968 side trip that debuted at the same time, but its impact is no less stunning.
Best Way to Take Dancing to the Streets
You & Me
Dancer and RedLine resident Tara Rynders is on a global mission to bring her moves right out into the streets, and she's been doing it, country by country, since 2011, when she launched You & Me, an ongoing series of site-specific interactive performances that has been on the road ever since.
Best Hands-On Artist Workshop
Processus is one of several projects that have opened in the newly renovated Temple building.
Best Healing Art
The Art of War Project
Iraqi war veteran Curtis Bean found healing in art and yoga, and now he's helping other soldiers find peace through his Art of War Project.
Best Arty Coffee Shop
Denver's galleries and museums are top-notch, but art lovers can also view premier work at other venues.
Best Snapshot of Denver Art
The original intention of Open Press: Celebrating 25 Years of Printmaking was to toast Denver's premier print-atelier master printer Mark Lunning.
Best Landscape Solo
Stephen Batura: Stream
The thing that immediately set Stephen Batura: Stream apart from its peers was the fact that once viewers were inside the gallery, they were completely surrounded by landscape paintings, mostly set along the Platte River.
Best Landscape Duet
Far North & Outer Space
It turns out that landscapes depicting Alaska's Denali and the surface of Mars look a lot like those of the scenery in the West.
Best Landscape Quartet
Forsman, Dorfman, Sharpe and Hayeur
The large exhibition rooms at Robischon Gallery allow co-directors Jim Robischon and Jennifer Doran to mount large solos that are linked thematically.
Best Environmental Show
Natural resources are a major concern in the West. Water in particular can be scarce, and its actual and implied absence was the theme of Kevin O'Connell: Memories of Water.
Best Solo by an International Art Star
The late abstract expressionist Clyfford Still was an irascible character — even going so far as to formally announce in 1951 that he was withdrawing from the art world.
Best Solo by a Regional Art Star
Taos and Santa Fe were very cosmopolitan places from an art standpoint in the 1920s and '30s, and many of the artists who lived there or visited were well aware of recent developments in vanguard art overseas — developments such as abstraction.
Best Solo by a Rock Star
If the twentieth century was a time for celebrity artists (Picasso, Dalí and Warhol), then the 21st century is turning out to be a time for celebrities as artists (think Bowie, Björk and Franco).
Best Parting Shot by a Curator
At the Mirror
In 1973, budding curator Ron Otsuka took the helm of the Denver Art Museum's Asian Art department and immediately began working, through the solicitation of gifts, to bolster those parts of the collection that were strong and to shore up the weaker parts.
Best Highbrow/Lowbrow Mash-Up
In many ways, Matt O'Neill is Denver's original pop surrealist (not to mention perennial art bad boy), having played with the now-hip sensibility since way before it was cool.
Best Indoor Display of Outside Art
Outside in 303
Driving or walking around Denver, it's hard not to notice that the Latino graffiti scene is strong — as it has been for decades.
Best Display of Abstraction's Feminist Side
In the early years of feminist art, abstraction was seen as being part of the patriarchy and was therefore rejected by many women.
Best Display of Abstraction's Feminine Side
Directions in Abstraction
Mark Brasuell was a member of Edge for more than two decades before defecting last year to rival co-op Spark.
Best Display of Abstraction's Feminine Side
Directions in Abstraction
Mark Brasuell was a member of Edge for more than two decades before defecting last year to rival co-op Spark.
Best Magic-Realist Show
Frank Sampson: New Paintings highlighted recent efforts by the well-known eighty-something Boulder artist, who, despite the rise of abstraction and conceptualism, has devoted his entire output to figurative painting.
Best Contemporary Representational Show
The new Point Gallery, the brainchild of co-directors Frank Martinez and Michael Vacchiano, specializes in contemporary representational art.
Best Sculpture Show — Solo
One of Denver's most outrageous sculptors was the author of a surprisingly somber show, Michael Brohman: Horizons.
Best Sculpture Show — Group
Unbound: Sculpture in the Fields
The Arvada Center's Collin Parson and Kristen Bueb have put together one great exhibit after another, but their finest effort to date has been the combination of shows that included Unbound: Sculpture in the Fields, for which they tapped the expertise of Cynthia Madden Leitner of the Museum of Outdoor Art.
Best Gallery Show — Solo
Longtime Colorado artist Emilio Lobato spent the last few years caring for his terminally ill wife, Darlene Sisneros, who ultimately died.
Best Gallery Show — Group
The swanky new neo-modernist building that houses Michael Burnett's Space Gallery provides the ideal setting for the kind of neo-modernist abstraction that is the venue's mainstay.
Best Conceptual Show
Conceptual art is usually more about thought than beauty. Not so for Dmitri Obergfell, who creates credible idea-pieces that are also gorgeous.
Best Abstract Show — Solo
When longtime Denver art dealer Robin Rule died last year, a trio of faithful assistants — Valerie Santerli, Rachel Beitz and Hillary Morris — decided to resurrect her namesake gallery and carry on her legacy.
Best Abstract Show — Group
The art of New Mexico and Colorado has been intimately intertwined for a century — an affair that continued with Layered Perspectives at Michael Warren Contemporary.
Best Show That Was Both Retro and Contemporary
For Angela Beloian: In Technicolor, the Boulder-based artist created a body of sharp-looking paintings and screen prints that riffed on minimalism, abstract surrealism, psychedelic art and op art simultaneously.
Best Show About Time and Space
Tobias Fike is best known for performance-based videos and photos done with collaborator Matthew Harris, but for the elegant meta-modernist Tobias Fike: Then and now and then, Fike focused on himself and his place in the universe.
Best Show About Paper
Paper provides the base for watercolors, drawings and pastels, and it's a key component of collages. For Cecily Cullen, the creative director at Metropolitan State University's Center for Visual Art, it also works for sculptures and bas-reliefs.
Best Show About Glass
Trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers and cacti have always been the true stars of the Denver Botanic Gardens, but the institution added sculpture shows a few years ago — and the idea has allowed for one triumph after another.
Best Celebration of Excess
Royalty, movie stars and the fabulously wealthy are good for something: jewelry.
Best Arty Christmas Card
Photographer Suzanne Heintz and her too-perfect mannequin family, including husband Chauncey and daughter Mary Margaret, have been the subjects of an ongoing project called Life Once Removed for fifteen years.
Best Graphic Novel
Although he pens comics for Westword every week, that's just a fraction of Noah van Sciver's creative life; he's also published tiny zines, a full-fledged Blammo comic book and a well-received Fantagraphics graphic novel, The Hypo.
Best Illustrated Children's Book
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse
Jill Hadley Hooper's sensitive illustrations appear on book covers and in national magazines and newspapers, and her paintings get show time at Goodwin Fine Art.
Best New Non-Fiction Book by a Coloradan
While war in the Middle East seems unwinnable, a book that profiles three women who've served in the National Guard won a major victory for a Colorado author.
Best Self-Published Book by a Coloradan
Behind the Lines
Jeff Miller's grandfather never talked much about how he happened to meet Jeff's grandmother while he was assisting civilian relief efforts in German-occupied Belgium during the Great War.
Best Poet Laureate
Aurora isn't messing around when it comes to the arts, something it proved a year ago by naming Slam Nuba veteran (and a member of the group's 2011 National Poetry Slam champion team) Jovan Mays as its first civic poet laureate.
Best Environmental Poetry
Uche Ogbuji won a 2014 Colorado Book Award for the poetry he penned in Ndewo, Colorado. Born in Nigeria, Ogbuji traveled the planet before landing in Boulder to work as a computer engineer and raise a family. In his poetry, he blends his love for the environment and the Rocky...
Best Alternative Poetry Slam
Slam poetry is often spoken in tones that reflect the meaning of the words being recited, and competition judges take delivery and enunciation into consideration.
Best Page-to-Stage Adaptation
Author Kent Haruf, author of luminous novels about life on Colorado's eastern plains, died last fall, and this year, the Denver Center presented Benediction, dramatized by Eric Schmiedl, the third of Haruf's novels the company has staged.
Naughty Bits, Buntport Theater
An original piece created by Buntport Theater, Naughty Bits sets up three stories, all involving the famed Roman statue of Hercules — the one that was lovingly restored in the eighteenth century except for one teeny part: his penis.
Ambition Facing West, BETC
With its complex set requirements, numerous characters and thoughtful plot, Ambition Facing West is an ambitious choice for a small company, and BETC did it proud. The play deals with three generations of an immigrant family: Stipan, who leaves Croatia for the States before World War I and marries a...
Fiddler on the Roof
Tarnished by a thousand mediocre high-school and community productions, Fiddler on the Roof seemed a lazy choice for BDT, but under Michael J. Duran's direction, this version was revelatory.
Best Actress in a Drama
Kate Berry Mann in Charles Ives Take Me Home
The daughter of a professional violinist, Laura is a talented basketball player, all jock and uninterested in music.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Karen LaMoureaux in Ambition Facing West
After creating many luminous roles, Karen LaMoureaux vanished from local stages for several years.
Best Actor in a Drama
Dave Belden in Charles Ives Take Me Home
Dave Belden played John Starr — the narrowly focused and sometimes unpleasant violinist whose obsession with music blinds him to his living daughter's hunger for affection — with quiet conviction in Charles Ives Take Me Home.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jim Hunt in Charles Ives Take Me Home
Jim Hunt always works with intelligence, insight, warmth and charm. But in playing the ghostly composer in Charles Ives Take Me Home, Hunt outdid himself.
Best Direction of a Play
Christy Montour-Larson, Charles Ives Take Me Home
Christy Montour-Larson's shows are always worth seeing, but something particularly magical happens when this skilled director takes on a play about art.
Directed by Bruce Sevy, Animal Crackers was a romp of a musical, a trifle, a bright, funny nothing full of bad puns, visual jokes and silly stunts.
Best Actress in a Musical
Margie Lamb in Next to Normal
The lead in Next to Normal is complex: Diana suffers from bipolar disorder. She's intelligent and funny, but also self-pitying and sometimes nasty as hell.
Best Actor in a Musical
Wayne Kennedy in Fiddler on the Roof
As Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Wayne Kennedy gave the comedy its due while also showing the profound sadness beneath Tevye's jovial exterior.
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Arlene Rapal in Miss Saigon
The role of Engineer, the profiteering pimp of Miss Saigon, was written for a man, and you could say that Arlene Rapal completely reinvented it.
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Tyrell Rae in Shrek
Playing Donkey, who insists on befriending a reluctant Shrek, Tyrell Rae was a hoot.
Best Theater Season
Curious Theatre Company
A literary S&M fest involving whips and leather; a one-man piece about sexual predation, rage, forgiveness and understanding; an examination of the very personal way a Boston woman experiences class, power and powerlessness; a wry comedy about two weary fortyish losers falling in love; and a brilliant play about a...
Best Theater Production
Charles Ives Take Me Home
One of those evenings of theater you felt blessed for having experienced, Charles Ives Take Me Home evoked thoughts and emotions you couldn't put into words.
Best Original Script
Beets, Aurora Fox
Rick Padden's Beets isn't a perfect play, but it's an intelligent one that deals with an important and generally forgotten historical topic.
Clare Henkel, The Great Gatsby, Arvada Center
A white suit, worn with a pale lavender shirt and a yellow bow tie. A patterned, slightly darker lavender dress that gently skims slim hips and beautifully complements the shirt.
Best Museum Exhibit
Exhibition-goers in Denver have gotten used to seeing the work of internationally famous artists, from van Gogh to Warhol.
Best One-Person Play
A pilot who's been carrying out air strikes in Iraq and loving the solitary blue of the sky she inhabits is grounded when she becomes pregnant, then tasked with launching drone attacks from the safety of an air-conditioned trailer in the Nevada desert.
Best Actor in a Shakespeare Play
Geoffrey Kent in Henry IV, Part 1
Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 is filled with complex and fascinating characters, and one of the most fascinating, at least as played by Geoffrey Kent, is Hotspur.
Best Actress in a Shakespeare Play
Jamie Ann Romero in Henry IV, Part 1
Hotspur's wife, Lady Kate, is usually played in Henry IV, Part 1 as a gentle charmer, and Jamie Ann Romero was indeed charming and gentle in the role.
Best Actor in a Comedy
Erik Sandvold in Lucky Me
In the ironically named Lucky Me, Tom, played by Erik Sandvold, comes to the aid of Sara, a woman who claims to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, after she's fallen from a roof.
Best Actress in a Comedy
Jessica Robblee in This
The character of Jane is at the heart of This, a bittersweet comedy. Widowed, she's having trouble coping with her young daughter and life in general — and she hasn't yet dealt with her husband's cremains.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Josh Hartwell in This
Josh Hartwell isn't one of those larger-than-life actors: no booming voice, no huge presence.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Amelia White in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Having dressed up for a costume party, Sonia, played by Amelia White, transforms from a down-at-the-heels, enraged and self-pitying nobody in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike into a magnificent sequin-clad dowager.
Best Direction of a Musical
Nick Sugar, Next to Normal
For our money, this smaller-scale version of Next to Normal was more moving and involving than the Broadway production that came through a while back: You cared more about the characters; the plot made more sense; the songs came across more clearly.
Best Literary Couple on a Stage
Amanda Berg Wilson and Jeremy Make in There Is a Happiness That Morning Is
Professor Bernard Barrow (aka Jeremy Make) explains the passion for William Blake that led him and his colleague Ellen Barker (Amanda Berg Wilson) to make love naked on the campus quad, an act that threatens their jobs.
Best Opportunity to Meet English Teachers at the Theater
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
The literati are pretty much guaranteed to appear for each summer's three productions at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. And since professors often assign the shows to their students, you'll see lots of bright young people there as well.
Best Opportunity to Meet Scientists at the Theater
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company realized early on that many top scientists live and work in town, and director Stephen Weitz decided to reach out to them — for both audience augmentation and creative symbiosis.
Best Idea for Theater-Goers With Young Kids
Play Dates at BETC
You want the kids to learn to love theater; you want to stimulate their pliant young minds with something more interesting than the usual children's-theater fare.
Best Place to Let Kids Act Up
All the world really is a stage when you take your theater to the trail. At a Theatre-Hikes performance, participants are greeted by a trail leader and guided along a moderate hike to the first scene of a play.
Best Place for Family Theater
Known for its unusual adaptations and quirky original comedies, the Buntport crew brings innovative, affordable entertainment to the metro area.
Best Theater Bargain
If you buy tickets for a Catamounts production early, you'll be amazed at the low prices for the company's brain-teasing, hip and funny shows; some seats go for as low as $12.
Best Light Entertainment
Garner Galleria Theatre
The Garner Galleria is the place to sit back with a drink in hand, ease off your shoes under your seat and catch some laughs.
Best Bathroom Decor in a Theater
Someone at Vintage Theatre is doing wonders with the women's bathroom.
Best Cozy and Funky Theater
The venerable Avenue Theater has undergone some changes recently, but it's still the place to go for funny, and it's still as warm, grungy, unpretentious and welcoming as ever, with the booze flowing freely among happily lubricated audience members.
Best Boundary-Pushing Theater in the Suburbs
Edge Theater Company
Two recent shows at the Edge Theater were the profanity-laced The Motherfucker With the Hat and Cock, a triangle involving two gay guys and a woman.
Best Theater for the Young, Hip and Curious
There's nothing like Buntport's work anywhere else in Colorado.
Best Theater for Contemporary Drama
Curious Theatre Company
Several local companies make a point of producing new works, either frequently or on an occasional basis. But Curious Theatre Company is at the forefront here.
Best Snacks at the Theater
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Sparkling, creative shows should be paired with creative eats for those of us who like to nibble at intermission — not ancient Kit Kat bars and stale chips.
Best Theater for a Good Cause
We guarantee you've never experienced theater like this before.
Best Big Musicals at Small Prices
Town Hall Arts Center
This isn't New York City, but the ticket prices for musicals are still high in Denver and can leave you stranded in the farthest reaches of a cavernous house.
Best Theater Export
Su Teatro's Tony Garcia widened the scope of his work as a playwright with his 2011 collaboration with journalist Sonia Nazario on a play based on her well-received account of the Honduran migrants who ride atop trains in dangerous company in search of the promise of a better life in El Norte.
Best Young Theater Company
Black Actors Guild
"Doin' the most" is the motto of the Black Actors Guild — and its members live that out, mounting plays and multi-disciplinary performances weekly, and hosting and organizing regular improv and standup nights year-round.
Best Movie Theater — Programming
In an age of on-demand domination and overwhelming options, it's a pleasure to wander into this cozy film mecca and find a manageable mix of fresh new programming to choose from.
Best Movie Theater — Food/Drink
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Watching a film and taking in a meal is the bread and butter of the Alamo Drafthouse, and its menu is still the best for food and drink in the dark.
Best Movie Theater — Comfort
You don't often think about the comfort of your favorite movie house until the action on the screen shifts your focus to the pain in your back or just how close that popcorn-gobblin' stranger is to you at a sold-out show.
Best Mini-Film Festival
Voices: Women + Film Festival
For the past half-decade, Tammy Brislin has overseen nearly every aspect of this growing women's film festival, which each year brings bigger movies, more star power and plenty of discussion to the table as a great way to honor National Women's Month.
Best Film Festival
Stanley Film Festival
As cozy as the hamlet of Estes Park but as huge and foreboding as the hotel it is named after, the Stanley Film Festival is the right festival at the right place and time.
Best Cinema on Wheels
Davey B. Gravey's Tiny Cinema
David B. Weaver thinks small. His project-in-a-trailer, Davey B. Gravey's Tiny Cinema, seats four at a time for 8mm screenings and rolls to wherever the action is — from the Boulder Outdoor Cinema to the Starz Denver Film Festival — to entertain guests with silent films and live ukulele accompaniment by Weaver, who dresses in vaudevillian garb.
Best Way to See a Classic Flick
A little-known secret about the Esquire, the beloved arthouse at Sixth and Downing, is that it has always housed one of Denver’s largest movie screens, which makes it the perfect place — with the help of the theater’s specialty film series — to catch up on some of the great Cinemascope classics of yore or just any larger-than-life movie that will make you say, “They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.”
Best Accompaniment for a Silent Film
Musical wunderkind Paul Buscarello has a way with improvising fresh, unique scores for some of cinema’s silent classics, and he’s reinvigorated such gems as The Phantom Carriage and Pandora’s Box with a young sound that polishes the dust right off the screen. His talents aren’t tied to a specific venue...
Best Place to See a New Local Film
Movie Night at Glob
John Golter brings great local shorts and feature films to light at Glob — a DIY superspace and performance venue — once a month. This fresh series has heralded some quiet geniuses, serving as a great place for amateur filmmakers to work through their burgeoning visions with the help of...
Best Colorado Film That Doesn't Overdo Colorado
For some reason, many Colorado filmmakers tend to render their work dull by framing our city's landmarks and scenic vistas in ways that distract from the narrative at hand and feel more like tourism promos.
Best Colorado History Documentary
Neal Cassady: The Denver Years
Director Heather Dalton put seven years of loving care into the film Neal Cassady: The Denver Years, an in-depth look at the manic Beat icon's early days as a boy on Denver's skid row and his less-publicized life as a family man.
Best Science-Fiction Film Curation
What happens when a Hugo Award-winning writer and a Denver Comic Con co-founder join programming forces?
Best Bloodthirsty Film Host
Horror films certainly get their due in Denver, but no one screens or curates them as lovingly as Theresa Mercado.
Best Party-Starting Film Host
It takes a quick wit and a steady hand to lead one of the beloved Quote-Alongs or '80s Sing-Along Dance Parties at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
Best New Festival
Craft brewing differs from many other industries in that rather than fighting each other for customers, beer makers typically offer assistance and advice to their would-be competitors.
Best Annual Festival
Over two big, well-done days each June, PrideFest brings all of Denver together in the correct way by offering just the right wares, foods and a whole lot of entertainment throughout Civic Center Park.
Best Free Entertainment
People-Watching at Union Station
The idea doesn't sound that good on paper: Take one part bus station, one part LoDo bar and one part trendy restaurant row and smash them together under the hundred-year-old ceilings at Union Station.
Best New Comedy Show
Chain Reaction Comedy Night
Nestled into a particularly sparse corner of the Athmar Park neighborhood, Chain Reaction Brewing isn't an obvious venue for comedy.
Best Comedy Open Mike
Usually attended only by nervy fledgling standups and neighborhood inebriates who resent the incursion, open-mike nights often have the feel of a glum joke workshop — which is why emcee Kevin O'Brien likes to mix things up, kicking off each comedy open mike at the Matchbox with a throaty rendition of "America the Beautiful."
Best Free Comedy Show
Too Much Fun
Too Much Fun is a success story years in the making. By creating a bridge between the local comedy and music scenes (both of which have a fair bit of overlap with the service industry), the Fine Gentleman's Club has achieved the impossible dream of hosting a successful weekly comedy show for free.
Best Comedy Night
Lucha Libre & Laughs
Most comedy shows thrive on simplicity: a stage, a stool and a microphone.
Best Comedy Club
Comedy Works Downtown
Comedy thrives in dark rooms with low ceilings. At Comedy Works' historic downtown location, the generally cocktail-besotted crowd is tightly packed into the venue's cozy showroom; once the lights darken, they become an anonymous mob freed from any sense of propriety.
Best Gay Improv Show
The Queerbots are giving a voice to gay comedy with their new monthly improv show at Hamburger Mary's — and proving that laughter is truly a great unifier.
Best Drag Queen
Denver's exploding drag scene is teeming with a card deck's worth of queens hoofing and hot-assing all over town, but Janessa Befierce isn't taking a slow pony ride to the top; she's grabbing the reins of a stallion and racing it there.
Best Drag Bingo
Dolls With Balls
Gone are the days of bingo halls filled with old ladies and church-like reverence.
Best New Drag Shows
Bitchcraft and Fatale's Dollhouse
The stage at Broadway's isn't the fanciest, but that makes it the perfect spot for a new queen to break in some heels and feel the rush of performance.
Best Amateur Drag Competition
Tracks Ultimate Queen Challenge
With every new season of RuPaul's Drag Race, Tracks hosts a series of viewing parties, and this year the spot will feature its own competition as well, in which a bevy of queens will submit to a sixteen-week boot camp of wigs, heels, makeup, sequins, and the tightest tucks this side of the Platte.
Best Long-Running Drag Show
Denver Divas at Charlie's
The beer may be cheap at Charlie's, but the performances aren't.
Best Denver Burlesquer Gone Global
It's no secret that Denver burlesque has helped put this cowtown on the map: The notable names who take over intimate stages all over the city also headline major festivals and receive accolades on the global burlesque scene.
Best Gay Bar
With a recent renovation that included the addition of an expansive front deck, this East Colfax watering hole solidified itself as the perfect spot for meeting up with pals and dishing all the recent gossip.
Best Lesbian Bar
Blush & Blu
A feminine mystique definitely runs through every inch of this Colfax bar, which describes itself as "a unique drinkery." But in fact, the bar is only a part of what Blush & Blu has to offer.
Best Eighteen-Plus Dance-Party Melting Pot
Super Star Thursday at Tracks
This mammoth gay club already has a sterling reputation for welcoming all comers, no matter their sexual orientation, but on Thursdays the place truly becomes the United Nations of dance parties, with every inch of space occupied by all manner of man, woman and teen.
Nob Hill Inn
One of the city's few remaining true dives, the Nob Hill Inn has hosted its share of music royalty — including Bob Dylan and Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister — in over a half-century of operation.
Best Karaoke Bar
The folks at Armida's are serious about karaoke. They should be, after hosting it for the past two decades — first on a once-a-week basis, and now every night.
Best Spanish-Language Karaoke Bar
100% de Agave
Belting out the Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There" is always fun, but sometimes you just want to get in touch with your inner Selena and sing "Como La Flor" while a frozen margarita melts all over the microphone.
Best Open-Mike Night
On the third Monday of each month, the experimental outfit ANIMAL/object holds an avant-garde open-mike night at Strange Grounds.
Best In-Store Performances
Twist & Shout
It's not easy to get an in-store performance booked at Twist & Shout, and there's a good reason for that: These shows are almost invariably events you'll never forget.
Best Concert Series
Strings & Wood
With an undying love for music and the intimate concert experience that often gets lost in the nosebleeds of the Pepsi Center and other large venues, Strings & Wood aims to bring concerts back to the living room — literally.
Best Old-School Hip-Hop Night
MGM's Restaurant & Lounge
Tucked away on Morrison Road is MGM's, a little club with big things happening inside.
Best Club Night
TheHundred/Culture Magazine Fridays
The intimate but spacious setup at Bar Standard is perfect for accommodating the people who pack the dance floor on Friday nights, when TheHundred and Culture magazine team up to bring some of the best tune-spinners on the planet to town.
Best Underground Dance Parties
Eschewing the aesthetics of giant EDM shows, which have been increasingly popular in Colorado lately, Deep Club formed in 2013 with a mission to provide an alternative to those larger-than-life presentations.
Best Place to See New Bands
Bar Bar (Carioca Cafe)
If there is a sports-like farm system in the Denver music scene, Bar Bar (aka Carioca Cafe) represents a quality AAA baseball club.
Best New Club
Lotus Clubs owner Francois Safieddine has had a long and successful history in Denver's nightlife, especially with more recent venues like Chloe and both ViewHouse locations.
Best Dance Club
Beta has a downtown location and sizable dance floor, but that's not what makes it the best dance club in Denver. It's also got a slick, sleek layout and a large patio where smokers can congregate and watch the LoDo night unspool.
Best Rock Club
The hi-dive has brought in top-notch local and national acts for eleven years now — and while the lineup is a good part of its success (talent buyer Ben Desoto does a noble job), there's more to the venue's charms.
Best Blues Club
Ziggies celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2014, and while it's hailed as Denver's oldest blues bar, it's been updated over the years, giving the place a modern feel while preserving its heritage.
Best Jazz Club
Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge
Denver is home to a startling array of home-grown jazz clubs. Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge is not the one with the most history or the one with the most novelty, but it is without question the one with the best jazz.
Best DIY Venue
It's impossible to talk about DIY venues in Denver without putting Rhinoceropolis front and center.
Best All-Ages Venue
If you're a fourteen-year-old (or just one at heart) who wants to ollie over a couch or grind a rail while listening to your favorite screamo band, Skatuary is your new home base.
Best New Venue
Syntax Physic Opera
After a five-year stint as talent buyer at the Meadowlark, Jonathan Bitz knew he wanted to start a place of his own.
Best Multi-Stage Venue
With three rooms offering three very different experiences, the Mercury Cafe has been feeding and entertaining Coloradans for nearly four decades.
Best Non-Venue Venue
Mutiny Information Cafe
Stuffed to the gills with new and used books, graphic novels, local-band CDs and vinyl, Mutiny Information Cafe is a place where you can sit at a table, sip coffee and flip through a book while a loud punk band plays on the floor just a few feet away.
Best Venue for the Unexpected
Anything goes at Deer Pile, whether it's weekly DIY comedy staple Too Much Fun, Occupy Denver meet-ups, experimental-film showings or ambient-noise concerts.
Best Art Gallery/Music Venue
Denver Art Society
Even from the outside, with its large windows and spacious interior, the Denver Art Society feels like a welcoming place.
Best Underground Arcade and Music Venue
Tucked away just off Colfax, Hyperspace is easy to miss.
Best (Literally) Underground Venue
Ubisububi Room at the Thin Man Tavern
It's been almost five years since twin brothers Greg and Garrett Hilpipre of Mountain to Sound started presenting shows at the unique, 35-seat Ubisububi Room in the basement of the Thin Man Tavern.
Best Venue to Fall in the Past Year
Dead Leaf Arts
Young Colorado natives Tom Abraham and Colin Wilcox operated Dead Leaf Arts in north Boulder for just under a year.
Best Venue Green Room
Opened in 1913 as the Thompson Theater, the Bluebird is grimy, old-fashioned and awesome. One of its highlights is the cramped green room downstairs, which is pretty much directly below the stage.
Best Sound System
Summit Music Hall
Summit Music Hall owner Mike Barsch says he spent three years shopping for sound systems, "trying to set us apart from the rest," before going with an Italian GTO C-12, the Ferrari of rock-venue sound systems, last fall.
Best Sound-System Upgrade
Lost Lake Lounge
If you had stepped into Lost Lake Lounge before last year, you might have thought you had accidentally wandered into the 1970s.
Best Venue Renovation
Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre
In its first year of operation by AEG Rocky Mountains, Fiddler's Green (which took back its original name last year after years as Comfort Dental Amphitheater) has gone from being a serviceable spot for watching your favorite mega-star from the lawn to downright pleasant.
Best Door Guy
Most door guys and gals take tickets, check IDs and run guest lists with a somewhat thorny attitude — perking up only when a friend passes through.
Best Sandwich-Making DJ
DJ Gatsby/Peter Schroeder
By day he makes your spicy-tofu banh mi sandwiches; by night he spins your favorite dance beats.
Best Underground Promoter
If you've been to a punk-rock show in Denver over the past five years, chances are you've seen Aaron Saye: He's usually perched at the back of the room with a video camera and a smile, documenting the night.
Best Music-Education Program
Youth on Record
Although Youth on Record changed its name from Flobots.org and found a new home last year, the group's goal is still the same: empowering young people to use their musical abilities in order to be heard.
Best Recording Studio
Dryer Plug Studios
Being a musician and recording an album for the first time can be a daunting process, but Dryer Plug Studios takes the pressure off.
Best New Radio Station
OpenAir technically isn't new — it had a good life on the AM dial — but the commercial-free radio station made the big leap to FM this year, and that changed everything.
Best Music Video
This is not an underdog story. Gregory Alan Isakov is among Denver's most well-known songwriters, and Laura Goldhamer, who directed the "Amsterdam" video, is a familiar name to anyone with even passing familiarity with the city's creative community.
Best Comeback Album
When America was released on New Year's Day 2014, it symbolized a new beginning for the Samples.
Best Denver Music Compilation
Wet Pizza V: Wet It Be
An epic 32-song mixtape, Wet Pizza V: Wet It Be shows off all of what Denver's under-the-radar musicians have to offer.
Best Use of Weed in an Album Design
Paper gatefold CD packaging is hardly a new thing. And given the current era of weed culture in Colorado, it's only natural that someone would use hemp rather than wood fiber to make cardboard for a CD sleeve — which is exactly what promoter Morris Beegle proposed to Kathryn Ellinger of Sleepers for Drive, the group's first album in nearly a decade.
Best Use of Bones as Instruments
Matthew Hunzeker/Of Earth and Sun
When Matthew Hunzeker of Of Earth and Sun shows up to a venue, most sound people don't really know what to make of him.
Best Fitness Band
Werk Out Palace
Artist Vincent Comparetto describes his Werk Out Palace project this way: "Imagine if Richard Simmons was the most powerful lesbian in the world who could inspire you to crush your lover into dust with your thighs."
Best Tribute Band
Featuring musicians from notable Denver bands like Uphollow, Glass Hits, Cannons and Il Cattivo, Fauxgazi performs near-perfect songs from one of post-punk's most lauded and respected bands: Fugazi.
Best New Band
Future Single Mom
Punk is more than forty years old, and it often seems like every nook and cranny of the genre has been discovered and colonized.
Best Music Festival
At some recent point in time, people like investment bankers started paying attention to music festivals, and the industry ballooned. Now the summer concert season feels like an arms race between massive promoters rushing to cram more bands, more people and more amenities into any given field or parking lot.
Best Concert of the Year
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Walking into the posh Temple Buell Theatre to see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, fans knew they could expect an extraordinary performance from a band with plenty of sophistication and emotive power.
No Denver band has come as close to perfecting its sound as Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.
Best News About the Denver Music Scene
We Beat Austin!
At the 2014 awards luncheon of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Governor John Hickenlooper repeated a claim that he's been making since he was mayor: Metro Denver has more music venues than Austin, a city that has a much bigger reputation as a music mecca and even bills itself as "The Live Music Capital of the World."