The Mars Hill Cafe is not really a cafe, and it doesn't have much to do with the Red Planet -- although the Highland church that hosts it does sit on a hilltop. Instead of the intergalactic eatery its name connotes, Mars Hill is a Friday-evening gathering that features a free concert, a not-too-shabby espresso bar and an unusual venue. The cafe is the brainchild of Calvary GreenWood Church pastor Geoff Moses. It was conceived when Moses decided to transform a social hall in his church into a semi-nightclub. Moses says the space, with its caffeine fixes and concerts, was originally geared toward "people who might have curiosity about the church."
That was back in March 2003. Now, after a year's worth of shows and the addition of some stylish tables and a little mood lighting, Moses has refined his mission statement. The pastor says he "first thought people who came to Friday nights would come to Sunday," but soon noticed that not too many of those bodies were filling the morning-worship pews.
Rather than become disheartened, Moses embraced a different objective. Now, he says, "we want to make a relaxed place where people can come and talk."
Johnnie Johnson is a cafe regular. Johnson, who hosts Innervision, a television showcase for local musicians, says that Moses "brings the most down-to earth music." But although that music may have a unifying, grounded quality, the different artists that Moses books, who play everything from R&B to country-Western, don't have much else in common. Their distinct styles attract an eclectic group of followers, making each evening at Mars Hill unique. The cafe's crowds can range from twenty to a hundred people, and from mostly Spanish-speaking people to mostly football players. A recent performer, Johnson notes, "must have known some Broncos players." The Jesus quotient in the performances also varies. Some bands are openly religious, while others are completely secular.
In an e-mail written with characteristic flair, Moses says the sound of guitarists Randy Rigby and Ed Edwards, who perform at the cafe tonight, is a "kind of pre-world music amalgam of Latin and jazz underpinnings with island overlays."
For the lowdown on Cafe Mars's band du jour, call 720-855-8445 or e-mail email@example.com. Moses himself is likely to field concert inquiries.
Calvary GreenWood Church is at 2215 West 30th Avenue; concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. -- Caitlin Smith
Take Your Liks
Cold treats await at the Cone Zone
It's summertime, and sometimes you gotta just say screw Atkins, or South Beach, or whatever diet is holding you to completely unnatural levels of one part of the food pyramid. It's time for calorie-laden, dripping-down-your-forearm, childhood-memory-conjuring ice cream. And not just any ice cream. Liks ice cream. Sure, sure, there's always the stand-by favorite Dairy Queen with its Blizzards and Dilly Bars and the like, but that's not nearly as satisfying as savoring a sugar cone stacked high with Butter Pecan or Mudslide or Cheesman Park. The problem is, nearly everyone else in the city has the same idea, and they're all lined up around the block outside Liks, at 13th Avenue and Vine Street. What to do?
Head up the street a few blocks into the Whittier district and enjoy the very same Liks ice cream, the very same flavors, at the Cone Zone, 22nd Avenue and Humboldt Street. Owner Denise Meny has been running this delightful neighborhood cafe for nearly three years, and even on a midsummer's night, there's rarely a wait. Plus, she'll whip you up a tasty egg salad sandwich or whatever else you'd like from the deli; and for just three bucks a person, she'll host an ice-cream-sundae party -- at your place or hers -- with all the trimmings.
Meny is waiting for the final permit to open her patio, but in the meantime, park it on the iron benches outside the shop and watch the streetscape: people on bikes, kids playing basketball, dogs heading to the off-leash park.
What better indulgence in the dog days of summer than Liks -- without the line? -- Amy Haimerl
From Bucharest With Love
Romania is a country full of mysterious destinations for many Americans. Dracula, for heaven's sake, is from Transylvania! But the Romanian-American Freedom Alliance shows a side of the Old World country that doesn't involve vampire fangs or creepy castles.
"Romania is such a little-known part of the world," says RAFA's Ingrid Fotino. "We want people to discover the little-known jewels of our culture."
To that end, today's tenth annual Romanian Festival, assembled in front of the Boulder Courthouse on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, will offer a mix of traditional and contemporary delights. Guests can feast on countryside staples such as stuffed cabbage, vegetable ratatouille, chicken stew, crepes and tarts while perusing the collection of beaded costumes, folk art and fine needlework on display. And traditional dancers from Colorado's Hora Romaneasca will surely inspire celebratory cries of "Noroc!"
The Romanian Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and serves in part as a fundraiser for RAFA, whose members provide medical and financial assistance to the people of the former Eastern Bloc nation. Go to www.rafa.org or call 303-449-2586 for information. -- Kity Ironton
Menopause The Musical turns the Denver Civic into a sister 'hood
I'm having a hot flash
A tropical hot flash
My personal summer is really a bummer
I'm having a hot flash.
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There isn't a dry eye -- or dry pair of panties -- in the house when Mercedes Perez finishes singing that version of "Heat Wave," one of 28 parodies of songs from the '60s and '70s that make up Menopause The Musical. And talk about hotties: Along with Perez as "Soap Star," the cast includes local talents Sheryl Renee as the power-belting "Power Woman," Julie Cadwell as the ditzy "Iowa Housewife," and Denver favorite Beth Flynn as "Earth Mother." All four give big, bravura performances worth the price of admission -- but watching the crowd hoot and holler along with the songs is almost as much fun.
Comes on like a car crash
No warning, just hot flash
Outside it is nippy, but I'm hot and drippy
I'm having a hot flash.
Still, Menopause The Musical is no theatrical flash in the pan, nor is it just a better-humored Vagina Monologues. It has packed venues across the country and promises to do the same at the Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive, where it's in an open-ended run. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, with Saturday matinees at 4 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2 p.m. For tickets ($39.50, with discounts for seniors and girls-night-out groups), call 303-309-3773 or go to www.denvercivic.com. -- Patricia Calhoun