Jay Bianchi sits on a thrift-store couch inside Sancho's Broken Arrow, the Colfax bar he built from the rubble of the Golden Nugget Country Disco in February 2000. The place is bedecked with tie-dyes, a huge mosaic of the Grateful Dead's Steal Your Face logo, and a wall of signed photos of Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh. The place has more decorations than a Martha Stewart museum -- and a quick look around is all that's needed to know just who Bianchi's catering to with this decor (and it isn't Martha): Along the bar, young men in woolly caps mouth the words to the Dead's "Brokedown Palace," then Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly." It's a midday commune for like-minded souls, over beers and darts and the music that pours out of the jukebox
For five years now, Bianchi has provided this refuge for Denver-area neo-hippies, whether they be rasta- or trusta-farians, drifters or true-blue believers in the '60s flower-power ideal. His most notable contribution was the opening of Quixote's True Blue much farther out on Colfax, one of the few easterly vestiges of live music on the elongated strip, in 1996. Since then, Quixote's has served as a kind of regional training post for artists hoping to become the next Widespread Panic or String Cheese Incident; inside that closet-sized venue are photos of bands that have taken its stage, from Steve Kimmock to Deep Banana Blackout and the Disco Biscuits.
In June, however, those photos, and everything else inside the club, will be coming down. Last week, Bianchi announced that he was closing Quixote's, in the process sending a temporary tremor through the land, as those who like to get down and dirty and dready and Deady feared they would soon have to brave the drive to Boulder in order to do so. But Bianchi is quick to assuage such concerns: Quixote's isn't going away, he says, it's simply going elsewhere. (In the meantime, there are still plenty of shows on the calendar, including One Kind Favor and Buddy Cage on Friday, May 11, and Lazy Lightning on Saturday, May 12.) Though he's not ready to announce the new location -- he's still negotiating with city officials, the neighborhood and the liquor board -- Bianchi says it will be in non-LoDo downtown, which means he won't have to worry that his club will be skipped because patrons are too weary (or buzzed) to the make the drive.
"I think, in a way, we kind of cut our throats with the opening of Sancho's," he says. "People come in here and have a few beers and succumb to the inertia of alcohol. They never make it to Quixote's after that. The old place is out of the way. Because of that, we became the last place people would wind up going, and we want to be the first."
With his brothers and business partners, Phil and Eric, Bianchi plans to reopen the club in the soon-to-be-named location in late June. It will retain the Quixote's name and -- more important -- the Quixote's vibe. "The new place will be slightly bigger," he says. "But it will still maintain that intimate feeling. I think in some ways it will be emotional and difficult for us to leave the old location; it kind of reminds me of when my mother sold our house and I had little say in it. I gave our customers a chance to participate in the decision-making process. But the response we got was that most people were willing to make a change and open up some new opportunities in a new place."
The Quixote's move isn't the only change on Bianchi's plate these days. He's also in the process of renovating the Federal Theater at 38th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, an old movie house that has most recently served as a carpet store. Bianchi plans to open the space under the name Dulcinea's (like his other two establishments, the moniker is culled from Don Quixote) in the fall. In an area of town with few entertainment outlets, Bianchi's plan to turn the place into a concert hall is a welcome development. And though the interior will reflect a decidedly psychedelic aesthetic, Bianchi is working with the same architectural team that guided the renovations of the Bluebird Theater in the early '90s to make the space accommodating to all kinds of performances.
"The capacity is 655," he says. "We'll still have plenty of hippie-jam stuff in there, but we also want to broaden a little bit, make it a place that transcends and is appealing to people who aren't into that scene. We want to have classical artists. We're working with the DCPA to get different stuff in here."
If he's expanding his empire to a trio of venues, will Bianchi take it even further?
"I think three is a good place to stop," he says. "Besides, I'm running out of characters."
Less than two weeks remains before the Westword Music Showcase hits LoDo: This year's marathon will take over five venues on Market Street (as well as the 1900 block of Market Street itself) on Sunday, May 20. Yet before that happy date arrives, allow me to clear up some questions raised by those who've apparently missed the six previous showcases. Bands that appear on the showcase ballot (which is available elsewhere in this issue as well as on westword.com, where you'll also find event schedules and other info) are selected by a committee of more than fifty people, many of whom have no affiliation with Westword whatsoever. We don't even know what some of them look like (though we are reasonably sure they are all very attractive). We do know that the committee doesn't get to everyone; were we to host an event that represented all of the good bands in town, it would drag on longer than the Cinco de Mayo cruisefest on Federal. If a band you really love isn't listed, feel free to add its name -- that's what the write-in space at the end of each category list on the ballot is for. And if you feel we've botched the categories -- you think that, say, Lannie Garrett should be nominated in Hip-Hop rather than in Jazz/Swing -- drop us a line.
Speaking of music and awards and contests and things, Christophe Cranberri -- the force behind the Colorado Underground Music Awards -- has changed his approach to the event this year: Bands that want to vie for titles of bestness will actually compete against one another, tournament-style, in a series of live events that will culminate with a live playoff on November 17 at the Ogden Theatre. Artists in the categories of metal, gothic, industrial, punk, noize and others are eligible to compete in various classes, determined by experience level (beginner, one year and under; intermediate, one-two years; advanced, over two years). Registration (which costs $40 a band) begins Tuesday, May 15, at Sports Field. For more information, contact 303-363-7205. Go, team!
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