The City has weighed in on the Skylark Lounge saga, and, from the looks of it, owner Scott Heron's bird shall sing: On Tuesday, Department of Excise and Licenses director Helen Gonzales approved Heron's application to transfer the bar's tavern and cabaret licenses to a new space on south Broadway. The ruling follows a period of push-and-pull -- and rather unpleasant -- negotiations between the 'lark and members of the West Washington Park Neighborhood Association, who vehemently oppose the bar's relocation. But Heron says he's not ready to pour the celebratory pints just yet: Anti-Skylark activists have ten days following the approval to file an appeal with Gonzales's office.
"It's a little bit premature, but it feels like a sunny day again," he says. "I've been holding off on doing anything with the new space, because I wasn't sure what would happen. Now I feel somewhat confident I'll actually have a bar to run when the time comes."
We'll drink to that.
A cry of concern has rippled through mamboland since Dario Rosa announced he's leaving Cabaret Diosa, the ten-person art-project/exotica ensemble he helped start in 1995. But the band will carry on, minus its formative guitarist. No more shall Rosa don his frilly suit and faux-Latin persona or make big-band music from an alternate plane. No longer shall he travel to the ends of the earth on an endless touring route, covering the rugged American terrain in a 1976 Dodge Leprechaun RV "with bicentennial curtains and goldenrod appliances." Dario, how can you just walk away?
"When you're in a band like that, it's kind of easy to lose yourself -- maybe because it's wacky and theatrical," he says. "A lot of it is rock-and-roll fantasy kind of stuff. It can be all-consuming. I love the band -- and the people in it, I consider to be my family. But I'm just ready to concentrate on other areas of my life."
Rosa -- né Darrin Feder -- says the group's tour schedule got to be too much; successful on the festival and college circuits, Cabaret plays more on the road than it does at home. And while bounding from city to city and show to show provides its own kind of bliss, after eight years spent behind the wheel of a vehicle crammed with nine bandmates, Feder's ready to park it for good.
As he retreats from the stage, he'll be heading into the studio and the offices of Outmode Records, an indie label he started two years ago with William Yale, late of United Dope Front. The label will soon give birth to Feder's solo recording, Dario Rosa -- Man of Leisure, which has been in the works for more than a year; a compilation of Outmode acts is also scheduled for release in the spring. Expect the artists who pop up on the sample to share a musical nostalgia as well as a devotion to retro recording styles: Outmode's vision is a little bit cheeky, very vintage and low-key hi-fi, with strains of '60s-era psychedelic, lounge and bachelor-pad sounds.
"My album is kind of like an homage, or a parody, of the albums that came out in the late '50s and early '60s," Feder says. "You'd get these instrumentalists -- studio guys, basically -- who weren't famous and were basically faceless. They'd pump out several albums a year of popular covers of the day. That's kind of the theme for mine, and for Outmode, too: The image we want to present is that we're oblivious to the modern world."
Feder is hoping the modern world won't be oblivious to the label. Though the lounge and exotica movements have mellowed in the mainstream, there's a hearty underground that still eats the stuff up, especially in foreign markets such as Japan; Feder plans to tap the specialty record stores and Web sites that feed the need. Feder says Outmode will be his full-time gig for a while, although he's moonlighting in the Lawns, a new side project led by David Sherman, aka Diosa's Juan del Queso. But for the moment, he's shying away from the conventional live-band format he followed for so long with Cabaret. Forsaken fans should check out Cabaret Diosa's appearance on Friday, February 14, at the Fox Theatre, which will be Feder's last show with the group. Hasta luego, Señor Rosa.
Maybe there is intelligent life in the suburbs. Thursday, February 13, marks the unveiling of the D-Note Lounge, a huge art gallery/music venue in Olde Town Arvada. Owner Adam DeGraff, who's opening the place with his two brothers, says the place will strive for eclecticism in its music calendar. Judging by the first week, that goal is well in sight: King Rat, Uphollow and the Fifth Utility round out a loud and arty lineup on the first night, while bluegrass revival act Open Road performs on Wednesday, February 19. Jazz, country and hip-hop artists will get time in the club, which will be open seven nights a week and double as an art gallery, with both rolling and fixed exhibitions.
We're glad the brothers DeGraff decided to launch this concept. The space is beautiful, with brick walls, wood floors and a sleek mural behind the stage. The boys have big ideas. We just have one question: Arvada?
"Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I think there's something actually cool about it being here," Adam says. "Old Town is so weird; it's so out of place. You've got Costco and Lowe's and Sam's and all that stuff. But just a block away, you've got this street with all this crazy stuff, like the Olde Town Picking Parlour. There's something surreal about that that was appealing. Plus, we'd never have been able to afford it in LoDo or downtown. In Arvada, you can find really cheap rent."
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Mercury Cafe patrons witnessed an impromptu Coldplay performance during last Wednesday's open-mike night. Merc host Melissa Ivey said the British band, which sold out the Fillmore on Thursday, February 6, showed up, asked if there was room on the list, then sat through a cabaret of free-form performances before giving one of its own and jamming with local musicians. After the Fillmore show, bandleader Chris Martin told Backwash that opener Ron Nexsmith visits the Merc each time he's in Denver. So what did Martin think of the place?
"The people were very nice to let us play, and we heard some very good groups," he says. "And we had some excellent coffee. It was lovely."