The first weekend of the new year is nigh, and artsy locals are providing ample opportunities to enjoy the best of what Denver's creative community has to offer all weekend long. From essentially free museum days and art walks to rodeo parades and rollicking concerts, the city has enough events to keep even those with the most discerning tastes entertained until the work week rolls around. Even better, for readers who are short on funds but high on life, the following ten events all cost less than $10 to attend, including five freebies.
Stock Show Kick-Off Parade
Thursday, January 4, noon
Denver Union Station
The National Western Stock Show is a big ol' deal around these parts, and accordingly, tickets are a hot item. If you want to get a taste of the Stock Show ceremony without ponying up cash, an ideal opportunity awaits at the Stock Show Kick-Off Parade, which commences at Union Station today at noon. Celebrate cowboy culture with a horse-driven cattle drive followed by floats, marching bands and other rodeo staples. Admission is free but the streets will be crowded, so arriving early is recommended. Visit the National Western Stock Show's events calendar for more information.
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WRITE CLUB: Anustart
Thursday, January 4, 6 p.m.
Syntax Physic Opera
Although writers appear to be a harmlessly bookish bunch, a fierce sense of competition lurks beneath our tweedy and bespectacled facades. Write Club Denver, a self-described "literary thunderdome," puts that subtext into the spotlight with a series of head-to-head competitive readings from Denver-based authors, comedians, performers and creatives. With an earlier start time befitting the season's early sunsets, Write Club is getting a punny start to the new year with "Anustart" (sound it out phonetically), offering up stories from Nate Ragolia, Kat Atwell, Jason Brown, Kevin T. Phillips, Jason Berkowitz and Rachel Trignano. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a 7 p.m. start. A suggested donation of $10 will be collected at the door, though no one will be turned away. Visit Write Club Denver's Facebook events page to learn more.
Power Move: Comedy in Action
Thursday, January 4, 8 p.m.
Stand up for a good cause at Nathan Lund and Aaron Urist's Power Move: Comedy in Action, an evening of comedy raising funds for worthy causes. January's show includes a cavalcade of comics including locals April Kaprelian, Meghan DePonceau and Anthony Siraguse, prodigal sons Jordan Doll and Brett Hiker, and Los Angeles's John-Michael Bond (The Hard Times). Proceeds from guests' suggested $5 donations will benefit CHARG resource center. Audience members will enjoy free brews from Ratio Beerworks and STEM Ciders. Find more information on Power Move's Facebook events page.
Queen City Companion
Thursday, January 4, 8 p.m.
Mutiny Information Cafe
Although the misconduct allegations against Garrison Keillor (not to mention his problematic response to them) cast the long-running public-radio staple A Prairie Home Companion in a troubling new light, there's no need to dismiss the efforts of the thousands of performers who've been inspired by the show. Spearheaded by Christie Buchele of the Empty Girlfriend podcast and the Pussy Bros. standup supergroup, Queen City Companion invites a rogues' gallery of local comics, writers, musicians and other creatives to share their entirely fabricated tales through whatever medium suits them best. United by a common theme, the storytellers can let their imaginations run free, with everything recorded for posterity thanks to resident Mutiny lackey and Denver comic Cory Helie. The show is starting the new year off right with a lineup that includes Creative Strategies for Change's Kate Wintz, Suspect Press editor Amanda Mills EK, Claire Heywood, the Narrators' Ron Doyle, actor Matthew Blood-Smyth, and comedians Rachel Weeks and Jordan Doll. Admission is free; find more details on the event's Facebook page, where you'll also find a link to listen to other episodes.
January First Friday Art Walk
Friday, January 5, 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Art District on Santa Fe
An artsy tradition held dear by many Denverites, the First Friday Art Walk in the Santa Fe Arts District remains one of the best ways to keep abreast of the city's thriving arts and culture scene. Galleries open their doors to the public, food trucks abound, and the mood is festive, whatever the climes. With more than 100 participating galleries, shops and restaurants, you could return to the First Friday Art Walk every month and still miss out on something worthy each time. Find more information on the Art District on Santa Fe's Facebook events page.
The Gentleman Bankrobber
Friday, January 5, 6:30 p.m.
The fascinating story of "Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter" Rita Bo Brown, The Gentleman Bank Robber is a new documentary from filmmaker Julie Perini. An anti-establishment activist whose affiliation with the militant George Jackson Brigade, Brown lived the wild life of a righteous outlaw, earning the titular nickname for her masculine style of dress and gentle manner with the employees of the banks she robbed to fund revolutionary efforts. The 45-minute screening will be followed by a discussion of the film conducted by Unstoppable Publication. Admission is free, but organizers will be raising funds for Brown's medical expenses. Visit Unstoppable's Facebook events page for more details.
15th Anniversary Celebration with Bud Bronson & the Good Timers
Friday, January 5, 8 p.m.
Fifteen years is a long damn time for a venue to survive in Denver's fickle and cutthroat market, but the Larimer Lounge has managed to endure all the same. Celebrate the longevity of one of the city's great concert halls on Friday, January 5, with a rousing free show spotlighting Chocolate Diamond, Panther Martin, and Bud Bronson & the Good Timers. Visit the Larimer Lounge's events calendar to find out more.
Penny Admission for Colorado Residents
Saturday, January 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For Coloradans who love art but balk at admission fees, First Saturdays are a godsend. If your tastes skew modern, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art any time from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and see the entire collection all for one red American cent. With the Saber Acomodar exhibition, which highlights 25 different Jalisco artists, and Pose's street art installation "Sunshine and Its Shadow" currently on display, it's well worth paying MCA's modest admission fees. But if you're extra-thrifty and don't mind a crowd, a copper Lincoln is all you'll need to get in on Saturday. This deal is only available to Colorado residents, so pay up, tourists. Visit MCA Denver online to learn more.
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SPELLS 7" Release Party
Saturday, January 6, 8:30 p.m.
Denver's music scene is fully under the spell of vacation rockers SPELLS, which is gearing up to release its new 7" record, Big Boring Meeting. The show also coincides with the release of another 7" from SPELLS's Snappy Little Numbers Quality Audio Recordings label mate Hooper, who'll be joining the lineup to celebrate the release of No Monument. With local favorites Lawsuit Models on opening duty, the evening promises to be a grand party for the whole Denver music scene. Learn more and buy tickets, $8, from Ticketfly.
Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute: Sacrifice for Justice
Tuesday, January 9, 7:30 p.m.
Boettcher Concert Hall
Free with registration
Though Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn't officially until January 15, a number of tributes to the slain civil rights leader are happening throughout the month. The Colorado Symphony's is presenting an honorary concert poignantly titled "Sacrifice for Justice." Conducted by Scott O'Neil and offering the vocal talents of mezzo soprano Diana Tesh, the stirring program also includes guest performances by Michael Chipman, Stephanie Hancock, and Rajdulari. The ceremonies will also honor six recipients of Humanitarian Awards recognized by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission. Admission is free, but registering for tickets is required. Visit the Colorado Symphony's events calendar for more details.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's calendar online.