Tourists who hit downtown yesterday will leave the Mile High City with a slightly exaggerated impression of the role music plays in the workaday lives of Denverites. During the first-ever Make Music Denver -- an all-day, outdoor showcase of local music that builds on a global movement to celebrate music as a public art at least one day each year -- the 16th Street Mall was recast as an artist friendly thoroughfare with more than 21 pop-up venues scattered from tip to tail.
For business folk, mallrats and other locals, Make Music Denver created a soundtrack to the daily trudge -- a not-unpleasant cacophony of rhythms, beats and echoes that added to the everyday clamor of shuttles, RTD buses, busking, spare-changing and power-lunching that typify a summer day in the city.
Find more about Make Music Denver on the next page. It's doubtful that many of the bemused sidewalk cafe diners and commuters who snapped photos and video were aware that Make Music Denver marked Denver's entry into a global phenomenon: Inspired by the Fete du Musique, which launched in France more than a decade ago, Make Music Denver was one of nearly 500 free celebrations of music that took place around the world yesterday. It was clear, however, that something was up.
From 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., more than 90 bands and artists performed in venues both grand and mundane, from the classically styled Civic Center Park amphitheater, where the Colorado Symphony's brass ensemble skronked to life, to a sidewalk outside the notoriously crusty Walgreen's on 16th and Stout. Even shuttle medians proved an acceptable stage: At lunchtime, the high school band I'm on Fire (pictured) performed for bicycle cops, an MMJ sign twirler, a group of tourists from Belgium and diners munching on apps at Chili's.
It was, in many ways, the perfect encapsulation of Make Music Denver: An unknown band, an extemparaneous setting, a spontaneous, hodge-podge of a crowd, a blue sky, a passable rendition of "Foxy Lady." Cause...why not?
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