In two consecutive Denver appearances, Gil Scott-Heron proved that he is only slightly less hilarious as a comedian than he is inspiring, enduring, and right freakin' on as a musician, poet and social observer. He opened both February performances at the overly stuffed Lion's Lair (which brought new meaning to the word "intimate" that night) with an elongated monologue that could've been cribbed straight from a late-night HBO special. Yet it wasn't Scott-Heron's humor that sold out the club (twice, with lines of ticketless hopefuls extending down the block). After he took his seat behind his trademark electric piano, it was clear that his take on topics like civil rights, politics and poverty hadn't lost its poignancy or punch -- and his music hadn't lost its groove. It was an inspiring night of sounds that was as powerful as it was funky. He always said the revolution would be live.

In two consecutive Denver appearances, Gil Scott-Heron proved that he is only slightly less hilarious as a comedian than he is inspiring, enduring, and right freakin' on as a musician, poet and social observer. He opened both February performances at the overly stuffed Lion's Lair (which brought new meaning to the word "intimate" that night) with an elongated monologue that could've been cribbed straight from a late-night HBO special. Yet it wasn't Scott-Heron's humor that sold out the club (twice, with lines of ticketless hopefuls extending down the block). After he took his seat behind his trademark electric piano, it was clear that his take on topics like civil rights, politics and poverty hadn't lost its poignancy or punch -- and his music hadn't lost its groove. It was an inspiring night of sounds that was as powerful as it was funky. He always said the revolution would be live.

Tom Waits recognizes the value of a good entrance. At both of his Denver appearances at the Paramount Theatre last October, he announced his ascent to the stage by blazing straight through the center of the crowd, howling into a handheld bullhorn as he marched down the aisle. It was the perfect scene-setter for performances that found Waits pulling off a rare feat -- that is, rising to the level of his own mythology. Each night, Waits mule-kicked and screamed through more than two hours' worth of material, pausing only to share the occasional joke or bit of crowd interaction, or to recall the time he spent wandering the streets of downtown Denver before the area had an acronym. At one point, Waits held his green sequined bowler hat up to a disco ball that hung over his head, producing little swirling shatters of light all over the audience. Had they illuminated the faces of those in attendance a bit more, they would have revealed a rapt and loving crowd.

Readers' choice: KISS

Tom Waits recognizes the value of a good entrance. At both of his Denver appearances at the Paramount Theatre last October, he announced his ascent to the stage by blazing straight through the center of the crowd, howling into a handheld bullhorn as he marched down the aisle. It was the perfect scene-setter for performances that found Waits pulling off a rare feat -- that is, rising to the level of his own mythology. Each night, Waits mule-kicked and screamed through more than two hours' worth of material, pausing only to share the occasional joke or bit of crowd interaction, or to recall the time he spent wandering the streets of downtown Denver before the area had an acronym. At one point, Waits held his green sequined bowler hat up to a disco ball that hung over his head, producing little swirling shatters of light all over the audience. Had they illuminated the faces of those in attendance a bit more, they would have revealed a rapt and loving crowd.

Readers' choice: KISS

Mel Apodaca, a former investigator for the Denver Coroner's Office by day and a self-proclaimed "karaoke slut" by night, was captivated by the musical phenomenon as soon as a friend introduced him it. As Apodaca felt pulled by the powerful lure of karaoke, he noticed deficiencies in the business: Hosts took their jobs lightly and lacked enthusiasm and sympathy for karaoke virgins, so Apodaca decided to change all that. Seven years ago he took over the Karaoke Showplace business (303-839-1355), a hosting gig that takes him to the city's karaoke hotspots. Now working mostly at Ogden Street South and Charlie Brown's, the metro-area karaoke guru distinguishes himself from other hosts by taking an interest in the singers and encouraging first-timers. Apodaca sets the mood by singing the first tune himself, possibly a number by Elvis or Sinatra; he's also quick to defend the daring singers from audience hecklers. Denver karaoke fans, meet your mentor.

Mel Apodaca, a former investigator for the Denver Coroner's Office by day and a self-proclaimed "karaoke slut" by night, was captivated by the musical phenomenon as soon as a friend introduced him it. As Apodaca felt pulled by the powerful lure of karaoke, he noticed deficiencies in the business: Hosts took their jobs lightly and lacked enthusiasm and sympathy for karaoke virgins, so Apodaca decided to change all that. Seven years ago he took over the Karaoke Showplace business (303-839-1355), a hosting gig that takes him to the city's karaoke hotspots. Now working mostly at Ogden Street South and Charlie Brown's, the metro-area karaoke guru distinguishes himself from other hosts by taking an interest in the singers and encouraging first-timers. Apodaca sets the mood by singing the first tune himself, possibly a number by Elvis or Sinatra; he's also quick to defend the daring singers from audience hecklers. Denver karaoke fans, meet your mentor.

One thing about dance calling: You can't claim that people never listen to you. Chris Kermiet knows the down-home business better than most, and it's no wonder, considering his pedigree: His mother was a member of the singing Ritchie Family, and his father was a dance-caller before him, so you could almost say he was born with the old-time music and square steps in his bones. After more than thirty years of calling at traditional community dances throughout the region -- most often under the auspices of the Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance -- Kermiet received a Colorado Council on the Arts Folk Arts fellowship award this year, deserved recognition for a guy who knows where to put your best foot forward.

One thing about dance calling: You can't claim that people never listen to you. Chris Kermiet knows the down-home business better than most, and it's no wonder, considering his pedigree: His mother was a member of the singing Ritchie Family, and his father was a dance-caller before him, so you could almost say he was born with the old-time music and square steps in his bones. After more than thirty years of calling at traditional community dances throughout the region -- most often under the auspices of the Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance -- Kermiet received a Colorado Council on the Arts Folk Arts fellowship award this year, deserved recognition for a guy who knows where to put your best foot forward.

The Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, which debuted last year and was a rousing success, is back this year with added vigor, not to mention an all-star faculty headed up by Scottish fiddle whiz Iain Fraser. But this year's weeklong fête in the mountains will be far more than a bunch of fiddlers fiddling around; expanded to include numerous other instruments, such as harp, piano, mandolin and guitar, the camp is mostly about making good music, and there's plenty of time for that. The music's nonstop, from the time you get up for classes to the time you go to bed, worn out by an evening of jamming and dancing. When the music stops, it's to make room for hiking or fishing or some old-fashioned campfire storytelling. This is non-violins at its best.

The Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, which debuted last year and was a rousing success, is back this year with added vigor, not to mention an all-star faculty headed up by Scottish fiddle whiz Iain Fraser. But this year's weeklong fête in the mountains will be far more than a bunch of fiddlers fiddling around; expanded to include numerous other instruments, such as harp, piano, mandolin and guitar, the camp is mostly about making good music, and there's plenty of time for that. The music's nonstop, from the time you get up for classes to the time you go to bed, worn out by an evening of jamming and dancing. When the music stops, it's to make room for hiking or fishing or some old-fashioned campfire storytelling. This is non-violins at its best.

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