Best Local Appearance by a National Author

Dave Eggers

After his mother and father died, 21-year-old Dave Eggers was left to raise his younger brother -- a situation that he turned into a best-selling memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The cutting-edge tome inspired Amy Slothower, a fundraiser for the Webb-Waring Institute for Cancer, Aging and Antioxidant Research, to invite Eggers to come read at a fall fundraising event for the Denver-based institution. But Eggers did more than just read: At the end of the evening, he pledged a $100,000 donation to Webb-Waring. And his contributions didn't end there. The Vintage paperback version of his book includes an appendix that offers an update on Eggers's life -- including his visit to Webb-Waring last fall. "I felt I'd wasted decades," he writes. "I wanted to drop everything to move to Denver and become their Igor, sleeping on a basement cot."

Director Hugo Jon Sayles's choice to present Ain't Misbehavin' as a New York City "rent party" lent the collection of Depression-era tunes a laid-back informality that made audiences feel at home from the first note. The Broadway musical revue paid homage to the works of legendary blues man Fats Waller, the son of a high-profile minister who denounced jazz as a product of "the Devil's workshop." Thankfully, the top-notch cast, backed by a sparkling three-piece band, expertly blended the sublime with the risqué. And while their individual abilities impressed, the singers displayed even greater virtuosity during group numbers that ranged from riotous to soul-stirring.

Aurora Cinema Grill - Colorado
Tired of cold hot dogs and overpriced nachos that wind up in your lap every time Sylvester Stallone blows something to smithereens? Aurora's Cinema Grill offers an alternative: a selection of salads, burgers, subs, pizzas and grilled-chicken dishes served to you, at table, while you take in a feature film. The fare may be second-run, mind you, but here's the chance to catch a flick you missed earlier, projected on a big screen while you chow down. The food is by no means spectacular, but it's honest enough, and if you'd like to wash it down with beer or wine, they have that, too. The swivel chairs are comfortable, and the price is right: $2 for matinees, $4 at night.
It's not the first time Marin Alsop and ensemble have received ASCAP accolades for being different, but in a time when the magnificent Maestra's days in Denver seem numbered as a result of her fire and enthusiasm, it's especially worthy of note, concrete evidence of what everyone's been saying all along: Marin Alsop doesn't settle for sap, though she's willing to allow more popular programming within the confines of a CSO season. But you can also count on her to sprinkle the concert lineup with more difficult and challenging works, meaning you're likely to hear Mahler along with your Rachmaninoff, or a world premiere of Bresnick's Double Percussion Concerto along with the crowd-charmer Pictures at an Exhibition.
The actors in ...becoming non grata performed each episode in this production as though they had personally lived it -- which, in a way, they did. The collaboratively written piece, which focused on events at the Japanese internment camp at Amache, Colorado, was developed over a six-month period by an ensemble of UCD theater students and guest artists working with professor and director Laura Cuetara. Together they devoted countless hours to research, study and improvisation, editing the material to a length that could be digested in a single sitting. The result was a series of historical scenes and present-day arguments that posed the question of whether some of World War II's most crucial battles weren't really waged at home.
Over the past year, Kingdom has gone head-to-head with some of the best rappers in the business, including Wyclef Jean, with whom the Royal One faced off during the recent Campus Invasion Tour. Kingdom's skills at the mike also earned him a slot on The Source magazine's battle competition; he didn't claim the winning title, but he won over most of the members of the audience, including the event's producers. No doubt the experience will serve as inspiration for his rhymes. We can hardly wait.
In addition to fronting the explosively guitar-centric Abdomen, Mike Jourgensen records and distributes music through www.noisetent.com, an indie hub of punk-friendly Denver-based bands including Jet Black Joy, Dumbass Brothers, Stuttering Bishops, Blast-Off Heads, Negative Man, Fast Action Revolver, Tanger and Bio-Bitch. Jourgensen's affordable studio space -- a stone's throw from neighboring Children's Hospital in Denver -- can boast the production of full-length offerings from both the Perry Weissman 3 and the Pin Downs (both of whom appear on Noise Tent 2000 Spring Sampler), as well as fits of experimental passion by the likes of In Ether, Mike Serviolo and Mark Stookesbury. Mastered by the magnificent Bob Ferbrache, this limited-quantity release pays homage to some of the area's hardest-working and most underrepresented bands. Most important, all proceeds help fund a sanctuary for smiling lambs.
Herman's Hideaway
Eric Gruneisen
Herman's Hideaway is not exactly known for hosting the best local music. But it does deserve kudos for hosting the most. With live music every night of the week, Herman's offers bands ranging from the well-established to the unknown; the New Music Showcase series on Thursday nights is often dominated by bands who've never performed in front of live (non-family) audiences. No matter the act, though, the wide-open room and excellent sound system make it an attractive space in which to survey it all. As with any sampler, not everything will be to your liking, but there are usually a couple of tasty morsels in the mix.
For more than a year, pundits the world over wondered whether John Barton's Tantalus would be a millennium-defining hit or flop. Much like the nature of Greek myths themselves, the grand, lavishly staged show was less absolute, and the joint effort of the Denver Center Theatre Company and England's Royal Shakespeare Company leaned more toward triumph than failure. The virtuoso performances, masterful directorial touches (the piece was co-directed by British theater legend Peter Hall and his son Edward) and astonishing design elements made for an event that brimmed with brilliance, wit and beauty. Despite its marathon length and exorbitant admission price, the epic showed itself to be a bold experiment about the dangers of aspiring to be godlike before understanding our own mortality.

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