Best Thursday-Night Entertainment 2001 | All-Star KaraokeCafe Cero | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Cafe Cero is hip: It's cool and casual, it serves gourmet bar food, it attracts big-name local acts to perform acoustic sets and comedy acts, and it hosts All-Star Karaoke every Thursday night at 9. With more than 5,000 songs available, there's no excuse for you not to make a total fool of yourself in front of people who should know better.

Best Thanksgiving Performance by a Man Hearing Too Many Goddamn Voices in His Head

Wesley Willis

Wesley Willis, a schizophrenic Chicago street artist and Casio accompanist, played fiasco-free last Thanksgiving to a receptive Tavern crowd, rendering timeless (and preprogrammed) such holiday classics as "Eat That Mule Shit," "Shoot Me in the Ass" and "I'm Sorry That I Got Fat." The evening's earth-shattering, Mayflower hell ride -- as engagingly odd as it was devoid of cranberries -- made for a repetitively fun time with plenty of headbutts for all who were willing to "rock over London, rock over Chicago." For the wee pilgrims of Denver, Wesley can still whip the turkey's booty-hole.

Denver's major cultural institutions offered free admission all day on December 31, but that was just a taste of the big, big fun still to come. By 11:58 p.m. on New Year's Eve, the 16th Street Mall was one mass of happy, freeloading humanity, eagerly awaiting the fireworks that were set to light up the D&F Tower. And for once, a show lived up to its advance billing: Within seconds, the mall exploded in a blaze of lights and sights and sounds, wrapping 200,000 spectators in smoke and an incredible feeling of well-being. Everyone got such a bang out of the Mayor's Millennium Celebration that it more than made up for the bust of the previous New Year's Eve -- and Mayor Wellington Webb was so moved that he promised a repeat performance next year (if sponsors step up to the plate, that is). We say: Party on, Denver!
South of Fairplay, west of Colorado Springs and east of Gunnison, one of America's "100 Best Small Art Towns" devotes a weekend each year to the visual and performing arts. In 2001, Salida is set to go artsy June 22-24 for the ninth annual Salida Art Walk, with nationally known painters, sculptors, jewelers, ceramic and glass artists, photographers, storytellers, musicians, comedians, dancers and poets taking to the streets, galleries and restaurants that line Colorado's largest historic district. But in Salida, which is also one of Colorado's last relatively unspoiled towns, the arts aren't simply a once-a-year afterthought. A smattering of interesting galleries are open year-round, and the coffeehouse bulletin boards are always loaded with announcements of entertaining, artful events. All this and fabulous fourteeners, too.
Colorado sculptor John DeAndrea is one of only a handful of local artists to have achieved international renown. But there's no mystery to his success, as the incredible sculptures in last fall's John DeAndrea make clear. The spectacular show was a knockout even from the sidewalk on Wazee Street: Through the windows, passersby could catch a glimpse of what looked like a naked woman. It was actually a hyper-real figural sculpture, the first of many in this exhibit. D'Andrea also revealed his debt to Italian art in this show, something that was unexpected but hardly unlikely given the artist's Italian-American roots.
You'd have to look pretty hard to find a less pretentious entertainer than Paul Lopez, pianist at Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill. The perpetually congenial Lopez, a fixture behind the bar's ivories since the late '80s, always has a good word for patrons, whether they're participatory-show-tune types or not. He's no slouch on the piano, either.

Denver ceramics genius Martha Daniels threw everything into Grotto, her outlandish installation in which most elements were made of clay. She painted the walls, created architectural elements and even put in an operable fountain. The resulting atmosphere was dark and heavy, exactly her intention, since the show was meant to evoke the spirit of the ancient grottos of Italy. But despite her historical sources -- like those requisite Venus sculptures -- Daniels also threw in some of her futuristic robot figures.

Best Lunar Landing by an Experimental Caucasian

Whitey on the Moon

Besides spinning tunes for KUVO's Sleepless Nights once a week, Jamie Osborne hosts open-stage gatherings of vast proportions every other Wednesday at the Mercury Cafe -- an impromptu offering that launches listeners into twisting orbits of found sound, electronica, spoken word, jazz noodling and beyond. His own ongoing project, dubbed Whitey on the Moon, mixes indie rock, dance beats and Gil Scott Heron-inspired soulfulness, and it's produced one of the year's most intriguing studio efforts. Add the contributions of some talented local luminaries (including Tarantella violist Kelly O' Dea and reed master Mark Harris from Random Axe and Hamster Theatre), and you've got all the ingredients for a stratospheric sound party. Houston, we haven't a problem in the world.

For an upstart small business, the Bayeux Gallery scored a major coup by presenting the 3rd American Tapestry Alliance Biennial Exhibition last summer. The two previous biennials had been held in public spaces; this was the first time the show was presented in a commercial gallery. But Bayeux, owned and operated by Carla St. Romain, is no ordinary gallery -- it's specifically geared to feature textiles as fine art, and, as such, is one of only a handful of like operations in the country. The show included an international array of textile artists working in an even larger array of techniques. Though it was expensive to present, St. Romain obviously made the right move, since a major exhibit is always the best way to get new visitors in the doors.

Instrumentalist/bandleader Fred Hess has been among Colorado jazz's saving graces for a generation. Better yet, the years have dimmed neither his talent nor his musical curiosity. Faith (Cadence Jazz) finds Hess and a collection of impressive collaborators working at yet another creative peak.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of