What began as a creative outlet for multi-instrumentalist Dave Willey has turned into a real band -- and a unique one, at that. Carnival Detournement (Cuneiform) is a cornucopia of jazz, art rock and Eastern European folk music that's at once endlessly intriguing and unexpectedly accessible.
Randal Myler and Brockman Seawell's adaptation of onetime Boulder resident John Fanté's novella 1933 Was a Bad Year entranced from start to finish. That's mostly because Myler, who also directed 1933, staged the play with near-cinematic fluidity. He was aided by an ever-shifting backdrop of photographic montages: Vintage Boulder neighborhoods were suggested by contemporary snapshots that had been digitally sanitized to make each locale look as it did seventy years ago. The overall effect was largely one of an unbroken, almost symphonic backward glance -- peppered with bursts of hijinks -- at the forces that shaped a young man's destiny.

Bradford Lee Folk's voice is the musical equivalent of Rogaine, a hormone-rich wonder that raises the hair on the head, neck and everywhere else. One of many highlights in his stellar acoustic group, Open Road, Folk sings pre-country music with ache, anger and appreciation for his forebears. His ghostly, coal-dusted voice is high lonesome in the flesh.

An outstanding quartet of local actors drove beyond the shortcomings of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change to offer up an insightful, sometimes hilarious look at America's love-hate relationship with dating games. Whether they were dovetailing in four-part harmony, pairing off in warring/cooing duets or going it alone during a few gratifying solos, Mark Devine, Jordan Leigh Gurner, Elizabeth Rose and Gina Schuh-Turner exuded a winning combination of artistry, timing and humanity. Best of all, they ushered in a welcome change in area casting trends, proving that local talent can bring as much -- if not more -- to the Denver Center's stages than most any assemblage of ringers.

3Deep Presents, which started in 1992 as a mobile DJ unit on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus, consistently brings some of the best hip-hop music to town. In the past year, the crew promoted the DMC Technics Regional DJ championships at the Fox Theatre. And in conjunction with House of Blues Concerts -- where founders Francois Baptiste and Alvin LaCabe now work -- the company co-produced and laid down the street promotion for such rap luminaries as Method Man and Redman, Common, and the Cash Money Millionaires. 3Deep has also given props to local artists such as DJ Chonz, Don Blas and Kingdom, who have all opened up for a number of the Deep's shows. Area hip-hop heads know that 3Deep events are bound to be banging.

Herman's Hideaway
Eric Gruneisen
The sound can be murky, the toilets are often dubious, and the neighboring establishments range from simply divey to dangerous. But, hey -- no one ever said rock and roll was pretty. The 15th Street Tavern is still the best place to get rocked, both for the quality of its musical fare and for the, er, uniqueness of its environs. The Tavern's concert calendar is consistently jammed with the most buzzed-about indie rock, pop and punk bands going, and the atmosphere -- equal parts Barfly and CBGB in the '80s -- is its own sensory experience. Just don't be offended by the brusque doorman, and remember to bring along your earplugs -- and maybe a small bottle of Febreze.
Okay, so the pinball machine is poorly maintained. And the music is generally targeted at only the most grizzled eardrums in Denver. But the walls in the men's bathroom at Seven South offer enough philosophical lunacy (okay, idiocy) to amuse those with even the most television-addled attention span. Some key phrases: "The next millennium is ours!" "Philip K. Dick is dead..." "Sometimes I think about cats and bunnys [sic]. Is that wrong?"
In what might have been the group's final outing, Negativland -- the wildly experimental music-and-art collective from San Francisco -- brought its True/False 2000 Tour to a packed house at the Bluebird Theater last spring. At nearly three hours in length, the mind-altering spectacle featured more appropriated sound collage and multiple visual feeds than you could shake a restraining order at -- plus religious motivational speaker Marsha Turnblatt (founding member Richard Lyons in drag) and a hilarious puppet show appropriate for all ages. Culminating with an audience-participation rant-along (attendees recited Casey Kasem's famous profanity-laced tantrum in unison), the evening proved unforgettable, with America's "information highwaymen" in tip-top shape, sampling not only from the commercialized wasteland of 21st-century info-glut, but from their subversive little selves as well. And now a word from our sponsors....
Say what you will about the experimental, sometimes difficult work of longtime Colorado filmmaker Stan Brakhage, but his films have stood the test of time. For four decades, Brakhage has been regarded as one of the most forward-looking of all American filmmakers, for his individuality and refusal to compromise. The free Film Forum programs, held every Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Fine Arts N-141 on the CU-Boulder campus, shed plenty of light on his work and that of his contemporaries.

The Upstart Crow Theatre Company's version of The Rivals was a gorgeously costumed affair. In addition to providing the comedy with adequate staging, director Joan Kuder Bell took on the assignment of designing the play's eighteenth-century garb. With the help of four seamstresses, she crafted a splendid wardrobe that would have been the envy of any professional theater: Every costume was newly constructed rather than, as is often the case with a small group working on a tight budget, rented or pulled from stock -- a laudable accomplishment that also served as a pleasant reminder of community theater's unique appeal.

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