In the pre-O Brother, Where Art Thou? years, many bluegrass musicians felt that the music they loved would appeal to a wide audience only if they changed it in substantial ways. But Open Road, which calls Fort Collins home, makes no such compromises on Cold Wind, its latest release on the Rounder imprint, and thank goodness. These musicians make tradition exciting.


Now don't get us wrong: On stage, every member of the Risk (bassist Nick Anderson, drummer Greg Wildermuth and guitarist Nathan Marcy) burns more calories than Bush did death-row inmates. But this group's prince of perspiration is definitely singer/guitarist Joaquin Liebert, whose sweat glands could stand in for squirt guns as he leaps, writhes and howls his way through songs that are half Replacements, half Small Faces and 100 percent soul. If you've ever been to a Risk show, you know: Stand within ten feet of the stage and you're soaked.


Screw Audioslave. Featuring past and present members of celebrated Denver punk groups like Four, Deadlock Frequency, the Messyhairs, Crestfallen, Still Left Standing, the Facet, Contender and Pariah Caste, the newly formed Line of Descent has a Mile High pedigree a mile long. The group recently split a thunderously heavy and brutal release with the notorious Scott Baio Army, and its side-project status ensures that every Line of Descent show will be a rare and anticipated event. Now, if only the band could be talked into doing an S.O.D. cover.


Reverend Leon's Revival calls to those who believe that the Sabbath day should be reserved for peace, quiet, and reflection...in order to recover from Saturday night's hedonism and the inevitable hangover. The Revival offers a wicked, campy combination of sin and salvation that hasn't been seen since the days of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Jim and Tammy Bakker. Lots of Denver roots rockers profess a fervent love for the Lord; the difference here is that the gospel, rock and soul of the Revival is actually fronted by Paul Ramsey, a real, live preacher man.


Picking up influences from My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver, Bright Channel plays the kind of music that was once called "shoegazer": melodic guitars buried under thick, swirling drones of digital effects and noise. Echoes swell and static rattles throughout every song, sounding for all the world like an orchestra of Hoover Uprights plugged into a wall of amplifiers. Underneath all the volume, though, are dark, elegant compositions on par with Joy Division or Sonic Youth. Bright Channel's music may sound like a vacuum cleaner, but it sure doesn't suck.


Think Denver's twang torch-bearers can't cut it next to those of, say, Texas? Pardner, soak up a set by the Dalharts and see the error of your ways. Singer Les Cooper and his mates are the best of Colorado's kingly country crop, a honky-tonk/Western-swing act that can rule alongside the best from any of America's roadhouses. Cooper's crooning, the mastery of steel-guitarist Tim Whitlock and pianist Mark Richardson, and the band's ranch-hand-solid rhythm section play rollicking, seasoned country of the finest grade.


Faster than a nose-diving stock quote, able to leap plummeting interest rates without crying like a diaper baby, the Alan Greenspan Project sounds like the last of the big spenders. In fact, you can have 'em for a song.


Lancer Lounge
As novel as it is to see a jukebox full of Nick Drake and Modest Mouse, sometimes you just want to go to a bar and drown your coolness in a steady stream of bottled Bud and sweet classic rock. When that feeling hits, the Lancer is your oasis. Decorated like the wood-paneled den of one of your dad's bowling buddies, you can almost hear the hemi blocks and smell the Hamburger Helper as hit after hit keeps rolling out of the jukebox: The Eagles' "Lying Eyes," Journey's "Separate Ways," Kansas's "Wayward Son." Every once in a while, someone feels the need to program an entire Kid Rock disc, but that's just all the more reason to put in another three bucks and punch up some Foghat and CCR.


Don's Club Tavern
Sarah McGill
In the era of digital boxes networked into 100,000-song libraries, mood is half the battle, and sadly, some places just don't have that good jukebox vibe. But the beer-soaked, retro aura at Don's is a perfect match for the music in its box, with discs ranging from the Beatles' "Abbey Road" to Tom Waits's "Closing Time" to "The Essential Patsy Cline." The nicotine-stained ambience is further bolstered by nice helpings of barroom standards (Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, John Lee Hooker) alongside side dishes of 21st-century hip-hop (Outkast, Eminem) and the greatest hits of assorted departed icons (Cobain, Marley, Joplin, Hendrix, Gaye). If you can't find five songs you want to play here, you aren't trying.


Electronic alchemists Resurrector and Patch enlist an impressive crew of Denver and Boulder-based artists -- Apostle, Wailer B., Elon, Stero Lion, Vill, Totter Todd, and DJ Hot Daddi 36-0 -- to create a shamanistic wall of hip-hop dubtronica that aims to topple the foundations of modern-day Babylon. The analog mix of illbient bass sounds comes courtesy of some of the best technicians in the business, L.A.-based Scott Wolfe and Brian Gardner, who helped engineer that classic Death Row sound. So warmongers, take note: Both the crew's raps and the manifesto accompanying the record offer up prescriptions for survival and victory in a tension-filled time.


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