Kent Haruf's Plainsong won critical acclaim for its quiet beauty, and Eric Schmiedl's stage adaptation — miraculously — comes close to doing the novel justice. This isn't one of those theater pieces that wows you on the spot; instead, Plainsong stays with you, settling slowly into your consciousness until it becomes part of the way you see the world. This is largely because of Schmiedl's fidelity to the novel; he keeps much of Haruf's writing, the rhythm of the prose providing a steady pulse beneath the action. As a result, the plot has less to do with forward movement than with a kind of inexorable unfolding that makes you feel as if you are watching a moving, living frieze.
While working at Rocky Mountain Recorders, Andrew Vastola has been up to his elbows in some of Denver's best records. As engineer, producer or mastering pro, the studio wunderkind put his magic hands on some of our favorite discs by the Photo Atlas, Born in the Flood, Laylights, Hearts of Palm, the Wheel and many others. It's the upcoming Swayback record, though, that really cements Vastola as a production juggernaut. Though three of the tracks on Long Gone Lads also appeared on the Forewarned EP, Vastola not only managed to make them sound better this time around, but he also got superior performances out of the band. Rocking on the other side of the glass, it looks like Vastola can't miss.
While we all knew it was coming, few of us had actually braced for the inevitable crash when Planes Mistaken for Stars finally went down. And as we watched one of Denver's truly great bands disintegrate in midair, it was difficult to shake the feeling of utter helplessness. Whoever said that all good things must come to an end must've been an eternal optimist — or a complete dipshit. Even so, we're grateful that we were on hand to pay our last respects and see Gared O'Donnell and company give it their absolute all over the course of nearly two dozen songs.
Last spring, Jason Bosch e-mailed a visual missive to friends and supporters. "ArgusFest R.I.P.?" it queried over the photo of a distraught towheaded boy who embodied Bosch's own inner feelings about his grassroots human-rights film series. The message was not just a plea for attention — and maybe even donations — but also a declaration by Bosch that he plans to move ArgusFest in new, bigger directions, by finding a place where it can stay put. And we're all for that, because as it is, every week Bosch faithfully lugs his projector between Hooked on Colfax and the Mercury Cafe, bringing rarely seen topical films and documentaries to eager audiences. Bosch earned a Westword MasterMind award this year; a permanent home would help him take the best film festival in town to the next level. Micro-cinema or bust!
Before BAD was officially BAD, Dede Frain founded the social network that would grow into Babes Around Denver on the strength of a little First Friday gathering in 2002 that quickly outgrew one venue after another. She began to organize other lesbian networking and singles events, started a website and newsletter, and last year finally left the mainstream workforce and went full-time in her role as big BAD girl. Since then, Frain has added a women's business series with guest speakers and has a million other ideas up her sleeve. For gals who love gals (as well as their gay and non-gay pals), BAD is good.
"I don't follow trends. Trends follow me." While we'd be hard-pressed to pinpoint the exact origin of that declaration, if might as well have come from Peter Black (aka DJ Aztec, aka Pete Gurule). For well over a decade, this shapeshifting DJ and promoter has been exposing us to styles ranging from acid jazz and trip-hop to drum-and-bass and Afrobeat to electro and indie rock. Recently, he's even added space disco and psych rock. Here's to going Black to the future.
Sure, you know who was president during the Spanish-American War. But how about the language — other than English — featured in the Pixies song "Debaser"? If you can answer that one, you just might have what it takes to win a bonus round at one of the many Geeks Who Drinks pub quizzes around town. Four times during each quiz, participants get the chance to answer a random question, and the first one to show the correct (and legible) answer to the quizmaster wins a free drink and bragging rights for the night. Even if the useless trivia rattling around in your brain consists of nothing but TV commercials from the '80s or bad reality TV, fear not: One of the greatest things about the Geeks is that they have a round for everyone. This could be your lucky night.
Too bad Mexico has already laid claim to Cinco de Mayo on its calendar, because that country doesn't do anything to celebrate the alleged holiday — whereas here in the Mile High, May 5 is a party worthy of celebration. One weekend a year, generations of Denver's Latinos head toward Federal Boulevard in their lowriders and whips, rolling on fat chrome wheels or bouncing on hydraulics with traditional gold spokes. The result is a cross between a car show and a parade. Some vendors peddle Mexican flags — even though half the people who come out to celebrate were born on this side of the border — while others sell tacos in the street. Teenage lovers hold hands, parents push strollers and point out the pimped-out cars to their kids. Aside from a couple of knuckleheads, the festivities are usually peaceful, and Denver makes sure there are more than enough police officers on hand to make people feel comfortable — or uncomfortable, depending on who you are.
Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
Oskar Blues
You have to love the way the folks at the Oskar Blues brew castle wear their roots-rock affinity on their sleeves. After all, what goes better with a cold Old Chub than a dirty-good, salt-of-the-earth blues band? Maybe a honky-tonk or alt-country combo puttin' down a riff in a room that would be smoky if it could be? Join the free music club at www.oskarblues.com and get access to free monthly downloads of selected music from a changing roster of smaller indie labels such as Big Bender, Yep Roc and Bloodshot. We'll drink to that.
Denver Art Museum
Courtesy Denver Art Museum
Who would have thought that the coolest Friday-night party around would be at a stodgy art museum? But sure enough, on the last Friday of every month, the Denver Art Museum turns itself into a lively all-ages club, complete with local DJs or bands, a cash bar and a host of kooky activities — guided meditation in the Asian galleries, séances surrounded by selections from the Louvre, pedicure operations painting miniature artwork on your toes — that are sure to get those cranky old curators bristling behind their bifocals. The events are free with the normal price of admission, and they end by 10 p.m. — leaving you plenty of time to hit the town and act like the drunken buffoon you really are, knowing that you've already gotten your fill of high-falutin' culture.

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