Best Installation Show 2008 | David AltmejdMuseum of Contemporary Art/Denver | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Among the seven Star Power shows that inaugurated the new Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver last fall, David Altmejd is one of the few that are still open. A young Canadian artist, Altmejd covered the walls of the Family of Natasha Congdon Large Works Gallery with sheets of mirror, then created a series of anthropomorphic figures clad in mirrors as well. All that reflective material made the eponymous installation nothing short of an eye-dazzler. Selected by MCA curator and director Cydney Payton, this magical work was hands-down the best pick for the opening of the new building.
The finest instrumental rock outfits cut to the chase. No extraneous instrumentation is required, and no microphones, either: just hard grooves, galloping rhythms and a burglar's fondness for getting in and out quickly. Guitarists Adam Hester and Gil Romero, bassist Jeff Anton and drummer Rikki Styxx display all these attributes and more on their self-titled debut disc, which features the emblematic likes of "Phantom Surf Party" and "Backseat Rumble," a sonic tribute to rebels without a cause. Like their coffins, these players are ready for anything.
Evan Semón
Although it's a basement space, the Meadowlark features soft, tasteful lighting and a well-appointed interior that makes you forget you're belowground. The room is well-suited to singer-songwriters and acoustic acts who thrive in small places, where they can better connect with the audience. And with a recent run of regular bookings, the once obscure bar has become a nice, clean place to see indie-rock frontmen playing rare acoustic sets, as well as louder bands like Red Cloud and A Shoreline Dream.
So you're curious about whips and paddles, but you're a little gun-shy? Think you want to be bound and gagged, but worried about pulling a muscle? If so, get your kinky self down to the Friday Munch 'n' Mixers at the Enclave, one of Denver's private bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism clubs. The weekly social events are open to the public as long as you're 21 or older and cough up $15, and they offer a gentle (of sorts) introduction to S&M, with everything from technique clinics on single-tail whips to deviant doggie parties (you actually do bring your dog) to birthday potlucks (everyone with a birthday that month gets a spanking). There's no nudity allowed, and participation is limited, so there's no need to worry; it won't hurt a bit. That part comes later, when you become an official member.
Once again, the folks at Dazzle have shown they know what it takes to make a stellar club: first-rate music seven nights a week, great food (including the habit-forming $5 happy-hour menu) and two vibrant listening rooms. For more than a decade now, Dazzle has brought in a constant stream of outstanding, nationally renowned jazz talent like Donald Harrison, Red Holloway and John Fedchock, as well as younger up-and-comers like Ari Hoenig, Jonathan Kreisberg and the genre-bending Kneebody. And that's in addition to its packed calendar of local luminaries, including René Marie, Ron Miles and Dale Bruning. Dazzle is still an apt name for this dazzling club.
Anyone who's tried to play jazz knows that learning scales and modes is just part of the battle. To really understand the language of jazz, you have to perform with other people. At El Chapultepec Too, an outpost of the classic LoDo club, the Wednesday-night jazz-jam sessions serve as a proving ground for younger musicians who want to hone their chops in a live setting — whether horn players, bassists, pianists or drummers. Bassist Brian Wilson and veteran pianist Jeff Jenkins are usually holding down the fort, and when Greg Gisbert, one of Denver's finest trumpeters, isn't playing in New York, he'll sit in with the younger cats. It's hard not to get inspired when sharing the stage with guys like this.
Creating the ideal jukebox is like making the ideal mix tape for someone: Part of the process is picking songs you like, and the rest is finding tunes the other person will dig. The Continental Club's jukebox includes a collection of mix CDs, which run the gamut from punk to garage, surf, jazz, soul, lounge and country, with a few obscure nuggets thrown in. But it also has a fine selection of complete albums. Bottom line: Everyone should be able to find something they like on this juke, whether it's Minor Threat, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, Helmet, Ministry or Esquivel. You'll probably even uncover stuff you've never seen on any other jukebox.
Everyone knows why karaoke is always a good time: It's fun to make a fool of yourself (and your friends) in front of an audience. But there comes a time in every karaoke fanatic's "career" when he truly tries to nail "Total Eclipse of the Heart" or seriously channel Elvis. These moments have to be seen to be believed — unless you were at Cosmic YouTube Karaoke, in which case the entire performance was captured on film, complete with 3D-laser-show action, to be posted on YouTube and shared with the world. And with the Electric Cowboy's drink specials — $2 longnecks, $1 well drinks, $3 Jägermeister shots and $5 Jäger Bombs — you might need the YouTube footage just to remember what you sang that evening.
Every scene needs a Zachary Vora. In the second issue of FM (Fucking Mountains), Vora took the Denver music scene and all its sacred cows to task, essentially asserting that while some acts are a big deal here, the rest of the country could give two shits — and so we should stop being so goddamn self-congratulatory about the whole thing. He's partially right, of course; at times, we risk dislocating our shoulders as we pat ourselves on the back. Just the same, we've got it good here, and we don't need validation from people who live elsewhere to take pride in that fact. Every scene needs an agitator to keep things grounded, and Monsieur Vora — whoever he may be — is ours.
There are plenty of literary bloggers in Colorado, but most tend to divert their attention toward the coasts as the default harbingers of lit life. Not so at the New West website, which has a thread devoted to books and writers in the Rocky Mountain region. Boulder-based writer Jenny Shank offers almost-daily updates on local readings, publishing gossip and reviews of books penned by real, live Colorado authors; the blog also features in-depth interviews with such authors as Kent Haruf and Nick Arvin. Yes, Denver does have a lively literary scene — and you can find it right here.

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