Best Guitar Hero 2009 | Cole Rudy | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
The games Guitar Hero and Rock Band have made far too many people of all ages think that playing guitar well is easy. Good thing someone as diversely talented at the instrument as Cole Rudy lives in Denver to show us how to do it right. Educated in jazz guitar, Cole is probably best known for his stints as the guitar wizard of Wetlands and Mike Marchant's solo material, but he's also contributed to the indie pop of Chuck Potashner and performs regularly with a jazz ensemble at hotels. The guy can play any style of guitar better than most people can play, period, and our scene is richer for it.
Looking to map your chakras over chai, mix some magick into your mocha or just dabble in a little tea-time tarot? Point your broomstick right at Witches Brew, a charming little cafe overlooking Berkeley Lake that's become a gathering place for area pagans. Whether you want to join in an equinox celebration, stock up on crystals, candles and other ritual supplies or just enjoy a Fair Trade cup of joe, this is a joint that will surely warm your cauldron.
The Center for Empowered Living and Learning, aka the CELL, is the world's first terrorism museum. Funded by local real-estate mogul Larry Mizel, the place is a Disneyland of death and dismemberment: realistic replicas of suicide bombs, clips of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on permanent repeat, a multimedia experience in which visitors enjoy a make-believe terrorist attack on the Civic Center. Whoopee! The point of the museum is to educate the public about the roots of terrorism, but you'll be so shell-shocked by all the violence that you might miss that part.
Colorado rapper A.V.I.U.S., producer Es-Nine and DJ Cysko Rokwel each had their own thing going on before they came together as 3 the Hardway: Cysko Rokwel was taking out DJs nationwide in the DMC Championships; Es-Nine was producing for local and national artists; and A.V.I.U.S. had just dropped his solid debut album, Patience. But with all three talents combined in one package, you couldn't ask for a more thorough project, from Es-Nine's hard-hitting beats and A.V.I.U.S.'s heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics to Cysko making the DJ essential in hip-hop albums again. If you cop one Colorado hip-hop disc all year, this is the one to get.
The L.I.F.E. Crew is a small collective of Colorado hip-hop artists who blew the doors off the scene in the past year. First up, Ichiban won Best Hip-Hop Solo Artist at the 2008 Westword Music Showcase, then dropped a slammin' debut album, Psycle Analysis, a few months later. That album was followed by ManeLine's sophomore effort, ...And Sew It Seams, a rock-solid project that cemented the trio's relevance in Colorado hip-hop. Then the Pirate Signal dropped a first-class mixtape, Of Gods and Gangsters, Vol. 1, rocked the Warped Tour and opened for 3OH!3's national tour. Is there a crew that has put in more work in the last year? We think not.
For the fans who've played out the Pirate Signal's EP from 2006 like it was the only CD they owned, the duo's mixtape Of Gods and Gangsters, Vol. 1 was a breath of fresh air. The tape, entirely mixed by DJ A-What!, features Yonnas spittin' over original beats as well as beats used by M.I.A., 50 Cent and Kanye West, but rocked with a pure Pirate Signal energy. Yonnas and A-What! had been performing selections from the mixtape at their shows, so for the fans to finally get their hands on a copy to listen to in their cars and iPods was a good thing.
He's produced tracks for the likes of KRS-One, Dilated Peoples, Braille and Killah Priest, but that's not why people are talking about Es-Nine. His group, 3 the Hardway, recently released its debut album, Set in Stone, which was entirely produced by Es-Nine and features some of the hardest head-nodding beats to come out of Colorado in some time. But it doesn't stop there: Es is also working on his own solo album as well as projects with Mane Rok and a new solo album from A.I.V.U.S.
Back in 1908, the Democrats trucked in piles of snow to amuse delegates to the Democratic National Convention. A century later, the best entertainment inspired by the 2008 Democratic National Convention may leave a more permanent legacy. Celebrate 1908 was a two-day, multimedia festival of political and historical flashbacks that brought the issues and arguments of 1908 back to the Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria campus in late July. Technically a benefit for Auraria Casa Mayan Heritage, an organization that commemorates the Latino community that centered on the Casa Mayan restaurant, Celebrate 1908 was a true celebration of the people who've contributed to the melting pot of Denver over the past century.
If you've listened to any hip-hop radio station in any major city recently, chances are you've heard some of Frank E's music — that's how big he's getting. He was the man behind the hit records "Please Excuse My Hands," from Plies featuring Jamie Foxx and the Dream; "Me & U," from Flo Rida; and a DJ Khaled/T-Pain mixtape joint called "Superman." He also co-produced one of the most played records so far this year, "Right Round," from Flo Rida; that cut was even used to promote the new season of Dancing With the Stars. And Frank E isn't done yet. He just finished creating joints for T.I., Gym Class Heroes, Sean Kingston and some other major urban artists that he can't discuss quite yet. Be proud, Denver!
A few years ago, the Old Curtis St. Bar had terrible sound and a nearly sub-dive vibe. But it's steadily become a better place to play. There is now a small stage — outfitted with gear from the 15th St. Tavern  — and a rudimentary sound system that provides for decent vocals and kick-drum sound. With Joe Ramirez, Andy Wild and Steve Lawson doing their best with the sound levels, Old Curtis St. has gone from a bottom-of-the-barrel venue to a viable one.

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