Dazzle
After twelve years, Dazzle has definitively proved that it has what it takes to make a successful jazz club. Whether it's bringing in a steady stream of outstanding local jazz talent like Ron Miles and Kenny Walker (or the blues of the Shuffletones on Saturdays) and nationally recognized players like organ ace Joey DeFrancesco, Schoolhouse Rock composer Bob Dorough or alto saxophonist Richie Cole, you're sure to hear stellar music most nights of the week. Sundays are the ideal time to hear big bands like the 9th & Lincoln Orchestra, the Chie Imaizumi Jazz Orchestra and Elevenet. Not only is the music world-class, but the food swings, too: The $5 happy-hour menu alone is reason to check the place out.
Dazzle
Dan Schwindt definitely knows a few things about jazz guitar and improvisation, and he's performed with a ton of the region's heavier players. He's also carved out Tuesdays from his schedule for the past few years to head up the jazz jams in Dazzle's Dizzy room. One of the best ways to learn is through playing with other cats, and these jams give younger students a chance to hone their chops in a live setting and to learn the language of jazz. Schwindt offers a low-pressure, casual atmosphere, and instrumentalists and vocalists alike find the sessions quite comfortable.
Like the place itself, the 3 Kings jukebox has a distinctly personalized feel. From homemade mix CDs to the other handpicked music selections, there's a little something for everybody: new and old punk (the Clash and X to Against Me!), some classic rock (ZZ Top and AC/DC), a little soul (James Brown and Stevie Wonder), as well as a bastion of local releases including discs from Git Some, Cephalic Carnage, Warlock Pinchers, King Rat, Black Lamb, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, To Be Eaten and Get Three Coffins Ready. You won't find a stronger, more eclectic or satisfying selection than this one.

Best Jukebox for Old-School R&B, Soul, Jazz and Country

The Skylark

The Skylark's penchant for mid-twentieth-century pop culture is clear in its jukebox collection, a diverse catalogue that spotlights giants from a wealth of genres. But the musical selection doesn't exist in a vacuum; rather, it adds a degree of authenticity to the 'Lark's collection of kitschy posters and nostalgic decor. Cuts from soul giants such as Etta James and Otis Redding, jazz progenitors like Louis Prima and Ella Fitzgerald and country heavyweights like Johnny Cash and Bob Wills complement the 1950s film posters that line the walls. The old-school inventory isn't limited to greatest-hits anthologies, either. For the distinguishing Louis Armstrong fan, for example, there's an album devoted solely to his early Hot Five and Hot Seven output, recordings that are as impassioned as they are raw. It's the perfect soundtrack for a cold Pabst and a game of pool.
Rockbar
As bassist for the now-defunct Machine Gun Blues, Jermaine Smith is no stranger to the spotlight. The guy is no stranger to karaoke, either, having hosted karaoke nights at another spot for years. So it's only natural for the rock star (he's still a rock star to us) to set up shop at Rockbar, where he now sprinkles some of his karaoke magic on everyone in the joint. The dude's presence is bound to rub off on you, and before you know it, you'll be tapping into your own inner rock star.
Some labels have a sound, others have a mission. Bocumast falls into the latter category, and what a mission it is! The defining characteristics of Bocumast's diverse roster, which ranges from the oddball post-punk guitar funk of Natural Selection to the oceanic electronic bliss pop of Iuengliss, are simple: They're all excellent, and none of them are afraid to take chances. The results are always surprising and consistently strong. At a time when record labels seem to be heading for obsolescence, Bocumast is ensuring its continued relevance by showing us the best stuff we might have otherwise overlooked.
Bluebird Theater
Band reunions that take place more than a decade down the line are generally sad affairs that tend to accentuate the passage of time rather than causing it to stand still. But even though the original members of the Fluid — John Robinson, Garrett Shavlik, James Clower, Rick Kulwicki and Matt Bischoff — hadn't played together since the early '90s, they marked Sub Pop Records' twentieth anniversary by making a racket every bit as thrilling as the stuff they churned out in their heyday, to the delight of a crowd populated by many of Denver's biggest music lovers. What a wonderful exception to the rule.
Who says making movies is a long process? Participants in the Shoot Out in Boulder have a single day to assemble a masterpiece (or a facsimile thereof), and most of them manage to do so. Not all, though: Last year, 53 teams began the competition, but seven of them vanished along the way. Even so, the contest is a great way to get young people interested in making movies, as opposed to simply watching them — and in 2008, members of nineteen teams were under eighteen. The future of film is in good hands.
Many of today's most extreme Denver bands were influenced by Bum Kon without even knowing it — and thanks to Drunken Sex Sucks, they can now fill in the gaps of their musical education. Only five of the 25 cuts here received a proper release, with the remainder appearing on an album for the first time. Tracks like "Giving In" capture the spirit of '80s thrash that Bum Kon exemplified even as "Slow Death" and others point toward a future that other groups would eventually experience.
Two-for-ones on a Saturday night at midnight? Damn straight. While the morning happy hours have been a tradition at the Zephyr since it opened more than six decades ago, the place has two more happy hours that run daily, from 5 to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. It's also one of the few places in town where when you order a happy-hour beer, they'll give you the second bottle in a plastic cup filled with ice to keep it chilled. The bar's slogan is, "The train that never leaves Aurora." But with booze specials three times a day and live music with no cover on the weekends, who would want to leave?

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