Best DIY Arts Promoters 2011 | John and Kim Baxter | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Winner of Best Scene Enthusiast in 2008, John Baxter has long been a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene, the rare type of promoter whose commitment to the arts outweighs the unsavory connotations of the term "promoter." And in ZetaKaye House, where he's teamed up with wife Kim Baxter, he's really outdoing himself. A merger of Oscar Zeta Acosta (Hunter S. Thompson's attorney) and Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman and founder of Dischord Records), the name pays tribute to legends of the do-it-yourself movement and does them justice. From movies (the Baxters have been working with the Mayan on an Orson Welles film fest) to music (besides promoting, managing and booking several local bands, they provide recording, lesson and practice space), from Denver to Brooklyn (client Tim Pourbaix stuck with them when he moved there), ZetaKaye House is doing it, and helping you do it, too.

True to the do-it-yourself ethos, Titwrench exists solely through the time, energy and funding of its volunteers. Westword MasterMind winner Sarah Slater created the women-centered experimental noisefest in 2009 and keeps the spirit and interest of the community going throughout the year with Surfacing, a monthly, like-minded showcase of music and art. As a festival, Titwrench does more than just present such bands as Hell-Kite, Joy Von Spain and Caldera Lakes to the masses; the three-day gathering also provides a platform for performers, zine-makers and artists of all kinds to share and sell their work, and to educate others on how to do-it-themselves, too.

With the tacit support of No Fun Fest founder Carlos Giffoni, John Gross of Page 27 and Todd Novosad of Novasak have created a festival of local and national acts connected to the noise, experimental-electronic and avant-garde music underground. Over the course of two nights last year, people got to witness acts as diverse as Giffoni's No Fun Acid, Crank Sturgeon, Married in Berdichev, Architect's Office and Arrington De Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa. Rather than string together one harsh noise act after another, the festival features a wide array of sounds and styles that happen to fall under the umbrella of "noise." And this year's fest, set for April 22 through 24 at Old Curtis Street, promises to make just as big a noise in the scene.

Rhinoceropolis has it all — even if some of that is do-it-yourself. The venue is part show space, part home, and all living homage to every underground hangout in American teenage music history. There's no sign on the building, never any set cover charge for any show, and no question that whether Nu Sensae, Monotonix or SSION is coming through, there's a party to be had. The space is always all-ages, and open to virtually any kind of music. The best best way to book a show at Rhinoceropolis? Go to shows there. The venue is the not-for-profit heart of a creative community that exists on the bands, DJs, artists and people who get involved.

Maintaining various residencies at all of the top-notch hip-hop clubs in the city, the Moolah Boyz — Ktone, KDJ Above and DJ Top Shelf — are everywhere, introducing hit songs getting heavy burn in other regions to a Denver crowd while keeping local hip-hop music in heavy rotation. Pooling their collective talents, the three rock clubs, pack venues, make pretty girls dance (even your mother could do the Moolah Shuffle) and break records. The Moolah Boyz have not only created a brand and perfected a concept, but they've refined a mentality.

Okay, so none of the dudes actually ending up winning this year, but still, it's a pretty big deal that five of the dozen contenders at the finals of the DMC World DJ Championships last year in New York City were from Colorado. Even more impressive, while three of those — DJs Notch, Skip Ripkin and B*Money — qualified locally, the other two, Cysko Rokwell and Jeff C, earned their slots by traveling out of state and battling on somebody else's stamping grounds. Says a lot for the caliber of talent here. Win or lose, it was a good look for Colorado.

At one point, Julie Zorrilla, the twenty-year-old Denver School of the Arts alumna featured on this round of American Idol, was our odds-on favorite to win the whole competition and become the franchise's next breakout act. We can dream, can't we? Although Zorrilla was eliminated, we're sure we haven't heard the last of her, or her stunning original material. And no matter where she goes from here, she's earned her place as the most dapper reality-show contestant our fine state has ever produced. Her fashion sense was repeatedly remarked upon by new Idol judges J. Lo and the pervy, tongue-wagging Steven Tyler. You go, girl!

The music that VibeSquaD (aka Aaron Holstein) produces falls into the glitch-hop/mid-tempo/psychedelic-bass category, and he's got the talent and the know-how to push glitch-hop further than we knew it could go. His latest full-length album, The Fire, offers up complex layers that are flawlessly arranged, with split seconds of silence spliced into tracks at the perfect moment. From opener "Freshmaker" to closer "Empower the Wallflower," the classically trained Holstein employs squiggly squeaks, breaky beats, distorted hip-hop samples, wobbling bass lines, clean taps, eerie synthesized keys and more. It's all reminiscent of Squarepusher, only more approachable and less mechanical. The Fire is bound to set glitch-hop fans aflame.

Fans of house music were ecstatic when they discovered that well-respected DJ Doc Martin and the long-dormant Dubtribe Sound System would be visiting Casselman's for an event titled simply "LOVE." And it was impossible not to feel the love while hearing the music wash over the crowd. Martin charmed with a mixture of old-school and brand-new tracks, exhibiting his mastery over vinyl and turntables as he warmed up the audience. Then came the amazing display of Dubtribe: Sunshine and Moonbeam Jones sat on a rug, surrounded by equipment and hand drummers pounding out the beat as they created their funky tribal house sound live using computers, mixers, samplers and more. The energy the pair generated was clean and uplifting, and while fire-spinners danced in the corner and a giant custom-made LED heart flashed and throbbed above them, they cast a LOVE spell on everyone at Casselman's that night.

There are only three characters in Art, a play about a man who buys an all-white painting at an astronomical price and the two friends whose loyalties are severely tested by the extravagant and pretentious act. Under the meticulous direction of Richard Pegg, three superb actors — Josh Hartwell, Jim Hunt, Chris Kendall — in this Miners Alley production made every moment and motivation clean and clear, and the currents running through all of their interactions were deep and tantalizing. For ensemble work, Art was a masterpiece.

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