Jaime Kopke came and Jaime Kopke went; after the local design blogger gifted Denver with a popular Pecha Kucha series and the ephemeral Denver Community Museum pop-up venue, she shut down the popular hands-on people's museum and headed off to England for grad school. It was a long year, but now Kopke's back and working with local museums to create new participatory art experiences for regular folks. Since her return, she's offered assistance at the Denver Art Museum's monthly Untitled event and co-hosted a DIY sweater-repair event; we can't wait to see what's next on her agenda.

Ken Weitzman's The Catch is about baseball, obviously, but also about human dreams, greed and self-delusion as the protagonist, Gary, schemes to catch a home-run ball that he thinks will restore the money he lost when his dot-com venture failed, in the process bringing back his estranged wife. In between frantic calculations, he wars with his cranky father, Sid. The Catch makes for a fast, entertaining, intensely theatrical experience that's also smart and emotionally involving. After a reading at last year's New Play Summit sponsored by the Denver Center Theatre Company, it was wisely chosen for full production — and lived up to all of its potential.

The death of Astrophagus was announced in September, and before the body was even cold, in November the majority of the band's members announced that they were with a new group, Port Au Prince. Usually when there's this much overlap, the offshoot band ends up sounding exactly like the one from which it was birthed, but somehow Port Au Prince managed to rise up as a truly new act in a very short amount of time. It's less experimental, more straightforward and, to put it bluntly, better than the old band. Astrophagus is dead; long live Port Au Prince.

For Innerstate Ike, hip-hop is deeper than rap. You won't find this guy spitting melodic rhymes about pretty girls over piano beats; he represents his 'hood and his movement with thought-provoking lyrics. Ike, a legend in the streets, has earned his stripes. And he's the epitome of an enterprising, consistent DIY contributor to the local hip-hop scene, always at the ready with a steady stream of new ideas and moneymaking ventures. His latest album, Moolah Music, due out this spring, represents his hustle and his creativity, which are more than a match for his sharp charisma.

As a local activist raising community awareness of inner-city topics, Cavem Moetavation uses every tool he can. He frequently pops up in person at hip-hop shows to spit out a rhyme or two, and he works with programs such as Art From Ashes. In everything he does, Cavem is an ambassador for the hip-hop world and an upstanding representative of his art — so where does he ever find all the time to update his Facebook status? With videos, songs, notes, constant friend requests, tons of photos and shout-outs, he keeps the community together while pushing it forward.

Spoke in Wordz represents the best of a dying art. The importance of oral history isn't often emphasized, especially in hip-hop, yet there are some performers who can recite the backstory of their favorite MC or most poignant hip-hop moment at the drop of a hat. Spoke is that kind of guy. Not only is he incredibly learned in the foundation of hip-hop, but from a creative standpoint, he puts it down like nobody else. He has a distinct gravel and grime in his voice that makes him instantly recognizable from a song's first strains. Sometimes he rhymes slow and sometimes he rhymes quick, but he never misses the mark. His most recent effort, Power of Wordz, speaks of his ability not only to collaborate with over twenty different artists on original songs, but also to be compelling on his own.

Denver Zine Library

Have zines, will travel. The Denver Zine Library has gone from a garage in the Baker neighborhood to a storefront in Highland to the Other Side Arts on Platte Street into limbo, shutting down in the summer of 2009 when it could no longer pay rent. But a year later, the underground project resurfaced: DZL co-founder Kelly Shortandqueer has unpacked the boxes of DIY music rags, public diaries, comix, chapbooks and other low-tech literary matter at 27 Social Centre, a gathering place and workspace for left-leaning businesses and organizations. And once again, DZL is on a roll, hosting readings with touring zinesters and looking forward to the next chapter.

Plastic Sound Supply has not released a bad record. That's pretty damn admirable, even though the label is only on its twelfth release. But packed inside those dozen albums are some of the best sounds ever to come out of Denver, and like a Fat Cat Records or Warp Records, the label produces a wide variety of music, everything from experimental to folk and electronic. Keenly aware of the state of the industry, Plastic Sound not only releases free streams of all of its records, but also bands together for multimedia efforts, contests and more. It's clear the folks at Plastic Sound Supply are above the curve when it comes to the talent they release, but what truly sets them apart is their penchant for amazing design and promotion.

Lion's Lair
Jon Solomon

Not so long ago, no one would have predicted that these shows would ever have happened. But Andrew Novick and Daniel Wanush put aside any rancor still outstanding from the Warlock Pinchers' 1992 breakup and performed a one-off collaborative show with Wanush's dancehall group, Murder Ranks. When that proved to be entirely too much fun, the Pinchers pulled together all the original members and played a surprise show at the Lion's Lair, followed by three gala shows at the Gothic, proving that reunion shows don't have to just be nostalgic — they can be as great or better than the first chapter.

Best Reunion of a Band That Never Broke Up

Mr. Pacman

At no point did Mr. Pacman actually toss in the towel, but the bit-pop group certainly disappeared for a long while. Then suddenly last year, Mr. Pacman emerged again, this time as a solo act, with a controller and a keytar. Although the band's raw, ridiculous energy and costumes were all intact, one man now had the reins — and as a result, the reinvented Mr. Pacman was something completely new and different and special, even if it featured a lot of the same songs that Denver has come to know and love. And the moon boots, of course.

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