Best Glass Act 2012 | Illegal Pete's | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

There are few more pleasant ways to give back to the community than drinking while doing so — which makes Illegal Pete's latest charity venture both sweet and savvy. The restaurant chain recently launched a series of collectible beer glasses dedicated to noteworthy (and Illegal Pete's-friendly) bands on the Denver scene, with local dance-punk outfit the Photo Atlas the first on its roster. For just $10, music/beer lovers can purchase a band-designed glass filled with Colorado brew — and while they get to keep the beer and the glass, the money goes to the band. Since each edition has roughly 200 glasses, that means each act could collect up to $2,000 to cover equipment, recording costs and other fees. And bringing it full circle, Illegal Pete's is presenting live shows with each band during its commemorative glass's run, so that you can drink up the sound and the suds at the same time.

Courtesy Denver Art Museum

The marvelous Marvelous Mud, on display last summer throughout both Denver Art Museum buildings, was not a single show, but eight separate ones, all about clay — at least to some extent. The main display was Overthrown: Clay Without Limits, which showcased current trends in ceramics; Focus: Earth & Fire also concentrated on contemporary works. Then there were shows that looked at historic ceramics, including Blue and White: A Ceramic Journey, which examined classic Chinese ware; Marajó: Ancient Ceramics at the Mouth of the Amazon, made up of prehistoric Brazilian ceramics; the self-explanatory Mud to Masterpiece: Mexican Colonial Ceramics; a solo devoted to the first American Indian woman to gain individual fame for her pots, Nampeyo: Excellence by Name; and a look at some industrial archaeology with Potters of Precision: The Coors Porcelain Company, which showed how that outfit manufactured beautifully designed laboratory vessels. The celebration was so all-inclusive that there were even relevant photos displayed in Dirty Pictures. On their own, the shows comprised by Marvelous Mud were all wonderful diversions; taken together, they created a cohesive whole, a vessel filled with amazing ideas and art.

Fa'al of Eazy Media is hard to miss. Typically moving faster than the rest with his backpack and camera equipment, the guy can be seen at pretty much any and every hip-hop show in the scene — local, national or otherwise. Whether shooting the Foodchain or capturing footage of high-end fashion shows and other aspects of the nightlife scene, Fa'al has a keen eye for getting the best shots. Using his creativity, editing and directing ability and sound training, he's helped bolster the scene and is most definitely on track to do much more in the future.

William Havu, the director of his namesake gallery, came up with a frothy confection last summer that celebrated serious artists taking a lighthearted approach to subject matter. Many of these artists were riffing off toys or the idea of play, as indicated by the show's title, Toy Stories. The exhibit featured many amazing things, including works by Michael Brennan, Michael Stevens, Frances Lerner, Laurel Swab and Esteban Blanco, but as good as they all were, nothing could compare with the sculptures by Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker. Working as a team, the two created pieces that at first glance looked like cheap inflatable beach toys but were actually meticulously made polychromed ceramics. They were unforgettable — and so was this highbrow/lowbrow show.

A resident at almost any hip-hop nightclub you can name, DJ Top Shelf boasts an in-depth knowledge of good Southern rap. But he doesn't just break new records with wall-thumping bass; his selection is diverse enough to reach even the most underground of hip-hop heads. As a result, he's quickly risen through the ranks of the city's finest party rockers. Even when not behind the decks himself, he can be found alongside his DJ comrades on the mike, toasting up the crowd and keeping the energy moving. Recently inducted into the prestigious ranks of the Core DJ family, Top Shelf is one who's definitely on his grind.

That Thursday-night flier for Vinyl? He designed that one. And that special-event flier taking place at almost any urban nightclub you can imagine? Yep, he designed that one, too. Graffiti Black's stamp of graphic approval appears on everything from business cards and album covers to T-shirts and fliers. A brand ambassador of sorts, Graffiti lends his unique, dope touch to every image he creates. Widely respected in the scene as one who can turn quality product into a gold mine, the young hustler has creative stamina and marketing appeal that puts him heads above the rest.

Turner's world is turning on an axis of science that he's using to completely change up his rhyme schemes, themes and patterns. Like a supernova getting ready to self-destruct, the rapper delivers the kind of heady content that you'd need a science glossary to figure out. The raps heard on Star Destroyer, his latest album, a collaboration with Big J. Beats, are a rap nerd's wet dream. Turner's elaborate descriptions are just outlandish enough to be believable.

Best Hip-Hop Producers You Might Not Know About

Marky Bias and Big J. Beats have been doing incredible things with the MPC machine at basement and garage parties for a while now. Widely respected by local hip-hoppers like Whygee and Brikabrak, who've been lauding their talents the longest, the two consistently bring the heat out of their backpacks, both as producers and rappers over their own beats. The pair's sample selection is unmatched among the producing and beat-making souls of the underground. Pretty much, 1984 kills shit, and you should know about it.

Seeing DJ Premier live with every hip-hop head in the city who knows what a legend he is was spine-tingling. A humble giant, Preemo not only gave a show for the ages, but he got intimate with the crowd and gave props to all of the artists who had submitted material for the seventh installment of Shoe Shine. The crowd was adoring and Premier did not disappoint, playing all of the classics while showing love and paying homage to Guru. The smoldering energy he generated among fans was unmistakable.

Ask for the "Konsequence special" and you're likely to get a video with the best story line, cinematography and charisma out there. Konsequence has shot videos for rappers all over the scene, employing his personal tricks to bring to life some of hip-hop's greatest joints. Whether capturing a melancholy instrumental video for a beatmaker like Kid Hum, or documenting the roughest, toughest life of a junkie, like FOE's like-named project, Pape is on the case. His demeanor is calm, assertive and flexible, and, quite frankly, he brings out the best in rap's moving pictures.

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