Best Music Festival Within a Music Festival 2017 | Mile High Parley | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Mutiny Information Cafe has always been a home for misfits and rebels, so it makes sense that it would host the annual Mile High Parley anti-music-festival festival. Located smack-dab in the middle of a certain other, larger, more well-known music gathering that takes place on South Broadway each summer, the Parley takes an accessible, all-ages, punk approach. Hosting local acts on stages indoors and out all weekend long, this counter-fest highlights the underground music scene and all its weirdos and freaks.

The tiny, picturesque city of Niwot, situated near Longmont and Erie in Boulder County, is as well known for Chief Niwot's Curse as for anything else: Legend has it that the chief puts a curse on any resident of the city who tries to relocate. Fortunately, those who stick around out of fear have a great little jazz festival to keep them occupied. Jazz on 2nd Avenue takes over the main strip in town, and last year's lineup included Liquid Soul and Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band. Sure, some local and school bands play, too, but the musical quality on display is still exemplary. Taking place in September, when the weather is nice but not stifling, Jazz on 2nd Ave is Niwot's crazy little secret.

Textures got off the ground at the now-defunct Gypsy House Cafe, where it happened semi-regularly for five years. Now held at Mutiny Information Cafe every last Sunday of the month, it showcases the breadth and depth of the area's ambient music scene. The brainchild of Wesley Davis of bios+a+ic, the series remains relevant by not sticking to a strict definition of the ambient genre, having included modular-synth wizards like Kuxaan Sum, musique concrète artists like Victoria Lundy, and internationally known visual-synthesis pioneer Mark Mosher.

Theresa Mercado has long organized unique film series, hosting events at the now-defunct Crash 45 and the Alamo Drafthouse. Most recently, Mercado has been hard at work on Scream Screen, a month-long event at the Sie FilmCenter that presents modern horror classics and performances from bands like Echo Beds, Vought and Denver Broncos UK. The mementos that Mercado hands out at the end of the night, whether small figurines she made herself or buttons with touches from the just-screened film, set these events apart. Not one to shy away from theatrics, Mercado likes to play the part, as well: For this year's showing of The Brood, for example, she dressed as Samantha Eggar's character and reenacted the scene in which Eggar licks the afterbirth off her mutant baby.

A parent's musical world can feel pretty grim at times; there are days when you'd almost kill for something even a little meatier than another rendition of "The Ants Go Marching." That's why the 45-minute Tiny Tots program from Inside the Orchestra is perfect for all ages. Accompanied by parents and other adults, children sit on the floor (at History Colorado, Boettcher Concert Hall or other fabulous locations) and are surrounded by Tiny Tots' thirty-piece-plus professional orchestra. As the music plays, the conductor talks directly to the little ones, asking them questions and walking them through the experience. Afterward, they have a chance to meet the musicians and get a little closer to the instruments. Even better? Admission is a mere suggested donation of $9.95.

Believe it or not, the Denver Public Library is an active player in the local music scene. It offers upwards of 200 local albums for download at, making current and rare records available to the public. Last year, librarian Dave Wilkinson, a longtime fan of Denver's music scene, proposed a limited-edition seven-inch record with local bands that promoted the library and local culture. The library higher-ups approved the idea, and in March 2016, 300 records were pressed, showcasing bands like Accordion Crimes and The Raven and the Writing Desk.

Kids can be a death sentence for parents who like to attend concerts. Fortunately, Denver Public Library's Cherry Creek branch has music-loving families covered, organizing a monthly concert the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. Stroll in, grab a Voodoo Doughnut treat, pour a cup of Dazbog coffee, make your way to the middle of the storytime room, put earplugs in your ears — and definitely in your kids' ears — and prepare to rock. The event has showcased the Milk Blossoms, SPELLS and the Pink Hawks, proving the Ross-Cherry Creek branch is about much more than books and boring lectures. These days, it might just be the punkest thing in Cherry Creek.

The first issue of Barf came out in September 2016 with comedian Ben Roy on the cover, looking mortified in a bubble bath. The issue had interviews with bands, a chat with Roy, and an article titled "How Many Hot Dogs Is Too Many Hot Dogs?" The candid and humorous interviews and the rest of the content fit the publication's motto: "Sex, Drugs, Barf." Barf founders Micah Morris and members of the band Dirty Few continue to improve the zine's content; the most recent cover had a semi-glossy finish. Barf offers irreverent material that's as glorious and intentionally dumb as a great Ramones song.

Founded in 2012 in the Boulder area, the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup gives synth enthusiasts the opportunity to meet, network and share ideas, methods and gear. Group founder Mark Mosher has performed his own synth music nationally and is a gifted practitioner of visual synthesis, which combines audio with a visual component. The Meetup was small in the beginning, but when the meetings moved to Denver in 2015 (first to the Walnut Room, then to Globe Hall), the group expanded to include over a hundred members, demonstrating an undeniable enthusiasm for synthesizers and electronic music that goes beyond the dance floor.

Yes, 2nd and Charles is a chain — but the bargain bin at the Broomfield branch is overflowing with CDs, most priced at about $1, which means that gems can be had for the cost of a single iTunes track. There are 2nd and Charles locations all over the country, and they all work the same way: Bring in your used CDs or DVDs, and a cashier will figure out their cash or store-credit value while you browse. Afterward, use your trade-in money wisely: While there are plenty of pricey items to choose from, including new CDs, DVDs and comic books, the bargain bin up front is a treasure trove.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of