Best Country Venue
Eric Gruneisen

Country fans continue to go wild at the Grizzly Rose, which has been the Denver area's dominant country bar for more than three decades. Set in a massive 40,000-square-foot building, the venue has plenty of room for dancing, dining and drinking — and even mechanical bull riding. On any given night, you might catch the best local country bands and rising national acts; some of those who showed up at the Grizzly Rose before they blew up include Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton. Look for more national acts in the coming months — Josh Ward, Randall King and Aaron Watson are all booked — while local acts usually play multi-night runs.

Best All-Ages Venue
Aaron Thackeray

If there's any guarantee that Denver's underground arts and music scene can survive the onslaught of development, you'll find it at Mutiny Information Cafe, a Broadway staple that serves as a bookstore, comic shop, coffee shop, podcast hub and music venue. With a long legacy in Denver's punk scene, Mutiny's owners keep the DIY spirit alive, offering up a stage to bands and artists who would have zero chance of playing any of the city's commercial venues. And because the spot also hosts all-ages acts, younger generations have a place where they can discover underground culture, too, and keep the tradition going.

Best DIY Venue
Anthony Camera

The folks behind Seventh Circle Music Collective have long fostered Denver's DIY scene in their west Denver garage, record store, practice room and multi-use art space. Since every show is all-ages, Seventh Circle is an ideal spot for younger fans to hear music, and younger musicians to find a stage to play. Although the small venue hasn't been booking live shows during the pandemic, it's been hosting livestreams while it bides its time before getting back to business.

During the pandemic, the Salt Lick Denver Music Collective opened a new venue called The Pond in the basement of a house in Denver. The group has been broadcasting concerts from there called Songs From the Pond, by indie-rock bands and other local acts. Eventually, Salt Lick plans to open the space — which is painted with a mural of a glow-in-the-dark frog, beans and squash, and decorated with a mannequin and other ephemera — for tiny in-person shows, and to host larger outdoor shows behind the venue.

thesaltlickdenver.com
Best New Club
Josh Martinez

Not long after 3 Kings Tavern, a legendary rock club, closed after fourteen years on Broadway, Scott Happel and Peter Ore, two of the owners of the Oriental Theater, took over the space and turned it into HQ. While the club will gradually ramp up its live-music offerings, including punk acts like Reno Divorce and Agent Orange, in the coming months, HQ has already been hosting regular karaoke, burlesque and goth nights.

Best New Band
Blake Jackson Photography

In an era filled with grief and rage, musicians Kayla Marque, Sur Ellz and Crl Crrll joined together in a new supergroup, the Grand Alliance, with the goal of offering the world a vision of a better future through song. Spanning Black musical genres from disco and R&B to hip-hop and funk, this forward-thinking trio crafted a debut album that is at once comforting, dance-inspiring and daring enough to offer hope. Rooted in Afrofuturism, their collaboration takes the masterful musicianship of these three artists and multiplies it by infinity — with swagger.

legrandalliance.bandcamp.com

If there's anyone in the state who deserves to be on the esteemed jazz label Blue Note Records, it's cornetist Ron Miles. Rainbow Sign, mostly written when Miles's father was near the end of his life, marks his first recording for Blue Note, and it tops the aesthetic charts with Miles's heartfelt compositions and moving and intuitive interplay with guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Brian Blade (both of whom have made other albums with Miles), as well as bassist Thomas Morgan and pianist Jason Moran.

bluenote.com
Best New Venue
Jon Solomon

Last October, when Spencer Fronk and Andrew Palmquist opened Number Thirty Eight — a 31,000-square-foot-plus spot in RiNo — they promised they'd host outdoor shows even in the colder months on the venue's massive stage, with its state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. Sure enough, Number Thirty Eight, so-named because Colorado was the 38th state to join the Union, has lived up to that promise, featuring local acts a few nights a week, along with some national crews. While most of the shows haven't had a cover, reservations are recommended — and needed: This new spot quickly became the hottest in town.

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