Best Radio Station for Music 2021 | The DROP at 104.7 FM | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

KUVO 89.3 FM has long offered some of the best musical programming in the city, with smart DJs who consistently display their depth of jazz knowledge. But since summer 2019, we've been blown away by the new effort from KUVO: the Drop, a much-needed R&B and hip-hop channel that launched on KUVO's HD2 signal, the KUVO app and And this past year, things got even better when the Drop secured its own FM signal, 104.7. Nikki Swarn, who deejays as Amerykah Jones, heads up the station and is joined by fellow DJs Dif'Rent, Unique, and Bella Scratch. Love hip-hop? Tune in.

Darold Vigil, aka "Pocho Joe," host of the Chicano-flavored La Raza Rocks radio hour, is a walking encyclopedia of Latin rock, soul and R&B. And he graciously shares his immense knowledge of those musical styles and their purveyors past and present, taking La Raza listeners on a guided tour, from Denver's Brass Monkey to Cali's Champs and beyond. But in his quiet, affable way, Vigil, a 2018 Chicano Music Hall of Fame inductee, lets the music he plays speak for itself. The show, which runs on Sundays from 1 to 2 p.m. on KUVO 89.3, will set the mood for your weekend afternoon ("Suavecito," anyone?), especially with Vigil at the helm; consider it a learning experience with a groove.

The folks at ArtHyve like to compare the Record to Record discussion series to a book club, only with music — and that's not a bad comparison. The periodic online events focus on a single LP, encouraging participants to have a critical listen to the chosen album in advance, and then join in a lively discussion of the recording with special guests and a knowledgeable host. So far, the club has considered records by Charles Mingus, Morphine and X-Ray Spex, among others, with big things planned for future programming. Why not take it for a spin?
Eric Gruneisen

While the Rusty Bucket is known as a haven for Pittsburgh Steelers fans and heaven for burger lovers, the Lakewood neighborhood joint also hosts some of the area's finest blues talent on Saturdays, whether it be Randall Dubis, Boa & the Constrictors, BlueKrewe, Eddie Turner or the Delta Sonics. Over the past year, the Rusty Bucket has had to hold off on its long-running Wednesday night blues jams because of COVID-19 restrictions, but there are plans to bring those back, too, once those limitations are lifted.

Danielle Lirette

For more than two decades, Dazzle has been Denver's prime spot for jazz, bringing in nationally recognized musicians and the area's best players, whether they're up-and-comers or jazz veterans. While restaurants and venues struggled all over the state last year, the folks at Dazzle knew that out-of-work musicians were struggling as well, so the venue stepped up to help through its Bread & Jam program, a pop-up food pantry for professional musicians who have been out of work. The club also offered virtual programming and mental health support through a partnership with Music Minds Matter. That's music to our ears!

Great hip-hop clubs have come and gone in Denver. These days, one of the best places for an artist to be seen is Onyx Barbershop, home of the Barbershop Uncut YouTube series. Armando Trevino, the shop's owner, never intended to be a player in the music industry, but when he realized that Denver has a massive underground hip-hop scene that isn't getting the national attention it deserves, he took action and launched a video series based at Onyx, hosting rap battles and cyphers to give young artists a chance. Barbershop Uncut has put out videos with Old Man Saxon, TheyCallHimAP, Jakob Campbell and dozens of others, and in-person events should return soon.

Denver is often touted as the bass-music capital of the world, thanks to the city's longstanding underground dance-music scene, raging warehouse parties and sweaty, head-banging fans. While some of that underground energy has floated into massive venues run by mainstream promoters, the spirit of the rave scene pulses on at the Black Box, a club owned and run by longtime Sub.mission promoter Nicole Cacciavillano, who set up the space to make sure Colorado's scene would have a welcoming home with a killer Basscouch Sound combo and a community vibe. While the venue itself just opened in 2016, its roots run deep...bass deep.

Jeff Davis

When the Larimer Lounge opened nearly two decades ago, there wasn't much else happening as far as nightlife goes in this part of Denver. But the old warehouses were already full of artists who inspired the start of the RiNo Arts District, and music wasn't overlooked as one of the area's artistic amenities. Since Larimer Lounge's start, acts ranging from Arcade Fire to Jason Isbell have gone on to headline Red Rocks, and the venue's garnered a reputation as one of the city's best places to catch a favorite band or discover new music. Over the past year, the Larimer Lounge has been remodeled, and while EDM and jam acts also grace the stage, much of the music is still rock solid.

Lesbian bars are an endangered breed in the United States: According to the documentarians behind the Lesbian Bar Project, there are only around fifteen left nationwide. Denver's lucky to have one of them: Blush & Blu, a neighborhood bar, coffee shop and restaurant catering to lesbians but welcoming people of all identities. This East Colfax staple slings killer drinks, hosts a tasty brunch and offers a mix of open-mic nights, karaoke, bingo and various themed parties. If you're looking for a casual, queer old time at a bar that shows up for the community as much as the community shows up for it, this is the spot for you.

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.

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