While Memorial Day weekend is typically dominated by blockbusters and barbecues, for Denver's creative community, it's just another weekend of great entertainment. Bookworms, art lovers, comedy nerds and brunch-happy jazz cats have plenty of reasons to celebrate in the days ahead: The city is positively bustling with a staggering variety of delightful diversions. Even better, admission to each of the events listed below is less than $10 (fine print notwithstanding). Keep reading for the ten best free and cheap events in Denver this weekend.
Thursday, May 24, 9 p.m.
Boogie the evening away to the grooviest sounds of yesteryear every Thursday night at Goosetown Tavern's Motown Groove dance parties. Hosted by Miggy Camacho and guest turntablist DJ Soup, Motown Groove immerses guests in the soulful sounds of R&B, funk and soul, with a particular emphasis on the repertoire of Motown's heaviest hitters. Admission is always free; visit the Goosetown Tavern events calendar for more details.
Meet the Mags
Friday, May 25, 6 p.m.
Get acquainted with Denver's bustling zine scene at Meet the Mags, a gathering of the city's finest literary publications at BookBar. Listen to local authors sharing their poems and short stories while getting to know the writerly self-starters behind Denver-based magazines FLORA || FAUNA, Punch Drunk Press, Sheriff Nottingham, Cherry, Stain'd, F(r)iction and Suspect Press. Guests who get swept up in the DIY spirit can also get involved with distributing and contributing to their favorites. Admission is free; visit BookBar's events calendar to learn more.
Untitled: Birdy Presents the Cuckoo's Nest
Friday, May 25, 6 to 10 p.m.
Denver Art Museum
$8 to $13
The creative commingling between local artists and DIY publications continues as Untitled returns to the Denver Art Museum with Birdy magazine's Cuckoo’s Nest, "an evening of art, laughs and beats." The multi-disciplinary art-stravaganza includes the Awesome Improv Workshop with Mark Shonsey of Third Curd and Grafenberg Productions, a Super Smash Bros. Tournament presented by Sexpot Comedy's Videogames, a Birdy-inspired DIY publication workshop from William Seward Bonnie of Cheeseburger Nebula Galactic Press, and a button-making station guided by Denver Public Library's Molly Bassford. The evening also includes standup comedy from Jodee Champion, Adrian Mesa, Nathan Lund and Ben Kronberg, music from Jonny DeStefano and Simulators, and a visually projected art installation from Jeromie Dorrance of DATELINE. Admission is $8 to $13 at the door, free for members. Visit the Untitled at the Denver Art Museum Facebook events page for more details.
The Nerd Roast: Alcohol
Friday, May 25, 7 p.m.
The Comedy RoomRoom
Pretty much anything can inspire its own nerdy subculture these days, and if the scores of cocktail and beer snobs haunting local drinkeries is any indication, even boozehounds evince an almost evangelical geekery. Therefore, Preston Tompkins and Zach Reinert of Sexpot Comedy's Nerd Roast show have dedicated their dais to the demon drink. Join a gaggle of top-shelf local comics including Steve Vanderploeg, Natalia Kvalem, Cody Spyker, Cory Helie and more as they roast the bejesus out of oft-maligned spirits like Fireball and Four Loko, plus standards like beer, wine and tequila. Visit the Comedy RoomRoom's Facebook events page for more information.
Sexpot Comedy Presents Sean White
Friday, May 25, 7 p.m.
Syntax Physic Opera
A double dose of Sexpot leaves Denver comedy fans faced with a difficult choice on Friday at two concurrent showcases. A more straightforward presentation of standup comedy, Sexpot's headliner showcase welcomes local mirth merchants Nate Earl, Brandy Bryant and John Tole, plus Los Angeles's Andrea More and headliner Sean White. The early-evening showcase is the ideal kickoff to a night of revelry on South Broadway. Admission is $7 via Sexpot Comedy's Nightout page.
Rocky Mountain Brassworks: Brass Festival
Saturday, May 26, 7 p.m.
Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center
Hear some of the most skilled musicians in the state vie for the honor of finest solo as Rocky Mountain Brassworks hosts its annual solo contest at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center. The top soloist will be selected to play with the Rocky Mountain Brassworks throughout their season and at a performance at the Rocky Mountain Brass Festival. No matter which player takes the crown, the audience is the real winner here. Visit the Rocky Mountain Brass events calendar to find out more.
Pussy Bros. Present Chanel Ali
Saturday, May 26, 10 p.m.
The Black Buzzard
The Pussy Bros.' takeover of Oskar Blues' Black Buzzard continues apace with another crackerjack lineup for their eponymous showcase. Guests include the bros themselves (Rachel Weeks, Christie Buchele and Janae Burris), local favorites Jose Macall and Harris Alterman, plus Las Vegas's Shanna Christmas and headliner Chanel Ali. Admission is $5 via Black Buzzard's Ticketfly page.
Sunday, May 27, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Jazz up your morning munches at Jazz Brunch, a swinging weekly gathering at the Alamo Drafthouse's Barfly lounge. Enjoy a full menu of toothsome a.m. favorites soundtracked by the soothing sounds of a jazz ensemble. With no cover charge, you'll have plenty of money left to spend on Barfly's signature Bloody Marys and mimosas. No reservations necessary; find more details on Barfly's Facebook events page.
A Life Celebration for Steve Gordon
Sunday, May 27, 1 to 4 p.m.
Denver's creative community is still reeling from the loss of multi-talented artist Steve Gordon, a designer, musician, poet, entrepreneur and philanthropist who shaped his community and inspired subsequent generations of local talent. Gordon passed away on April 30. Gather with his friends, family and the scores of people he inspired at a heartfelt and life-affirming memorial held on Sunday, May 27, at the Mercury Cafe. Enjoy poetry, music and food while mingling with Gordon's nearest and dearest as they gather to honor their friend and mentor. Visit the Mercury Cafe Facebook events page to learn more.
Mutiny Book Club: Parable of the Sower
Sunday, May 27, 4 p.m.
Mutiny Information Cafe
In today's perpetually connected culture, many readers have forgotten the simple joys of a good book. As most members would agree, rediscovering one's love of fiction is much easier among the fellowship and accountability of a book club, a gathering that transforms the solitary act of reading into a small community of letters. Started mostly as an endeavor to tackle a pile of unread novels collecting dust on his shelves, Westword's own Byron Graham is teaming up with Cory Helie and Jim Norris of the Mutiny Transmissions podcast networks for Mutiny Book Club, a monthly discussion of literature with a decidedly unpretentious bent. The podcast returns for its second episode with Pussy Bros. co-founder Janae Burris and Cherry Magazine editor Jen Kolic to discuss Octavia Butler's dystopian masterpiece, Parable of the Sower. Visit the Mutiny Book Club Facebook events page to learn more.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's calendar online. If you'd like your event considered for this list, send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.