Editor's note: No doubt the Mile High music scene is rich these days, thanks to its fans, bookers, promoters, musicians, sound engineers, techs and the like. And we're grateful for all the people who make it what it is. Each month we'll be introducing you to five people doing the most for music in this city. Here are five (listed in no particular order).
For years, Claudia Woodman, who plays keytar as Claudzilla, has been booking Denver's best weirdo acts in the cracks and crevices of this city. Few people fight for what's right like Woodman, who is sure to call it like she sees it, working to ensure that the music scene is safe for all. While many in the music industry do it for the money, Woodman does it for a pure love of all things DIY, underground and on the edge of acceptable, long before they hit the mainstream — which most things she champions never do.
Michelle Rocqet, the multi-talented, beat-boxing soul artist who performs with the Milk Blossoms, is a genuine force of kindness in a scene that can be rife with hyper-competitive petty bores. She models another way of building a music community: one that is based in generosity, hard work and a willingness to lend a hand when it's needed. Whether she's playing a benefit show for a nonprofit or working with young people at Youth on Record, she brings a sense of humor and humility to all that she does, and does so damned well.
Behind the scenes of many of Denver's most beloved venues is promoter Scott Campbell. Whether it's the clubs he runs – Lost Lake Lounge, Globe Hall and Larimer Lounge – or venues he books for entertainment giant AEG, including Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the concerts he's involved with run the gamut from tiny local and traveling acts to major international artists. Campbell, a promoter who has helped build this city's live-music industry into what it is, is passionate about the scene and continues to prove himself to be a champion of smaller artists and locals.
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Bridging the gap between artists, musicians and city brass is no easy task. It's lucky, then, that Denver Arts & Venues employs Lisa Gedgaudas, a savvy arts advocate and administrator who has had her hands in some of Denver's most interesting arts and music industry-boosting projects and has also served as an even-handed ambassador – and at times a translator – between passionate cultural workers and the government departments whose rules often stifle creative pursuits. Last year, when the city shut down DIY venues in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire, sending a chill across underground venues, Gedgaudas managed negotiations, keeping lines of communication open between the creative community and the city as both sides entered heated discussions.
Fans of CPR's Open Air will know the independent music station's music director Jessi Whitten as a passionate voice for underground music who's often the first to introduce radio listeners to rising artists, whether they're from Denver or not. Whitten honed her chops as a DJ at the University of Colorado's Radio 1190, including serving a stint as its music director. Now, her voice can be heard on 102.3 FM and when she contributes to NPR Music's Heavy Rotation: The Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing.
We'd love to hear who your favorite people are in this city's music scene. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.