Getting started with local music, part one

Anyone who has cast even a cursory glance at Westword's calendar recently will see that the media hue and cry over the death of music is greatly exaggerated. In spite of economic and emotional depression, music piracy and General Qaddafi, the Denver music scene is alive and kicking the crap out of prime time television. You can still catch original, local, live music nearly every night of the week.

For those of you who watch this space regularly, that isn't news. But what about those who don't know where to start? At least once a week, I get an email, text message or phone call, asking me for music recommendations. The Westword calendar tells you about a million different gigs going on. And the writers here try to narrow things down by writing about the most notable. But in the end, there's no substitute for a trusted personal recommendation. For those of you who don't have my email address or phone number, however, I'd like to supply a few tips on how to dip your toe into the kiddie pool. Here's the first.

The easiest place to start is with a touring band that you know and like. Look for show listings that have a headliner you've sung or air-guitarred with on the radio, and check to see if the opener is local. If so, get to the show early. If you like the opening act, visit the merch table afterward. Strike up a conversation. Make a connection. Then watch the concert listings for that band. Check out THEIR openers. Rinse and repeat.

I still remember the first time I saw Slim Cessna's Auto Club. The band already had a significant following globally, but was still a Denver band, and I was slow on the proverbial uptake. They were warming up a radio-conditioned audience for Cake, who had a huge hit at the time. Thanks to my own desire to be prompt (which has since been trained out of me) and a production schedule that ran about an hour behind, I managed to bear witness to the local boys blowing the national headliner off the stage. The audience couldn't get enough of Slim and seemed incredulous that such treasures could be dug up in their own backyard. I, too, was a believer. And it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't started out wanting to see Cake. Serendipitous, you might say. I say, make it happen for yourself.

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