Chad Aman, like many musicians in Denver, has been playing at El Chapultepec for years. Celebrating its eightieth birthday last August was no small feat for the jazz club that has survived the changing face of its Lower Downtown neighborhood, and now Aman is spearheading an effort to bring the the 'Pec's iconic cactus-sporting sign back to its full neon glory. This Sunday, February 16, Aman and El Chapultepec owner Angela Guerrero have teamed up with Corky Scholl and his Save the Signs organization for Save The Signs: the El Chapultepec fundraiser taking place at the globally-recognized bar.
See also: El Chapultepec is still swinging
"When I'm playing in other cities, musicians always ask me if I've played 'the little dive by the ballpark'," says Aman. "The 'Pec is legendary. Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Miles Davis, President Bill Clinton -- all of these guys have played it. It's not just a Colorado institution; people from all over the world know about it."
El Chapultepec is legendary indeed: along with the musicians Aman namechecked, there are dozens more who have graced the makeshift stage, from Ella Fitzgerald to Tony Bennett. Opened in 1933 and run by Guerrero's family ever since, jazz was originally brought to the intimate bar in the 1970s by her father, Jerry Krantz, who passed away in 2012.
With the genre the venue became an institution, and Aman thinks the sign is an important physical representation of El Chapultepec's legacy. "Any given night of the week, the 'Pec has great music. It is the top of the heap for jazz in Denver; if you don't deliver (as a musician) at the 'Pec, the audience will eat you alive. But if you do deliver, there is nothing like it."
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After working with Scholl for a Save The Signs event for the Oriental Theater, Aman thought it would be beneficial to do a similar fundraiser for El Chapultepec. To completely refurbish the neon sign and bring it back to its original glory, the bar is looking at a $3,000 to $4,000 fix. Aman is hoping a great day and evening of jazz is just what the sign needs to get back and bright.
This Sunday beginning at 2 p.m., patrons are invited to come support El Chapultepec's neon sign cause with whatever they have in their pockets -- there will be no set cover, but any and all money made from the door and the bar will go to the cause. There is also a 'Pec Blue Plate Special in the works to be served up all day and proceeds from the kitchen will also go to the sign. Aman's band The Heavy Heavies will be playing sets running intermittently from 3 p.m. to around 6 p.m.; 'Pec mainstay Tony Black's Tony Black Summit will jam on throughout the night. For more information, visit the Save The Signs Facebook page.
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