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Herb's is a music lover's — and player's — paradise

I really wanted to play the sax when I was a kid, but ended up with the trombone, since a family friend let me borrow one. I got pretty good at it, and my folks finally bought me my own trombone — but once I was old enough to drive, I traded it for a guitar at a pawn shop. The guitar just seemed a hell of a lot cooler than something that looked like the ugly cousin of the brass family.

Except for jazz and classical shows, I rarely see people playing trombones. But when I walked in to Herb's (2057 Larimer Street) on a recent Wednesday, a guy was playing the blues standard "Kansas City" on his 'bone, and hearing his bold, robust tone made me wish I still played. Eugene Carthen, who has been doing these weekly Herb's jams for years, was belting out the song's lyrics while a couple swing-danced. Then, on the next cut, bassist Kim Stone, who's played with Spyro Gyra and the Rippingtons, stretched out a killer solo that recalled Stanley Clarke.

While a lot of blues jams are heavy on guitar players, there were only a few this night. In fact, there may have been more drummers and bassists than guitarists. And every fifteen minutes or so, Carthen called up a new group of players, all solid musicians. A few players stayed on stage with a few different groups, including that trombonist and a guitarist who really tore it up on slow blues number.

Carthen hosts the open-mike blues jams every Wednesday — except the first Wednesday of the month, when it's the DuFour open jam. On Thursdays, the Dave Randon Trio Project plays blues; Fridays and Saturdays, it's a mix of live jazz, funk and reggae acts; there's live hip-hop on Sundays; big jazz with the Legacy Jazz Orchestra on Mondays; and the B3 Jazz Project (featuring Laura Newman, the club's owner) on Tuesdays. The dark back room near the stage was pretty much filled for this jam, with people sitting in chairs that appeared to have the City and County of Denver seal on the back. I'm pretty sure I sat in a similar chair while waiting to be called for jury duty years ago.

Club scout: Sutra (1109 Lincoln Street) recently kicked off $2 Tuesdays, with a $2 cover and $2 PBRs and U-Call-Its until 11 p.m. DJs Chapl and Kanai spin Top 40, mash-up, old school, house and electro.

On Friday, October 9, DJs J Boogie, Rootz, Thunder, Russo and Uplifter will host Silent Disco at Quixote's True Blue (2637 Welton Street), where they'll broadcast music via an FM transmitter to headphones with wireless receivers, which will be handed out at the door; two DJs will spin at a time on separate channels. Doors open at 9 p.m.; tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

The Swing Station in LaPorte (3311 West County Road 54G) recently changed ownership and is now called Bar SS, which is pronounced "Bar Double S." While the name might have changed, it looks like the spot will bring in the same mix of roots, honky-tonk, rockabilly and bluegrass acts as it did when it was the Swing Station. The grand-opening party is Friday, October 9.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

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