High Plains Underground Archive

Highlights From the Late, Great Old Curtis Street Bar (Part Two)

Old Curtis St. Bar has given way to The Curtis Club. Before shutting its doors in 2012, Old Curtis St. Bar was a host to an eclectic schedule of shows starting around 2003, when Kosta Razatos brought live music regularly into the long-running family business. An anecdote that serves as the seeming guiding principle of the booking: John Gross and Todd Novosad talked to Razatos about having Denver Noise Fest there and, due to other noise events the two had put on at the venue, Razatos is purported to have said, "I don't get this stuff but I trust you guys." Punk, metal, Americana, experimental music, rock and whatever seemed welcome at Old Curtis St. Bar.

As mentioned in an earlier part of this photo series, Ikey Owens played his first show with Free Moral Agents at Old Curtis St. and Dark Castle played one of its earliest Denver shows there. It was a bit of a community space and you could get good food there whether the regular faire or vegan food when a vendor was on hand. It was one of the hubs in that part of town along with Carioca Cafe (aka Bar Bar). What follows are some scenes of several shows I attended and had a camera on hand -- you can see more in the first part of this retrospective.

See also: Some of the Most Memorable Shows at Old Curtis Street Bar (Part One)

Red Glow Aviator (see photo above) rose from the ashes of alternative rock/not-so-Goth-but-in-that-scene outfit Dark Orchid. Singer Tonja Yelton and drummer Taj were the core of the group. At the time this photo was taken, Ed Marshall played guitar (he is currently in Forests of Azure) and Sean Boyd played bass (Boyd also played in Blue Blooded Girls with former Acrobat Down keyboardist Jamie White and former Maraca 5-0 guitarist John Gray as well as in the Skivies).

Sara Century and Valerie Franz booked a weeknight at Old Curtis and a lot of strange stuff flowed through on those nights. Here Century is performing a solo show. She now weirds people out with her dark, experimental music in Seattle when she's not plotting her next musical or engaging in other amusing, yet thought-provoking projects.

Spellcaster was the guitar-no-vocals project of Warren Bedell, co-founder of Rhinoceropolis. He now performs in a solo electronic project called No Funeral as well as in the noise-jazz/no wave-esque Deep Satisfaction.

Spokeshaver was an excellent rock/R&B band that should have been bigger shakes locally, because it had a visceral power along with its solid and inventive songwriting.

The Amicable Splits was a strange punk band that was also influenced a bit by stuff like Big Black. Sara Century later went on to her solo project and Night Nurses.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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