Since the start of the new year, we've been filling our four blogs -- Show and Tell, Backbeat, Cafe Society and the Latest Word -- with a Colorado bucket list of the 100 things to do before you kick it. Here is the complete 2014 Backbeat bucket list.
See also: 25 reasons the Denver music scene rules
25. Get a picture with the dancing security guard at Red Rocks It's hard not to dance when you have the chance to see some of the biggest music acts in the world playing one of the best stages in the world on a regular basis. That said, a certain security guard at Red Rocks has made a name for himself by shamelessly getting his groove on. He's got moves that get the whole front row going, and he has no qualms about showing off for the whole show. If you ever get the chance, run down and get a quick picture with this guy, because chances are, you will never meet a cooler security guard, one who isn't scared to have a good time -- even when the boss is watching.
24. Sign your name (or take a pic) in the tunnel at Red Rocks This is more of a bucket-list item for musicians, but every act wants to be able to have its name on a wall that has been signed by the likes of Jerry Garcia, Joan Jett, Snoop Dogg, STS9, Phish, Atmosphere, 311, the Fray, Kaskade, Deadmau5, Skrillex, and pretty much every other act that has ever graced the famed stage of Red Rocks. It's the tunnel that leads from the green room to the sound board, and every act takes a moment to appreciate the work that was put into the side of a mountain and makes it possible to play before taking in one of the most beautiful sights in the world: the sun setting on the Rocky Mountains behind a wall of fans.
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23. Celebrate Elvis's birthday with the late, great Velvet Elvis Although Velvet Elvis was officially laid to rest in 2011, his spirit, like his inspiration, will live on forever. Every year around this time, he mystically reappears to deliver a Blue Christmas and to celebrate the King's birthday (like this Friday, January 10, at the Oriental Theater). If you haven't seen this show, it's worth adding to your bucket list. The must-see concert is so faithful to the essence of Elvis that you'd swear the King never truly died.
22. Busk on the 16th Street Mall In the past decade, the Denver music scene has gained massive exposure thanks to acts like the Lumineers and the Fray -- a fact that inspires a new wave of musicians every year to reach for the brass ring. Before working toward wowing capacity crowds, however, a real test for musicians is seeing whether they can capture the attention of an otherwise inattentive audience. Can you make captive commuters stop and hear you out? Only one way to find out.
21. Audition for the People's Fair Okay, so you've successfully busked on the 16th Street Mall, and now you're ready for another rite of passage in the local music scene: auditioning for the People's Fair. While the crowd at these annual tryouts is obviously more engaged, the task is a little more daunting. After watching so many acts perform, the judges' ears are subject to fatigue, and you only have a few songs to prove your merit and hopefully earn a slot to perform in front of thousands at Civic Center Park. But whether you make the cut or not, it's worth throwing your hat in the ring, just to say you did.
20. See a summer concert at the Botanic Gardens While seeing a show at Red Rocks can be an epic experience, the intimacy can sometimes get lost, the higher the row you're sitting in. One of the things about seeing outdoor shows at the Botanic Gardens is that most spots on the grass around the stage are close enough that you won't have to use binoculars. And for the past few years, the folks at Swallow Hill have been doing a stellar job booking a variety of acts, including last year's lineup, which included such luminaries as Tony Bennett, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Hornsby and Chris Isaak.
19. See Itchy-O wow unsuspecting crowds Although you never really know where Itchy-O is going to turn up (that is, unless it's New Year's Eve), the spectacle is always exhilarating, not only because the massive marching band creates such a joyful noise, but because it's also endlessly rewarding to witness the surprised/bemused/befudled looks on the faces of unsuspecting onlookers who've never seen the band before. Whether the outfit is crashing shows at the Gothic, appearing on stage with David Byrne and St. Vincent, or manning an outpost at Riot Fest, it's totally worth being on hand to see this Denver treasure in action.
18. Catch a Colorado Symphony collaboration You're probably already aware of how blessed you are with the number of world-class venues and artists we have in Denver. So it's easy to take for granted just how unique and awesome it is that our city's symphony goes out of its way to immerse itself in the music scene by initiating one-of-a-kind collaborations you won't see anywhere else. From performing songs from Beck's Song Reader at last year's Westword Music Showcase to backing a host of lauded locals like DeVotchKa, the Lumineers and Gregory Alan Isakov, the Colorado Symphony is as innovative as it is sharp. If you get the chance to see one of these special events, don't pass it up.
17. Visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame While it's relatively new, having only inducted its first class in 2011, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is steadily building an array of artifacts from local music luminaries, everyone from celebrated performers like John Denver and Judy Collins to local legends like Harry Tuft and Barry Fey. The Hall, which is currently housed at 1STBANK Center, is in the process of making a move to Red Rocks, where it will set up a permanent home. So whether you stop by now and admire the collection or wait until it moves to Morrison, make it a point to pay a visit.
16. Take a Class at Swallow Hill Swallow Hill has been integral part of music education in Denver for more than three decades. The Julie Davis School of Music teaches more than 5,000 students every year. Swallow Hill offers classes, private lessons, workshops and camps that cater to a number of different interests and ages, on a variety of instruments, including guitar, bass, banjo, percussion, fiddle, harmonica, ukulele and hammered dulcimer. And once you've got some chops under your belt, you can take advantage of Swallow Hill's varied jam sessions.
15. See a summer concert at Chautauqua Auditorium Built over a century ago, the Chautauqua Auditorium is one of most distinctive venues in the state with its barn-like construction. The 1,300-person spot, which is open from May through September, brings in an impressive line-up every summer; folks like Chris Isaak, Lyle Lovett, Joan Baez and Wynton Marsalis have all played there.
14. See a summer concert at Mishawaka Amphitheatre For decades, the Mishawaka Amphitheatre has been one of the state's legendary outdoor music venues, bringing in stellar line-ups of both national and local acts every summer. Located right next to the Poudre River, not too far from Fort Collins, the Mish is small enough with a 750-person capacity to good view of any of the rock, jam-centric, bluegrass, reggae bands the venue brings in.
13. Play the open mic night at the Meadowlark While the intimate Meadowlark hosts a stellar weekly jazz jam on Mondays, it's also had a long-running Tuesday night open stage. The weekly gathering on the small basement stage has attracted a number of the city's finest singer-songwriters over the years who have come to test new material or refine older songs. Come play in the spot where the Lumineers, then a duo after moving here from the East Coast, first got their start, playing many an open stage here before moving on to bigger venues.
12. Play at the blues jam at Ziggies Established four decades ago, Ziggie's has been known as the oldest blues bar in Denver. And over the years, the Sunday blues jams there have become legendary. While the Blues AllStars and Doc Brown Blues Band alone are reason enough to visit the spot on Sundays, jammers are given a warm welcome here, and it's an inviting spot to hone your chops.
11. See a show at a DIY space like Rhinoceropolis or 7th Circle Music Collective Denver has a long tradition of off-the-beaten path one-off shows and DIY venues going back to at least the '70s. Today, this approach is best embodied at Rhinoceropolis and 7th Circle Music Collective. These are places where you can most easily witness emerging and developing talent before it plays more commercial spaces. Much of the underground show circuit still exists and can only be seen at places like Rhino and 7th Circle. In years past, acts like HEALTH, Lightning Bolt, Dan Deacon, Matt & Kim, High Places and Indian Jewelry tried to only play DIY venues for the level of freedom of performance presentation it offered and for the access those places offer to people under drinking age. Yeah, you won't be able to buy alcohol at these places, but if you want to see something before it gets too refined, look no further. You can say you were there when instead of merely reading about it later.
10. Go to Lipgloss With the exception of perhaps only one other famed club night, which has lasted since the early '90s, Lipgloss is Denver's longest running club night. More than a dozen years after first being launched, the night, helmed by co-founder Michael Trundle, still attracts a throng of dancers every Friday night to Beauty Bar, where Lipgloss moved from its former home at La Rumba nearly two years ago. Make it a point to come out and see why Lipgloss has lasted so long, and why its played host to so many high profile guest DJs over the years like Andy Rourke from the Smiths and Peter Hook from Joy Division and New Order.
9. See a jazz show at El Chapultepec Aside from jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Eddie Harris, rockers like Bono and Mick Jagger, even former president Bill Clinton, have stopped by El Chapultepec since Jerry Krantz, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 77, inherited it 1968 from his father-in-law Tony Romano. As saxophonist Max Wagner, who headed up the house band there for three years, says, "The best of the best and the greatest of the greatest came through that place and played there because they could count on a great rhythm section and an open door policy to visiting jazz dignitaries that is very rare across the county."
8. See a jazz show at Dazzle While it's one thing to see jazz luminaries at some bigger venues in the area, seeing legends like Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Lee Konitz, Jim Hall or Bill Frisell in the intimate confines of Dazzle is a completely captivating experience. With a feel not too far off from New York's famed Village Vanguard, Dazzle doesn't really have a bad seat in the house.
7. Crate dig at Twist & Shout and Wax Trax While CDs sales were down 14.5 percent last year, vinyl sales increased 32 percent last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Sure, it's much easier to get your hands on newer vinyl releases and vinyl reissues these days, but there's still the thrill of the hunt for rare and unique stuff that you'd never find digitally, and both Twist & Shout and Wax Trax are two of the best spots in town to flip through the wax.
6. Record a song at the Blasting Room Recording at the Blasting Room in and of itself won't make you famous, but it will make you feel that way when you stop to think about all of the acts that have recorded there. Name a topshelf local act and chances are better than good that they've tracked here -- and so has a parade of other lauded out-of-towners like Rise Against, NOFX, Gogol Bordello and As I Lay Dying. It's the facilities as much as the people running it. Founded in the mid '90s by Bill Stevenson of the Descendents, the Fort Collins studio also boasts the keen ear of Stevenson's partner Jason Livermore and Andrew Berlin. Trust us: You can hear the difference.
5. Hear your song played on the radio. Denver has one of the most vibrant music scenes in the country, with a staggering number of venues and an equally stunning number of talented acts that hail from here. For a struggling musician, the struggle is made that much more palatable by the realization that hearing your music on the radio is not just a pipe dream, but a very real possibility. For the better part of the past decade, KTCL/Channel 93.3 has blessed a steady parade of acts with their That Thing You Do! moment. It hasnÅft always translated to fame and fortune, but it definitely celebrates local vocals. Hear, hear!
4. Dance at the Church. Ever want to do unholy things in a holy place? Look no farther than the Church, a nightclub housed in a building that was once really a church. The exterior still reflects that earlier calling -- and the interior, with its three stories of dance floors, makes the Church one of the most beautiful clubs in the country. Once you get your grind on under the beautiful stained-glass windows and the cathedral ceiling lit by lasers and moving lights, you'll forget all about the fact that you're sinning in the house of the Lord.
3. Dance at Beta Nightclub to the FunktionOne sound system. For fans of dance music, few things can compare to a perfect sound system -- especially when the best international DJs are playing music through it. At Beta, the FunktionOne system takes this experience to an entirely different level. Each FunktionOne setup is custom-designed for the room in which it's installed, and at Beta, no expense was spared. Surrounded by four towering corners of speakers, Beta's main-room floor has no competition when it comes to sub bass and crisp audio. Couple that with the Kryo fog system that Beta keeps in-house, and you have a world-class experience. The biggest names in the world play the decks at Beta, and each one maintains that this is one of the best clubs in the country.
2. See Big Head Todd & the Monsters at Herman's Hideaway. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, you definitely want to be on hand to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters get back to their roots and bring the band back to where it all started all those years ago: Herman's Hideaway. There's a special energy in the room every time Todd Park Mohr and company climb back on stage and play, as though the past two decades never happened. It's the Colorado equivalent of seeing the Boss at the Stone Pony.
1. See a show at Red Rocks. While seeing a show at Red Rocks might seem like the most obvious music-related thing we could pick to top our bucket list, there's a simple justification: Red Rocks is, hands down, the Centennial State's most prized destination. While playing a show here is a crowning achievement for any act, seeing a show here -- with the majesty of the sun painting the sky behind you as it sets while you watch the city lights glinting in the distance below -- is unlike anything you've ever experienced. Depending on who's on the stage, you might even call it religious.
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