Music News

The DNC cheat sheet: From Rage to Flav, Backbeat has you covered

Pssst... this just in: The Democratic National Convention kicks off next week here in Denver. After nineteen months of hyperventilation in all the fishwraps (including this one), on talk-radio shows and on the evening news, it's hard to believe it's finally upon us.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as stoked as anyone that the Dems picked the Mile High City for this historic event. It's the biggest thing to happen here since His Holiness did a flyby in '93, even if the town has worked itself into a lather over something that a) will be over in about the same time as an average Rockies homestand, and b) relatively few will actually get to participate in — at least officially. While we may be able to steal a glimpse of the dignitaries, most of us don't have a prayer of rubbing shoulders with them on the convention floor. Clearly, the main party isn't for the unwashed masses (unless you're one of those Tent State folks going without a shower all week). We just happen to be hosting it.

Still, for a few days, Denver will be the world's stage, with thousands of delegates and media types parachuting into town. No reason for you not to try to join the party! So here's a cheat sheet on some of the week's most ballyhooed events and your chances of getting in. (For a more comprehensive list, visit Backbeat Online at

Saturday, August 23

What: DNC Media Party

Where: Elitch Gardens

Details: We've heard that this kickoff event will feature performances by the Flobots, the Railbenders, and a third, as-yet-to-be-determined act — though city officials refuse to confirm this.

Odds of Getting In: Slim and none, unless you're one of the 15,000 credentialed members of the media, 6,000 delegates, alternates or assorted Democratic VIPs

What: After 5 Jazz & Blues Festival

Where: Five Points (26th & Welton streets)

Details: This multi-day festival, which runs from Saturday, August 23, through Friday, August 29, is geared toward smooth-jazz fans and boasts a lineup that includes Gerald Albright, George Duke, Hugh Masekela, Warren Hill, Kirk Whalum, Walter Beasley, Pieces of a Dream, Jeffrey Osborne, Jonathan Butler, Maysa and Kurt Carr, among many others. (For more information, go to

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. Tickets range from $59 to $119. If you've got the dough, you should be good to go.

What: Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Where: Bluebird Theater, 9 p.m.

Details: Aside from distinguished social agitator and Boulder alum Jello Biafra as the MC, this show doesn't really have anything to do with the DNC. Even so, with Slim and Munly and the boys playing songs from their exceptional new record, Cipher, this could be the closest you can come to having a religious experience in the Mile High City without scoring tickets to see Obama make his acceptance speech at Invesco.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent, unless it sells out.

Sunday, August 24

What: Funk the War

Where: City of Cuernavaca Park (20th Street and Little Raven), 5-7:30 p.m.

Details: This is the first in a series of events being put together by the Tent State folks. Starting from four points of the city at 1 p.m. (Union Station, the MEP center on 19th and Stout, the Denver Skatepark and Curtis Park), activists will make their way to the 16th Street Mall, where they'll dance and play instruments as a way of expressing their opposition to current war efforts, then head to City of Cuernavaca Park for a concert featuring Ryan Harvey, Fulcrum, David Rovics and Son of Nun.

Odds of Getting In: Excellent. All of Tent State's events are free.

What: Friends of New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya

Where: Fillmore Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Details: Great googly moogly, this is one stellar lineup! After playing a private DNC welcome party at the convention center earlier in the day, Tab Benoit's Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars will share a bill with a reconstituted Meters featuring Zigaboo Modeliste, George Porter Jr. and Leo Nocentelli, bolstered by guests Allen Toussaint, Terence Blanchard, Henry Butler, Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Randy Newman. Harry Shearer will host the event, and Victor Dixon will also be on hand to offer up a few selections from the musical Brother Ray: The Life, the Loves and the Music of Ray Charles, which is set to debut on Broadway next year.

Odds of Getting In: Got a spare $500? This is a fundraiser, and that's how much loot you'll have to part with for the distinct privilege of seeing this incredible show. Given the lineup, there's bound to be a high demand for tickets. Go to and search for "New Orleans All-Star Jam-Balaya" to see if you can still get some.

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera