Five of the Greatest People in Denver's Music Scene: October 2017

Test Kitchen
Test Kitchen Kenneth Hamblin III
Editor's note: No doubt the Mile High music scene is rich these days, thanks to its fans, bookers, promoters, musicians, sound engineers, techs and the like. And we're grateful for all the people who make it what it is. Each month we will be introducing you to five people doing the most for music in this city. Here are the first five (listed in no particular order).

click to enlarge Ru Johnson (center) and friends at Test Kitchen. - KENNETH HAMBLIN III
Ru Johnson (center) and friends at Test Kitchen.
Kenneth Hamblin III
Ru Johnson
Every scene needs a champion, and when it comes to Mile High hip-hop – and a whole lot of other music – nobody's working it harder than Ru Johnson. This former Westword contributor launched her own company, Roux Black, which promotes concerts and artists citywide. Up-and-coming musicians looking at next steps in their careers are wise to take note of the huge influence she has over this city's scene.

click to enlarge Blake Pendergrass, fifth from the left, is the drummer for Roka Hueka. - ANTHONY CAMERA
Blake Pendergrass, fifth from the left, is the drummer for Roka Hueka.
Anthony Camera
Blake Pendergrass
Look back at the drum kit when Roka Hueka, Roots Rice and Beans and Wild Lives are playing, and you'll see a self-effacing guy with deep skills. Were he just a drummer who could handle Latin ska, jazz-infused hip-hop and straight-up punk with dexterity, that might be enough to catch our eye. But what Blake Pendergrass has offered the scene is so much more than his superb musicianship. He has also stepped into the role of community organizer, using his music-industry connections to advocate for immigrants and fight for social justice – all while using his sticks to make people dance.

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris