4
| Lists |

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

Test KitchenEXPAND
Test Kitchen
Kenneth Hamblin III
^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

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).

Ru Johnson (center) and friends at Test Kitchen.EXPAND
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.

Blake Pendergrass, fifth from the left, is the drummer for Roka Hueka.
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.

Aaron Saye
Aaron Saye, the congenial brains behind Seventh Circle Music Collective, has been showing up for Denver's DIY scene for nearly a decade, running soundboards, documenting shows and booking thousands of bands in a garage off Federal Boulevard. Few people in the music community have shown the humility and dedication of Saye, and he has rightfully garnered widespread admiration.

Marilyn Megenity
The Mercury Cafe has been a staple in Denver's music community for decades. At the helm is the witchy bohemian pioneer Marilyn Megenity, who not only runs two stages that showcase music of all genres, but who also employs a bevy of local musicians who use their work at the Mercury to subsidize the music they create. On top of that, Megenity's venue often hosts benefit concerts, dance lessons and the annual Titwrench Festival. While it's more than aboveground, her restaurant often fills the void when the city's DIY scene is hurting.

Sarah Levin manages Gregory Alan Isakov.
Sarah Levin manages Gregory Alan Isakov.
Sabrina Sideris

Sarah Levin
Gregory Alan Isakov's manager, Sarah Levin, knows how to hustle. She built up the indie-folk crooner's career from his early days playing coffee shops and helped turn him into a major international force. Levin is both business-savvy and a force of kindness in a cutthroat music industry. And talk about loyalty! While other managers and agents have spread themselves thin representing multiple artists or working for larger agencies, she only represents Isakov.

We'd love to hear who your favorite people are in this city's music scene. Send nominations to kyle.harris@westword.com.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.