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Twelve People Who Made Denver's Music Scene Great in 2014

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It takes more than musicians to make a scene: Venue owners, event planners, media members and people who just find ways to contribute to the music community play a critical role in ensuring that Denver is a great place to be a fan. Here are just a few of the people who made a difference this year:

See also: The Fourteen Best Colorado Music Festivals of 2014

Through pieces for the local CBS affiliate as well as numerous interviews for AXS, Alli Andress has made considerable contributions to spreading knowledge about Denver's music community. Her conversational, informed approach has made what can be an insular underground music world accessible to a wide audience. --Tom Murphy

A tireless champion of Denver's versatile music and art scene, John Baxter is the man behind the This Ain't No Cowtown compilations and music and comedy companion releases for local print magazine Birdy. Since 2011, Baxter has been putting out calls for submissions, spending dozens of hours listening to tracks by local acts and expertly curating collections of Colorado music and comedy that he releases for a pay-what-you-wish price. He then donates the money to a musician in need or a DIY space or other entity in the creative realm that could use the funds. -- Bree Davies

Denver native Heather Dalton has spent time playing in bands and booking shows around the city for many years, even hosting iconic local-music video show Teletunes at one point in her career. But most recently, it has been Dalton's work on Sounds on 29th, a local music and comedy television show, that has made her stand out. With more than fifty episodes in circulation through channel CPT12, Sounds on 29th has showcased rappers, punk bands, comedians and spoken-word artists from all over Colorado, guided by Dalton's vast knowledge of the creative community of which she's been a longtime member. -- Davies

Not many states' residents can say that their governor has an influence on local music. In Colorado, we can. "I try to go to concerts whenever I can, just because I love music," Governor John Hickenlooper told Westword earlier this year. He's even hosting his second inaugural concert at the Ogden on January 13, a show featuring the Lumineers, String Cheese Incident and more. Whether it's getting on stage, as he did with Old Crow Medicine Show over the summer, or simply showing up, as he frequently does at area concerts, Hickenlooper wears a deep passion for Colorado music on his sleeve. -- Mary Willson Ru Johnson has long been an advocate for hip-hop artists in Denver. She has written for Westword and currently covers hip-hop for the Denver Post and others, using her impressive knowledge of the current local and national scenes to illuminate the significance of the music and related issues for her readers. Johnson has never simply observed from the sidelines, however: As a manager, agent, mentor and de facto ambassador, she has truly helped elevate the profile of hip-hop in Denver. -- Murphy

As the Oriental Theater's owner and talent buyer, Scott LaBarbera has contributed to Denver's music and arts culture in ways that aren't always obvious. His venue is a place where one can hear all kinds of music, but it also plays host to films and cultural events that wouldn't fit elsewhere. Fiercely independent but always gracious and engaging, LaBarbera helps make Denver a great place to be. -- Murphy

Tony Mason has been booking shows for a few years now. But his star began to rise once he took over booking at Lost Lake Lounge, bringing in buzzworthy acts from around the globe, tapping local artists and booking DJ sets from big-name musicians. Clearly, Mason's passion is getting music to the people, and he does it with a smile and one of the most gracious attitudes in the business, making him a pleasure to work with for artists and fans alike. -- Davies

Event planner, show organizer and general good-vibe ambassador Kalina Ross takes the concept of "all ages" seriously. While she often hosts gatherings that are adult-oriented, Ross also makes sure to pay extra-special attention to the little ones. Case in point: her annual Night Fair Before Christmas all-ages party. Ross brings rappers, soul singers, folk bands and DJs center stage for a mid-afternoon show that students of all ages can enjoy, allowing them to experience local music usually reserved for bars and clubs. -- Davies By day, Chad Saxton is the studio engineer for KBCO's Studio C. But the rest of his time is spent at Dryer Plug Studios, his recording studio and DIY venue. Through this multi-purpose space, Saxton offers affordable recording opportunities to local musicians, often working with bands and performers who have never made a record before. The studio sits inside of a larger room, where Saxton hosts local acts and touring bands for a low ticket price. -- Davies

Under Aaron Saye's continued leadership, Seventh Circle Music Collective has been the place to see unknown and talented bands that can't or won't play most other venues. The venue's all-ages policy has also made it a welcome space for young musicians and their friends to come together for shows. This is an essential component of a developing musical community, and Saye's contributions have helped keep Denver's underground music world vibrant. -- Murphy

LuLu Simone is the creative mastermind behind Souls In Action, an alternative booking company that represents sixteen artists and promotes concerts all over Denver. This year, the organization was involved with Red Bull Sound Select as well as Sonic Bloom, and two of its artists played at Red Rocks. Sould is Action also partners with a new non-profit each month to help raise funds and supply volunteers. -- Willson

Love or hate Colorado Music Buzz, it has proven both resilient and nearly comprehensive when it comes to local music, and that's saying quite a bit. From record reviews to features, every month for the last several years, Colorado Music Buzz has attempted to cover a broad range of music, mostly local, from all along the front range. As its most prolific writer, Tim Wenger has expertly illuminated the work of more artists than nearly any other music writer in town. --Murphy

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