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Best Psychic Healing With Musical Instruments
The Buzz Band

Michael Stanwood, who's been making music around town for as long as we can remember, got the idea for the Buzz Band after he went on a world tour to share American music with other cultures. Stanwood ended up more enthralled with their music, and especially with the underlying physical and emotional impact of the music--something he calls the "buzz." Upon returning to the States with a menagerie of unusual instruments, he formed the Buzz Band, an informal ensemble dedicated to searching out that global, spiritual hum. Indeed, the mysterious drone of the didjeridoos, mouth harps and other twangy contraptions does put a primeval kind of spell on an audience. As Stanwood says, "People go out glowing but don't understand why."

Best Proof That Classical Music Doesn't Have to Be Boring
Marin Alsop
It's no secret that the late Leonard Bernstein was an early mentor of Marin Alsop's, or that the great one's progressive ideas have rubbed off on the talented Colorado Symphony Orchestra conductor. One of the nicest things Alsop does for us--perhaps on cue from Bernstein, whose Young People's Concerts are remembered by even the most boneheaded classical-music haters--is the way she takes time out, during a concert, to explain or add color to a composition. Even Beethoven would lend an ear.

Best Classical Music Series
St. John's Episcopal Cathedral
1313 Clarkson St.

Musical director Donald Pearson shapes his multifaceted Capitol Hill series at St. John's with integrity, being careful to uphold a sense of tradition while remaining open and adventurous at the same time. His programs blend sounds appropriate for a cathedral setting, from startling organ music that fills every corner and rises to the rafters to choral performances by renowned visiting groups like the Tallis Scholars. And even if the shows do sometimes go on a little too long, there's usually a postconcert punch-and-cookies reception to look forward to, where you can mingle with the musicians. Go. Maybe you'll learn something.

Best Concert
Pavement, with the Apples
September 23, 1994
Ogden Theatre

Anyone who goes to see Pavement live risks a better-than-even-money chance of coming away disappointed--the band has a reputation for being either very, very on or very, very off. So it was a thrill to see the reigning kings of slack rock on one of the former nights. Stephen Malkmus and his brethren justified every bit of hype and then some, delivering numbers that mingled shaggy spontaneity with the kind of authority that results from months on the road. As an added bonus, Denver's Apples demonstrated why they're the city's best pop group. A show that was perfect to the core.

Readers' choice: The Eagles

Best Club DJ
Julian Bradley
Julian Bradley has plenty on his platter. Along with Jim Stout, he's part of Nebula 9, a strong dance-music act threatening to go national. He was one of the primary forces behind the formation of the local rave scene and is involved in attempts to revitalize it this summer. And for the past three years, Stout's been the man in the spotlight Wednesdays at Boulder's Marquee Club. His regular "Club Sunshine" feature has become known among aficionados for its terrific music; he's almost always the first to bring you hot new sounds--and to reject popular beats that don't come up to snuff. He will make you sweat.

Readers' choice: John Chamie

Best Music Convention
Gavin AAA Summit
KBCO-FM/97.3 is seen as the creator of the Adult Album Alternative format that proliferates across the country--so it only makes sense that Boulder has become the place where AAA radio types get together each year. This year's convention, sponsored in August by Gavin, an influential San Francisco trade magazine, was mostly a members-only affair, but there were benefits for the average Joe--namely a series of shows at the Fox Theatre featuring Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Freedy Johnston and other artists whose careers have been boosted by the KBCOs of the world.

Best Music Festival
Cellular One LoDo Music Festival
In its second year, the LoDo festival, held in late July outside Denver's Union Station, came into its own. The price was right, the food was plentiful and the music was wonderfully universal--from Booker T. and the MGs and Marcia Ball to WAR and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. It's a great way to enjoy summer in the city.

Best Summer Concert Series
ListenUptown concerts
Denver Performing Arts Complex

Promoter Jim Sprinkle's noble music series at the Denver Botanic Gardens had the makings of a winner--specifically, diverse guests presented in intimate outdoor surroundings. But after neighbors made a fuss about the noise, the series nearly perished. The good news is that we still can sample Sprinkle's exemplary global fare in the urban midst of the downtown Plex, where groups can make as much noise as they like in the facility's open-air common--and ListenUp helps them do it. Bluesman Otis Rush, Latin-jazz master Tito Puente, Senegalese singer Vieux Diop, Haiti's Boukman Eksperyans and crowd favorites Bela Fleck & the Flecktones are just a few of the artists scheduled to perform this summer.

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