Tag Archives: music

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Lion’s Lair Art Shows: East Colfax finds Jesus, and he’s hangin’ at the Lair!

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Velvet Jesus - not the only interpretation you'll find of him on Colfax. (Photo: DenverThread)

Velvet Jesus - not the only interpretation you'll find of him on Colfax. (Photo: DenverThread)

Matthew Hunter is keeping his artful promises, and this time the results approach the sacred – and may come close to a little of the profane as well. Hunter promised himself recently that he would hold a cooperative art show in the Lion’s Lair, Denver’s  venerated punk rock dive, every other month into perpetuity, or for as long as he (and the community) could stand it – whichever comes first. In late October, Hunter curated a show at the Lair entitled “Night of the Living Barn,” wherein he encouraged a few artist friends of his to submit their interpretations of barn drawings. Participation was impressive, and there were over 20 pieces hung on the walls of the legendary dive bar, where they remained for more than a month. Hunter also arranged a rock show on opening night that featured two Denver roots rock bands, SlakJaw and The Denver City Salt Licks, and served corn on the cob appetizers. Drink specials, or – gasp – open bar? Nope – this was still the Lion’s Lair, not some Cherry Creek Gallery! The art proved it, too – the place was lined with pieces from many skills, some naive, some more accomplished – but all had an air of simplicity and grace.

This time around, for the second show, Hunter decided to curate a show on an appropriate theme for the Holidays: “Jesus Christ Superstar” (the original flyers called the show “Jesus F%&#in’ Christ Superstar,” which was just a tad more fitting for the bar’s nature and history). This time he got a few more contributors, many of them strangers, which is a great sign for future shows. Artists with pieces in this show included Pete Fly, Heba Junkin, Matthew Hunter, Chuck Cuthill, Annie May & Andy, and Brandy Darling (from 43rd Street Zoo Presents, and who also helped with this show). On opening night, backed by the tunes of local bands Dario Rosa and Bluebelle, the show sported over 20 medium to large sized pieces, as well as over 350 paper crosses – torn from bible pages – hung on the walls, and attracted a full house of supporters and fans.

Hell 101, by Matthew Hunter

Hell 101, by Matthew Hunter

Of course, a theme like that also promises controversy, and Hunter, and the Lair, did receive a fair share of complaints as to the show’s subject matter and timing. Specifically, there were complaints about crosses he had made from standard wood splints that he passed out to people attending the opening party. The price for owning one? Each person or group had to be willing to decorate the crosses as they wished, and leave them to hang in the bar. A few, not surprisingly, chose to decorate and hang their crosses upside down, which caused a few concerns, though the history of that particular position is largely misunderstood (those familiar with apocryphal church lore remembers, no doubt, that when St. Peter was crucified, he had his executioners hang him upside-down, believing he was unworthy to be hung in the same direction as Christ).

Colored Cross #3

Colored Cross #3

Colored Cross #2

Colored Cross #2

The show is anchored by an installation piece Hunter created himself of the life-sized crucifixion of a plaster-cast, androgynous figure, backed by hundreds of bible pages splayed as if exploding and spattered with red liquid. All the body parts are stitched somewhat crudely with red ribbon, which gives them the look of post-op stitching, soaked with blood. Off of each arm hang lengths of twine, giving the scene a decidedly Western and glam feel, somewhere between rigging holding together prairie fences and frill hanging from the sleeves of a leather coat Ozzie Osbourne might’ve worn in the early days of Black Sabbath.

“Each body part was cast from a different person, a different friend of mine,” explained Hunter as he introduced the piece to me. “I really wanted to make the figure, maybe of Jesus, androgynous. Not scary, just kinda ambiguous.”

Hunter’s main piece – all of the pieces in this small show, in fact – actually hover more towards sacred than profane, sacrilegious or even controversial, really, and none should be seen as offensive in the slightest. They are all deeply personal, political or sardonic interpretations of one of history’s most popular figures, and none of them are shallow enough to be merely provocative.

Matthew Hunter poses in front of his central installation. (Photo: DenverThread)

Matthew Hunter poses in front of his central installation. (Photo: DenverThread)

“I really wanted to make the figure, maybe of Jesus, androgynous. Not scary, just kinda ambiguous.”
– Matthew Hunter

The show will remain on display through most of February, after which Hunter and Lion’s Lair will begin preparations for the next show in March. That one, tentatively scheduled to open on the first Friday of the month, will be based on the novel “Watership Down.” Hunter is still taking submissions.

“All they need to do is be able to hang, and be here on time. The artists can sell any of it, and keep every cent.” said Hunter. “It takes us about a week to prepare and hang all the art, so maybe by the last weekend in February would be good. And you also have to be comfortable knowing some punk rocker might end up tearin’ it off the wall, possibly, too.”

Head out to Lion’s Lair soon to catch the “Jesus F$#@in’ Christ Superstar” show to get a taste of this long term project, though, before it all comes down. The way the shows are growing, even after only two, feels strong. You’ll want to be among those who can say you “ . . . saw ‘em when they were tiny!” Don’t you?

Watch this slideshow to get a deeper taste of the talent:

Colored Cross #3

Colored Cross #3

Colored Cross #3

Colored Cross #3

Matt Hunter and his installation

Matthew Hunter poses in front of his central installation. (Photo: DenverThread)

Colored Cross #2

Colored Cross #2

Hell 101

Hell 101, by Matthew Hunter

Velvet Jesus

Velvet Jesus - not the only interpretation you'll find of him on Colfax. (Photo: DenverThread)


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New Release: Local Shakedown, Vol. 3 – Radio 1190’s brilliant snapshot of the Denver scene

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Come join Radio 1190's Local Shakedown radio show THIS WEEKEND at one of three CD release parties!

Come join Radio 1190's Local Shakedown radio show THIS WEEKEND at one of three CD release parties!

If you’re familiar with Radio 1190 (KVCU Boulder, The University of Colorado at Boulder’s independent station) in general, or the Local Shakedown, their weekly Friday afternoon show dedicated to the local scene in particular, you already have a pretty good idea of the significance of this release. “Local Shakedown, Vol 3,” is the third installment of the radio station’s compilation of the best of the local best, and this year’s promises to be the best so far.

Volumes 1 and 2, released in 2000 and 2004 (respectively) by Smooch Records, have maintained a reputation through the decade as amongst the most legitimate archives of the Front Range music scene at the time, showcasing bands that show promise, or are on their way up and out. Volume 1 featured 45 bands and performers from all around Denver, Boulder and surrounding suburbs, some world-renowned (Dead Kennedy’s ex-frontman Jello Biafra and Blood Axis, for instance) or already longtime scene stalwarts (Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Jux County, Maraca 5-0). Many have gone on to become major national indie bands (Apples In Stereo, Devotchka, Dressy Bessy), and many have since splintered or disintegrated (Space Team Electra, Czars). Thanks to the Local Shakedown compilation, however, there will always be a record of where they were when.

Volume 2 is surprisingly similar in content to Volume 1 (it includes 12 of the artists from the lineup of Volume 1) but is nevertheless a stunning record of bands that made a difference in and around Denver towards the middle of the decade. After 4 years, the scene had grown, but how significantly?

And now, with Volume 3, it’s obvious that the scene has made a major shift. By comparison, this volume contains almost an entirely new band selection over its 41 tracks. If you’ve been following the scene, however,  you’re already aware that many of the players are old scene stalwarts and gadabouts.

Kal Kahoone, for instance, solo on this collection, used to sing for Tarentella, veterans of Vol. 2, and Moonspeed contains members from both Monofog and Bright Channel (and others), also veterans of – you guessed it – Volume 2. New bands, but many of the same faces, and some similar sounds, too!

Volume 3, besides being (of course) the most up to date record of the current scene, comes from it’s best and most staunch supporter, Radio 1190’s Local Shakedown – on the air every Friday afternoon from 4 – 6 PM (webcast at radio1190.org), and from Smooch Records. The whole collection was mastered by Denver’s local recording and producing genius, Bob Ferbrache – of Absinthe Studios, to boot!

And – to get your hands on some copies (only $11.90!!), and celebrate its release, join Radio 1190 and the hipster elite at one (or more) of these three Release Parties this weekend, all with live local bands:

Friday, Oct. 16th
Twist and Shout
2508 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
6:00 PM – The Kissing Party

Saturday, Oct. 17th
Bart’s CD Cellar
1015 Pearl St., Boulder
2:00 PM – Thee Goochi Boiz, otem rellik, Aënka

Sunday, Oct. 18th
Wax Trax
638 E. 13th Ave., Denver
2:00 PM – Bad Weather California, Magic Cyclops, The Fire Drills, The GetDown!


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For the Holidays: Los Straitjackets – new holiday album, ¡Viva Christmas! tour, with El Vez, in the works

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Photo: Jim Graham/Yep Roc

Photo: Jim Graham/Yep Roc

What better time than late summer, when the waves are making swells after the hurricane season, and there’s no one but locals willing to brave the onset of the autumn chill to ride them, to start thinking about what to get your wave riding buddies for the holidays this year? Especially those who have as deep a love for surf twang, and a hankerin’ for Mexico, all year ’round! And America’s favorite surfing luchadores, Los Straitjackets, are mere weeks away from releasing a brand new Christmas album, a follow up to their extremely popular “‘Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets,” released in 2002.

2002's "'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets"

2002's "'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets"

“Yuletide Beat,” from Yep Roc Records, is slated for a November limited vinyl and CD release and download, will feature 10 rockin’ new arrangements of traditional carols, to help give the season more swing and surf than ever before. Here’s an excerpt from the band’s release:

“The band has created 10 all new rock & roll arrangements of traditional Holiday carols,  that’ll have you rockin’ through December, and closing out 2009 with a romantic slowdance to “‘Sould’D Lang Syne.” The band rides a desert surf wave on “We Three Kings,” takes “Joy to the World” to Memphis, and takes “Jingle Bells” on a Bakersfield Sleigh Ride. Not to mention entering uncharted territory with a classic rock rendition of “Jolly Old Saint Nick” (retitled Groovy Old Saint Nick for 1971 ambience).  This limited edition, numbered pressing of 1000 CDs & 1000 Vinyl comes in a lovingly printed and letterpressed package by DC area poster artist El Jefe, and will also be available for download via all major download sites.”

El Vez, onstage with Santa & Frosty

El Vez, onstage with Santa & Frosty

On top of that, the legendary surf-luchadores are teaming up with El Vez for a Fall/Winter ¡Viva Christmas! tour of both coasts, with a short jaunt in the midwest. Sadly, there are no Denver dates scheduled just yet, but let’s hope they’ll make a stop our landlocked surf mecca before it’s all over – stay tuned!

Pre-Sale information to come!


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