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Rock, Paper, Show



Consider the gig poster, folks. You see them pretty much everywhere. Often rectangular in shape, flat, almost always printed on the cheapest paper stock available and pasted all over areas where decidedly “cool” people matriculate.

They’re crumpled, torn at the corners and advertise the endless hopes and dreams of stardom and fame for a vast array of local and touring musicians, artists, comedians and any other form of entertainment they’ll allow into your local bars. Before the advent of the Internet, they were the cheapest and easiest form of getting an event noticed.

The informational form of art known as the poster (and yes, they are art) isn’t by any means a new one (historians have dated the modern poster we all know now back to the mid 19th century), nor is it perfect, but there is something truly beautiful about the convergence of artistry and information. To somehow convey both the style of poster artist and tone of the performer within the confines of a sheet of paper, whilst also telling you what you need to know and why it matters.

In this moment, I can almost feel the daggered stares from the highbrow art community. Concert posters as a legitimate art form?! What next? movie ticket stubs? Theater programs?  It may not be considered a “high” art, but it is a post modern art form unto itself. One that is just now getting its’ due, with poster art galleries popping up in New York, Toronto and London.

Upon chance (and a Google event search when I should’ve been working) I was beyond elated to find out that there was an exhibit set to highlight the rock concert poster in all its glory.

The gallery in question is located at the Byers-Evans house, a historic Denver residence now restored and converted into gallery and museum space. Until May 10, it will also be home to The Family Dog Denver: Rock Posters and Music in Denver 1967-68.  Curator for the event Dr. Scott Montgomery had the arduous task of putting together the exhibit in only two months time.

“I don’t know necessarily if it was a task given to me or a task I have given myself,” he said. “But (the work) was rather easy, as the pieces were time specific. Almost self-selected. You could really just put these pieces up with thumb tacks. It visually sells itself, because they’re so striking and colorful. But to contextualize and frame the era was much more difficult.”

Montgomery doesn’t believe that an exhibit should be something he’s ultra fond of all the time. Art doesn’t have to be beautiful to be art.

“It should be about an argument. A point being articulated,” Montgomery said. “Being asked to do  this was an opportunity and a responsibility to dig into an uninvestigated area of Denver’s’ early counterculture. Really, this exhibit focuses on where hip Denver started.”

But no man is an island.

“Really, this show would have been impossible without the help of Mike Storeim,” he said.

Storeim, who is owner and operator of, aided in the process as one of the largest private collectors and sellers of vintage poster art. Graciously offering up part of his collection for display for the event was a blessing, but there were a few extremely rare pieces that even Mike did not have.

Included in the exhibit is a long out of print and never before shown Bob Fried poster announcing the arrival of Stax Records legend and soul icon Otis Redding on December 22 and 23, 1967, sadly cancelled due to the singers death on December 10.

“There were a few printed up,” Montgomery said. “but I did not know where to begin to find one. But Mike, knowing everything and everyone, said that he may know a guy that has maybe the last two (known in existence). Mike made a last minute phone call or two, and it was overnight shipped to make it in time for the show.”

“There has always been an unfortunate bias against poster and graphical art. It’s easily reproducible, largely tied to advertising. And the highbrow art world has branded itself as almost a purer breed, above advertising.”

The exhibit itself revolves around Chet Helms and Family Dog, a San Francisco Bay Area promotions company comprised of players in the areas’ then burgeoning hippie counterculture movement.

Helms in particular has been heralded by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a towering figure in the 1960s Bay Area music scene.” Known by his free spirited and folksy image, Helms and the commune Family Dog at first booked and promoted concerts and “happenings” at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

It was not uncommon at these happenings to see any number of psychedelic rock bands converging with other forms of experimental arts in a non linear, audience participatory friendly environment, all brought together with a free form light show improvised by the Diogenes Lantern Works, a troupe of light artists that reflected the aesthetic of 60’s counterculture through interactive light shows.

Later on in the sixties, the group focused their collective energy to try and “turn on” Denver. To do so, they commissioned a series of posters from visionary and groundbreaking Bay Area artists Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Dennis Nolan and others to promote a series of concerts held in and around the Denver area.

When asked about the artists featured in the exhibit, Montgomery relayed his elation that these artists, some now deceased, while others being well into their seventies and eighties, are now being recognized as important.

“There has always been an unfortunate bias against poster and graphical art. It’s easily reproducible, largely tied to advertising. And the highbrow art world has branded itself as almost a purer breed, above advertising,” he said.

“But seeing them (the poster artists) in a museum, or in a serious gallery context feels really good. They’ve always known that they were artists, but the art world has never really embraced them. They’ve been on peoples’ walls for decades and all over the world, but never in museums. Which is where they belong.”

Montgomery also sees the exhibit as a chance to showcase a unique aspect of the cultural shift in the history of not only Colorado music, but the tumultuous era that was the 1960s.

“I don’t think we should put on rose colored glasses or blinders. We are still grappling with so many of the same social issues today. The Vietnam War was a momentous shift in the American psyche. Also, in the 80s it also became  popular to disparage idealism, the pie-in-the-sky hippie ideology. Which has led to a very dark and cynical place. But however how naive it is, I would rather be naive about something positive than something negative.”

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet




Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.

Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.

Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.

Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days



There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter



WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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