Thursday, February 27, 2014

Colfax, 1980

Sid King's Crazy Horse on Colfax Avenue, 1980! (Photo by John Sunderland for the Denver Post)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Looking for the next Miss Colfax

MISS COLFAX IS BACK!! Since 2007, has presented a monthly pin-up girl series named affectionately "Miss Colfax". Think you have what it takes to be the next Miss Colfax? E-mail us at info(at)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wild, Wild West Colfax

     With suburban sprawl in every direction, it’s easy to forget that Jefferson County was a wild western frontier not all that long ago. Local author Carol Turner went looking for historical true-crime stories from the area for her book, Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder and Mayhem, and found more than she bargained for, from a man castrating his brother over an alleged affair to a grisly shoot-em-up involving a half-nude female body at the seedy corner of Simms Street and Colfax Avenue.

     “These were sensational, scandalous stories in their time, and they’re part of the fabric of our local history,” says Turner, who combed through the Colorado Historical Newspaper Database looking for the same kinds of thrilling stories she was seeing on some of her favorite TV shows, then went into investigator mode. “I’ve always had a sort of perverse interest in detective stories, cold case files and the darker side of history. It’s an interesting way to learn history: These are real people who had real problems and faced real violence, and a lot of wild characters emerge, both bad guys and good.”
     Stories from the book include:
The Case of the Lovelorn Prodigy (1919)
Hellion in the High Country (1899 and 1915)
How Deadman Gulch Got its Name (1872)
The Orchitic Strangulator (1893)
Love Triangle at Sherie's Ranch (1923)
The Mystery of the Winter Camper (1921)
Murder on Table Mountain (1910)
Mr. Bellew Runs Amuck (1912)
A Most Tragic Corner of the County (1866-1914)
A Muddled Case of Frontier Justice (1868)
The McQueary-Shaffer Feud (1907)
Murder of the Judge's Son (1916)
The Headless Skeleton (1924)
A Divorce Most Foul (1883)
A Clash over Cucumbers (1881)
The Missing Wagonmaster (1879)
The Peculiar Case of Mary Cobb (1910)
A Horse with Only One Shoe (1884)

Buy the book at today!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Colfax Speed Queen

     There are no secrets in rock n' roll, so Colfax Speed Queen leaves it all out on the table. Their sweat, blood, and beer soaked instruments howl at the moon like a beast free of its sullen chains! Colfax Speed Queen roars on with keyboards singing all the hooks, and basses keeping the rhythm flowing better than spike in the punch. The drums burst off the stage in fits of ecstasy, while the guitar grunts with a vigor only known by warriors of medieval times. The singers eyes will often roll back into his head, reminding us not to think too hard, stress takes years off your life.

"good ol' fashioned garage rock 'n' roll with impeccable authenticity. " - Concerted Effort 

Maybe the name Colfax Speed Queen refers to a weird alcohol- or ... and demented vocal flavor you'll experience when you see the band live. Join them on Facebook.

Colfax Speed Queen
R. Halgren - Keys
M. Loui - Guitar, Vocals
R. McKinny - Drums
G. Tafoya - Bass

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Colfax History: Alta Court

Alta Court in 1984 - Photo by Tom Noel, Denver Public Library
     This is a view of the Alta Court (formerly the Altamaha Apartment Building - 1902; George Boettcher) at 1490 Lafayette Street (1300-1326 East Colfax Avenue) in the Cheesman Park neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. This three-story brick Italian Renaissance Revival has a flat roof and three bay facade. The center bay is recessed and has an arcade on the first floor and a balcony on the second floor. The third story has an open balcony with balustrade. A plaque on the top of the bay reads: "Alta." The two outer bays are projecting. Other features include quoins, a rusticated stone foundation, balconies, and different window treatments on each floor. A sign on the second floor reads: "What is in the Alta? 832-7294" "Cafe Alta" "Riddle Development Co." "Williams Design" "Davis & Brandeberry Assoc." "Kinetics Fitness Studio" "Slick Hair Salon" "PSL Foundation" "The Rose Ladies" "The Beach."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Root 40 Music Fest Seeks Volunteers

Interested in volunteering with Root 40 Music Fest this year? Please join the ALL VOLUNTEER meeting on Tuesday, Feb 25th @ 4pm at 1490 Lafayette St, Denver 80218 - Suite 108. Kickin' this baby into high gear!! Amazing pieces already in garden at outdoor stage..negotiations with decent drawing acts. A hundred bands signed up to play. We are pumped! Help make this MusicFest ROCK!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Robin Thicke coming to The Fillmore Auditorium

Robin Thicke 

Announces 2014 North American Tour Dates
With Special Guests Jessie J & DJ Cassidy 

New Single “Give It 2 U” ft. Kendrick Lamar – Available Now!
Live Nation is pleased to present ROBIN THICKE at The Fillmore Auditorium on Sunday, March 23.  Special guests JESSIE J and DJ CASSIDY will open the show.   Show time is 7:30 PM.  Doors open at 6:30 PM                                 

Following the release of his bestselling new album, Blurred Lines, recording artist Robin Thicke has announced details of his highly anticipated Spring 2014 North American tour. The artist will be joined by special guests Jessie J and DJ Cassidy on all dates making this the hottest concert package of the spring. The tour will make 15 exclusive stops across North America and will kick off on February 21st in Atlanta, Georgia at the Fox Theatre, continuing through the spring (please see full tour routing below). Robin is teaming up with Tickets-for-Charity to offer fans some of the best seats in the house to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). These special tickets will be available exclusively at 

This past summer marked the debut of Robin Thicke’s highly anticipated sixth studio album, Blurred Lines (Star Trak/Interscope Records). The collection debuted at #1 on Billboard Top 200 while, “Blurred Lines,” the single, continued its 12-week reign on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making Robin the first artist to take the top spot on both lists since December 2012 and only the 17th act to earn the distinction in the past ten years. “Blurred Lines” scored the highest audience ever recorded and broke records by climbing to #1 on 5 radio charts simultaneously (Top 40, Rhythm, Urban, Hot AC & Urban AC) – the first time this has ever been done by an artist. New York Magazine called the album,A great record. Period,” while Rolling Stone said, “Robin Thicke sings, writes, produces, plays keyboard and even raps a little on his excellent sixth album.” The second single off of the album, “Give It 2 U” ft. Kendrick Lamar, is available now.

Robin Thicke has established himself as one of the most respected singer-songwriters in soul and R&B music today. The musician, composer, and actor, released his critically acclaimed debut album, A Beautiful World, in 2003 under the name “Thicke.” Soon after, he came out with his breakthrough second release, 2006’s The Evolution Of Robin Thicke. Now on the way to double platinum status, Evolution’s mega hit “Lost Without U” became the #1 most played song in Urban Adult Contemporary BDS and topped four Billboard charts simultaneously. The award-winning multiplatinum superstar returned to center stage in 2008 with Something Else, a joyful and modern tribute to the ‘70s soul and pop records that have inspired an extraordinary career. Revered by critics as one of the best soul albums in years, this ‘70s-inspired album dealt with racism, poverty, and love in the hits “Dreamworld,” “Magic,” and “The Sweetest Love.” In December of 2009 Robin released Sex Therapy. The title song was hailed by critics as “the sexiest song of the year.” Robin’s fifth studio album, Love After War was released in December of 2011.

For more information, please go to                         

at the Fillmore Auditorium Box Office, online at or call 800 – 745 - 3000 

Tickets are $49.50 GA ADV and $55.00 GA DOS plus applicable service charges.

The Fillmore box office is open Monday - Friday from 12:00 Noon - 6:00pm & Saturdays from 10:00am - 2:00pm.  On days of Fillmore shows, the box office is open from 12:00 Noon – 9:00pm. 

The box office accepts cash, MasterCard, Visa and American Express – No checks!  Service charges may apply. 

 Ages 16+

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Weeping Woman of Colfax, New Mexico

Colfax, New Mexico, was once a thriving Old West town — that is, until 1890, when a ghost returned to haunt the local church. Always sitting in the back row and sobbing uncontrollably, reports say her spirit — that of a grieving mother who died shortly after her young son -- was seen so frequently people started moving out of Colfax. Eventually, the place became a real ghost town. (Source)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Natural Grocers Grand Opening Celebration!


We can't wait to show you around our newest Denver store! If you've shopped with us at our other Denver stores, you will love the new Natural Grocers look -- complete with community room (with free WiFi, coffee and tea), and our demonstration kitchen (with free cooking classes)!

Join the fun at our Grand Opening on Tuesday, Feb 18 and try some free samples. We'll also be doing prize drawings throughout the day. Can't make it on opening day? Join us Saturday, February 22 for a sample fair. We'll have many vendors here introducing you to their products and handing out samples.

Be sure to enter the grand prize drawings, too!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Need Songwriting Help? Try CCM Studios!

Creating a memorable song is rarely as easy as just humming a pretty melody and writing down some lyrics. And just like writers of prose or non-fiction, even the most successful songwriters hit creative walls.

So where do you turn when you can’t seem to remember how to write a song? What if you just have lyrics and need some music or vice versa? What do you do if you’ve got an explosive first verse but can’t come up with a chorus? What if you have the song in your head but just can’t get it out?

Denver's CCM Recording Studios is a landmark full-service recording studio in the heart of Denver, Colorado, right on the world famous Colfax Avenue. Their professional recording studio is committed to providing the highest quality recording and production services at the most affordable price in Denver.

One of the specialties at CCM Studios is songwriting for all types of musical applications. If you’re looking for some help or simply looking to get the ear of a music business veteran, CCM can provide you with the experience and tools to help you bring your musical vision to reality. They have experience in many genres of commercial songwriting. 

As a fully-functional recording studio they strive to achieve the best results for their clients; if that involves simply providing musical suggestions or calling upon their arsenal of talented session musicians, their experienced songwriters would be excited to work with you on your music, regardless of the genre.

NOTE: CCM Recording Studios also hosts the Nashville Songwriters Association monthly meeting on the 2nd Monday of every month at 7 pm. Come and join us.

Bring your song into reality. Give them a call today at (720) 941-6088 or visit

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Velvet Elvis is in the Ed Moore Florist building!

The Velvet Elvis with Lydia Mary (florist and store owner)
Happy Valentine's Day!! For all your special occasions, The Velvet Elvis recommends Ed Moore Florist & Greenhouse, at 6101 East Colfax Avenue in Denver! Jonny Barber, who Westword Magazine said "channels the King perhaps better than anyone else in the world", was seen there today, picking up some long stem roses for his baby...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Church of Cupcakes leaving Colfax

Photo by Jonny Barber
"It's a big day in the history of my life as an entrepreneur and the Church of Cupcakes. Today marks our 6th anniversary in business!

As you all know I rebranded from Lovely Confections to the Church of Cupcakes almost two years ago. Today is the day that I announce ANOTHER big change!

The Church of Cupcakes is moving from our current location! We will be baking out of a commissary kitchen downtown while we look for our next location. I really want to find a space that we can make look like a church from the outside. So we will be the Church of Cupcakes on the inside and outside for all to see.

We will be delighted and grateful to continue fulfill all your special orders for pickup at the commissary kitchen or by delivery. The trike will be making more public appearances at events. We're also planning pop-up events. And classes! This change will give us the space to do baking classes which I am so excited about. So we will be out and about spreading our mission!

Our last day of business at the Colfax and Steele store will be February 15th, so make sure and get your Valentine's Day orders in.

Please sign up for our email list to keep up on what we are up to in the future.

Thank you for all your support, kind words, hugs and friendship over the years."

The Church Lady

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Colfax Street Sign Thief Caught

Last Tuesday night, Denver Police - District 6 Officers Nelson and Kohls arrested 52 year-old Charles Miller for theft. Witnesses advised officers that Miller was dismantling the northwest corner’s St. Paul and Colfax Avenue street sign. Miller successfully removed the Colfax Avenue sign and was stopped by witnesses who remained with him until police arrived.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rocky Mountain Rollergirls Home Team Season Kicks Off

by Phil Wrede

Sunday, February 9th was a triple-header day of derby action at the Fillmore courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls as all four Rocky Mountain home teams took to the track after the Rollerpunks warmed up the crowd.

In Red or Black, Roller Punks Rock!

First up was a 30 minute mini-bout from the RMRG Rollerpunks, the 13-17 junior affiliate of the league. Concerted blocking from both the Red and the Black teams made for some hard-fought jams in the beginning, and jammers were frequently neck-and-neck when they broke out of the pack. Red took a 15-4 lead over Black in the first few minutes.
It wasn’t until about 8 minutes into the bout when we saw our first sustained bursts of offense, with the teams both pushing their scores up to 31-13 (Red-Black). A few minutes later saw a succession of power jams, first for Black (generating 18 points), then Red (15) – all of a sudden, the score leapt to 46-31.
Red was able to stretch their score into the 80s by the bout’s halfway point, and completely stymied the Black jammers a couple of times – notably holding Black’s jammer at a standstill as A Cute M.I. looped around the track for 15 points before calling the jam. As the second half wore on, penalties took their toll on Red’s blockers, depleting their numbers; for a while, it looked like Black was going to be able to chip away at Red’s lead.
The Black team put up a valiant effort, showing some strong defense, but they were never able to match up to Red’s offense. In the final jam, the game clock ran out with time left on the jam clock, and the Red jammer – who was in the lead – got benched for a penalty before calling it off. Black’s jammer Cream Bomb was able to score 25 points before time expired, but Black came up short in the end, as Red won 135-88.

Daisies Bring Doom to Red Ridin’s Hood

The first of the day’s two home team bouts at the Fillmore was a showdown between the Red Ridin’ Hoods and the Dooms Daisies. The bout opened up with the Daisies establishing control, claiming lead on the first 7 jams and pulling out ahead with a score of 27-0. It took over 7 minutes for the Hoods to score their first 4 points; ShredHer Wheats was jamming.
A Daisies power jam immediately thereafter piled up more points, but the Hoods were about to start biting back. A potent defensive stand by the Hoods held the Daisies scoreless for over 5 minutes as jammers She Who Cannot Be Named, Major Lil’ Payne, and Gator Dunn closed the gap to 50-41 with 11 minutes left in the first half.
Then, the Daisies found their offensive rhythm again; Frak Attak broke the scoring drought with about 9:30 remaining. In one particularly heated jam, Daisy jammer Sweet Mary Pain, having determinedly jockeyed for position with her counterpart from the Hoods, Pippi Skullknockings, managed to find a way to cycle Pippi back into the pack and behind Daisy blockers, opening up a 63-43 score gap. The half ended with the score 85 Doom Daisies, 54 Red Ridin’ Hoods.
The second half kicked off with ShredHer the first to claim lead jammer status, and things started looking up for the Hoods from there, as they held the Daisies to only 2 points over the half’s first 5 minutes. They could only score 13 points during that same period, though, and after Cherry Manilow’s jam made the score 97-66, it looked like the two halves of the bout were going to be mirror images of each other.
At least, it looked that way until Pippi Skullknockings came back onto the track. She took lead jammer, and when a penalty put the Daisies’ jammer out of play, Pippi scored 5 grand slams in a row – 25 points – with 16:45 left in the half. The scoreboard read 97-95; the Hoods were within 2 points!
The Hoods took the lead when She Who made the score 101-103, and the lead whipped back and forth between the two teams. Daisies regained the lead 116-103 with a power jam of their own, but the Hoods pulled ahead 119-120. The lead switched 3 more times – Daisies, Hoods, Daisies again, 132-128 – before the last jam.
She Who lined up for the Hoods against Über Alice for the Daisies (both women wound up with their team’s respective MVP Jammer award at the end of the game). She Who took the lead, but got sent to the box due to a track cut penalty, and Alice took full advantage of the final power jam opportunity, scoring 24 points and sealing the bout for the Dooms Daisies 156-128. The Hoods MVP Blocker award went to Major Lil’ Payne, and Rowdy Rothbomb got it for the Daisies.

Monday, February 10, 2014

From Streetcars to Light Rail

West Colfax Trolley in 1949
     West Colfax Avenue was originally connected to central Denver by streetcar–the viaduct came later in the early 1900′s. That is how people traveled to Elitches on Sloan's Lake, for example. The new light rail re-establishes this important connection and the ease of commuting from West Colfax. The image above was taken in 1949 in front of 4500 West Colfax Avenue, the current location for the West Colfax Business Improvement District.
Colfax Trolley on Capitol Hill, early 1900's
     There aren't any trolleys running the length of Colfax Avenue today, but according to old-timers living in the area the original tracks still exist, they were just paved over. One trolley still exists on Colfax, however; the amazing Ghost Trolley sculpture in the Aurora Cultural Arts District, in the median between the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Florence Square.

Trolley sculpture in the Aurora Arts District on Colfax Avenue
Plaque in Civic Center Park
     This plaque was presented to the City of Denver by the Colorado State Historical Society and the American Pioneer Trails Association on June 3, 1951, the day street cars were retired and the city's transit system was converted to rubber-tired vehicles. The street car served the city's transit needs for nearly 80 years starting with the horse car December 17, 1871. The plaque is placed here near the site, at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, of the large cable house which provided power for transit lines during the era when the Welton Street Line was one of the longest street car cable lines in the world (65,600 feet).
     Marker is in Denver, Colorado, on West Colfax Ave near Broadway, in the corner stand of the stone fence around Civic Center Park. Location. 39° 44.398′ N, 104° 59.282′ W.

     Today, more major changes are coming to West Colfax Avenue. Two of the biggest changes will occur from 2011-13: the opening of three new FasTracks West Corridor stations (as shown both individually below and in context with bicycle connections to Auraria, Lodo and downtown) and St. Anthony’s departure and redevelopment of its 19 acre site. The West Colfax Business Improvement District is working hard to ensure that changes will benefit current residents and increase the diversity of businesses and incomes in the neighborhood.

     Maybe someday the trolleys will return to East Colfax...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Preserving the Neon Signs on Colfax

At risk of being dimmed forever, twelve mid-century neon signs on Colfax Avenue have been included on Colorado Preservation Inc.'s 2014 list of endangered places.  Last Thursday, the signs were placed on the annual list with the hope that they — and four other historic sites in Colorado — might be restored.

The organization, which aims to save and restore historic sites around the state, narrowed the first wave of restoration to the Timberline Motel, Carriage Motor Inn, Riviera Motel, Driftwood Motel, R&R Lounge, Royal Palace Motel, Pete's Kitchen, Satire Lounge, Eddie Bohn Pig'N Whistle restaurant and motel, Aristocrat Motor Inn, Scatterday's Lumber Yard, and Big Bunny Motel.

The signs are in various states of disrepair — some with bulbs out, others with broken neon tubes and covered in rust. They were chosen as a reminder of Colfax Avenue's historic role as "Gateway to the Rockies."

Read more on The Denver Post website.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Do It For Johnny

   OSTROW & COMPANY AND THE COLFAX GUITAR SHOP are proud to represent a true story about “In-Deppendent Filmmaking”: Do It For Johnny.

     When four Hollywood hopefuls set off from Colorado in a second-hand RV nicknamed the “Turtle” to get their script (entitled "Narcophonic", based on the real life story of Colfax Guitar Shop owner Scott Baxendale, who hand crafted and designed the Depp custom guitar), encased in the back of a $4,000 custom-built guitar, into the hands of one of the Industry’s biggest stars, Johnny Depp, they didn’t realize that it would be the beginning of a two year, 14,000 mile odyssey through the landscape of the contemporary movie business. This amazing journey is a true example of the innovative spirit and passion of the independent filmmaker. 
     Is Hollywood as impenetrable as notoriously thought? Indie filmmakers, Haylar Garcia, Darcy Grabowski and Scott Baxendale spent two and a half years finding out. In 2004 they completed a bio-script based on the colorful life of Baxendale as a celebrity guitar builder and musician turned vicious criminal. Longing to do the story justice they dreamed of attaching a big star, and even more importantly a star who could actually play guitar. It wasn't long before their sights became transfixed on ex-musician turned actor Johnny Depp, who at the time was just off a career-catapulting role as Captain Jack in the first Pirates film.        
     As they brainstormed ways to get the script to Depp, something dawned on Garcia (Writer/Director). The process of three nobodies from Denver, Colorado trying to get the attention of one of the biggest stars on Earth, and more specifically getting him to read their unknown, unsolicited, and unfunded screenplay would all make for a great documentary. Knowing their pitch would have to be simple and powerful, and wanting to stand out from the masses competing for Johnny's attention, the actual subject of the screenplay (Scott Baxendale) built Depp a custom, one of a kind electric guitar and in the spirit of fusing the two art forms of film and music, Baxendale would construct a special chamber into the back of the instrument, a chamber without words, the guitar and script would say simply to Depp: "Look, this is what the film is about". What followed was a two plus year adventure, which took them almost 14,000 miles around the US in search of their hopeful star. This amazing journey is a true example of the innovative spirit of the indie filmmaker, the urge to follow your dreams no matter the odds, and a document to the state of the contemporary film and entertainment industry.

      In 2002, filmmakers/musicians Haylar Garcia and Scott Baxendale began work on an epic screenplay, which takes place over 30 years in Rock & Roll history, and chronicles the true-life events of Scott Baxendale's life as a well-known "Master Luthier" (guitar-maker). As the team of independent filmmakers began to envision the script's jump to film, they knew first and foremost that not only would they need an incredible actor to achieve the twisting lead of Scott Baxendale, but the film would require something more from it's leading man. It would require someone with an absolute passion for music, someone who could actually play a guitar. Someone who knew firsthand the innate evils and frustrations, as well as the artistic rewards and dreams of the Rock & Roll lifestyle. After researching all that they could about countless musically inclined actors, the name "Johnny Depp" could not be denied. But was this choice even a choice at all? Could these two filmmakers and their small indie production team find a way to get the attention of one of the busiest, most sought after and most elusive thespians in the world? They needed a plan... 
     As the fourth draft of the script became finalized in late 2004, Garcia and Baxendale hatched just such a plan. What better way, they thought, to show Mr. Depp the importance and vision of this film than to have him look into the fine mirrored finish of Baxendale's workmanship itself. Maybe Depp would look at it and say, "I want to be the man who made this guitar." So the blueprints were drawn up and wood shavings began to fly as Scott Baxendale began work on a masterpiece. 
     Over the course of the next few months, Baxendale would build a custom design, solid-body electric guitar for Johnny Depp. And to top it off, in the rear of the instrument would be a special chamber, meant to house and display the film script they so desperately wanted Johnny Depp to read. The filmmakers hoped that this original and unlikely method of approach and delivery might be enough to get Mr. Depp to consider them. But then arose another problem. Nowadays, a Baxendale guitar sells for anywhere from three to six thousand dollars, and having this masterpiece instrument valued easily at four grand or above, the problem became the preservation and protection of the guitar. After all, how would they get it to him? Pop it in the mail to an address in the French countryside and hope for the best? Send it to his agent or manager and pray it didn't get filed with the mounds of fan mail streaming in every week? Of course not. And so began the hunt. With the help of their indie production team and Johnny Depp fans around the world, Writer/Director Haylar Garcia and Master Luthier Scott Baxendale would set out on a quest to hand deliver this guitar and script to Mr. Depp himself. After all, how hard could it be to track down one man and hand him a guitar case? Then they asked themselves, "Why not film the process, the search, and the outcome as well?" Thus was born the documentary... 
     The filmmakers wish to thank everyone along the way who helped them out, believed in their dream and a shout out to all the amazing people they’ve met along the way!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bax on the 'Fax

Master luthier Scott Baxendale (once long-time owner of the Colfax Guitar Shop and now has his own shop and lutherie academy in Athens, Georgia) has repaired or restored guitars for a ton of legendary players over the last four decades, including Billy Gibbons, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., Steve Howe and Elvis Costello. Now he can add Elvis Presley to the list, as Baxendale was recently commissioned to restore and maintain the King's Graceland guitar collection. Here are some highlights from his days on Colfax Avenue, as told by the man himself!!

 BAX on the 'FAX
By Scott Baxendale
If you are smart you will look at Colfax like music: "If you don't C sharp you'll B flat". That is a quote from the great Charlie Louvin as he came into the Colfax Guitar Shop. This brings me to my pet peeve: DON'T USE THE TURN LANE as a place to stand while waiting for traffic to pass by. You are stupid to think assholes on cell phones at happy hour, in the bright sun will see you. In my decade on Colfax I have seen people hit and cars sideswiped over and over. Please use the cross walks or at least wait until you can cross all the way at once. Don't believe that you are somehow safe standing in the turn lane.

Have you noticed the red meters conspicuously place at the bars on E. Colfax? Under close inspection you will see that these aren't really parking meters, but are meters to collect money for the homeless. "Denver's Road Home" is the latest campaign by the city to make it easier for you and me to give away our hard earned "spare" change. Are the Homeless are now too lazy to collect their own change and have enlisted Denver's help so they don't have to stand in one spot for too long? Or has the City seen what a windfall these homeless people are getting and have decided to get their own piece of Colfax's lucrative panhandling business.

     Perhaps, some homeless entrepreneur has decided that having these devices all over town will make his job easier so he can collect change in several places at once and run the competition out of the area. What clever Homeless guy figured out that if the City can get you every time you park then why can't he get you every time you sit down to eat? First, the Denver Boot, then the Denver Homeless Meter...what could be next, vending machines for air? 

I woke up early last Sunday to get a prime seat on my Colfax Stoop to watch all the marathon runners run by. I waited and waited, thinking that I had the wrong day, I finally looked it up on the internet only to discover that for some reason, said to be based on comments from last years runners, the race completely bypassed the "Bluebird District" (Denver’s newest, hottest, coolest area?).

I discovered a map showing the race beginning and ending at City Park, with some runners running to Aurora and back and others running to Lakewood and back. WHAT THE HECK!!! I thought this was the "COLFAX MARATHON”? This, I thought, was supposed to be a premier running event where runners run from one end of Colfax to the other. The whole idea of Colfax being the longest straight street was the big attraction and whole point of this event in the first place. What makes more sense than a competition to see who can run from one end to the other? This was poised to become an event that could approach the stature of the Boston Marathon and other world class events.

The rumor is that some runners complained that the last couple of miles were uphill? Do the whiners call the shots? Those hills were in Golden not Colfax and Detroit. Do you really think that running in a circle should be called the COLFAX MARATHON? I mean tri-athletes run a full marathon after swimming and biking for several hours first, and I have never heard one of them complain about a few hills. I never heard Lance Armstrong complain that racing his bike up mountains making the Tour De France too hard.

I really don’t think it is much of a coincidence that this event was changed this year to start and end at City Park at the same time that Pretentious Towers is over running the park and neighborhood. This is about putting on a show to all hoity toities who have bought into the Fluorescent Gym atop the hundreds of half mil plus apartments who now think City Park is THEIR front yard!

Until they race from one end of Colfax to the other, the Colfax Marathon should be called the “Pretentious Towers Pansy-thon”.

I know that my last few columns have been on the negative side and as I was thinking about what to write for this month’s installment I began to think of what I like about living and working on Colfax. There is so much that is great about Colfax that it certainly offsets the negative things about this street that has such a rich history. I do believe it is important to know and respect the history of this marathon length avenue. The new breed of developers around here would do themselves a big favor to understand and respect the Fax for its rich history and diverse culture.

First of all I know more of my neighbors on this street than I ever did living in a subdivision or condo. Most of them are very nice and friendly from nearly all ethnic backgrounds. We like socializing with each other too. I like walking to work, never experiencing a traffic jam or rush hour. I still usually spend less than $20 a week on gas. There are small shops that provide nearly all my needs within basically walking distance. There are at least twenty excellent restaurants, an ice cream store, two cup cake shops, Caribbean bakery, coffee shops, Greek bakery, three or four hair salons, movie theaters, book and record stores, guitar shops, recording studios, comic book shop, bicycle shop, auto repair, used cars, computer repair, a nice park, zoo, golf course, museum with Imax, a Russian lady who sells really nice clothes for cheap, several art galleries, great concert venues,…….etc., etc.

I love to sit on my porch and watch the fax go by on a nice evening. I saw the Olympic torch pass within a few feet of my front door. To imagine how the Fax has evolved just since I have lived here has been interesting in both good ways and bad, but there is an old school sense of personal service that still thrives in nearly all the small businesses on this street that is becoming hard to find in other areas. I have seen about everything from hookers to the pope on this avenue, rock stars, politicians, pimps and weenie dogs, actors, comics, beauty queens and kids. I realized recently that I have lived here longer than I have ever lived in one place in my entire life, which says a lot for a wandering soul like me. Never boring…..that’s for sure.

     What is really on my mind is losing one of our neighborhood businesses "Barb's Flowers". Barb Probst closed down her flower shop last month. She had been there for 4 or 5 years and sold flowers to the people of Colfax and around the city. I used to love to go there in the summer because had the best air conditioning in town. This giant unit on the celing kept her shop nice and cool and on a really hot day you could go in there and cool off and hang with Barb and her cohorts. Then on the way out she would charge a dollar for the cooling fee. Ha! She had a great sarcastic sense of humor and we could always make each other chuckle with our comments and stories.

      She loved being on the Fax. It was fitting that at her closing party (which was on Aug 16th, 2008, the 31st anniversary of Elvis's death) that me and The Velvet Elvis performed all the early Elvis rockabilly classics in a tribute to the death of the King and the death of Barb's Flowers. It is sad to walk by every day and see the space empty and I just hope that someone else cool will move in there that has the neighborhood spirit that made Barb's Flowers a great place to visit.

      It is important that as residents of the Fax we need to support each other's businesses on the Fax, I try to do my businesses in the small shops here on Colfax and in the neighborhood. I will always pay a couple of dollars extra to shop at Fairfax Hardware than go to Home Desperate. You can always get someone to help you and they are family owned. I feel that my money means more there and I enjoy the friendly service. Life is good on Colfax.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Abraham Lincoln and Colorado

     Abraham Lincoln never visited Colorado, but Colorado and the other western territories were constantly on Lincoln's mind, notes William Convery, Colorado Historical Society State Historian. Lincoln hand-picked some of Colorado's most notable names-Gilpin, Evans, Colfax, Weld and others-who helped establish and administrate the territory and laid the groundwork for it to become a state in the Union.
     "Colorado was important to Lincoln because the West was important to the Civil War," Convery says. "It was vital that the West remain loyal to the Union and Lincoln firmly believed that Colorado's mineral wealth would save the United States from the debt accrued during the Civil War. As a result, Lincoln personally selected many of the individuals who would later create Colorado."
     Lincoln had a conversation about the Colorado mining regions on April 14, 1865 with former Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax only a few hours before he left for Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where he was assassinated. Colfax was charged with inspecting the transcontinental railroad route that would transport Colorado's gold and silver to the East. Lincoln gave Colfax a personal address to deliver on his behalf to miners in Colorado. Colfax delivered the speech, among Lincoln's last public addresses, to a gathering of miners in Central City six weeks later. In gratitude for his efforts to bring statehood to Colorado, Denver city leaders named Colfax Avenue after the Indiana Congressman in 1868. The Colorado State Capitol Building also sits on the corner of Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street.

     History Colorado hosted the first public appearance of Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America mobile exhibition, back in April-May, 2008 at the Colorado History Museum.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Caffe Sanora

Caffe Sanora, at 1201 E. Colfax Avenue, is a local, independent coffee shop serving Rainforest Alliance Certified and organic coffee. The owner, David Boyan, wants Caffe Sanora to be part of a solution. By only serving coffee with the highest fair trade and ecological standards, he can make sure his business helps the environment and the life it supports.

When you walk into Caffe Sanora you know you are amongst friends. Dave and his team aren’t just trying to sell you coffee, they are there for the community. Sit and enjoy a chat with friends, play a board game, read the paper, do some work, or just surf the ‘Net using the free wi-fi.  You can even order a cold beer or a good glass of wine, a perfect way to start the after-work party.

As you sit and enjoy the experience you can feel good about the impact your coffee consuming is having on the world, and also feel good about the positive impact on your own body. Good health is important at Caffe Sanora, and we only use coffee beans free from additives and rich in antioxidants. That means you get coffee the way Mother Nature intended it to be while keeping free radicals in check, which are both great things.

The next time you want a cup of delicious, healthy, and responsibly produced coffee, check out Caffe Sanora.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Colfax: Day & Night Limited Edition Artist Book

Colfax Day & Night
Limited Edition Artist Book
by Laura Russell
$375 or $150 (see below)
     Colfax Avenue is a special street in the hearts and minds of all Coloradans. Its past is a colorful history of roadside landmarks and infamous travelers. Its present is a different kind of colorful—still vibrant and very much alive. Colfax Day & Night is a photographic journey down Colorado’s infamous Avenue. Nighttime and daytime photographs of fast-disappearing vintage neon signs are presented side-by-side to see how the soul of the street transforms day to night. The book is double spiral bound at left and right edges with the pages split down the middle and includes an original text by the artist.
     The Deluxe Version Spiral-bound book sits inside a hand-bound case with Plexiglas covers that open left and right. Archival digital printing on Mohawk Superfine paper. 10” x 8.5” 19 pages on each side, 34 original color photographs. Presented in a clamshell box. ©2003 Signed and numbered. Edition of 100.
     Soft Cover Version: Spiral-bound interior book without the Plexiglas cover. $150

Colfax Day & Night: Cover Closed
Colfax Day & Night: Interior Spread Open
Colfax Day & Night: Satire Lounge
Colfax Day & Night: Top Star Motel
Colfax Day & Night: Trail's End Motel
Colfax Day & Night: Rocky Mtn. Motel
Colfax Day & Night: Pete's Kitchen
If you would like to purchase any of Laura’s artist books, contact her at:

Phone: 503-927-4409
Mailing Address:
Laura Russell
Simply Books, Ltd.
621 NE 23rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

Saturday, February 1, 2014

JD McPherson Coming to Colfax

     As a visual artist, Broken Arrow, Okla., native JD McPherson is well versed in the process of working within clearly defined formal parameters, and he employs a similarly rigorous discipline with his music. On Signs & Signifiers (Rounder, April 17), McPherson’s seductively kickass debut album, produced by JD’s musical partner, Jimmy Sutton, this renaissance man/hepcat seamlessly meshes the old and the new, the primal and the sophisticated, on a work that will satisfy traditional American rock ’n’ roll and R&B purists while also exhibiting McPherson’s rarefied gift for mixing and matching disparate stylistic shapes and textures.
     “There are little subcultures within the roots scene, where people are really into rockabilly, traditional hillbilly stuff or old-timey music,” JD points out, “but there aren’t a whole lot of folks making hard-core rhythm & blues hearkening back to Specialty, Vee-Jay or labels like that. That’s what Jimmy and I really like, and our only intention going in was just to make a solid rhythm & blues/rock ’n’ roll record. But I didn’t want to make a time-machine record, so we tried to make something relevant but with all the things we love about rock ’n’ roll and rhythm & blues and mesh it all together. We both have eclectic tastes; Jimmy likes the Clash as much as he likes Little Richard, and I like the Pixies, T.Rex, hip-hop and all kinds of stuff. So we came up with a couple of weird songs and put them on the record, hoping that it wouldn’t scare off any of our ultra-selective fanbase.”
     JD needn’t have worried. It’s highly unlikely that even the most discerning listeners would guess that the arrangement on his cover of Tiny Kennedy’s R&B chestnut “Country Boy” incorporates not only the tambourine beat of Ruth Brown’s 1955 Atlantic single “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” but also Raekwon and RZA’s “abstract, out-of-tune piano loops” on Wu-Tang Clan’s innovative ’93 LP Enter the Wu-Tang; or that the mesmerizing churner “Signs & Signifiers” is powered by an unchanging tremolo guitar figure modeled on Johnny Marr’s part on the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now.” Then there’s “Firebug,” which JD “wanted to sound as if Stiff Little Fingers had recorded at Del-Fi Records.” And while it may not have been specifically what McPherson and Sutton were going for, the haunting dreamscape “A Gentle Awakening” seems to chart a course from “Heartbreak Hotel” through Terence Trent D’Arby to Amy Winehouse.
     Never has an album of so-called “retro” music been laced with such a rich payload of postmodern nuance. But that was precisely the intent of what JD describes, only half-facetiously, as “an art project disguised as an R&B record.”
     “It’s weird,” says Sutton, “when you grow up being a fan of ‘older’ music and all of a sudden you’re making a record, you’re thinking, are we just recreating something—a museum piece—or are we actually bringing it forward? It’s interesting, because if you make something today and it moves you today, in that sense it’s contemporary. I like that juxtaposition of classic and fresh, something old yet new that can actually take you somewhere now.”
     Of course, pushing the genre envelope doesn’t work unless the artist has the chops and feel to capture the form in its pure state to begin with. Check out, for example, “Dimes for Nickels,” McPherson’s vital evocation of the very moment when R&B and hillbilly music had a baby and they called it rock ’n’ roll, or the Jackie Wilson-meets-Elvis exuberance of “Scratching Circles,” or the lascivious ecstasy of the Little Richard doppelganger “Scandalous,” (although the “gold-capped tooth” reference in the first line is lifted from the Leiber-Stoller Coasters classic “Love Potion #9”). But for all we know, these tracks, too, may have been secretly embedded with elements from far afield, their stylistic twists hiding in plain sight. This cat is wicked-clever—and man, can he ever deliver this righteous shit.

     McPherson took a circuitous path to get to this point. Broken Arrow butts up against Tulsa, a cultural oasis in the Heartland that has long been not only a musical hotbed but also a bustling center of the contemporary arts. “Tulsa’s got a lot of resources for people who are into weirdo art,” JD points out. And he gravitated toward it. “I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Oklahoma in experimental film,” he says. “I wanted to paint, do installation, make video art, performance stuff, sculpture. I’ll bet I’m the only person to have received graduate credit hours in card magic.” He wound up with an M.F.A. from the University of Tulsa in open media, a discipline designed specifically for his interests and ambitions.
     But all along the way, music was an integral part of McPherson’s life. His dad introduced him to Delta blues and jazz as a kid, and after getting into Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and punk rock during high school, he picked up a Buddy Holly box set. “Something about that scratched an itch,” he says. “Then I started getting into the black side of rock ’n’ roll: Larry Williams, Little Richard, Art Neville’s stuff on Specialty, then soul and Jamaican rocksteady.” While studying visual arts, he also played in bands, doing everything from punk to western swing. JD was still scratching that itch when he recorded some originals with his previous band and took a shot in the dark. Well aware of Sutton’s status as a heavy hitter on the roots scene and the leader of R&B group the Four Charms, he fired off a MySpace friend request and asked if the producer/bassist would listen to his demos.
     “I get sent stuff all the time, and it’s always the same,” says Sutton, “but I checked JD out and there was definitely something there. He wowed me—his voice, his songwriting. So we started talking, and we were always on the same page about the music we dig and where we wanted to take it. He had great ideas but he was still an open book. I was just trying to push him to stay true to himself. So the idea became to create a record that was honest and live.”
     Six months into their budding partnership, JD arrived at Sutton’s newly completed home studio in Chicago—a sort of working shrine to all-tube recording as it was practiced a half-century ago, right down to Jimmy’s collection of vintage mics and his early-’60s Berlant/Concertone quarter-inch tape machine. Also on hand was Sutton’s go-to guy Alex Hall, “a Brian Eno type” according to JD, who multitasks as engineer, drummer and keyboard player.
     “I showed up and I said, ‘I got this song ‘Dimes for Nickels,’ and I want it to be like a Chess Chuck Berry thing, slowed down, with a flat-tire beat,’” JD remembers. “Jimmy and Alex are from Chicago—they know that stuff backwards and forwards—and we nailed it in two takes.” Within a week, they’d banged out a dozen tracks, recording during the day and writing at night with a guitar and a laptop.
     In order to make sure the album got heard by JD’s potential core audience, Sutton threw some chum in the water, pressing up a limited run on his brand-new Hi-Style label and directing it at the roots community. JD and Jimmy, who’s also a visual artist, then applied those skills to the making of a striking video for opening track “North Side Girl,” which has now registered well over 350,000 YouTube views.
     “When the album came out, we immediately got a really strong response from that crowd,” JD recalls. “Then we put that video out, and it went all over the place within a week. Not too long after that, we started getting calls from managers, prospective booking agents, and it turned into this weird journey. By early last year, we were talking to some major labels and the folks at Rounder, who found out about us from the video. What made it the perfect storm was, as all that was happening, I lost my job—I was a middle school art teacher. I loved that job but, sign of the times, they started laying off the art department and I was part of the fallout. So I collected my paycheck through the summer and toured.” After which he signed with Rounder.
Having finally decided on his artistic direction, JD isn’t looking back. “Although I grew up wanting to be a visual artist, I’ll tell you what: the most satisfaction I’ve ever had as an artist is right now,” he says. “Because as much as I love artists like Joseph Beuys, I love David Bowie and Little Richard more. I was doin’ OK, I had some things going, but I’d rather do this, make music the priority. There’s more instant gratification—you play a show and right away you feel like it’s something worthwhile, and a lot of people are in on it. So I’m definitely into continuing to explore all this stuff. It’s really exciting—knock on wood.”
     JD has no doubts about the viability of the choice he’s made. “Working within a genre has been done in all kinds of mediums—look at Alfred Hitchcock,” he points out. “It’s been established that rock ’n’ roll is a viable form—it’s hard-wired into American brains to understand swinging blues stuff. So it’s not surprising to me that kids are into the Black Keys and Adele. It just had to be presented to them.”
     So now it’s JD McPherson’s turn to step up to the plate and give it a good whack. Go get ’em, tiger.

 JD McPherson at the Bluebird Theater
  • Thu, Apr 17, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • 7:00 PM
  • 79
  • 16 & Over
  • Sat, Feb 1, 2014 10:00 AM
  • $16.75
  • $20.00
  • On Sale Feb 1