by Kathleen St. John on January 22, 2010
If there’s a hub for the jam-band scene in Denver, it’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom (2637 Welton St.). Once the biggest link in a chain of Cervantes-themed venues, the ballroom and its neighbor, the former Quixote’s True Blue, changed hands last fall. Now owned by longtime co-owner Scott Morrill and Fully Tuned Productions — Duncan Goodman, Joshua Sonnenberg and Jeff Howell — Cervantes’ is celebrating its grand reopening and seventh birthday this weekend.
It’ll be a groovy event for sure, with two greatest-hits-type shows from Boulder funkmeisters the Motet. Dubbed “The Best of Halloween” for the band’s Halloween tradition of costumed tributes, the Cervantes’ shows will feature favorite songs by Prince, Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone and more.
Though Cervantes’ and The Other Side (the new name for the old Quixote’s) remained open throughout their renovation, this weekend’s shows are the official debut of the venues’ new look. “It’s getting quite the facelift right now,” says publicist Ami Heinrich. “Basically, there’s a brand-new sound system, a brand- new stage, redone bathrooms and a new coat of paint in both buildings. It looks fantastic … It’s a lot more of a cohesive theme and design.”
The revamp is also part of the new owners’ mission to raise the profile of Cervantes’ and The Other Side, says Heinrich. “Their vision is to turn Cervantes’ into the House of Blues of Denver,” she says. “They want it to be that level … a very high-end experience for musicgoers.”
The House of Blues mission is a daunting one, but it fits. Cervantes’ was once a jazz club that hosted such greats as Duke Ellington and Etta James, and it’s seen its share of long nights and loud debauchery. A little reworking of the venerable venue is due.
Jam-band fans needn’t fret that the changes will remove Cervantes’ from their orbit, however. Heinrich says the venue will still cater to the jam community, but will also continue to host shows from other genres. “I think we’ll be seeing a lot more hip-hop and electronica,” she says. “The new sound system can certainly support much bigger audiences.”
And if the music at Cervantes’ isn’t suitable one night, The Other Side will still be hosting bands, just like its predecessor. As a special treat, throughout January there’s no cover at The Other Side before 9 p.m. That’s the kind of free-flowing vibe we’ve come to expect from the Cervantes’ crew, and it doesn’t look like that will ever change.
The Motet’s “Best of Halloween” shows for the grand reopening start at 9 tonight and Saturday. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. Buy advance tickets at cervantesmasterpiece.com.
– The Aftermath –
The Bianchi brothers, Cervantes’ former owners, are still in the business, by the way. They sold Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey on East Colfax Avenue in September, but they’ve simply moved the Quixote’s True Blue name to their bar at 2151 Lawrence St. (formerly Owsley’s Golden Road).
Sancho’s Broken Arrow (741 E. Colfax Ave.) is still going strong as a Grateful Dead hangout, welcoming Deadheads, hippies, squares, weirdos and wanderers of all stripes.
– Got mashups? –
Just about every bar worth its salt has a mashup night — or two. It’s become its own genre, taking disparate songs and squishing them into new, danceable grooves. So when people call DJ Z-Trip “the godfather of mashups,” they’re paying him a pretty huge compliment.
His shows are an unpredictable good time, so expect his upcoming date at Beta (1909 Blake St.) to be full of interesting twists, turns and pleasantly strange combinations.
Z-Trip takes over the decks at Beta on Thursday at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are $20 on fla.vor.us/groovetickets.
– Kathleen St. John