Archive for May, 2012

“He Was Very Special to All of Us…and A Very Unique Individual.”

So sayeth noted jazz trumpeter and Downtown resident Bob Montgomery about the late Jerry Krantz, owner of El Chapultepec.

Jerry Krantz in 2005. "He always supported local musicians." Photo: Diane Huntress

“Jerry loved jazz. I played there a lot between 1982 and 1995. Every great jazz act that came through Denver played at the “Pec”. And, on many nights, after closing, Jerry would lock the doors and all the musicians would stay and jam until dawn!”, Bob said.

Montgomery has a lot of fond memories of Jerry and El Chapultepec from those days, “before Coors Field opened and the crowd changed. Not for the better.” When that happened, according to Bob, the people coming in were not interested in listening to the jazz, so Jerry stopped hiring the musicians. But, he maintained his place at the bar…and his no-nonsense character.

“Jerry always had a big roll of $100 bills in his left pocket. And, a .38 Special in his right one. One night someone made the mistake of trying to steal one of the musician’s keyboards. Jerry jumped over the bar, chased the thief for a block or two and started firing. The surprised thief stopped. Quickly.”

(For another, and entirely different, Denver by the Slice perspective of El Chapultepec, see this article from last March.)

Bob Montgomery has a lot of stories from his long and international jazz career. Some of the best involve the Pec and Jerry Krantz.

What is the Oxford Hotel Up To Now?

You have to pay attention to the window displays at the historic Oxford. They are…well…fascinating. This is just a small part of the current offering which also features a B-Cycle with a basket full of malt beverage ready to go on a run, as well as other difficult-to-explain configurations of various items found in rooms and basements. This can only be classified as Mixed Media. Check it out. It’s free!

The Art of Hospitality, photo by HipsterPix

The Weekend Starts with Art and Closes With a Bang!

Little Man Just Says Summer!

If you stay in town for this Memorial Day Weekend, you’ll have plenty of company. If you walk over the bridges to Highlands, you can get a great ice cream!

The Downtown Denver Arts Festival opens today, Friday, and runs through Monday afternoon at the Pavilions. Here’s a link to their website where you can preview some of the work and find your favorite artist. For instance, at Booth 16 you’ll find Frisco-based photographer Todd Powell. He’s a veteran exhibitor and a good guy! Look around.

On Saturday, add about 100,000 people to our one main street for the Denver Day of Rock. Read more about that below.

On Sunday, the Big Eat takes place somewhere near Union Station. Lots of food, drink, people…but, all Sold Out! If you made the list, you know who you are.

Then, on Monday, for better and for worse,your Colorado Rockies find their way home. Not just one game, but two. After the second game, the season’s first fireworks display…in the sky. And, that’s probably a good thing since there have been no fireworks from this team on the field. This may be their best pitch to get you to a game this year.

Smart. And, Getting Smarter.

And, some current news from the neighborhood. You probably can find some of the new parking meter sensors being installed around town here in Downtown. We already have “Smart Meters”. Now, even smarter little devices, Smart Meter Whisperers, will talk to those meters. Telling them things like: “Hey, this car hasn’t moved in over two hours. Call the cops!”; or, “Hey, that guy just left. Wipe out those leftover minutes before the next guy comes!” Oh, they are so smart, and we are so lucky. I mean if you live Downtown, just how concerned are you with all this wonderful advanced parking technology? Well, before you answer that, know that before long these same devices will link to a handy phone app that tells the cruising driver where an empty space is. Downtown drivers need more distractions, don’t they?

Surf's Out!

Want a hot dog? Well, you won’t get it at TD’s on Blake. For rent. To a real restaurant.

Want pizza? As in Wazee Supper Club Pizza? Wait. As usual, the re-model is taking a bit longer than the originally planned “2 to 3 weeks”. Shannon says, with fingers crossed, maybe June 1 or 2. We’ll be ready when they are!

And, you know, we just totally missed this item. But, that’s what happens when you go on vacation. Southern Hospitality BBQ, a restaurant concept co-created by Justin Timberlake (he of wardrobe malfunction fame) will open this fall in the beautiful St. Elmo Hotel building at 17th and Blake. Ryan Tedder of One Republic is the local partner. BBQ good. Location good. Our only worry is the “vibe” they claim they are not striving for. If so, then why will they need the planned “VIP Entrance“? We can only hope that stands for “Very Important Pork”!

Sounds, sights, crowds, foul balls and fireworks this weekend. Watch your heads. And, be careful crossing the streets!

All You Need to Know About Saturday’s Day of Rock!

One word. Zydeco!

Okay. That’s our choice for the hottest sounds of this fine festival. But, you’re sure to have your favorite of the 25 bands playing on five stages along the 16th Street Mall from about 2:30 to 9:30. It’s all presented by Concerts for Kids, the organization founded in 2004 by Christie and Walter Isenberg to raise funds and awareness of childrens’ charities throughout the area. And, a great cause…and event…this is! (Click here for the full schedule and all the band profiles)

This year, Concerts for Kids has also teamed with the Food Bank of the Rockies. Bring your non-persihable canned goods Saturday and donate to that worthy organization as well.

Click on Dwayne Dopsie to Hear His Latest!

We really like the energy of two Louisiana zydeco groups appearing on the Champa Street stage Saturday evening. They were here last year, and the event planners did well to bring them both back again. That’s not easy to do, either. Both groups stay on the road, all over the world, with this unique American sound.

Taking the stage at about 6:15 will be Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers. Watch out for the guy on the washboard. Then, from 8 to 9:30, it’s Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. Both of these groups put out that “high energy, swamp funky zydeco” music. You’ll dance.

This third annual Day of Rock is a tasty way to start a long holiday weekend Downtown! Come, listen, enjoy and be generous!

Amato and Amato’s Offer Denver’s Best Views!

Having the President in town today got us to thinking about taking a different view. Of the city. Also, the fact that he has a big lawn has us thinking about fountains and statuary anyway.

Amato of Denver has been a family-owned and operated business since 1922. For 63 years, from 1947 to 2010, their business featured the landmark display patio above the corner of 16th Street and Central. A shrewd real estate deal sent the Amato family packing. Down the street one block to 17th and Central.

Since 1922. That's 90 years!

Now, the walkable area for their trademark concrete fountains and statuary remains an inviting shopping spot for just what you may need for your urban balcony, garden, pool or entry. And, the view of Downtown from there is just as good as the view from the Ale House, a project of the Breckenridge Brewery restaurant group, at the old Amato spot.

Either way you win. Shop for a fountain and get a view. Buy a pint and get a view. By the way, from what we hear, the beer business has been berry, berry good to all!

There are Pedestrian Zones, and Then There are Pedestrian Zones. We Happen to Like This One!

Puerto Vallarta was, until not really so very long ago, a small fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific Coast reachable only by boat. No road went there. No planes landed there. You wouldn’t know that now. Access has improved.

It Just Works Better When You Take Away the Cars!

Just 189 miles by a good highway from Guadalajara (and only a bit over 3 hours by air from Denver), Puerto Vallarta landed on everyone’s map after Night of the Iguana was filmed in 1963. Elizabeth Taylor came down to keep an eye on Richard Burton. A close eye. And, the news went around the world. Shortly after that the town started to turn into a real resort. Now, it is a very big resort, the second most visited city in Mexico, and with a population of about 280,000. “Un mil y doscientos” is the answer we always get when we ask how many taxis there are now.

What’s not different, though, about Puerto Vallarta over the 36 years that we have traveled there is the main city center. The Old Town. The culture. Families are of paramount importance. There’s a City Band concert every Sunday at the Bandstand across from City Hall. And, every evening thousands of people, usually in their family groups, stroll along the seaside promenade, well over a mile long in total. That, of course, is called the Malecon. For years, the famous Malecon was a concrete walk above the beach, parallel to a dusty, crowded cobblestone street full of trucks, buses, taxis and cars making their way through town on what was a main thoroughfare. Crossing anywhere from the business center, or parks, or the walk to the Cathedral was not an easy task with the traffic.

Meanigful Public Art: Boats in a Seaside Town. Not Cows.

Last year, that changed. Puerto Vallarta, in a municipally funded project, rebuilt the Malecon. A noted Huichol artist, Fidencio Benitez laid out a 12-block long traditional beadwork-like motif for the walks. More public art was installed for the length, including new sculptures and a current exhibit of “barcos” adorned by local artists and adopted by local businesses and organizations.  Custom planters and bollards were added. There’s a centralized area for events and programs, an always activated public gathering space. And, the walk was widened extensively, spreading from the sea to the buildings and businesses themselves.

How? Get rid of the cars! Seems simple enough. Just take away the cars and trucks and buses and taxis. And, give the whole space over to the pedestrians. The families. The children. The art. No clipboards. No cross-traffic. No shuttles. Pedestrian zone perfected!

Puerto Vallarta has always been a beautiful place to visit. It just barely fits between the mountains and the ocean. And, even with all the resort development, it is refreshing to know that a city like this could make the bold decision to build a true pedestrian zone and maintain the historical city and culture, doing so without the motor traffic.

For the kids, one concession does reside at the end of the Malecon. It lets out small plastic “cars” for little kids to ride in while being pushed by family on the evening walk. And, for adults, the entire zone has free wifi. The contrasts are evident. An old city with better modern ideas.

Take a walk one day and tell us which one you like better.

(Photos: Diane Huntress)

The Forecast is Cool, but the Jazz Will Be Hot! And, Lunch was Free Today. Thank You.

Saturday’s Five Points Jazz Festival may play under a cloudy sky…but you won’t know it. From 11 to 7 along Welton Street between 27th and 31st Streets, some of Denver’s and Jazzdom’s best will be keeping the beat. Six venues, continuous sounds, food and fun. See the whole schedule here.

This Saturday!

This is a production of Arts & Venues, City and County of Denver. And, it’s gone on for years. Be sure to hang around the Main Stage about 3:30 for the annual Tribute Awards. One of this year’s nominees is long-time LoDo resident…and master jazz trumpeter…Bob Montgomery. If you don’t see him Saturday, you can always visit his picture on the Wall of Fame at the famous El Chapultepec, 20th and Market.

Don’t forget the Colfax Marathon on Sunday morning. You won’t be able to drive across that long avenue very easily. Easier to run.

Take the Smash Out of Smashburger and Add the Works!

And, run you can, especially if you just had a FREE LUNCH. One of Downtown’s newest spots, Red Robin’s Burger Works gave out hundreds of free “test and training” meals to area business people this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You need the special invite, though, and a reservation. This is how they prepare the place and the crew for their official opening on Monday, May 21 at California and the 16th Street Mall.

It’s the third Burger Works location in the Denver-based chain’s holdings. Manager Nathan Brodbeck calls the food “craveable”. We’ll see what the rest of Denver calls it. For now, we’re calling it lunch.

Whatever you do this weekend, be careful crossing the streets. Especially you, Dana. And, you, Gary. And, you, Lawrence!