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Best of Art and Entertainment: Life's Pleasures: 

click to enlarge Jason Spears, co-proprietor of 32 Bleu, readers poll winner for best live music venue. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Jason Spears, co-proprietor of 32 Bleu, readers poll winner for best live music venue.

Best Venue For Live Music

Readers poll winner 32 Bleu

32 S. Tejon St., 955-5664

32 Bleu proprietors Jason and Jamie Spears performed a great mitzvah for a socially ailing community when they opened a premier live music venue in the heart of downtown two years ago. Astonishingly, we now have traffic headed south on I-25 from Denver to catch a good show, rather than the other way around. There's no better or more intimate place to listen to the latest and hippest jazz, blues, hip-hop, rock, indie, emo, hard-core, alt-country, jam, funk, soul or whatever. Be proud, Springsters. -- MS

Best East Side Destination

Editorial pick Cinemark 16 IMAX

3305 Cinema Point, 596-3212

Viewing movies should be a pleasurable experience. Get a little popcorn and sit back to watch the show, right? Well, toss in super-comfy chairs and a ridiculously gigantic IMAX screen and suddenly the movie is 10 times better. Granted, some films would not work on an IMAX screen. For instance, a poor idea would be David Lynch's Wild at Heart -- Willem Defoe's already creepy visage would be a whole lot scarier when magnified times, well, a lot. But documentaries with vast scenic views and mainstream flicks starring incredible action prove to be nothing but absolutely breathtaking. -- KL

Best Rainy Day Activity

Editorial pick Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

30 W. Dale St., 634-5581

click to enlarge Kimballs Twin Peak, voted Best Movie Theater for 10 of the past 11 years. - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • Kimballs Twin Peak, voted Best Movie Theater for 10 of the past 11 years.

One day Winnie the Pooh encountered a very sad Eeyore. "And how are you?" asked Pooh Bear. Eeyore sighed a large sigh.

"Not very how," he said. "I don't seem to felt at all how for a long time."

If it's rather overcast in your little patch of the world, take a trip the Fine Arts Center for an afternoon of awe-inspiring art in a lovely, quiet atmosphere. Founded in 1936, the center is now a home to the Taylor Museum, the Bemis School of Art, a performing arts department, and a museum shop. In addition to the usual exhibitions of modern art and traditional Native American and Hispanic works, the museum boasts a new acquisition, a spectacular Dale Chihuly chandelier, and brings in world class traveling exhibitions. Top off the day with coffee from their caf, and relish an afternoon's worth of cozy enlightenment. -- KL

Best Movie Theater

Readers poll winner Kimball's Twin Peak Theater

115 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 447-1945

ong before major theater chains were selling out to show Michael Moore movies for the profit, Kimball Bayles was holding down some local integrity by screening the best in art-house and indie films. When the mainstream fluff gets a little too Hollywood, the Twin Peak offers refuge for the mind. Kimball's retains an elegance inherent to a proper theater experience, capturing that certain magic that moviegoing occasionally offers. Located downtown, Kimball's makes it possible to do dinner, a movie, dessert and drinks without ever having to move the car. -- MS

Best Place To Be Serenaded at Dinner

Editorial pick The Margarita at Pine Creek

7350 Pine Creek Road, 598-8667

The music-loving spirit of the late local music legend Ida Boatright Hutchison lives on at The Margarita on Saturday nights. Hutchison played harpsichord in the dining room for 26 years, and the tradition is continued to this day by an array of talented local musicians. The harpsichord is joined by other baroque instruments for a chamber music performance paralleled only by the delicious menu. Decadence has never felt so dignified. -- BLS

Best Radio Do-Over

click to enlarge One of 30-plus pieces that were on display at Nocturnal Mockery.
  • One of 30-plus pieces that were on display at Nocturnal Mockery.

Editorial pick The Beat 96.1 (KMOM-FM)

2864 S. Circle Drive, Suite 150, 540-9200

Sick of wading through the undesirable music that interferes with your R & B and hip-hop on the radio? By now you've probably heard enough pop-punk to make you want to toss cookies right in front of Hot Topic. You've probably also heard enough weird stuff from the "Adult Contemporary" catalog that you've given up on radio permanently. Fortunately, Clear Channel made a decision to try and make more money by switching 96.1's format from classic rock to "rhythmic" music. Now you can hear 2Pac, Aaliyah, Usher, Nelly, Lil Jon, Nina Sky, Usher, Lil' Flip, Nelly, Chingy, Alicia Keyes and Usher all in the same hour, with no lame filler. Yeah. Say thank you to big business. -- SG

Best Venue For Up-And- Coming Young Artists

Editorial pick Nocturnal Mockery: A collection of workz from collected individualz

The persistent summer rain (and the accompanying leaky roofs) didn't deter young local artists from executing one of the most diverse arts events of the summer. During one weekend in July, the old site of Mole Records on Colorado Avenue was transformed into a thriving gallery displaying an array of murals, paintings, drawings, sculptures and folk art, including everything from political graffiti to intricately carved battle chess pieces. The DIY spirit behind this event (and the crowds who showed up to look and buy!) proved that art doesn't have to be stuffy and old. In fact, art can be cool. -- BLS

Best Place For A First Date

Editorial pick Manitou Penny Arcade

900 block, Manitou Springs, 685-9815

Tin horses! Photo booths! Skee-Ball! Gobs of caramel corn! The Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs is the perfect place to take a prospective loved one on a first date, if only for the sheer sugar possibilities. The attractive qualities in a mate are immediately sifted through, leaving only decisive facts: Are they supportive in your pinball triumphs? Do they walk away ashamed as you stumble through Dance Dance Revolution? Will they make out with you in a photo booth? These are important questions, and like the creepy automated fortunetellers, only the Penny Arcade can show you the way. If all else fails, there's always cotton candy. -- KL

Best Local Original Band

Readers poll winner Against Tomorrow's Sky

click to enlarge Against Tomorrows Sky.
  • Against Tomorrows Sky.

Over the past decade Colorado Springs has gone from diapers to college in the quality of its independent music scene. Against Tomorrow's Sky may be getting the Springs ready for graduate school. With its name borrowed from the Van Morrison song "Sweet Thing," Against Tomorrow's Sky's unique recipe of upbeat emotional rock 'n' roll is influenced by musicians from Johnny Cash to Souls of Mischief and has been known to precipitate cravings even in those with the most fickle musical appetites. Rumor is that they are releasing a new album soon. -- SG

Best Local Cover Band(s)

Readers poll winners Tie: Head Full of Zombies and Martini Shot

Readers love Martini Shot and Head Full of Zombies so much that they couldn't decide between the two. And that's OK; there's enough love to spread around. Big fat deal if the two groups play mostly covers -- all that matters is that they get the feet a-moving. Head Full of Zombies is a rock band known for its unique live shows, showcasing a sound that can be categorized as "retro '80s and '90s alternative dance rock."

Martini Shot, on the other hand, plays progressive rock music -- catchy enough for the firsttime listener, but addictive for diehard fans. The usual band setup is thrown for a fun loop with the addition of a saxophone, keyboards and a trumpet. -- KL

Best Underage Night Out

Best Underage Night Out Editorial pick High Life House

Now months after its passing and subsequent semi-glorious rebirth, the High Life House is back in the business of hosting rock shows. The House, at an undisclosed location due to completely unfair busts by bored and overzealous cops, remains one of the only venues in the city that caters to and welcomes the underage crowd. It's not at all unusual to see high school freshmen being dropped off by Mom or Dad in order to see whatever indie-rock or hard-core show is going on. It's a clean nest of teens and young adults, where kids can congregate with other kids to rock out, listen and dance to the music and gab with their peers. In a town with really limited options for the pre-clubbing set, the House is still a gem. -- AR

Best Place To Dance Like A Fool

Editorial pick Pikes Peak Traditional Dance Club's contra dances

click to enlarge Jeff Bieri of KRCC. - CREIGHTON SMITH

Third Saturday of the month, 7:30-10 p.m.

$7; $3 with student ID; free lessons at 7 p.m.

473-6935

There's always the club scene, but if that's not your style and you really want to dance like a fool -- and we mean, dance like a fool -- stop by one of the monthly contra dances sponsored by Pikes Peak Traditional Dance. Contra dancing is a lot like square dancing -- there's a live fiddle band and a caller that takes you through an intricate series of patterns and partners -- except it's based on two long lines instead of squares. The group of regulars'll guide you through the patterns, spin you around and push you in the right direction if you get lost. It's a do-si-do into the neighborly fun of an old barn dance. -- GTS

Best Radio Station

Readers poll winner KRCC-FM 91.5

912 N. Weber St., 473-4801

In the early days some 20-plus years ago, this little campus radio station was notable mainly for cobbling together a ragtag bunch of Colorado College students who created their own shows. Some were good; most were mediocre. But a fiendishly clever station manager, Mario Valdes, was already laying the groundwork to polish his unruly child into a respectable, responsible citizen -- albeit, with a decidedly liberal voice in this oh-so-conservative community. KRCC, a commercial-free public radio station, works because its staff is highly dedicated and its listeners freakishly loyal. The drive-time and weekend programming relies heavily on National Public Radio and Public Radio International, with shows such as Garrison Keillor's popular "A Prairie Home Companion," and NPR programs "Fresh Air," "All Things Considered" and "Car Talk." Music is an eclectic mix of blues programs, evening jazz, and wide-ranging freeform shows aimed primarily at KRCC's baby boomer demographic. -- GE

Best Locally Produced TV Commercial

Editorial pick: Pueblo Sanitation's "Guys in Green"

The video is a bit bright and the song itself is a synthesized trill away from critical goofiness. But those three singin' garbagemen make trash collection look like a musical romp through an admittedly refuse-strewn field of wildflowers -- you know, Julie Andrews in the Salzburg public gardens with more soggy coffee filters and used diapers. In the process, the spot, which features the trash collectors in bouts of singing, tuba-miming, faux Russian dancing and jazz hands, also made Pueblo Sanitation look like all the other trash companies' fun-lovin' younger sister. After all, why shouldn't a waste disposal company be fun? AR

Best Local Theater Production

Editorial pick: Noises Off by TheatreWorks, November 2003

Usually plays dont have medical side effects, but audiences who saw TheatreWorks 2004 production of the comedy smash Noises Off experienced severe aching sides due to uncontrollable laughing. The physically demanding farce required each cast member to play two roles in this play-within-a-play. This alone is no easy feat add slamming doors, pratfalls, an amazing revolving set, surprisingly good British accents, a brilliant cast, deft direction by Kelly Walters and a hilarious script, and its no surprise that this production was one of the best of the season. BLS

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