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Indy music section turns 21 

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So maybe you've heard of this 21st birthday thing the Independent is celebrating?

We're all stumbling down memory lane this week — back to a time when New Wave cover band Head Full of Zombies were playing their first of several "farewell" gigs, Westword was hailing The Autono as "Colorado Springs' best, and best-known, rock band," and the Indy was establishing itself as the local standard-bearer for the brave new world of alternative weeklies.

"Newsweeklies are an exciting alternative to the often staid, dry content found in monopoly dailies," promised an editorial in an eight-page prototype targeting potential advertisers. The arts and entertainment section would run the gamut "from hip to highbrow" and "formal to funky." Music coverage would range "from the mosh-pit to the two-step floor."

The paper's September 1993 debut also began the fine Indy tradition of stealing writers away from the local daily, which was then known as the Gazette-Telegraph. In a piece called "Music With No Limits," editors boasted that music columnist Laura Austin (now Laura Eurich, Local View columnist) would be bringing her "Austin's City Limits" music column over from the Gazette: "She will continue her insider's commentary about the rock and roll alternative scene, but with one difference: We've told her to 'go nuts!'"

Presumably, that was meant in a good way, although the occupation does have its hazards. J. Adrian Stanley, who has since gone on to a respectable career as an Indy reporter, also did time as a Gazette music critic. The last straw, for her, came on the first Valentine's Day she'd spent alone.

Well, technically not alone. Adrian's editor had assigned her to review a World Arena show headlined by Michael W. Smith, the winner of 40 Dove Awards. Mid-concert, surrounded by an arena full of true believers waving in unison, she was overcome by one of those "my life has come to this" moments. Nearby audience members noticed how she was tearing up, attributed it to the work of the Holy Spirit, and began laying hands on her as a welcoming to her new family.

Not long after, Adrian abandoned music writing, and has never looked back. Every once in a while, in the spirit of collegial sadism, I'll invite her to write something for the music section, and then watch as she turns pale and shudders.

Through the years, Indy writers and editors have come and gone, and the music has changed as well. There are new venues now, as well as an actual hip-hop scene. Head Full of Zombies played their final farewell shows in 2011. The Autono also parted ways, although Chuck Snow continues to perform regularly with bands like The Rat Bastards and Lazy Spacemen.

But you can still find Dotsero, whose "Jazz at the Dublin Down" shows were advertised in the Indy's second issue, performing regularly at Stargazers and elsewhere.

Over the last few weeks, as I paged through yellowing copies of issues that had been printed 15 years before I came onboard, I expected (maybe even hoped) that they'd be kind of lame. But they weren't. Even the "Hey gang, let's put on a show!" naiveté had a certain charm, and it's clear that the writers and editors were committed to what they were doing. Had they not been, it's unlikely that this paper would have survived long enough for us to be getting all nostalgic now.

Send news, photos and music to reverb@csindy.com; follow our updates at tinyurl.com/indyreverb.

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