Best of Boulder County 2011 – Entertainment



CU Continuing Education

1505 University Ave., 303-492-5148

Runner-up: Naropa University Extended Studies

Over the course of our
lives, our enthusiasm for school seems to follow a sine wave, more or
less: up, then down, then up again. Our first day of kindergarten is
the most exciting day of our tiny lives, and we can’t wait for story
time, recess and show and tell. Then our interest wanes a bit
throughout elementary school, one year much like the last and summer
vacation claiming our affections. The first day of middle school, it’s
on the upswing again, and ditto for the first day of high school.
During college, our enthusiasm is geared more toward our “extra
curricular activities” than school, per se. And once we graduate and
join the work force, education usually takes a back seat to other
demands. Thank goodness then for places like CU Continuing Education,
which not only teaches us things we need to know for work, but a whole
host of subjects we always meant to study, like theater, anthropology
and film. There’s also the estimable Naropa University Extended
Studies, which is this year’s runner-up. Front Range Community College
took third place, while Culinary School of the Rockies came in fourth
and Boulder College of Massage Therapy took fifth.


Colorado Music Festival


Runner-up: Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra

The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Music broadly
dates classical music from the 11th century through present times. We
haven’t done the exact math, but that’s a longer track record than just
about every other genre of music we can think of — combined. Some
musicians chase the latest trends and fads, like electronica, dub step,
drone, 8-bit and trance, to keep their sound fresh. Making music that’s
sometimes centuries old exciting and entertaining for modern audiences
is a challenge to say the least, and one that the Colorado Music Festival
handles with class and élan. Their summer festival is an annual
tradition in Boulder, pulling in audiences — not to mention performers
— from around the country. It is not to be missed, whether you’re a
classical music buff or think that Beethoven was a St. Bernard. Boulder
Philharmonic, which has seen 53 successful seasons, garnered runner-up
honors. Colorado Symphony Orchestra won third place, while CU Presents
came in fourth and Boulder Chamber Orchestra took fifth.


Boulder Creek Festival

Downtown Boulder

Runner-up: Boulder County Farmer’s Market

Give me your spiritual, your bored, your poor college students, your hungry-for-free-samples masses. And send them to the Boulder Creek Festival.
The yearly festival that snakes along Boulder Creek has activities,
performances, food and drink, and, of course, ducks. It’s a three-day
festival that’s free of charge and full of Boulder personality. The
free samples are enough to get by on for the day, but there’s also
plenty of food for purchase, and more importantly, cold drinks for the
hot summer day spent by the Creek. The Boulder County Farmer’s Market
comes in second, offering locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well
as locally prepared food, arts and crafts. In third is Nederland’s
Frozen Dead Guy Days, a festival that celebrates Grandpa Bredo, a real
dude really frozen in the Tuff Shed, and in fourth is the Colorado
Shakespeare Festival. Fifth place goes to the Boulder International
Film Festival.


Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery/Southern Sun Pub & Brewery

Mountain Sun: 1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

Southern Sun: 627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886

Runner-up: The West End Tavern

There were some conspiracy theories surrounding this year’s Best Bar winner — did Mountain Sun and Southern Sun Pub & Brewery
win just because they had two chances to win votes? Turns out, no, it
was the selection of award-winning beers they brew, the friendly
atmosphere in which to drink the beer, and the selection of great foods
that go along with the beer. It’s a great place to meet with friends in
the middle of a sunny day or at the end of a long shift and feels more
like an old-fashioned public house, or “pub” than a typical bar. (In my
case, while writing this — hey, it’s research!) Second place went to
The West End Tavern, a Boulder fixture for more than 20 years with a
fantastic view from their rooftop bar. Conor O’Neils took third, while
the Sundown Saloon and Dark Horse claimed fourth and fifth places.


St. Julien Hotel and Spa

900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696

Runner-up: Laughing Goat

music can mean any number of things to different people. To some, it’s
the big brother of blues; to others it’s a language of struggle and
perseverance. Others say, if you have to ask what jazz music is, you’ll
never know. But most people will agree that it’s flat-out classy music.
This year, our readers voted St. Julien Hotel and Spa as
Boulder’s best place to enjoy live jazz — and maybe a martini and some
sophisticated conversation on the side. St. Julien typically hosts four
to five shows per week, ranging from jazz and jazz fusion to blues and
funk. No matter what you end up seeing, it’ll be fantastic. The hotel
has hosted a number of touring acts, as well as making regulars out of
a few local favorites, such as Mestizo, Robinson Quintet and the Jack
Hadley Band. Taking second place this year is The Laughing Goat, while
third place went to Oskar Blues. Readers voted Nissi’s in fourth place,
while fifth place was claimed by Boulder Outlook Hotel.


Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

1750 13th St., 303-443-2122

Runner-up: Dairy Center for the Arts

This year’s winner of Best Art Gallery, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art,
may be a smaller venue, but it’s been making big statements with its
current exhibitions. Take, for example, one current exhibit, Ourrubberos
by Boulder-based artist Jessica Moon Bernstein, who utilizes recycled
materials to create her masterpieces; or the other exhibit, by Henrique
Oliveira, which is partly funded by the Embassy of Brazil. This is
typical for this art museum, which emphasizes quality, community and
creativity, rather than the number of exhibits or the size of the
space. Runner-up this year is the Dairy Center for the Arts, with its
stimulating art, film and dance productions. Art and Soul took third
place. Boulder Arts and Crafts Cooperative and Boulder Public Library
snagged fourth and fifth places, respectively.


KBCO Studio C CD

4695 S. Monaco St., Denver, 303-444-5600

Runner-up: Puttin’ on the Leash Gala

The KBCO Studio C CD
is unique in terms of fundraisers. People literally wait outside all
night, just to give their money to charity. And in return, they get
versions of their favorite songs they won’t find anywhere else. This
year, proceeds from the CD went to the Boulder County AIDS Project and
Food Bank of the Rockies. Going on 22 years now, KBCO’s Studio C
tradition will continue to attract hordes of people clamoring for music
they might not even realize is being sold for a great cause. Puttin’ on
the Leash, an auction for the Humane Society of Boulder, is our
runner-up in this pet-friendly county, and the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling
took third place. The KGNU Benefit was awarded fourth place, and the
Boulder Historic Homes Tour took home fifth place.


Boulder Ballet

2590 Walnut St., 303-443-0028

Runner-up: Frequent Flyers

Well, there’s no such thing as a dead
dance group, at least until the zombie apocalypse arrives, so this
category might be a little redundantly named, but let’s not quibble.
Instead, let’s talk about the aptly (and concisely) named Boulder Ballet company,
one of the most talented, engaging and lively group of dancers this
side of the Bolshoi. Tackling everything from the traditional Nutcracker
to more modern fare with their annual Stepping Out concert of
contemporary dance, these are some seriously talented ballerinas and
male ballet dancers. (Seriously, do you know of a word for a male
ballet dancer? Ballerino?) For a high-flying good time, check out
runner-up finishers Frequent Flyers, who defy gravity and the
imagination. Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet came in third.
Ballet Nouveau Colorado took home fourth, and in fifth we have 3rd Law
Dance named for Newton’s third law — which, if you ever find yourself
at a pub quiz or on Jeopardy!, is the law of equal and opposite
reactions. (Editor’s note: A male ballet dancer is called a “danseur.”)


Lazy Dog Sports

Bar and Grill

1346 Pearl St., 303-440-3355

Runner-up: Walnut Brewery

It’s a
fact: football is a dangerous sport. There’s the risk of broken bones,
concussions, serious brain damage, torn tendons and who knows what
else. For your health and safety, it’s much better to merely watch this
glorious sport from afar, preferably from a comfortable booth at the Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill,
where the biggest danger is slipping off your stool after one too many
cold ones. A favorite hangout for Boulder locals, the Lazy Dog features
great wing specials, plenty of wide-screen televisions and occasionally
some awesome live music, as well. For delicious brews and great food to
go with it, hop on over to Walnut Brewery, our runner-up in this
category. Dark Horse, home of great burger deals and plenty of
televisions — two essentials for a good game night — came in third.
Groucho’s little brother Harpo’s Sports Bar came in fourth, and Old
Chicago came in fifth.


Boulder’s Dinner Theatre

5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000

Runner-up: Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Going to a play is usually
an enjoyable and relaxing experience. You dress slightly fancier than
you normally would, while escaping reality as you become immersed in a
fictional world of riveting characters. Yet things are always better
when food is involved. Boulder’s Dinner Theatre takes the
restaurant experience and combines it with an unforgettable performance
of popular theatre productions. Not only does the small setting allow
for a more personal feel, but the food servers are the main characters
of the play, chatting and jotting down your dessert order as if they
did not just amaze you on stage. Also, what other theater provides
guests with ponchos to protect them from getting drenched during the
rain scene in Singin’ in the Rain or evokes
magical feelings when Peter Pan flies overhead while you enjoy your
chocolate cake and coffee? If you would rather enjoy a production
outdoors, attend the Colorado Shakespeare Festival this summer, our
runner-up. Third place went to the talented students hard at work at CU
Theatre & Dance. Readers voted Vox Feminista as fourth place, and
the children of Peanut Butter Players were voted fifth place.


Zip Code Man

Pearl Street Mall

Runner-up: Big Head Todd

The two offices of memory are collection and distribution,” said poet Samuel Johnson. If we were to take this quote as true, we might assume David Rosdeitcher, or Zip Code Man,
spent a large portion of his life as a post office worker collecting
and distributing mail. But he didn’t. He just has an uncanny knack for
memorizing United States ZIP codes. Out of all of the zip codes in the
United States, Zip Code Man reportedly has 35,000 to 40,000 memorized.
If you were to ask him how he came to memorize all of those numbers,
he’d tell you he started learning the various patterns of zip codes and
began stockpiling them into his memory as he made his way across the
country with his juggling act. Local singer and guitarist Big Head Todd
is our runner-up this year, while third place went to Hazel Miller.
Readers voted chef Hosea Rosenberg in fourth place, while fifth place
was claimed by folk rock artist Gregory Alan Isakov.


Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., 303-786-7030

Runner-up: Century Boulder @ 29th Street

So what’s the big deal with watching movies at the Boulder Theater? They don’t have stadium seating. They don’t have an IMAX screen, and you probably won’t see the new Green Lantern or Thor
movies there. But what you do get is great niche films you won’t see
anywhere else and classic films that you can watch with the people in
your community. Some of the recent films included The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry,
a Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance-hosted night featuring documentaries
about riding in some of the nation’s most pristine bike trails and The
Fly Fishing Film Tour, which featured films about the best places to
fish across the world. In the past some of the classic movie events
included showings of The Big Lebowski. All in all, it’s the
best place to catch a flick with your neighbors. The runner-up this
year was Century Boulder @ 29th Street, where you can catch those
blockbuster films, followed by Boulder Outdoor Cinema, which took
third. AMC Flatiron Crossing and CU International Film Festival took
fourth and fifth, respectively.


YMCA of Boulder Valley

2850 Mapleton Ave., 303-442-2778

Runner-up: CU Science Discovery

Every year parents
scramble to find something for their kids to do during the summer while
they’re out of school. They can’t just sit around the house and play
video games and watch movies all day, right? The YMCA of Boulder Valley
provides such a plethora of camps for kids that it’s basically a
one-stop summer camp shopping center. The YMCA offers both day camps
and overnight camps that can range from your average activity day of
games and field trips to more focused camps related to your child’s
interests, such as a skateboarding camp, a LEGO Robotics camp or
bicycle riding camps. So while you’re toiling away eight hours a day in
your office this summer, you’ll know your child is safe and probably
having the time of his or her life. CU Science Discovery, known for its
superb science camps, was the runner-up, with Colorado Mountain Ranch
taking third. Eldorado Mountain Yoga, and Doghouse Music Rock &
Roll Camp and Thorne Ecological Institute tied for fourth place.


Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

1750 13th St., 303-443-2122

Runner-up: University of Colorado Museum

Boulder’s art community
encompasses more art forms than most people know what to do with. The
town has a history of traditional forms, notably plein air painting,
and is starting to build a reputation for more innovative art forms,
notably in the electronic literature scene. This year, readers voted
the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art as their favorite place
to admire the finer things Boulder has to offer. The Boulder Museum of
Contemporary Art quickly established itself as a community hotspot and
recently hosted the cutting-edge Communikey Festival
of Electronic Arts. The museum consistently brings experimental and
innovative artists from around the world to share their work and
provide interesting site-specific art installations. The University of
Colorado Museum is this year’s runner-up, while third place went to
World of Wonder. Readers voted Boulder History Museum in fourth place,
and Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art claimed fifth place.


Telluride Bluegrass Festival


Runner-up: Colorado Music Festival

Boulder may be voted the best place to live in America, but Telluride is the best place to jam. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival
is celebrating its 38th annual weekend of music and mayhem this June,
and tickets are already sold out. This year the festival coincides with
the summer solstice, meaning the longest day of the year will be
complemented by the laid-back luxury of bluegrass. With a diverse array
of acts spanning Boulder’s own Yonder Mountain String Band as well as
the commercial success of Mumford and Sons and indie-rock darlings The
Decemberists, this year is sure to be a hit. Planet Bluegrass works to
keep the festival green and the earth happy with sustainable solutions
to energy and waste, something that leaves all festivarians feeling
healthy and happy. The estimable Colorado Music Festival is our
runner-up, while third place goes to Rockygrass. Folks Festival claims
fourth place, and Nedfest takes fifth.


Red Rocks

W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison,


Runner-up: Boulder Theater

Immortalized in U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” video and more recently in B.O.B.’s video for “Don’t Let Me Fall,” Red Rocks
is internationally renowned and a Colorado treasure. Recognized as one
of the best music venues in the world by both musicians and fans, it
isn’t much of a surprise that the hometown folks would consider it the
best in the area. Every summer, the venue hosts the state’s best shows
and this coming summer is no different. Earth, Wind & Fire, Peter
Gabriel, The Global Dance Festival, Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown
Tour and dozens more are scheduled. It’s definitely worth the drive and
hours getting in and out of the parking lot for shows. Traffic is just
part of the fun, right? The runner-up went to local favorite Boulder
Theater with its partner Fox Theatre in third. The historic Chautauqua
Auditorium, home to an excellent summer series, took fourth, and
Nissi’s took fifth.


Humane Society of Boulder Valley

2323 55th St., 303-442-4030

Runner-up: Eco-Cycle

Whether it’s their “Free Cat Fridays,” their “Dog of the Week,” or throwing fun events like “Puttin’ on the Leash,” the Humane Society of Boulder Valley
knows how to have fun when it comes to caring for lost and homeless
animals. Although the business they’re in is a serious one, the people
who work and volunteer for HSBV have great attitudes, are compassionate
about animal issues and very helpful when it comes to picking out pets,
training your pets and helping you maintain the health of your pets.
What more could you ask for? Eco-Cycle, one of the largest nonprofit
recyclers in the nation, was our runner-up, while Planned Parenthood
came in third. The Boulder County AIDS Project came in fourth, and
long-running public radio station KGNU came in fifth.


The Laughing Goat

1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628

Runner-up: Conor O’Neill’s

Boulder boasts a
surprising number of open mic nights for a town of its size. It seems
that as soon as an open mic series shuts down, a new one begins a few
blocks away. Open mic participants vary greatly in terms of experience
and raw talent, but it seems like many of the veterans flock to The Laughing Goat
on Pearl Street on Monday nights. The coffee house’s weekly “So, You’re
A Poet” open mic series draws MFA candidates from both CU and Naropa
and has also attracted a handful of poets who return every week. With
live entertainment every night, The Laughing Goat has established
itself as a community center for art, music, poetry, inspiration and,
of course, coffee. Conor O’Neill’s, a restaurant known for its
traditional Irish pub feel, is our runner-up this year, while third
place went to Oskar Blues. Readers voted Rock N Soul Café in fourth
place, and Boulder Outlook Hotel claimed fifth place.


Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., 303-786-7030

Runner-up: Dairy Center for the Arts

The Boulder Theater
is already well known for its concerts and film showings, but it’s also
a hotspot around town for the performing arts. You can catch a ballet,
maybe a play or even a comedian. One of the recent events was the
BaoBao Festival where local and international performers gave a
presentation of traditional West African dancing, drumming, music and
storytelling. There’s also an upcoming performance of The Little Mermaid by
Boulder Ballet with choreography by Ana Claire and Peter Davison. The
venerable Dairy Center for the Arts is our runner-up with its venue
built especially for the performing arts. Macky Auditorium, which also
hosts a variety of events, came in third while Boulder’s Dinner Theater
was fourth, and the 1stBank Center came in fifth.


Boulder Shambala Meditation Center

1345 Spruce St., 303-444-0190

Runner-up: Unity of Boulder

There’s a saying that a
church isn’t a building, it’s what you do (though having a building to
do it in does help). And while the Boulder Shambala Meditation Center
has one beautiful, stately building, we’re guessing that’s not the
reason they won best place of worship. It has more to do with their
welcoming atmosphere, sense of community and comprehensive offering of
Buddhist teachings. The beautiful building and awe-inspiring art
adorning the walls are just icing on the cake. Unity of Boulder comes
in second place for this category, with third place going to Flatirons
Community Church. St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church garnered fourth,
and in fifth place is First Presbyterian Church of Boulder.


St. Julien Hotel & Spa

900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696

Runner-up: Round Midnight

With live music almost every night, the St. Julien Hotel & Spa tops
the list of places to dance in Boulder. Even on the nights without the
bands, the drink selection and snazzy atmosphere will keep your feet
moving. With samba, jazz and blues bands, among others, you can perfect
your favorite dance moves in every category — though doing The
Sprinkler doesn’t count. The newest craze is “The Bernie,” where you
hang your head back and flail your arms behind your back a lá Weekend at Bernie’s.
We wouldn’t recommend trying it at a classy place like the St. Julien,
though. Runner-up Round Midnight may have more of the atmosphere needed
for funny dance moves. The Avalon Ballroom took third place, and The
Fox Theatre is in fourth. Nissi’s came in fifth place.


Sundown Saloon

1136 Pearl St., 303-449-4987

Runner-up: Catacombs

Boulder’s prized dive-bar den of debauchery, The Sundown Saloon,
affectionately known as “The Downer,” and its five pool tables, wins
Best Place to Play Pool. The beloved bar is known less for pool than it
is for hipsters, $6 Pabst Blue Ribbon pitchers and for being the
busiest bar on Pearl Street on Friday and Saturday nights. The dark
wooden interior, free of the campy decorations that clutter the walls
of so many dive bars around the country, the dark lighting and the loud
indie rock and metal blaring through all hours of the night contribute
to an atmosphere that almost guarantees you’ll have a great time. Pool
is free until 10:30 p.m., when the crowds start to arrive. The
Catacombs gets runner-up honors this time around. A Boulder college
tradition, The Dark Horse, comes in third, with The Attic taking fourth
place and the Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill claims fifth place.


Alexander Dawson School

10455 Dawson Dr., Lafayette


Runner-up: Shining Mountain Waldorf

There are a lot of basic
English terms that get mixed-up, misunderstood and mistranslated
between the U.S. and the UK. Biscuit vs. cookie. Football vs. soccer.
And zee vs. zed. And confusingly enough, public schools in Britain are
really what we’d call private schools here. So for any Brits perusing
this issue of Best of Boulder, let us clarify: this category is about
the American version of public schools. And in Boulder, the best
example is Alexander Dawson School, a private K-12 preparatory
school situated on 113 beautiful acres in Lafayette. Shining Mountain
Waldorf School, which offers kids pre-K through 12th grade a
well-rounded education, won runner-up this year. September School got
third place, Friends’ School snagged fourth and Watershed School came
in fifth.


The Laughing Goat

Coffee House

1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628

Runner-up: Panera Bread

The quest
for wi-fi and caffeine is one on which college students, professors and
professionals regularly embark. Strolling from coffee shop to café
looking for space to spread out a week’s worth of academics and bum
around on Facebook is one that begins on 9th and ends on 17th with a
giggling goat. The Laughing Goat Coffee House has everything a
Boulderite needs for an exquisite engagement with the Internet:
organic, fair-trade, locally retailed coffee, baristas trained in latte
art, always ambient music and most importantly, plenty of bandwidth
with which to browse the Web. The coffee house’s medley of caffeine
buzz and Internet browsing has spread from the pedestrian mall to the
Norlin Library commons. It is a feeding frenzy of students from dawn
until dawn again (it’s open 24 hours). Panera Bread takes second place
as another wi-fi hotspot for Boulder residents. Ozo Coffee, which just
opened a new location on Pearl Street, takes third. Fourth place goes
to The Cup, which is home to some of the tastiest coffee in town, and
fifth place went to Vic’s.


Boulder High School

1604 Arapahoe Ave., 720-561-2200

Runner-up: Fairview High School

In the shadow of CU, Boulder High School
is like the kid trying to live up to his older brother — and doing a
damn good job of it. Originally found in 1875 as a part of the
university, BHS is one of the oldest and most distinguished high
schools in the state. Students enjoy not only high academic standards,
but also strong arts and music programs, a wide range of clubs and an
active athletics department. And, as they do every year, the
extraordinary Fairview High School Knights gave the BHS Panthers a run
for their money. Third place in this competitive category goes to New
Vista High School, fourth to Niwot High School and fifth to Monarch
High School.


Peak to Peak Charter School

800 Merlin Dr., Lafayette, 303-453-4600

Runner-up: Casey Middle School

According to the U.S.
Department of Education, approximately 3.7 million children started
kindergarten in 2010. About 70 of those tiny tots started at Peak to Peak Charter School,
which means less than 0.002 percent of the nation’s kindergarteners
were lucky enough to start their educational career at the county’s
reader-ranked No. 1 elementary school. Those lucky few can look forward
to years of excellent academics, ambitious athletics and awesome
activities. Congratulations, Pumas! Runner-up goes to Casey Middle
School, while third goes to Boulder County School of Integrated Studies
(BCSIS). Fourth place goes to Louisville Middle School, while
Eisenhower Elementary finishes fifth. A-plus, everyone!


Yonder Mountain String Band

Runner-up: DeVotchKa

When they first started playing music more than a decade ago, no one thought Yonder Mountain String Band
would ever make it anywhere beyond their home base in Nederland, except
maybe Boulder. There wasn’t a market for four-piece string bluegrass
bands; no one could dance to music without drums. Boy, were the
doubters wrong. With just a bass, a banjo, a guitar and a mandolin,
YMSB sold out Red Rocks Amphitheatre last year, and the crowd was as
raucous as any other crowd that packed the venue that summer. And
though Yonder did briefly flirt with drums, touring with Phish drummer
Jon Fishman for a spell, they have stuck to their traditional string
band format, and they continue to grow their fan base and expand their
following to this day. DeVotchKa took runner-up honors. Big Head Todd
and the Monsters came in third, and Hazel Miller took fourth, while a
cappella savants FACE came in fifth.