Wednesday, august 1, 2009
The image you are
viewing is a double exposure. The stenciled word
Westword" on the asphalt of a parking lot designating a
space, and the view looking North at the 20th St.
Viaduct from that same location.
Westword's offices were
in the Atrium Building at 18th Street and Wynkoop
Street, across the street from the Wynkoop Brewing
Company; the parking was just north in what is now
the Keg Steakhouse location. The 20th Street
Viaduct was across the street and field, providing
transportation East and West for the area, the 23rd
Street Viaduct seen faintly beyond. Coors Field
would be built in that exact location between the two
viaducts with Blake Street to the right out of view.
The Denver Westword, then and now, provides urban Denver
with the essential information of feature stories, art
and restaurant reviews, with insight as to what is
really going on in our city. The publication, may
I dare say, leans to the liberal side of our community
with articles, cartoons and photos, some cuss words and
things we would think, but not print.
Patricia Calhoun, the Editor to this day, has provided
the leadership of Westword, and directed content that
was initially before its time but is now accepted,
appreciated and always moving into the future. The
publication truly helped move Denver into the future,
all the time respecting our past and providing the
conduit for the community attitude and commerce to grow.
So, back to the past. I viewed Westword weekly and
bathed myself in its publication. Many talented
people offered unique
expertise; I will mention some of the names I remember
most over the years from 1982 - 1995.
Kenny Be, Cartoonist
Patricia Calhoun, Editor and Columnist
Nancy Clegg, Art Critic
Susan Froyd, Happenings
Susan Goldstein, Photographer
Gary Isaacs, Photographer
For additional images and
commentary, please refer
to the Lower Downtown section.
Rainbow Music Hall
would be "yes". 1988
Hall opened in 1979 with Jerry Jeff Walker,
and closed in 1988 with Warren Zevon
after hosting some 1,000 performances.
Hall was all about great musicians and an
intimate connection with audiences who were
positioned anywhere from 5 feet to 125 feet
from the band.
were the best in the world with an
incredible sound and light system
complimenting the performances. Nice
Located at Evans and
Monaco Street, the former 3-screen movie theater - walls
removed and seats for 1200 patrons, a building far from
an architectural gem - took on a new life when the music
started. It was the best in the world.
I worked at the Rainbow Music Hall from 1978-1983 and
was fortunate to work the stage/back stage position
where the performers entered. My job was to check
backstage passes for roadies and groupies etc. - if you
had a pass you got back stage, if you didn't, please go
I would "trip" on being
at that spot, mostly by talking with the roadies, then
by the show itself, and finally by looking at the
audience and band. It was almost overwhelming to
be so immersed in the work of the musicians and crew
that earned that spotlight - so many practices
from childhood, and here we all were.
The Rainbow was not unlike similar venues nationally
that did not serve alcohol. We searched the
patrons for obvious bulges of alcoholic containers and
confiscated them, but the hidden amounts of weed or
cigarettes were not detected. Once inside, the
room filled with smoke, and unless a patron was
openly drinking, everything was cool. As long as people
stayed in their seats, everything was cool...
We had a room for bands or special guests near the front
entrance that was closed to the public. It had a
one-way glass mirror with a view of the crowd. The
window was straight up isle from where I was positioned;
the crowd looked at the band and I saw some very
interesting things when the lights inside or occupants
were close to the window.
One evening after a Bob Dylan performance, we were
selling tickets for the upcoming show of The Knack to
people who had been in line overnight. We were to
"guard" Bob Dylan's semi-truck of equipment. A
fellow employee and I were doing "what you do to
stay alert to see the early morning," and in the harsh
morning light, we surveyed the area, checking out the
crowd and truck trailer. We were so proud, until...we
looked up at the back up the trailer full of equipment,
the lock was on the door, unlocked...rock and roll.
Some of my favorite musicians were: J.D. Souther, who
actually called a fellow employee who had been beaten up
working a show, to wish him well. Other favorites
were the J. Geils Band, Tom Waits, Stanley Clarke, Bob
Dylan, Jimmy Messina, Talking Heads, Andy Kaufman,
Bonnie Raitt, Leo Kottke, Jerry Jeff Walker (Rainbow
opening night), and a special benefit for my late friend
and comedian, Don Becker, that featured Robin Williams,
Dennis Miller and Rosanne Barr.
A thank you to my fellow friends I worked with, and to
the larger group of people who saw these shows.
My late friend, Frank Maes, who helped me get the job at
the Rainbow, had more back stage passes than I have ever
seen (500) from Red Rocks to...I know your last pass got
you in, My Brother.
For additional images and
commentary, please refer
to the Denver section.
Kim Allen, 2009
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