The Oriental Opry – From Coffeehouse to The Big House

Genuine. Organic.  Vintage. Authentic.

These are just a few words that hit the nail on the head when discussing the Oriental Opry, an event held at The Oriental Theater the second Tuesday of each month. Two Sundays ago, I met with Jane Manly and Joe Kellogg, the master-minds behind this great event that aims to strengthen the community through musicianship. After witnessing two captivating Oprys, I had to get the behind-the-scenes-scoop!

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Jane Manly and Joe Kellogg, organizers of The Oriental Opry. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Feb 2014

So how did The Opry start? The event actually stems from weekly jam sessions out of musician and friend, Rick Franz’s, garage. Jam sessions grouped with (Jane Manly and her friend, Vince Leclair’s,) suggestion of the band Dirt Simple taking the big stage at the Oriental Theater, and BOOM! The Oriental Opry was born last June 2013.

A variety show, The Oriental Opry aims to provide a variety of acts, currently consisting mostly of folk, blue grass, jazz and blues music. Coming up, Jane, the producer and organizer, is working on integrating other community acts, including magic and performances by kids in the community.

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Shots from the first Oriental Opry that DenverSpeax attended in January 2014 – we were instantly hooked! Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Jan 2014

What makes The Oriental Opry so unique and special is that it’s “all about putting local musicians on the stage to create community; it’s about bringing people together”, Joe said best. Musicians reinforce this sense of community and camaraderie  by collaborating with each other on stage- many times without sheet music, simply supporting their fellow musicians. The musicians, Jane, and Joe rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising for the Oriental Opry each month. No one participates in this event for the money – performers trust Jane’s producing skills and Joe as the MC, while musicians and viewers alike understand the mission behind The Oriental Opry.

Jane and Joe have created a supportive environment allowing musicians an opportunity to make the move from playing at the coffee house to performing in the big house. “The Oriental Opry allows musicians that are isolated to come together and collaborate”, explained the two, continuously stressing the importance of the community the event creates. Additionally, they described the amazing support they receive for the event from Oriental Theater owners Scott LaBarbera and Andy Bercaw. Lots of love toward them as well as Lara Moore for all of their assistance and belief in this fantastic event.

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Jeffrey Dallet and band at the February 12th, 2014 Oriental Opry event. See more photos by clicking on pic and visiting our Facebook page! Credit: Steve Mercer, Feb 2014.

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Nearly There jamming at the Opry! Credit: Steve Mercer, Feb 2014

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Come check out the talented musicians at the Oriental Opry – check them out by clicking on the pic above to be brought to their Facebook page. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Feb 2014

Once you experience this show, it will be easy to understand and feel a necessity to share in the mission; it’s not just another event – it’s a great time with some of the most talented musicians DenverSpeax has ever heard. They have a knack for entertainment, allowing you to forget to check the time on your watch and how many likes you got on your Facebook selfie that evening. The sounds are creative and captivating, all while giving you a sense of inclusion into The Opry’s community.

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Check out The Oriental Opry every 2nd Tuesday of every month at The Oriental Theater. March 11th, 2014, is the next Oriental Opry – don’t miss it!

For information on playing in the Oriental Opry, please contact Jane Manly for additional information via the Oriental Opry’s Facebook Page.

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The Oriental Theater: A Tennyson Staple

Here’s a place we feel doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the incredible acts and fantastic shows put on: The Oriental Theater.

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The Oriental Opry, Jan 14th, 2014. Top: the Oriental Theater’s marquee. Bottom: Friends jamming at the Oriental Opry. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Jan 2014

Located at 44th and Tennyson in Denver, CO, sits this intimate venue, boasting performances by such greats as Leon Russell. The charming, vintage environment enhances the experience – the murals, grand stage, lush curtains, and statuesque balcony come together to form a bold statement about the place – it’s a staple within the community.

Our first visit to the Oriental Theater was to experience the Oriental Opry – a night chocked full of groups of friends performing various blues, bluegrass, and jazz tunes, both original and recreated. Because of the close-knit community and camaraderie of the musicians that grace the stage at the Oriental Theater, we immediately felt at home.

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Mike & Moses playing a slow, jazz number. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, Jan 2014

The Oriental Theater also hosts other events aside from live music; comics grace the presence of the stage, as well as this past Superbowl 48 game! Upcoming, Oriental Theater will host Masters of the Brewniverse this Thursday, February 13th. 15 breweries will provide unlimited tastings and participate in a beer pageant (yes, a pageant). $25 scores you unlimited craft brew samples and admission to watch the competition. Even COOLER – 100% of the profits go toward the Mile High United Way.

For more great events, check out the schedule here on the Oriental Theater’s official website. Ticket prices are extremely reasonable, the staff are kind and knowledgable, and the experience surely memorable.

We will see you all at Masters of the Brewniverse this Thursday!

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Break Science at The Ogden Theatre in Denver, Colorado

Another great group making their way to Denver, Colorado, on Saturday, March 8th – Break Science. Featuring the sounds and rhythm of New York, Break Science beautifully blends electronic with hip/hop and rap, collaborating with the likes of Redman on their latest album “Seven Bridges”.

The show caters to 16+ for $17.00 presage and $22.00 at the door. Check out The Ogden on Facebook to stay up to date on who’s visiting Denver, and what shows to mark in your calendar.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, Colorado

Detroit natives Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be hitting the Bluebird Theater stage Saturday, March 8th, 2014. Tickets are only $15 in advance and $17 at the door, catering to ages 16+.

We’re suckers for happy-fun-sunshine, toe-tappin’, positive vibe music, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. definitely delivers on all counts. The fact that they never really planned to make it big, as well as choosing a band name that seeks out musically open-minded individuals only adds to the cool factor of this band.

Before or after the show, hit up Goosetown Tavern across the street and get some great grub! Maybe a pint to wash it down with as well.

Hope to see you at the show!

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Sleigh Bells – Bluebird Theater on Colfax

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Super excited to see Sleigh Bells play at the Bluebird here on Colfax. Doldrums just finished an epic set, and now it’s just a waiting game…
It’s our first time at the Bluebird, and I’ve got to say – what a sweet venue! Honestly, there’s really not a bad seat in the house. Yeah, my Coors draft was $5, but I didn’t expect any less.
If you didn’t make the show…

I’m sorry. You’re missing out.

More soon! Happy hump day, Denverites.

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Colorado Irish Festival – July 12-14, 2013

Driving to Littleton the other morning on my way to breakfast, I saw a sign advertising the 19th annual Colorado Irish Festival coming up this Friday through Sunday in Clement Park, Littleton, CO. Back in Michigan, there were two Irish Music Festivals that we made sure to attend every year – the music is so wonderful, the beer is always flowin’, and it’s a great way to hang out with family / friends! So of course, immediate reaction: I’m going.

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Map of the Festival, courtesy (and credit to) Colorado Irish Festival’s Official site for posting.

I checked out the site to see what to expect. Tickets range in price, and this late in the game, can either be bought at a local King Soopers, or at the gate. The tickets at King Soopers will be a bit lower in price, and save you from having to wait in line at the gate. For ticket pricing for each day, click here to be taken to the ticket info through Colorado Irish Festival’s site. There is even a VIP ticket option that gives you special viewing access to the main stage, snacks, and private bar (to name a few benefits). The festival opens Friday night, with FREE admission from 5 – 6 pm, and closes at 10 pm. Saturday, the Festival will be open from 10 am – 10 pm, and Sunday is open from 10 am to 7 pm. Scared of the parking situation? No worries – parking is free at Columbine High School, with shuttles available to bring you and your family to and from the Festival. For more info regarding what’s allowed on the premises, what bands are playing, and where to be at what time, click on the map to the left.

Kids 12 and under are in FREE with adult, so this is a perfect opportunity to get outside with the kids, and enjoy some good Irish fun! Even if attending for one of the three days, I think the ticket prices are well worth the experience!

Hope the festival kicked off right today – looking forward to stopping by tomorrow!

It’s All About Community – City Park Jazz

Pavillion within City Park Credit: Kirsten Ebey May 2013

A relaxing Sunday afternoon approaches us, filled with sunshine, yard games, friends and family, and, yes – Jazz in the Park. I’m referring to City Park Jazz in Denver, which happens only 10 times each summer, specifically on Sundays from 6 – 8 pm MST. Free concerts consisting of mostly jazz, salsa, and blues genres bring the community of all ages together drawing on a tradition that actually began 130 years ago.

City Park Jazz, a charity that is community-based and supported, consists of numerous volunteers that collect donations during the free show and help with the upkeep of the park before, during, and after. Many groups show their support and love for Denver, but not quite like this organization; honestly, nothing shows love for Denver like collecting over 80,000 fans in a single City Park Jazz season (2011 – Credit: City Park Jazz).

What’s so cool about sitting in a random park on a Sunday listening to music? Oh, I’ll tell you, my friends:

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Lynz visiting from LA May 2013 Credit: Kirsten Ebey

Atmosphere
The park boasts 317 acres of raw, beautiful landscape including Ferril Lake, the infamous boathouse, ponds, paths, wide-open grassy areas, and trees new and old. The sounds from City Park Jazz only enhance the surrounding beauty.

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Moguls on a walk in City Park May 2013 Credit: Kirsten Ebey

Dog Watching
You can bring your dog (on a leash)! Many people do, which calls for a pretty eclectic mix of Denver’s canines. My friend Shawna is very good at pointing out specific breeds of dogs and filling me in, which is super interesting! We’ve seen some pretty cool, rare breeds that I doubt I’ll be able to see again (anywhere short of watching Animal Planet). If you bring your four-legged friend, please remember bags for their business, and keep in mind that 100’s of dogs will be in the surrounding area. Trust me, it’s not made for everyone.

People Watching
Do I need to explain? You have thousands of individuals in one area of Denver. Entertaining is an understatement.

Food
You can make and bring your own, or hit up a few of Denver’s finest Food Trucks. Note your wait time will be long unless you visit the trucks early.

Hanging out at City Park Jazz May 2013 Credit: Some dude nice enough to take the picture for us. Thanks!

Friends and Family Time
I hope I don’t only speak for myself when I say that I absolutely love being with my friends and family, hanging out, drinking a few beers (you can bring that, too!), and playing yard games, like LadderBall. At City Park Jazz, you can do all of these things in the presence of those who are most awesome in your life, while listening to music for free. Pack up some snacks and a cooler of beer, and scope out / secure a spot early before the show starts. There’s plenty of room, but depending on your viewing preferences, or yard games being hauled along (badminton requires a little more space, just saying), get there before 4 pm MST to secure your epic location. You don’t want to be stuck next to the smelly guy and the screaming child, do you? Also, if parking close to the park, you’re going to need to leave EXTRA early. If you can walk or bike there, that’s your best bet.

So there you have it – the rundown on City Park Jazz. It’s such a cool experience that this great city offers and should definitely not be passed up this summer. Check out the schedule of acts booked, and scam the website for additional information on how to get involved with the organization.