In the last week of September 2002, Colorado Springs awaited the unveiling of a buzzed-about downtown music venue.
From "Venture Sum":
When 32 Bleu opens its doors on Wednesday, Oct. 2, it may well usher in a new era for the Colorado Springs music/arts scene. Indeed, both the facility itself and the venue's unique musical vision are unprecedented ventures in this town.
Despite the enormity of his goal — "to provide the best food and live music in town" — Jason Spears, the owner of 32 Bleu, seems unfazed by the venue's potential.
"We want to provide a high emphasis on service and maintain the absolute best atmosphere possible for a live music club -- nothing pretentious," he says.
But with its tapered balconies and lush dance floors, the enormous 16,000-square-foot converted art-hardware store betrays his modesty. In a town that all-too-often underachieves when it comes to arts and entertainment, this should be a breath of fresh air.
Located at 32 S. Tejon St., the venue will celebrate its grand opening with the first in what Spears anticipates will be a long line of big-name, national musical acts. In a debut concert that is expected to draw a packed house, San Francisco-based Michael Franti and Spearhead will bring their blend of vibrant, Rasta-fied funk to Bleu's stage on Wednesday.
In fact, the much-neglected Springs concertgoer can expect to see an abundance of popular acts at Bleu this fall, including Grammy-winner Branford Marsalis, the legendary Jello Biafra, and Jerry Cantrell, the former guitarist of the alternative übergroup, Alice in Chains.
"It was a bit of a challenge to get such great names booked at a club that's not even open yet," confesses Spears, "but we're convinced that this is just the beginning of even bigger things to come."
Meanwhile, John Hazlehurst had a review of sorts, after seeing the Eagles play the World Arena.
From "Night of the Living Dead":
The stage show, if you can call it that, hasn't changed in a quarter of a century. It's just four badly dressed guys playing their tunes. They amble back and forth on stage, with expressions both pleased and gloomy. Once, in a Temptations-influenced move, they lined up together and did an arthritic little jump. The audience roared. Duuuudes!!!
And what about the audience? Mostly nonsmokers, judging from the tiny number of lighters brandished by folks begging for an encore at the end of the concert. And not quite as geezed as the performers — lots of young folks and lots of pretty girls scattered among the gray hairs in the front few rows. In fact, the Eagles wrote a song about that ("a rich old man, she won't have to worry"), they sang it, and it was great. And if you disagree, well, you can go burn your AARP card for all I care.
And firefighters came from across the nation to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Observance Ceremony, but they didn't drink a lot of beer. At least outside.
From "88 Kegs of Beer on the Wall":
Party leftovers typically include fetid vegetable dip, pigs-in-a-blanket gone bad, and a snoozing stranger on the sofa.
But 88 virgin kegs of Budweiser? In America?
That's exactly what Andrew Collins, chairperson of Pikes Peak Police and Fire Athletics, was saddled with after last Saturday night.
"It was horrible," Collins said of the downtown beer garden he hoped would wet the whistles of visiting fire fighters while helping his organization raise funds for next summer's World Police & Firefighters Games in Barcelona. Collins credits myriad factors, including the brisk weather and sparse downtown pedestrian traffic, with keeping his beer garden, temporarily erected in the parking lot at Pikes Peak Avenue and Tejon Street, less than fertile.
By most accounts, last weekend's events — which brought thousands of people to Colorado Springs to remember fallen firefighters at the international firefighters memorial in Memorial Park — were a success for local businesses.
Collins' fundraiser, however, was a fund-drainer leaving him with more than $13,000 of personal debt.