Esme Patterson is a Denver native who recently released her third solo record, We Were Wild. The folky songstress describes herself in 3 words: singer, gambler and songwriter. With a gritty undertone contrasting with innocent delivery in her brand of mid-tempo indie rock, Patterson’s straightforward approach to an established genre maintains a convincing spectrum of emotion. Like many an artist, Patterson’s artistic identity owes a lot to where she was raised. Points of influence and straight up fun in her hometown of Denver reveal just how unique the city’s culture, geography and beauty really is.
Best outdoor activity
There are so many here in beautiful Colorado, but one of my favorite things to do outside in Denver is make a picnic and ride bikes to City Park, spread out the blanket on the lawn by the fountain just west of the Nature and Science Museum. The view of the city from right there is really lovely.
Favorite drinking game
When Lost Lake first opened I used to walk the two blocks up the alley from where I lived then and roll dice with the bartender for whether I’d have to buy my drink. That’s a game that most people and places won’t let you play. But yeah, ceelo or 3s, two great dice games, are my fav drinking games.
Best way to unwind in the city on Friday afternoon
I like to go to Twist and Shout and the Tattered Cover bookstore out on Colfax. Two amazing local businesses owned by good people. First I’ll browse through Twist, one of my favorite cd and vinyl stores in town, make sure to ask the employees what they’re listening to, they all have great taste. Then I’ll go next door to the Tattered Cover, grab a coffee and cozy up with a book on one of their cozy couches. The employees here are also wonderful resources if you’re looking for reading material to be inspired by.
Favorite camping spot & camping essentials
Buena Vista, south of Denver a few hours is my favorite camping location. I always make sure to bring a film camera, some wine, food that’s fun to cook over a fire (if you’re in the safe time of year to make a fire!), and a good book.
Favorite outdoor space
I love Confluence Park, it’s at the western edge of downtown, and it’s a lovely bike ride up the Cherry Creek path to that spot. I’ll bring a book or my journal and sit by the river there and read or write for hours sometimes.
Favorite sporting event in the city
I love to catch a Rockies game at Coors Field when it’s baseball season. The cheap seats (the rock pile) are really fun when you go with a group of friends.
Best way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon
Going for a walk through Cheeseman or Washington Park is fun, both have nice coffee shops just off the park. If the weather is inclement, I love the Nature and Science Museum. The wildlife diorama section is so strange and beautiful and oddly peaceful to me.
Best season in Denver
Fall. No question.
Best place for day drinking
Tough call. The Thin Man is wonderful, really beautiful bar owned by good people and if you wanna switch from booze to coffee at any point (the secret to successful day drinking is sustainability). St. Marks is next door and is a Denver landmark.
Favorite festival in Denver
UMS is always a rowdy good time.
Best Bar/Drink of Choice
I love dive bars. I could write a whole other essay on my favorite Denver dive bars, but it feels funny recommending most of these places because I feel like they’re not for everyone, either kinda dangerous or dirty or wayyyyy outside of downtown… my fav in town is the Knob Hill Inn on Colfax. I always get a dirty martini, if you pay in cash they give you change in two dollar bills and the jukebox is a real good one.
El Taco de Mexico. That chile relleno is my favorite meal in the world.
Best Record Shop
Wax Trax and Twist and Shout are tied for first place. Both rad and important places in the Denver community.
It used to be Union Station, before someone realized how lovely it is and remodeled it and made it super fancy. It is still such a beautiful space, though. I really like the Clocktower. If you go up to the top the view is spectacular and there’s a great cabaret club in the basement.
Best late night haunts
Tom’s Diner on Colfax is a classic 24 hr diner. So is the Breakfast King. I often end up at Sputnik on South Broadway for late night drinks with friends — they have food late as well which can sometimes save your life.
Favorite music venue
It has to be the Hi-Dive, though I love so many venues in town. The Hi-Dive has been a focal point in the Denver music scene for so long, and people like me, who came up playing shows in Denver, owe a lot to the dive and the people who see shows there. It’s the proving ground, the town hall kinda, most of my favorite shows I’ve ever seen were there. Also, it is one of the last venues left in town that is independently owned.
Favorite neighborhood & why
I love 5 Points, lived there for years and years, I miss the pig ear stand that sold pig ear sandwiches and single cigarettes. I love Baker, the houses are so beautiful and colorful and you can walk to everything you want. I love City Park neighborhood, great part of town to bike around and that park is so huge and peaceful. I also love Capitol Hill, great stuff everywhere in walking distance, cool old houses.
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