The 20 most coveted Colorado music-industry jobs: The complete list with five new profiles
Catherine Nguyen (foreground) with husband John Le (aka DJ Dragon).
Director of Marketing and Entertainment (Catherine Nguyen, Beta)
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Catherine Nguyen found herself with then boyfriend, now husband John Le (aka DJ Dragon), passing out fliers and branding an up and coming production company. "It was an endeavor that didn't have an end in mind," Nguyen recalls. "Rather, it was a journey and music was the centerpiece of our actions."
On any given night, Nguyen's fingerprints are all over the entertainment for the evening, but it's not just about throwing an event. "When it all comes to fruition," she explains, "you come to the conclusion that we are in the business of making memories: Memories of a great birthday, or seeing your favorite DJ, or even discovering a new artist -- which becomes part of the customers' lives and they carry that with them forever. It's a powerful thing."
Nguyen has dedicated her life to the music scene in Denver. Starting out with promotions in the early days of Triad Dragons, to being responsible for brand management for the Beta, Nguyen is the person behind all the events at the number one club in North America.
But a job like this only works if the commitment is there, and the success certainly doesn't come overnight. "It is truly a labor of love," she says. "If you're doing your job right and are successful, it's a lot of hard working hours, sleepless nights and loss of hair that are poured into it." Nguyen knows this job is not for everyone, but her dedication over the past five years has landed her in one of the most important positions in Denver's club scene. -- Britt Chester
Raw Russ (aka Berk Visual, aka Wallace Gibbs III) doing his thing behind the decks.
Boutique Music and Art Collective founder (Berk Visual, Elm & Oak)
Berk Visual (aka Wallace Gibbs III) met Alex Botwin at college in Tennessee, where Berk was in the early years of building Elm & Oak. "I started my first clothing line when I was seventeen," Gibbs explains, "and I've always been into that create and design realm."
Botwin, who really brought the music aspect of Elm & Oak to the table, joined forces with Gibbs in 2009 when the latter relocated to Boulder. The two came together with a vision and the means to create, which prompted the opening of the Elm & Oak storefront just off the Pearl Street Mall on 13th Street. The brand, which includes visual artists, musicians and designers, also uses its presence to promote music, a side of the business that Botwin is more than experienced with. "I just want to back what I believe in," says Botwin in regard to Cherub, TwoFresh and Black Actors, three artists that are receiving serious support from Elm & Oak.
Along with running this brand, both Gibbs and Botwin are music producers, each with respective careers of their own. As Raw Russ, Berk is steadily climbing the ranks as a DJ, supporting local and national acts, while Botwin is set to launch a headlining tour with Paper Diamond.
"As far as I see it," notes Berk, "we are definitely still on the upswing. It's just continuing to grow, and I feel like we got here -- I never had this grand vision -- I just knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to art." -- Britt Chester