It's that time again folks, and whether you are in college or not, I am sure you've noticed Boulder's population expand a little this week.
Today's column is for new arrivals and repeat offenders alike. I like to start the college year by running down the local music scene here and then pointing to various local sources of stereo equipment and advice.
Boulder is the chosen home for many college students, but Boulder — and Colorado in general — is also home to more than a few stereo equipment manufacturers. In fact, Denver hosts the yearly Rocky Mountain Audio Festival in October to showcase not only what the state has to offer in high-end audio, but also what is happening internationally. The 12-year-old annual show is the largest consumer high-end audio show in North America, and equipment makers from around the world are drawn to the large consumer crowds.
I'll do a proper preview for the festival as we get closer to the date. But back here in Boulder we've got plenty going on in terms of music and music playback. For the incoming student wishing to jam out in style, next week I'll point to a few local places to browse new and used audio equipment, and I'll recommend a few small stereo setups.
First though, let's look at the live scene. Boulder is home to a ton of good local bands, with even more calling the outlying towns home. From my experience, you find a lot of bluegrass bands and crazy pickers living in the mountain towns around us, while the city proper hosts more jam, reggae and funk-focused groups. Denver has way more hip hop acts, indie rock and punk rock bands than Boulder, and I've noticed more than a couple true pop outfits hailing from the land in between our two cities.
So if you consider the whole Front Range our music scene, there's not really a genre that isn't well represented. Small venues abound, but the medium-to-large venues are the main arteries of good music here — these bring in the big names along with the up-and-comers. In Boulder, the two medium venues — the Fox Theatre and the Boulder Theater — are owned and managed by the same company. You'd think that's less than ideal for the sake of diversity, but they actually do a really great job of keeping well-known acts flowing through town while promoting local bands and exposing audiences to the new hotness.
As the venues get smaller, they're also more abundant. Some small joints like the Lazy Dog downtown or the Bohemian Biergarten or its neighbor Shine have a purpose-built stage and a decent sound system to make the experience great. Other places just move the restaurant's tables out of the way and cram and band into a corner, unamplified. It's all over the map, I guess, but worth the journey in most cases.
For instance, at 7 tonight, Yonder Mountain String Band is playing a free show at Under The Sun Eatery and Pizzeria, the new place below the Southern Sun in south Boulder. Last I checked, 350 people said they were going on Facebook. Get there early!