W hat's your go-to spot for live music?
Posing that question isn't my lazy way of diving in. I'd honestly like to know, because in my short 11 months living in Boulder I've lamented missing out on the only DIY spot (Astroland), one of my favorite venues shut down (Shug's), and one I'd been looking forward to trying has closed its doors, too (Rock N Soul).
It's sad to see these places go, and after recovering from the initial shock, everyone is left wondering what will replace them, if anything. There hasn't been a DIY resurgence since Astroland was shut down late last summer (in 2011). Shug's owner Sean Shelby has said he is optimistic that the Southern-style restaurant and music venue will return, but there's been no such hope expressed by the owner of the Rock N Soul Cafe.
These were venues that provided homes for local bands -- somewhere they could book regular gigs rather than one-offs. The Yawpers, for instance, had such a good relationship with Shug's that they thanked everyone there in their album notes. Talking with the Daily Camera's Alicia Wallace after learning Rock N Soul would close, Boulder guitarist David Goodheim of Carry Me Ohio summed up the concern that seems to be on every musician's mind.
"Boulder certainly could use a few more medium and small music venues and, really, just more of a commitment to wanting to have a thriving music and arts scene. One space here and there is just not enough to support a thriving community."
He's right. The Fox Theatre and Boulder Theater keep Boulder on the map for national talent and even locals who can draw a crowd, but there's a distinct lack of mid-sized venues and the small ones are dying out.
I know I'm still a Boulder newbie -- still eating gluten, refusing to do yoga, and seeing bluegrass as an awesome novelty -- but I'm going to give you my take anyway.
Buck up, Boulder.
Everyone is frustrated that these places are closing down, but if you look around, there are new opportunities popping up. A few months ago, I talked with local musician Danny Meyer about the push to bring regular live shows back to The Sink. He and his band FreeBear are still playing there every Thursday. In the not so distant future, eTown will open up eTown Hall, which will fill the gap as a mid-sized music venue.
And let's not discount what we still have. The Laughing Goat makes a great low-key venue, the Lazy Dog has a good atmosphere to get a little rowdy, and in a weird twist, Bacaro has become a spot to catch occasional live hip hop.
Maybe all the closures are the kick in the ass someone needs to start a new DIY space. Go right ahead and file that under "much easier said than done," but it feels like the right solution. It puts more control in the hands of the bands, and more importantly, fosters a sense of community.
When I talked with Zack Roif, one of the former owners of Astroland, he said he hopes someone will step up to replace the short-lived but much-loved venue.
"This is not something you do by yourself, this is something you need to do with other people, and make sure those other people are as motivated as you and you're doing it for the right reasons," Roif said. "I think there's definitely still a need for it and I don't think that will ever go away."
So there you have it. Got a problem with the Boulder music scene? Do something about it. Of course it's not easy and, yeah, it might not work out, but trying is certainly better than wallowing in your music-less sorrows and waiting for someone else to fix it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to complaining about my messy apartment and not cleaning it.