I t’s easy to get lazy about looking for date-night entertainment — there’s always live music at the Boulder Theater and The Fox, right? But if you’re anything like me, even if you do manage to buy tickets at one of Boulder’s big music venues before a show sells out, it’s still hard to drop $50 or more on a pair of tickets.

But just because you don’t want to spring for tickets doesn’t mean you can’t see a great show. There are a handful of local venues that have live music every weekend and while Bela Fleck is jamming for $40 a ticket Friday night, you can be watching one of these great acts play for free. And, since you didn’t have to drop big bucks on the price of admission, you’ll be able to afford an extra drink for your gal-pal and even impress her by tipping the band.

The four-man band that comprises Chain Station claims a “mountain music” sound that’s an upgrade to standard bluegrass — even Bela Fleck would be impressed. Their lineup of original songs are packed with mandolin, banjo, guitar and bass-picking solos and references to good times they’ve inspired: “Whiskey Dew” about the effects of imbibing, “Three Long Daze” about a hippie-infested mountain-town concert, and a love song to Colorado called “Find Your Own.” They don’t start playing until late, but within a few minutes of the opening song, I can guarantee you’ll have a second wind. Wear your dancing (read: comfy) shoes. chainstationmountainmusic.com (Rueben’s Burger Bistro; 1800 N Broadway St.; Fri., April 6; 10 p.m.)

Tucked just east of campus, “Boulder’s Home of the Blues” (aka Blues & Greens at the Outlook Hotel) is brings live music within walking distance of the dorms. Their lineup is packed every weekend, but there’s only an at-the-door cover charge only about 25 percent of the time. This Friday isn’t one of those times, and the regular faces of Louisville-locals, the Gretchen Troop Band , will be playing high-energy jazz, blues, and funk originals alongside rearrangements of classics by the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding, and Howlin’ Wolf. gretchentroop.com (Blues & Greens at the Outlook Hotel; 800 28th St.; Fri., April 6; 8 p.m.)

Need your fix of alternative rock? With a little reggae thrown in? Check out the double-header of local bands at the Lazy Dog’s west-side venue, “the Brick House.” Opening band, Poor Man’s Vacation , has a classic indie-rocker-meets-reggae sound that’s relaxed, but energizing at the same time — perfect for mellow grooving and occasional fast-paced dance interludes alongside your lady friend. The Casual Sinners have a harder-rock vibe, but without getting too extreme. The dancing will be a little more intense, but don’t expect to throw in more than a few head-bangs. The band’s name says it: think casual. (Lazy Dog Bar & Grill; 1346 Pearl St.; Fri., April 6, 10 p.m.)

Not every coffee-shop event is worth a recommend, but the nine-piece Afronauts , playing at the Laughing Goat Coffeehouse deserve a shout out. Instead of standing-room-only swaying up front — the band will be taking up most of the space — beeline for a cozy seat at one of the outside tables and order a glass of the house red to complement the smooth afrobeat instrumentals. Their music is funky, fresh, fun, but mellow enough that you can still have an intimate, whispery get-to-know you conversation while they play. afronautsband.com (Laughing Goat Coffeehouse; 1709 Pearl St.; Fri., April 6, 8 p.m.)

Kristy Holland writes about dating once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date-night ideas at boulderdatenight@gmail.com.