• Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Jake Holsinger, of Boulder, dances in the crowd during a Yonder Mountain String Band concert last month at the Boulder Theater.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    The Fox Theatre on the Hill has become one of the best rock venues in the country.



Open mics

Connor O’Neill’s Sign up at 7:15 p.m., starts 8 p.m., Tuesdays, 15-minute slots, hosted by Danny Shafer, 1922 13th St., Boulder, 303-449-1922,

Owsley’s Golden Road Sign up at 7 p.m., starts at 7:30 p.m., Mondays, 15-minute slots, hosted by Silent Bear, half-off all well drinks and draft beers for performers, 1325 Broadway, Boulder, 720-849-8458

The Lazy Dog Sign up at 10 p.m., Tuesdays, open jam for individuals or bands, 1346 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-440-3355,

Longs Peak Pub Starts at 7 p.m., Wednesdays, open bluegrass pick, 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7885,

The Outback Saloon Starts at 9 p.m., Thursdays, provides a full drum set and amps, 3141 28th St., Boulder, 303-444-0081,

Upslope Brewing, Lee Hill tap room Starts at 7 p.m., Mondays, hosted by Wilson Harwood from Rocktin Grove, first round on the house for performers, 1501 No. 20 Lee Hill Road, Boulder, 303-449-2911,


Fox Theatre on The Hill in Boulder is known throughout the country as one of the best rock venues in the country. But, as the locals know, it’s not the only place in town to catch a show.

There’s the 1stBank Center just down the highway in Broomfield for arena shows, and there are cool little obscure rooms that even we have yet to hear about. The Boulder music scene is heavy on bluegrass, Americana and jam band, but rock, electronic, jazz and other genres are easy to find.

One of the newest venues in Boulder is Owsley’s Golden Road, a Grateful Dead-themed room that’s less than a year old. The trip’s been short but already strange. Owsley’s takes its place among more established venues, like local favorite Connor O’Neill’s.

Here’s our rundown of these and other venues that every local music fan should get to know.

1stBank Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield


This is usually where the site of the biggest shows in the Boulder area, where The String Cheese Incident books multiple nights, where surviving members of the Grateful Dead come to perform, where arena-rock lives. Look for Ween to hit 1stBank for a set of reunion shows on Feb. 12-14 and for Ellie Goulding to take the stage on April 12.

Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., Boulder


Boulder Theater is one of the two main rock and pop venues for national acts in Boulder, Fox Theatre being the other. Between the two, Boulder Theater is the bigger and more grown-up, you could say. It opened in 1906 as the Curran Opera House. Its modern incarnation goes back to the mid-1990s, and it’s a common stopping point for local stars like Yonder Mountain String Band as well as touring acts, like Lyle Lovett, who’s coming in March, and Greensky Bluegrass, who’s coming in July.

Caffe Sole

637R S. Broadway, Boulder


In the evening from Thursday-Saturday, the soul of this cafe, whose Italian name means “cafe of the sun,” is jazz. The venue presents some of the best jazz musicians in the area. Blues and Americana artists can also be heard on its stage, and be sure to enjoy Caffe Sole’s selection of wines, beer, food, coffees and teas.

Connor O’Neill’s

1922 13th St., Boulder


Offering one of the most enduring bar stages in Boulder, Connor O’Neill’s has been the starting point for many local artists who have gone on to bigger things. It’s the site for a go-to open mic and acoustic picks as well as marquee shows.

Dickens Opera House

300 Main St., Longmont


What began as an opera house in Longmont’s earliest days is now one of the city’s premier places to catch live music. Local talent claims most of its calendar, but touring acts also make regular appearances. There’s a comfortable bar and restaurant on the ground floor while the spacious stage is upstairs.

eTown Hall

1535 Spruce St, Boulder


Some history: The nationally-syndicated eTown radio broadcast used to tape at Boulder Theater until the nonprofit moved into its own hall in 2012 in downtown Boulder. The new venue is a recycled church, and eTown kept the wooden pews and other trappings of the building’s former use. Now it houses a music hall and full-service recording studio.

Fox Theatre

1135 13th St., Boulder


The one indispensable live music venue in Boulder, Fox Theatre opened in 1992 and has since become one of the best rock venues in the country. Of the two venues — Fox and Boulder theaters — operated by Z2 Entertainment, Fox is the one with the louder, sweatier, dancier shows. It’s the punk younger sister, smaller than Boulder theater, but feistier.

The Gold Hill Inn

401 Main St., Boulder


This venue has a Boulder address, but it’s located about 10 miles west of downtown in the foothills community of Gold Hill, and it’s worth the drive. The Inn, which has been open more than half a century, regularly presents great worthy live music, including occasional national acts. Look for the Inn’s 2016 lineup in the spring.

The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

1709 Pearl St., Boulder

The establishment’s tagline is “taste the love,” but sometimes you can hear it. Just about every night the Goat presents intimate shows by local singer-songwriters, jazz players and, on Monday evenings, poets.

The Lazy Dog

1346 Pearl St., Boulder


The Lazy Dog sports bar is often the first stop for local bands with big ambitions. It serves as a de-facto feeder to the area’s larger venues, and established artists often turn up at this room for bread-and-butter jams.

Macky Auditorium

1595 Pleasant Ave., Boulder


There are all kinds of events at this large on-campus venue — dance, theater, opera, you name it. Music, too. The Indigo Girls take the stage on March 31.

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery

1535 Pearl St., Boulder


The Mountain Sun in Boulder is a longtime source for live local bluegrass and acoustic artists. But its other locations in Denver and Longmont have been taking up the torch in their respective communities. Check out Longs Peak Pub, which opened in 2014 at 600 Longs Peak Ave. in Longmont, as an alternative Sun-y musical experience, or the Southern Sun, at 627 S. Broadway.

The No Name Bar

1325 Broadway, Boulder

Much about The No Name Bar in the Hill neighborhood has a touch of mystery to it — and that’s by design. One thing’s sure, though, it offers lots of live music. It’s kind of hard for first times to find. Look for the big wooden door. Or ask around until you find someone who knows where it is.

Oskar Blues Grill & Brew

303 Main St., Lyons


Oskar Blues has locations in several states now, and its beers are distributed all over the country, but this is where it all began, and it’s still one of the best places — really the only place — to see live music on a regular basis in Lyons (we’re not counting Planet Bluegrass, here, with its world-class festivals and concert series — that place is a whole different story).

Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids

1555 S. Hover Road, Longmont


When Oskar Blues opened a new restaurant in Longmont in 2009, it instantly became one of the city’s top live music joints. Look for the giant Oskar Blues beer can that towers over the restaurant.

Owsley’s Golden Road

1301 Broadway, Boulder


This is the newest addition to Boulder’s music venue roster. It was opened in 2015 by longtime Denver venue operator Jay Bianchi, known for such jam band haunts as Quixote’s True Blue and Sancho’s Broken Arrow. Grateful Dead music lives here.

Pearl Street Pub & Cellar

1108 Pearl St., Boulder


A welcoming atmosphere, wide selection of bar games, friendly service, a warren of rooms, greasy food … oh, yeah, and local artists on a corner-of-the-room, un-raised stage who play their hearts out.

Pioneer Inn

15 E. 1st St., Nederland


Take the twisting journey to Nederland for music at the Pioneer Inn and you’ll thank yourself for making the effort. With a history that goes back to the early 1970s, when the nearby Caribou Ranch recording studio was hosting superstars from around the world, its stage has been graced by the likes of Billy Joel, Carole King and Waylon Jennings. The Pioneer celebrates its 45th year in 2015, and the music has never stopped.

Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place

2027 13th St., Boulder


Music is just one of the many things that happens at Shine — its calendar offers yoga, book events, dance parties, burlesque (sound Boulder-ish at all?). But there’s also a healthy selection of live music on the menu.

Quentin Young:

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