When it comes to Denver’s music scene, most people know about larger venues, such as Red Rocks and Fiddler’s Green, but the city offers dozens of terrific smaller places to hear live music virtually any night of the week—places where you can grab a beer, find seating around high tops and tables or a spot to stand and soak in local and national acts up close.
And you won’t have to spend a week’s pay on the cover charge, either.
Here are 5 of our favorites:
The Walnut Room, 3131 Walnut St.: Before RINO became a hip thing with electric scooters, pedal-powered bars and trendy restaurants, The Walnut Room was there, bringing amazing music to the then-undistinguished neighborhood. Fourteen years old, it still boasts a casual restaurant in front, and a small, unpretentious room in back, where patrons sit at tables or stand and enjoy national and local acts. The sound system is first-rate, as is the level of intimacy between patron and performer, making for a memorable experience every time.
Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E. 1st Ave: Don’t feel like standing all night? Check out the Soiled Dove, which offers an upscale feel (unlike the bar-type atmosphere of many other venues) and seating at small tables arranged in a semi-circle around the stage. Patrons can order food from the Tavern, located upstairs, while they enjoy first-class acts, such Marcia Ball, Alejandro Escovedo, Karla Bonoff, and Joe Ely—everything from blues and jazz, to country and folk. Up-and-comers are also on the bill. We saw Sturgill Simpson at the Dove when there were 10 people in the audience. Now he’s playing Red Rocks. Need we say more?
Hi-Dive, 7 South Broadway: Sure, it’s grungy. But the Hi-Dive wears its grunge with pride. (After a negative Yelp write-up, the bar printed T-shirts emblazoned with the review: “Sh** bar. Sh** people.”) The atmosphere is rustic, with worn wood floors and unframed posters of upcoming shows on the wall, along with a few deer heads— no tables. No matter. Grab a beer and listen to everything from metal and punk to country and folk. Be sure to catch high-powered rock regulars Bud Bronson & The Good Timers. It’s like seeing Bruce Springsteen at the Stone Pony before he became a man with one name: “Bruuuuuuce.”
Globe Hall, 4483 Logan St.: This isn’t the toniest part of town, but that’s what makes it feel so authentic. Globe Hall is located in an old brick building in Globeville, in the shadow of Denver’s packing plants. It boasts a bar, a reasonably priced restaurant with the best barbecue turkey sandwiches in town and a music room that holds about 200 people (no seating). You’ll hear lots of great rock and roll, as well as punk and country. In December, the great Patterson Hood of the Drive-By-Truckers will play two nights. This is a unique place, where the overall vibe as great as the music.
Dazzle Denver, 1512 Curtis St.: To Denver’s jazz fans, Dazzle is no secret. It is simply the best jazz room in town—and possibly the world. Bringing in top-tier national acts since 1997, Dazzle has become a regular on Downbeat Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Jazz Clubs in the World” by routinely featuring top-tier national acts like Charles McPherson, Carla Bley and Nels Cline. Patrons can order food while watching music, including at brunch shows. The sound is superb and the sight-lines equally so. And the setting is intimate and cozy. For the best of jazz, Dazzle, well, dazzles.