By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Acoustic Cafe: 95 E. 1st St., Nederland, 1-303-258-3209. Jam and java are on the menu at Acoustic Cafe, an aprés-ski stop for the Eldora set and a destination in itself. String, folk and jazz bands play at this funky hippie-town cafe most Friday and Saturday nights, but amateurs can strike up their own fiddles every Sunday during the afternoon bluegrass jam session.
Aggie Theatre: 204 S. College Ave., Fort Collins, 1-970-482-8300. Fort Collins's biggest live-music hall is a converted movie theater retrofitted with two bars. The Aggie sports a broad, multi-leveled floor that ensures a good view from anywhere, although a brutal chain-link fence separates the aged from the underaged.
Alley Cat: 1222 Glenarm Pl., 303-571-4545. If you want to get your groove on at Alley Cat, you'd better have plenty of scratch. Sharing the building with Diamond Cabaret means that at the Cat, the hotties and the drinks are high-dollar. So dress like you mean it.
Avogadro's Number: 605 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 1-970-493-5555. Offbeat and off the beaten track, Avogadro's Number's warmly lit, non-smoking stage area is painted with a stunning mural that circles the room with people, stars and planets. The crowd reflects the folksy, friendly vibe of the music calendar: lots of bluegrass acts, jam bands, acoustic guitarists/singers and a solid open-mike night.
Ayja: 7800 E. Hampden Ave., 303-694-4898. A 180-degree turn from its regular incarnation as Proof of the Pudding, the Wednesday-night Ayja (pronounced "Asia") brings a bit of SoHo-meets-Far-East glitz. With a throbbing dance floor, pricey drinks, not-so-pricey sushi and a see-or-be-seen crowd, the place is almost too hip for its own good.
Bash: 1902 Blake St., 303-298-7994. This big brick warehouse has undergone a complete renovation. The new silvery and sparkly artwork contrasts nicely with Bash's dark interior, a perfect setting for many larger-than-you video screens and hot DJ mixes.
Beyond: 500 16th St., Denver Pavilions, 303-623-9663. Beyond the cool black depths of the lobby and the hallway, the dance floor at Beyond gets hot -- sometimes too hot. When that happens, patrons can chill in the Ice Room, the club's transformed walk-in freezer, where shots are served to the sweaty before they venture back into the double-bass multimedia blast of the Pavilions' latest nighttime heat wave.
Blondie's Firehouse: 180 S. Union Blvd., Lakewood, 720-963-8408. The people at Blondie's take their theme seriously, hanging a fire suit and other memorabilia from the ceiling and cheesecake pictures of fire guys and gals in the bathrooms. Live-music Friday centers around pop and classic rock, but the rest of the week it's pretty much all karaoke, all the time.
Blue 67: 1475 Lawrence St., 303-260-7505. The decor at Blue 67 is as exciting as the martini menu, with arty square booths and little geometric couches that fill the very blue LoDo space. Large windows and a patio facilitate easy people-watching, while electronic and fusion DJs, and jazz on Wednesdays, command the Euro-chic crowd nightly.
Blue Ice: 22 S. Broadway, 303-777-3433. The thick blue drapes in the window suggest a martini bar, but Blue Ice is more of a drinker's den than a fashion haven. Tuesday night's jazz-jam sessions are similarly open and non-elitist, and the club's mid-Broadway locale means over-imbibers can still catch a bus after closing.
Blue Mule: 1624 Market St., 720-932-6853. The Blue Mule has quickly established itself as a reliable spot with a solid music calendar. The subterranean Mule books familiar and up-and-coming artists from the local rock realm.
Bluebird Theater: 3317 E. Colfax Ave., 303-322-2308. Built in 1917, the Bluebird Theater has a history of intimacy: Before its renovation as a music venue, it was a porn theater. Now one of the city's finest small-room concert halls, the club is a happy marriage of arresting architecture and forward-looking music. Touring acts and local bands get equal stage time under the ´bird's wing, where cherubs look down from vaulted ceilings onto hipster congregations.
Bottoms Up Tavern: 3124 S. Parker Rd., Aurora, 303-695-4711. Newbie musicians might try to take refuge in the thick black curtains that flank the large stage at Bottoms Up Tavern. A kind of starter bar for the live-music set, the Aurora venue gives both green and seasoned performers in all genres their moment in the spotlight. The music can be uneven, but the drinks are consistently cheap and the crowd is friendly, casual and forgiving.
Boulder Theater: 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030. The artwork on the walls in the Boulder Theater is enough reason to visit the historic movie-palace-style venue, where film screenings now take a second seat to first-rate music performances from local and national acts of all genres. A stellar annual jazz series, monthly tapings of the nationally broadcast e-town radio program and a comfortable bar elevate an already elegant room.
Bourbon Street: 5117 S. Yosemite St., Greenwood Village, 303-721-6150. There are plenty of reasons to make the trip to this clean, bistro-style restaurant. Well-lit and family-friendly during the week, the place reflects its namesake more on weekend nights, when blues and jazz groups get the joint jumpin'.
Bovine Metropolis Theater: 1527 Champa St., 303-758-4722. Nearly hidden by the surrounding downtown businesses, Bovine Metropolis Theater is the type of place you'd expect to need a secret password to enter. Located upstairs in the old Changing Scene facility, the cozy space hosts experimental theater, improv performances and sketch comedy on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Brendan's Pub: 2009 Larimer St., 303-308-9933. It's hard to have the blues at Brendan's beautiful new locale: The interior is simultaneously impressive and inviting, with the rich woodwork and restored antique bar conveying warmth and comfort in the elegant atmosphere. Luckily, the calendar is packed with pros -- some more established than others, but all able to belt out the blues despite their lush surroundings.
Brunswick Zone Green Mountain: 945 S. Kipling Pkwy., Lakewood, 303-980-0300. The decor of this bowling-alley bar is as antiseptic as a Holiday Inn cantina, but Green Mountain Bowl picks it up with Jell-O shots and non-smoking hours. Come for the electronic scoring, but stay for the live DJs during Cosmic Bowl and the moderate-screen TVs.
Buckhorn Exchange: 1000 Osage St., 303-534-9505. The Buckhorn Exchange's upstairs bar has the thickest history in town, and it's a good spot for a cocktail and atmosphere, even if you can't afford the pricey bison and quail downstairs. Adjacent to the classic bar (an 1857 German import) is a lounge packed with antiques and plush furniture, where autoharpist Roz Brown performs four nights a week.
Buffalo Rose: 1119 Washington Ave., Golden, 303-278-6800. Recent renovations have transformed the Buffalo Rose into a venue worthy of national acts. Musicians perform on a platform built over an old community pool while patrons wet their whistles in an adjoining restaurant. On busy nights, the huge dance floor fills with twirlers, boot-scooters, honky-tonkers and, sometimes, boxing enthusiasts: Fights have been added to the mix at this Golden holdout.
Burnsley Hotel: 1000 Grant St., 303-830-1000. Once owned by an investment group that included vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, the posh Burnsley Hotel has long been home to a first-rate jazz club; local vocalists, pianists and other swingers perform in the lobby bar Thursday through Saturday nights. The upscale, candle-lit atmosphere and mellow sounds make this a great date spot.
Bushwacker's: 1967 S. Broadway, 303-722-0280. The huge, lit-up mirror in this low-maintenance, live-music hideout allows bands to preen from the stage before launching their aural assaults. And you can watch the show without being too far from your next beer in Bushwacker's sunken bar area, complete with comfy chairs.
C.B. & Potts: 6575 S. Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Englewood, 303-770-1982. No one , not even the staff -- is in a hurry at C.B. & Potts's Tech Center spot, a happy-hour harbor for the suit-and-tie segment. Background-level music is sporadically folded in, though patrons are more likely to stick to the plush booths than get out on the small dance floor.
C.B. & Potts: 555 Zang St., Broomfield, 720-887-3383. Buttface Amber is the name of a lager served to the business-class crowd at C.B. & Potts; it's made by the Bighorn Brewery, housed within the Broomfield bar, where sports TV, trivia games and unique microbrews are the favored forms of entertainment. DJs do spin control a couple of nights a week.
C.B. & Potts: 43 W. Centennial Pkwy., Highlands Ranch, 720-344-1200. Working with the popular hunting-lodge/yuppie-watering-hole theme, C.B. & Potts is Highlands Ranch's closest approximation of a neighborhood bar. TVs are everywhere, the decor is unintentionally campy, and there's live music for the late-night crowds on Wednesdays.
Cafe Prasad: 1904 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-447-2667. Cafe Prasad has a split personality: It's half juice counter/mini-restaurant, and half carpeted live-music venue. There's plenty of seating available -- thick, rough-hewn oak on one side of the room and folding metal chairs on the other. Or take a cue from the regulars and sprawl on the floor, relax and enjoy the mostly acoustic acts that play here.
Caffé Solé: 637-R Table Mesa Dr., Boulder, 303-499-2985. A clean, subtly lit coffee shop on the south end of town, Caffé Solé does its best with a mini-mall address. Dreadlocked baristas pull joe for students and others who want to enjoy the mellow atmosphere.
Carioca Cafe: 2060 Champa St., 303-296-1250. Live music dominates Carioca Cafe on the weekends, and a lively jukebox keeps the beat during breaks. Some might speculate on the meaning of a huge deco-style mural on the wall, painted in the ´40s, while others simply concentrate on sinking the eight ball at one of many game tables.
The Castle: 83 E. 120th Ave., 303-452-1002, Thornton. Though it revels in the royalty of local touring talents in the world of electronic music, the Castle can't quite shake its hotel-conference-room appearance. That's because it is a hotel conference room, adjoining a suburban Radisson. An upstairs area is open to the over-21 set, while youngsters are welcome on the ground floor; images projected on large screens, fancy light shows and solid talent might help you overlook the chairs stacked against the wall and the sound of the bar vibrating from the loud music.
Catacombs: 2115 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-0486. As the name suggests, Catacombs is a series of little caverns winding beneath the über-swank Boulderado Hotel. Because it's one of the few remaining bars in Boulder to allow smoking, the rock bands that play here are only part of the draw of this collegiate mainstay.
Celtic Tavern: 1801 Blake St., 303-308-1795. You don't have to be Irish in LoDo, but it sure doesn't hurt, particularly if you're looking to avoid the sports-bar crowd. In keeping with the Gaelic theme is the Celtic Tavern, which eschews a green-beer motif in favor of decor that incorporates literary works from the Emerald Isle's finest. The shamrockless venue offers a cozy, Welsh-inspired nook and a leather-sofa-filled Scottish room for other bastards of the British Empire.
Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom: 2637 Welton St., 303-297-1772. The latest in a group of family-owned venues designed with the discerning Deadhead in mind, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom is a mixture of glam and jam. Housed in the former Casino Cabaret in the Five Points neighborhood, the large room hosts well-known local hippie-esque artists normally seen on the festival circuit.
El Chapultepec: 1962 Market St., 303-295-9126. Spicy, satisfying and hot describes the Mexican food at El Chapultepec, as well as the live jazz that emanates from the closet-sized room every night of the week. Easily Denver's most authentic jazz club, the ´pec hosts the city's finest players and tightest combos, who swing for shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, especially on weekends. The music leans to the traditional, and so do the tastes of purists who show up to listen in this dim, vintage gem.
Charlie Brown's Bar and Grill: 980 Grant St., 303-860-1655. A corner piano bar in Charlie Brown's Bar and Grill is where locals drop by to offer sauced renditions of Tin Pan Alley songs or just consume strong cocktails. Once favored by Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, Charlie's now draws one of Denver's most diverse crowds, including art students, career drinkers and singers who turn up for karaoke.
Chautauqua Dining Hall: 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder, 303-440-3776. Chautauquas -- cultural and self-improvement centers -- were hot properties in the nineteenth century, but only three remain in the entire country, including the Boulder Chautauqua, founded in 1898. The 26-acre campus is centered on a grand Victorian dining hall, featuring great views of the Flatirons, a menu of American standards and live jazz Tuesdays through Sundays.
Cheers:301 Main St., Longmont, 303-651-0580. Yes, this local franchise of a national chain does resemble the other Cheers, but the crowd is more likely to be Longmont toasted than Boston tony. Rock, jazz and acoustic offerings plump up the calendar in the rough-around-the-edges tavern, which otherwise revolves around drinking.
The Church: 1160 Lincoln St., 303-832-3528. Stained-glass windows and hundreds of candles spread throughout the Church suggest a pious vibe, but the congregation is as mixed as they come. The roomy Lincoln Street mainstay draws globally hailed DJs, local residents, retro-lovers, even the under-21 set: Sections of the bar are open to those eighteen and up. A rooftop patio affords one of the city's best views.
Climax Lounge:2217 Welton St., 303-292-5483. The Climax Lounge has a broad vision. By mixing high and low, the Five Points club has hosted theatrical performances alongside pinball competitions and performances from a wide range of local and national artists. There's a full arcade for game lovers, too.
Club 156: CU-Boulder UMC, Broadway & Euclid, Boulder, 303-492-8619. There's a bizarre little world in the bowels of the UMC, the University of Colorado's student center, now that Club 156's reopened after a two-year hiatus. Punk and indie-rock bands dominate the stage in this all-ages, smoke-free space, located right next door to a bowling alley.
Club Corner: 6551 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge, 303-463-9969. A neon confection in no-man's-land Wheat Ridge, Club Corner tries hard to be Denver's Coyote Ugly, but the ceiling over the bar is just too low for women to dance under. Barkeeps make do by stapling up the unmentionables that female patrons turn over in exchange for a free drink and an earful of live country music.
Club Dream: 3500 Walnut St., 303-863-7326. Also called Factory of Dreams, Club Dream is just that: a dream for both DJ and dancer. With one DJ working on the building's construction and beautiful murals hand-painted by another, this heaven of a nightspot boasts a smart layout with a spacious floor area for getting into the luscious grooves that are guaranteed for both the gay and straight clientele.
Club Purple: 1523 Market St., 303-607-9209. The best view at Club Purple is found by looking up: A glass floor on the second level provides an intimate view of the beautiful people who gather to hear DJs spin techno and hip-hop. The large club boasts three bars and a private, full-service basement that's available to rent for parties.
Club Ra: 1111 Lincoln St., 303-861-2225. Tobacconist heaven meets Egyptian afterlife at Club (Amon) Ra, the conjoined twin of a Mideast eatery, the Pharaoh Lounge. Belly dancers will bring you a hookah full of your selected blend, while the sun god namesake plus a variety of beats keep the dance floor hot all night.
Club Sky: 1520 20th St., 303-298-7625. Screens are everywhere -- even under your feet -- in this club for the Coors Field crowd. Downstairs is family-friendly; upstairs is for dancing and drinking. The well-buffed floor is usually packed with upwardly mobile twenty-somethings moving to the music and looking to score.
Comedy Works: 1226 15th St., 303-595-3637. The location is underground, but the acts the Comedy Works presents aren't. The cavernous and oft-cramped room hosts many of the comics who regularly cozy up to Jay, Dave and Conan, as well as local standup guys and gals. The setting isn't for the claustrophobic -- tables are shoved together to maximize the laughter-decibel level -- and the drinks aren't cheap. But the laughs aren't, either.
Common Grounds: 3484 W. 32nd Ave., 303-458-5248. Writers and readers in northwest Denver take refuge at Common Grounds, the quintessential neighborhood coffee nest. Every night, acoustic acts and solo artists vie to entice the regulars from their double lattes and laptops, though the place is more of a meeting ground than a music hall.
Common Grounds LoDo: 1601 17th St., 303-296-9248. Musicians play for tips in this bright LoDo coffee-corner space, where, each Thursday through Saturday, acts distract patrons from the computers, board games and books that line the walls, nooks and crannies.
Conor O'Neill's: 1922 13th St., Boulder, 303-449-1922. Conor O'Neil's is the most authentic Irish pub you'll find in the Rockies, thanks to the importation of everything from the bar to the fireplace to the decor. Irish masons even flew over to help build the place. Live music on weekends includes rock, surf, folk and, of course, Celtic.
Cool River Cafe: 8000 E. Belleview Ave., Greenwood Village, 303-771-4117. Deep in the heart of the Tech Center, Cool River Cafe provides a respite for young and not-so-young urban professionals, where they can enjoy a few drinks after -- or during -- the workday. A steak-and-seafood-laden menu, pool tables and revolving dance bands performing each weekend give patrons a reason to linger after happy hour.
Cricket on the Hill: 1209 E. 13th Ave., 303-830-9020. Smoky and legendary, Cricket on the Hill is where local bands come to test their chops. With live music seven nights a week, the stage fare ranges from bawdy country to screaming death metal. Notoriously strong drinks and low lights make this a semi-grungy second home to Capitol Hill drinkers and scenesters.
Darcy's Bistro and Pub: 4955 S. Ulster St., 303-770-0477. Located in an upscale DTC strip mall, Darcy's Bistro and Pub is a chic eatery/Irish-pub hybrid that caters to an after-work crowd. Three seating areas complement the social atmosphere: a dark wood bar (with the requisite Irish ales and whiskeys on tap), a dining area with tables and booths, and a cozy library in the back.
Dazzle: 930 Lincoln St., 303-839-5100. When bands are playing, a musicians' fee is tacked onto each check at Dazzle -- which means patrons actively support the live-jazz combos that show up to entertain cocktail, dinner-hour and late-night crowds seven nights a week. Music is a theme throughout the classy but comfortable restaurant/lounge, where the menus are printed on old dog-eared record covers. Seats near the stage offer a visceral performance experience, which is usually a good thing.
Deadbeat Club: 4040 E. Evans Ave., 303-758-6853. The first Denver club to open in an old church, the sprawling Deadbeat Club is no house of God. Most ´beat heads worship at the altar of electronica, but the music menu varies with the tastes of resident and visiting DJs. Attracting a casual clientele that eschews the style mandates of downtown's nightlife scene, the danceplex has multiple rooms for drinking and shaking it.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse: 8100 E. Orchard Ave., Greenwood Village, 303-796-0100. A swank joint tinged with candlelight and cigar smoke (amid an air of DTC deal-making), Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is thick with fat-cat atmosphere. Abundant dark wood and killer martinis give off a definite men's-club vibe, as does a price tag that's not for the faint of wallet. Jazz musicians perform every night except Sunday.
D Note: 7519 Grandview Ave., 303-463-6683. The eclectic calendar of music and the array of graphic art displayed throughout the club make the D Note a comfortable spot to enjoy a wide range of aesthetic pleasures.
Druid's Arms: 809 Main St., Louisville, 303-661-0721. A semi-crunchy neighborhood bar in downtown Louisville, the Druid's Arms is an unpretentious, shot-and-a-beer antidote to the bar scene in nearby Boulder. The lean, rectangular layout puts the audience face-to-face with live bands on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dulcinea's 100th Monkey: 717 E. Colfax Ave., 303-832-3601. With a chic paint job and futura furnishings, Dulcinea's 100th Monkey is a modern variation on an old-school jazz club. Most nights of the week, acid jazz, fusion, reggae and dub acts perform in the intimate room -- formerly a foul Colfax Avenue dive bar -- while a green-leaning crowd looks, and dances, on.
Eck's Saloon: 9890 W. Girton Dr., Lakewood, 303-989-2991. Eck's is larger than it appears from the outside, with room for hearty drinkers, pool sharks and anyone who just wants to stretch out and dance. Cover bands typically rule the weekends, while local acts of all genres entertain the after-work crowd.
E-Z Pickens: 1950 S. Holly St, 303-757-7129. The sign outside advertises "Eatin,' Drinkin,' Darts," and that's pretty much what you'll get inside this rough-and-tumble roost, which sports a large stage and dancing area. A working-class clientele and a minimalist decor set a casual environment.
Fadó: 1735 19th St., 303-297-0066. With a large patio and huge, wood-accented interior, Fadó feels as big as Dublin. The cheeky Irish pub was fashioned by carpenters from the Emerald Isle, and its music calendar is thoroughly green, with performances from acoustic and Celtic groups, and rock bands on the weekends. Lining the boulevard leading to Coors Field, Fadó is popular with the sports crowd and LoDo denizens looking for a little culture, however contrived.
Famous Door: 320 S. Birch St., Glendale, 303-316-2640. So named for a white door out front signed by pseudo-celebrity patrons, the Famous Door occupies the Glendale space that formerly housed the Boathouse and Jimmy's Grille. The distinguishing features here are a sprawling outdoor deck, checkerboard floors indoor and a vague Bayou theme to match the Cajun menu, along with the usual diversions: pool tables, dartboards, live reggae bands on Thursday and a DJ on Friday and Saturday, along with karaoke Sunday nights.
1515 Market: 1515 Market St., 303-571-0011. An extensive vino list has earned 1515 Market accolades from within the wine world. But even those who wouldn't know a Merlot from Merlin show up for the live jazz and mellow rock and pop that fill the place Friday and Saturday nights. Three levels of highbrow comfort attract a crowd that craves jet-set style more than Jell-O shots.
15th Street Tavern: 623 15th St., 303-572-0822. Legendarily low-rent, the 15th Street Tavern makes up for its lack of aesthetics with cheap drinks, a decent sound system and a solid lineup of local and national rock, punk and indie acts. By day, the downtown watering hole draws a decidedly Bukowskian clientele; at night it's transformed into a kind of clubhouse for in-the-know indie scenesters.
Fat City: 9670 West Coal Mine Ave., Littleton, 303-972-4344. Fat City crams family vacation spot, first-date destination and frat-party funplex into one sausage casing -- and it's not nearly as far away as Sin City. Live music or DJs with an impressive sound system means even more people wish they could live in this City.
Fiore's Sports Bar: 8236 S. Holly St., Littleton, 303-779-5300. A generic sports bar in a south-suburban strip mall with the requisite neon Bud signs and a dozen TVs, Fiore's lack of atmosphere is tempered by tasty Italian grub and Skee-Ball in the game room.
Fireside Lounge: 200 Inverness Dr. W., Englewood, 303-799-5800. Located inside the Inverness Hotel, the Fireside Lounge invites lounging rather than swinging. An upscale crowd clusters on the big, comfy couches and chairs that edge a fireplace.
FM Afterhours:2901 Walnut St., 303-570-8042. It's a very short drive from the bright and loud world of LoDo to the more austere and darkly seductive warehouse district, where FM Afterhours welcomes the post-closing-time crowd. House music Friday and Saturday nights dominates in this anything-goes asylum for insomniacs.
Foundry Billiards Club: 1109 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-447-1803. Without the rock and blues bands that take its stage on weekends, Foundry Billiards Club might merely be Boulder's most attractive pool hall. But music several nights a week helps to unsterilize the place, as does the hearty-drinking college crowd that frequents it.
Fourth Story: 2955 E. 1st Ave., 303-322-1824. Above three floors of overflowing books, the Tattered Cover's fourth-level restaurant and wine bar offers a refined respite from shopping. Though the music is usually piped in, soft jazz entertains bookish diners on Monday nights and during Sunday brunch.
Fox Hole Lounge: 2936 Fox St., 303-298-7378. A notoriously low-maintenance mecca for happy-hour crowds, the tavern has also attracted dance-music fans throughout the week and on weekends to hear DJs spin their stuff.
Fox Theatre: 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399. Probably the best-sounding room in the Rockies, the Fox Theatre is also one of the most well-rounded. The smoke-free, windowless concert venue hosts country, indie rock and jam-band artists; by including some of hip-hop's most obscure talent, the Fox has also bolstered Boulder's urban profile.
Full Moon Books and Coffee: 9108 W. 6th Ave., Lakewood, 303-233-6666. Art brightens the walls and ceiling of Full Moon Books and Coffee, where a new-age vibe lingers -- along with the customers, who lounge in scattered chairs. Tuesday night's drumming circle draws players who wish to try their hand at the participatory music style.
Funky Buddha Lounge: 776 Lincoln Ave., 303-832-5075. There's no official dress code at the Funky Buddha Lounge, but if there were, it would probably just be "sexy." A magnet for singles with disposable income and a taste for cosmo cocktails, the Buddha also includes the upstairs Ginger Bar, where live DJs perform for an open-air crowd six nights a week. Live art exhibitions on Tuesday include free champagne and, often, live models.
Giggling Grizzly: 1320 20th St., 303-297-8300. The Giggling Grizzly is walking -- or stumbling -- distance from Coors Field; on game days, it's a bear to find a table. During the off-season, however, you can enjoy the mountain-cabin-meets-sports-bar motif and belly up to the log bar for a two-buck brew while enjoying your choice of entertainment under the widespread array of animal heads.
Gothic Theatre: 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, 303-788-0984. The final result of an incredibly ambitious makeover, the Gothic Theatre bears little resemblance to the fallout shelter of a venue that previously stood in its place. Now an art-deco show palace with multiple levels, a gorgeous paint job and a solid if sporadic calendar of rock, pop, electronic and even world and jazz artists, the Gothic can be the most stimulating room in town.
GreenFields: 3355 S. Yarrow St., Lakewood, 303-989-9820. It's easy to lose track of time in GreenFields, largely because the cover bands that take the stage specialize in bygone eras of rock. Beer is always on special, and friendly regulars never stop believin'.
Grizzly Rose: 5450 N. Valley Hwy., 303-295-1330. Country music will never die in Denver as long as the Grizzly Rose remains. Live music six nights a week, concerts by Nashville nationals, free dance lessons on Wednesdays and lots of space on the hardwood floor for honky tonkin' were among the attributes cited by the Country Music Association, which chose the Rose as one of the top clubs in the nation; regulars choose it because it's a local institution.
Hanson's Grill & Tavern:1301 S. Pearl St., 303-744-1052. Live music on Saturdays attracts music fans who might otherwise overlook Hanson's casual charm. Unlike its neighbors -- bustling student-packed places that orbit the University of Denver -- the tavern is a comfortable, pleasant locale where patrons can actually listen to the music and each other. A decent bar menu and drink selection are offered, as well.
Hapa Boulder: 1117 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-473-4730. Done with your sushi? Use your chopsticks to tap out the beat while the DJ spins it. A smart layout enhances the comfortably stylish environment so you won't bump the tables when the sake commands you to shake your booty.
Hapa Cherry Creek: 2780 E. 2nd Ave., 303-322-9554. This Hapa spinoff has been altered to fit the Cherry Creek aesthetic: Black and silver chic artfully permeates the corner spot. Too bad the only place to safely get your dance groove on while the DJs spin is in front of the hostess station.
Hard Rock Cafe: 500 16th St., 303-623-3191. Located on the 16th Street Mall, the Hard Rock Cafe attracts downtown workers, music sentimentalists, and tourists who can't get enough of the London-based chain's trademark T-shirts. With a souvenir shop, full menu and omnipresent displays of rock-and-roll memorabilia -- some of it collected locally during the Fey Concerts days -- about the only thing you won't find at the Cafe is hard rock.
Heartthrob: 10175 E. Hampden Ave., 303-755-3300. Dancers looking for ´70s and ´80s music without all the LoDo fuss can follow a pink neon heart to Heartthrob. A huge yellow peace sign above the entrance suggests the vibe inside this cute building, where huge dance floors host mobs who'd rather pretend the ´90s never happened.
Herb's Hideout: 2057 Larimer St., 303-299-9555. Once described by Stuff magazine as "a dive bar where hot women actually go," Herb's Hideout hosts live jazz, blues and R&B bands some nights, as well as DJs on others, in a wonderfully unpretentious vintage setting. The drinks are strong, the bartenders are friendly, and the music is more for swingin' than settin'. At times overrun with twenty-somethings looking for an alternative to LoDo nightlife, the place is usually stocked with a heterogeneous mix of the hip and unhip.
Herman's Hideaway: 1578 S. Broadway, 303-777-5840. A kind of petri dish for the local-music scene, Herman's Hideaway opens its stage to bands in their gestation period as well as more accomplished acts that draw well on weekend nights. An open room with minimal adornment, Herman's feels a bit like a big basement where young players come together to perform for friends, especially during the weekly New Talent Showcase.
hi-dive/Sputnik: 7 S. Broadway, 720-570-4500. The Grateful Dead posters are gone, but don't expect too many major changes since the hi-dive took over the space most recently occupied by Quixote's. Mixing the prior tenant's smart use of space with an overhauled musical lineup, the dive and partner Sputnik offer a cleaner, comfier version of the old 7 South's punk-club kitsch.
High Street Speakeasy: 3862 High St., 303-298-9333. North Denver's favorite haunt and historical landmark, the High Street Speakeasy is more down-to-earth bar than new-age hotspot, despite its reputation for otherworldly activity. Regular patrons and curious visitors can expect good service, even if they don't see a ghost.
Hornet: 76 Broadway, 303-777-7676. Patrons get a snootfull of music with their drinks on Thursdays at the Hornet, a Broadway installation more yuppified than its quaint and quirky surroundings. Finding a seat may not always be easy, but enjoying the sweet bebop combos is almost guaranteed.
Hush: 1403 Larimer St., 303-623-4874. Hush is a tiny, cover-free subterranean hovel in Larimer Square where Beautiful People and Average Joes converge. It's got enough fluffy furniture to sink into, so those who arrive early have the best seat in the house to see clubbers scratching their heads over the unisexed bathrooms or tripping and tumbling their way through the dark. Don't think of it as stumbling over strangers in a dimly lit room; think of it as flirtatious fun.
Illegal Pete's: 1530 16th St., 303-623-2169. Who put the beat in your burrito? Illegal Pete's did. Which tables get moved to cram the DJs into this glass-fronted LoDo Chipotle-with-a-bar? Better yet, how do you dance without spilling your -- or your neighbor's -- salsa? Follow the smell of fat burritos or the sound of phatter tracks to find out.
Iliff Park Saloon: 2300 S. Chambers Rd., Aurora, 303-696-1404. Recent remodeling projects at the Iliff Park Saloon began with a thorough cleaning, which brightened the Aurora rock bar considerably. So while mullets and big hair are still welcome, they're no longer required. A large bar and a big-screen TV are among other improvements to the hole-in-the-wall room, which is home to many heavy bands.
Impulse Theater: 1634 18th St., 303-297-2111. Audiences shape the shows inside the Impulse Theater, a smoke-free space located in the bowels of the Wynkoop Brewing Co., and a cast of actors and comics improvise their way through the often absurd scenarios thrown out by the crowd. Bar service is available in the theater.
Ironworks Brewery: 12354 W. Alameda Ave., Lakewood, 303-985-5818. The brewing machinery is prominently displayed in the window of Ironworks, where eight-ball tournaments are taken seriously and a lava-lamp tree sees all. Rock bands work the spartan, metallic pub on weekends; gamers turn up for darts, pool and good beer seven nights a week. The house brews can be purchased to go in 2.25-gallon Party Pigs.
Jammin' Joe's: 7129 Sheridan Blvd., Westminster, 303-428-4597. Blues lovers come to Jammin' Joe's for live music, karaoke and a bucolic atmosphere. A sunken floor for billiards and several loft tables add to the quirky congeniality of the relaxed setting.
Jazz @ Jacks: 1553 Platte St., #202, 303-433-1000. Music notes lead the way down a hall to Jazz @ Jacks, an intimate non-smoking venue near the lofty Riverfront Park neighborhood. All seats point to the stage, where artists wielding synths and soprano saxophones perform for patrons who prefer their jazz on the lite side. Local jokers perform sketch comedy on Thursday nights.
Lakewood Bar & Grill:8100 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood, 303-237-8051. There are no frills in the brick building that houses the Lakewood Bar & Grill, where grizzled locals and a sometimes surly staff might scare off the uninitiated. On weekends, classic rock and cover bands perform in a separate room for a blue-collar crowd.
Larimer Lounge: 2721 Larimer St., 303-291-0959. A bright spot in an otherwise desolate stretch of the Ballpark neighborhood, the Larimer Lounge hosts up-and-coming touring bands and locals most nights of the week; theme nights fill out the rest of the calendar, which emphasizes rock, punk and indie fare. Recent cosmetic improvements raise the former Sunshine Lounge above its divey beginnings, but it's still an inexpensive and low-key location.
Lime: 1424 Larimer St., 303-893-5463. The entry to Lime is full of vibrant colors. And once you've descended the stairs to this below-ground restaurant/club, the flavor remains tangy and festive through inspired partitioning, a twist of Mexican inspiration, a youthful crowd and a fresh DJ lineup.
Lincoln's Roadhouse: 1201 S. Pearl St., 303-777-3700. The rowdy rock at the Roadhouse fits the rough-and-ready crowd or the people looking for a beer and a band on the weekends. Big booths keep colleagues comfy and close for talking, and the stage is right by the window, so prospective patrons can get an earful before they are even inside.
Lion's Lair: 2022 E. Colfax Ave., 303-320-9200. Small, smoky and curiously laid out -- a huge bar takes up more than half the room -- the Lion's Lair is nonetheless a Denver rock-and-roll institution. Local punk, rock and garage bands are most likely to be found on the elevated stage, though hot touring acts sometimes pack the place. Regulars drop by for cheap draft beer and the company of an occasionally crusty clientele.
Little Bear: 28075 Hwy. 74, Evergreen, 303-674-9991. Housed in a century-old former church, the Little Bear is the prototypical Western saloon, with the added attraction of rafters full of donated bras. Local and national rock and blues acts can be seen on the stage from the main floor or upstairs, where you'll find a smoky poolroom -- except on smoke-free Fridays.
Lotus UltraNightlife: 1701 Wynkoop St., 303-718-6666. Lotus's minimalist shui of orange blossom, sapphire and crimson hues attracts the short-skirt-and-Aldo-stiletto-clad crowd. Those fashionable enough to reserve bottle service enjoy plush burgundy benches in the club or a booth inside the glass-encased VIP lounge known as Karma. Union Station gets hipper by the minute.
Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto: 1632 Market St., 303-623-3505. The tables and bar stools look like they've been dipped in candle wax, and there's a giant synthetic tree -- replete with flying birds -- that branches out in the middle of the room at Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto. A non-smoking lounge that adjoins Mario's Two-Fisted Pizza and claims the same owners, the Salotto is a sensory treat with an agreeable weekday happy hour and progressive DJs spinning every night of the week. Mario, you've such a lovely daughter.
Maximillian's: 2151 Lawrence St., 303-297-0015.The Latin Explosion still ripples through Maximillian's, where a large wooden dance floor entices young salsa and merengue enthusiasts. No place for wallflowers, the LoDo club is a destination for passionate dancers who take their steps seriously -- as well as those looking to spice up their moves.
Mead St. Station: 3625 W. 32nd Ave., 303-433-2138. A rowdy restaurant/bar in northwest Denver, Mead St. Station's biggest draw is probably its reasonably priced food and decent array of microbrews and top-shelf liquor; on weekends, the bar is crammed with happy imbibers. But music is also on the menu several nights a week, with acoustic, cover, jazz and R&B bands working a window-side stage area.
Mercury Cafe: 2199 California St., 303-294-9281. A restaurant, dance club, music venue and speakeasy, the Mercury Cafe is in an orbit of its own, hosting everything from lindy hop lessons to poetry readings, high teas and Green Party meetings. Rock-and-roll shows were axed years ago, but classical, jazz, avant-garde and singer-songwriter performances still go on in the Merc's three baroque rooms. Every cultural subset can find something at the Merc, the embodiment of Denver eclecticism, and all dances are smoke-free.
Mile High Coffee: 871 Englewood Pkwy., Englewood, 303-504-5224. A coffee shop below the lofts in the freshly minted Englewood City Center, Mile High Coffee pours a cup of unusually good joe. The space is pleasant if unremarkable, with some nice outdoor art, acoustic music, improv and an open-mike night.
Mike's Great Divide:2479 S. Broadway, 303-778-9715. Resembling a rustic cabin in the woods, Mike's Great Divide is quite a sight on South Broadway -- a rickety shrine to American beer amid the car dealerships and antique shops. Ruddy regulars don't raise the pinky with the drinky, and open-stage nights and karaoke make for amusing, if earnest, post-drunk diversions.
Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery: 1535 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-546-0886. The words "fresh-faced" and "bright" apply to both Mountain Sun and the Boulderites who frequent the large, friendly brewhouse, where well-spaced tables leave plenty of room for entertainment, including upstart locals and larger regional acts that make occasional stops here.
Mozart Lounge: 1417 Krameria St., 303-388-0701. A self-proclaimed dive and proud of it, the Mozart Lounge is a biker-friendly billiards hall in the Mayfair neighborhood. Regulars put down their pool sticks and pick up microphones on nights when karaoke gets the surly crowd singing or when a DJ gets things moving.
Mynt Lounge: 1424 Market St., 303-825-6968. Public lounging is a nightly pastime at Mynt, where comfy couches cushion the well-tailored hides of LoDo loyalists and live DJs spin the body electric all week long. Decorated to suit its name -- the place is greener than Kermit -- Mynt is mojitos-and-martini heaven. Several beer choices also augment a small food menu.
Nectar: 3000 E. 3rd Ave., 303-321-2121. While food is the focus at Cherry Creek's Nectar, having Chris Dunphy, formerly of the Soiled Dove, as one of the owners means there must be music.
No Excuses: 9262 W. 58th Ave., Arvada, 303-421-2986. Cover bands rule the weekends at No Excuses, where homages to heavy-metal acts like Metallica keep the vibe in perpetual retrograde. Hidden in an Arvada strip mall, the venue feels like"a bar in a strip mall, with a large stage, plenty of room for drinking and dancing, and very little to distinguish it from similar spots.
Ogden Theatre: 935 E. Colfax Ave., 303-831-9448. The Ogden Theatre has never cultivated the aesthetic appeal of its movie-theater-turned-music-venue counterparts; a lack of atmosphere may be its most defining characteristic. But the large venue hosts some of the finest touring acts on the highway, so all is forgiven. Local heavy metal and hip-hop acts are also showcased in the Capitol Hill club.
Oriental Theatre: 4335 West 44th Ave., 303-433-3786. This previously underutilized but ever-so-grand historic venue is now leased by MOD Productions, whose mission is to showcase local artists of all types. During concert breaks, attendees can goggle in awe at the featured paintings, multi-tiered stage or tactfully placed rope lights.
Oskar Blues: 303 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-6685. The long, angled bar -- fashioned from ruddy Colorado sandstone -- makes the trip to Oskar Blues worthwhile. The mellow Lyons spot also serves the first-ever canned Colorado microbrew, Dale's Pale Ale (6.5 percent!), and features a dark, cavernous corner stage that hosts some fine blues music on the weekends.
Palm Tree: 1042 S. Peoria St., Aurora, 303-363-6737. Aurora's best kept -- and oddest -- little secret, the Palm Tree is a generously sized lounge with a show-club area for rock and dance acts. Favored by the locals in a largely black neighborhood. Comedy nights take place Thursday through Saturday.
Paradox Lounge: 3467 S. Broadway, Englewood, 303-789-9777. Another derelict shelter for those who like their brew without embellishments, the Paradox Lounge invites struggling or bored musicians to come down for an open-stage session. Much bigger than the outside facade suggests, the South Broadway tavern is filled with smoke and local folk the rest of the week.
The Patriot and the Loyalist:3435 S. Inca St., Englewood, 303-761-5399. Resplendent in light wood -- from bar to window seats to enormous entertainment center -- with puffy couches arranged around the corner piano, the Patriot and the Loyalist doesn't make you choose sides. The pub's near-miss replication of authentic early-American decor won't keep you from enjoying the mostly acoustic music offered on weekends.
Penny Lane: 1795 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-443-9516. Hippies, yuppies, trust-fund babies and actual students angle for position at Penny Lane, where a sign on the door warns of a two-hour limit on table time. It can be difficult to hear acoustic sets by local troubadours above the din of tarot readings, card games and WTO debates in this busy and storied Boulder coffeehouse; occasionally, folk music and singer-songwriter fare breaks the noise barrier.
Pink E's: 6080 W. 92nd Ave., Westminster, 303-429-9173. Formerly a nationwide chain, Pink E's is down to this location in northern suburbia and the original in Las Vegas. Famous for neon decor, big-screen TVs, pool tables and porno-plastered bathrooms, Pink E's brings in bands every weekend to entertain the late-night crowd and is undergoing renovations to attract touring acts.
Polly Esther's: 2301 Blake St., 303-382-1976. Three clubs in one, the Polly Esther's multiplex allows a dance-world crowd to choose its decade: The ´70s, ´80s and Top 40 tunes are represented equally within its walls. While this diversity can present a fashion dilemma -- what era to dress for? -- the club is also a defense against stylistic burnout.
Rattlebrain Theater:1601 Arapahoe St., 720-932-7384. Comic stalwart Rattlebrain Theater is located in the venerated D&F Tower. Audiences shape performances here by shouting out embarrassing or ridiculous scenarios for actors to perform; the in-house troupe's shows are consistently funny, irreverent and, yes, brainy.
Red Monkey: 1920 Market St., 303-383-1941. Wooden chimps in fez hats line the bar at Red Monkey, an upstairs space in the B-52's building. A borderline-tiki decor adds an exotic air to the place, which attracts LoDo club-hoppers, bottle-service junkies and live DJs throughout the week.
Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse: 2027 13th St., Boulder, 303-440-5858. Les bons temps never stop roullez-ing at Redfish New Orleans Brewhouse, which does its best to approximate a Big Easy vibe, right down to the Southern-style folk art that hangs on the walls. On weekends, blues, funk and R&B bands perform for oyster-slurping diners and drinkers.
Rise:1909 Blake St., 303-383-1909. Palm trees to patio, luscious light work to lounging in beds, liquor everywhere and, oh, yeah, all the music, Rise is Toto-we're-not-in-Cowtown-anymore for the club crowd.
Rock Island: 1614 15th St., 303-572-7625. Giant bugs crawling down the outside of Rock Island make it easy for newcomers to find, while a rootsy, unpretentious feel brings regulars back. The Rock offers dance music plus art exhibitions, live bands and film events for an eclectic mélange of goths, ravers and club kids; the latter group shows up for a weekly sixteen-and-up night on Saturdays.
Round Midnight:1005 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-2176. Boulder smokers, rejoice. Round Midnight easily boasts the most plush, well-appointed smokers' lounge in the city, complete with its own TV. The mirrored parquet stage area/dance floor is non-smoking, but it's only a few steps from the glassed-in huffing cube.
La Rumba: 99 W. 9th Ave., 303-572-8006. With cove lighting illuminating the brushed-steel front and back bars and sweeping color kinetics, La Rumba resembles a liquor-filled laserium. Add diverse nights that cater to the rainbow set as well as hip-hop heads, and this Golden Triangle treasure becomes one hot tamale.Sambuca Jazz Cafe: 1320 15th St., 303-629-5299. The premium decor, high-class wines and gourmet menu at Sambuca make it hard to believe it's part of a chain from Texas. The jazz acts vary nightly, keeping the calendar filled with top talents, from swing and traditional to sassy and Latin.
Sancho's Broken Arrow: 741 E. Colfax Ave., 303-832-5288. Live bands stake out Sancho's Broken Arrow on Mondays, but jukebox jockeys normally take care of the music. The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and more modern jammers are house favorites in this tie-dyed hippie hangout. The place is packed before and after shows at the Fillmore Auditorium next door; otherwise, the vibe is easygoing, roomy and kind.
Serengeti Nightclub:1037 Broadway, Denver, 303-534-0222. Although Denver's Serengeti features a different kind of wildlife than its African namesake, there are plenty of exotic breeds here. Westword's pick for Best Gay Bar in the Best of Denver 2004 isn't just for queer eyes, though. The vistas from the varied levels indoor vie with the two outdoor patios for great people-watching, and the screen-dominated dance floor has enough ocular excitement to match the throbbing beats thrilling your ears. Everybody dance now!
Sharp's Roadhouse: 6496 Hwy. 2, Commerce City, 303-288-9292. Worthy of a muscle-bound Patrick Swayze, Sharp's Roadhouse offers a regular weekend roster of (mostly) countrabilly acts. Generous libations and a boot-stompin' dance floor almost guarantee a rootin'-tootin' good time.Sheabeen Irish Pub: 2300 S. Chambers Rd., Aurora, 303-696-6131. Sheabeen Irish Pub is a Celtic tavern, to be sure; a dark-wood bar, nationalistic flags and a set of bagpipes are on hand to convince any doubters. But the auld-country flavor is subtle -- no shamrocks or leprechauns in the lot -- and the music tends to be acoustic and easy on the ears.
Sing Sing:1735 19th St., 303-291-0880. A modification on karaoke chaos, Sing Sing is a dueling-piano bar where audience interaction is encouraged and bawdy jokes accompany the familiar songs. Crowd members try to stump the mind-bendingly knowledgable pianists, and they often fail. While this concept can be cringe-inducing, the whole process makes more sense the more one drinks -- not an inexpensive prospect in this LoDo landmark.
Skylark Lounge: 140 S. Broadway, 303-722-7844: Customers who forgot how generous the Skylark's drinks are will be glad for the extra weaving room available in the new locale, and the giant-sized bar is easier to find when the room is spinning. Amateurs in alcohol consumption can use the large booths to conceal how little they're drinking.
Small Circle Imports: 1139 Francis St., Longmont, 303-682-5080. A trace of incense swirls around the racks of eco-friendly clothing at Small Circle Imports, a combo coffee shop and clothing store that occasionally features live world music. The shop lends personality to an otherwise nondescript mini-mall a few blocks from Main Street.
Snake Pit: 608 E. 13th Ave., 303-831-1234. Dance fiends who gravitate to the Snake Pit don't need glam to get down. A minimally adorned interior and mellow vibe make the Capitol Hill club feel more like a rock venue than a disco. Crowds are refreshingly low-profile and non-LoDo-esque, and the music is routinely first-rate.
Sobo 151: 151 S. Broadway, 303-778-1560. The owners of Sobo 151 love sports so much that they lined their walls with framed photos of Hall-of-Famers; the well-stocked bar also has multiple TVs to attract fans of Denver's pro teams. DJs perform on Fridays for those who'd rather hear music than watch muscles.
Soiled Dove: 1949 Market St., 303-299-0100. A show-style venue, replete with floodlights at the foot of the stage, the Soiled Dove is a classy counterpart to more rough-and-tumble rock clubs. Though it's a restaurant and bar, music is the focus, as evidenced by the crescent shape of the seating that arcs the stage. Locals showcases are the dominant fare, though nationals sometimes use the room.
Soul: 2040 Larimer St., 303-292-3921. Dropping into Sanctuary/Butterfly's old digs, Soul has revamped its belly into two distinctive rooms with swanky VIP quarters wedged in between. One side is a candle-lit, tan-and-chocolate-colored cabana of carved wood furniture, plastic palm trees and fabric-swathed light fixtures; on the other side, a long metallic bar anchors the dance floor, where the hip-pop-soul-funk vibe is in full effect.
South Park Tavern: 60 S. Broadway, 303-777-4200. Formerly 60 South, the once brightly burning gay-bar flames have been extinguished in favor of a broader sports-bar appeal. Packed with pool tables, air hockey, pinball and a well-stocked jukebox, this neighborhood pub is all about making the customer happy -- especially with its liberal happy hours presented three times a day.
Sports Column: 1930 Blake St., 303-296-1930. A block south of Coors Field, this megalith of a LoDo sports bar transforms into a bustling meat market of a nightclub after dark. Within the Sports Column's memorabilia-plastered walls, there's an armada of television sets, pool tables and arcade games, plus a good menu and a dance floor; in the summer, the place offers a full-service rooftop patio.
Starlight: 167 N. College Ave., Fort Collins, 1-970-484-4974. The Starlight oozes personality, from its bare concrete floors to its seating: Legend holds that the "Ween Was Here" graffiti on one of the beat-up, red-leatherette booths was tagged by Dean and Gene themselves. The prototypical punk venue hosts touring indie, garage, metal and emo bands, as well as locals.
Stella's Coffeehouse:1476 S. Pearl St., 303-777-1031. Arguably Denver's most beloved gathering place, Stella's is a funky, good-smelling second home to intellectuals, writers, chess players and University of Denver students who live in the neighborhood. Acoustic musicians fill the cafe's many rooms several times a week, while open-mike events draw all kinds of artists.
Streets of London Pub: 1501 E. Colfax Ave., 303-861-9103. The Union Jack flies proudly in the hearts of Streets of London regulars, an Anglophilic bunch of punks, mod fashionistas, Vespa riders and neighborhood subjects. A British pub that thankfully doesn't serve warm beer, Streets has all of the requisite Old World flair, from pulled pints to posters of the Queen.
Supreme Court: 1550 Court Pl., 303-892-6878. Downtown disco divas can dance to DJs during the week on the roomy floors of the Supreme Court; but on weekends, local bands take the stage, playing jazz, rock, originals and covers -- anything to keep the party pumping.
Surfside 7: 150 N. College Ave., Fort Collins, 1-970-221-4281. Though the Hawaii Five-0 surf motif is mercilessly flogged here -- with surfboards festooned with pictures and a tiki-hut bar -- Surfside 7 offers some of the hippest rock and punk music this side of 1979. The place is tightly packed and loud, with friendly punks spilling out of the booths at all hours.
Swallow Hill:71 E. Yale Ave., 303-777-1003. Swallow Hill is aimed at musical multi-taskers, as many area players play, teach and even eat here. A school and concert venue that presents local and touring folk, roots and bluegrass artists, it also features an art exhibition area and a small cafe for after-show fortification.
Swan Restaurant: 200 Inverness Dr. W., Englewood, 303-799-5800. At the Inverness Hotel's Swan Restaurant, an intimate atmosphere, white tablecloths and award-winning Continental cuisine are served with a side of classical guitar. The ambience isn't cheap, so don't forget your credit card.
Sweet Rockin' Coffee: 414 E. 20th St., 303-318-9788. The collection of vintage posters displayed in this cubbyhole cafe are for sale, so patrons can ponder a purchase while a variety of local bands prove the Rockin' really is Sweet.
Tarantula Billiards: 1456 Champa St., 720-932-6666: The arachnid-themed tag team of Tarantula, with billiards upstairs during daylight hours, and Black Widow, with club DJs downstairs, late and later on select nights, offers urban underground style without the usual LoDo hype. Both venues lure their victims with top-shelf electronic music.
Teddy's:4849 Bannock St., 303-292-9500. Pink neon lines the windows in this rough and rowdy bar, the better to distinguish it from the Holiday Inn it shares space with. Drawing a cowboy-culture crowd, Teddy's has a wide dance floor for hoofing the "Boot-Scoot Boogie" or whatever else the DJ may throw in.
Terrace Maya:4929 N. Broadway, Boulder, 303-443-9336. A local hangout in north Boulder, Terrace Maya is first and foremost a Mexican restaurant, with huge, spicy combo plates and tangy margaritas. As a live-music venue on Fridays, the design is not the best, but the atmosphere is friendly and unpretentious.
Third Avenue Grill and Opera House Billiards Club: 300 Main St., Longmont, 303-651-7773. The Opera House Billiards Club retains the feel of an old-time theater. High ceilings, red-velvet walls brocaded with gilt touches and a black stone bar contrast with the overall homey feeling of the place. Locals show up to play pool and listen to live blues and rock on weekends.
Trilogy Lounge: 2017 13th St., Boulder, 303-473-9463. Housing an upscale yet informal restaurant in front, Trilogy has expanded the musical activities in its back room, where a sparse interior is made cozier by a steady roster of eclectic Front Range acts.
Trios Enoteca: 1730 Wynkoop St., 303-293-2887. Jazz acts perform nightly in the front, while a back room looks as if it were stolen from a gentleman's club, with overstuffed chairs, dark decor and even a spittoon in the corner.
Two AM Afterhours: 1144 Broadway, 303-830-9324. This basement club is all about the music, which reverberates off the concrete floor. The sparsely furnished Two AM treats decor almost as an afterthought; the sheer wall coverings and translucent art tapestries are functional as well as ornamental. And the lighting's kept low, so you can easily hook up to the DJ's vibe and keep that 2 a.m. state of mind.
White Fence Farm: 6263 W. Jewell Ave., Lakewood, 303-935-5945. A working farm with a petting zoo, White Fence Farm is an adventure in agriculture as well as a unique place to hear acoustic music, C&W, bluegrass and gospel. How many venues have a large sculpted rooster outside the entryway? The wait can be long, as the place is often packed with diners as well as pluckers. String-centric artists perform on weekends.
Wits End Comedy Club: 8861 Harlan St., Westminster, 303-430-4242. Wits End Comedy Club lacks the pedigree of its local competitors; performers are more likely to be familiar from the grocery-store line than from HBO, and the lineup is hit or miss. But it still presents some quality standup comedy without the hassle of downtown parking and high ticket prices.
Ziggie's 4923 W. 38th Ave., 303-455-9930. Denver's blues institution is an unassuming venue with a reputation for hosting hepcats both near and far. Watch a local favorite, check out a visiting pro, or get up the nerve to join the fun at Sunday's open stage.