Call Velvet Underground these days and all you'll get is a message saying that the mailbox for the Blue Mule -- the Underground's previous incarnation -- is full. In a last gasp at saving the venue, the owners recently remodeled, refinanced and renamed the place, but that wasn't enough to save the Underground from going under last week. The club closed so quickly that a January 13 concert featuring former Muddy Waters guitarist Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin (plus local faves the Delta Sonics) had to relocate with very little notice to Lincoln's Roadhouse.
LoDo's latest loss comes hard on the heels of last month's farewell to Brendan's, the blues saloon that occupied a renovated pawn shop at 2009 Larimer Street for eighteen months after leaving its longtime home at 1624 Market Street. That Market Street address was soon filled by the Blue Mule and then, for a brief time this fall, the Velvet Underground. Now both spaces are dark, and that's not good news for music fans who like their entertainment live and local, rather than flashy and pre-fab.
But at least one LoDo spot that's sat empty for years is finally back in business. The Arizona-based Martini Ranch has taken over the old Soapy Smith's space at 1317 14th Street, turning the 6,500-square-foot building into a multi-tiered hotspot. The main level is casual, with a television in each corner and booths and tables scattered around for drinking and dining. Downstairs is the Shaker Room, where DJs will share the stage with the live artists who rotate through the basement venue's schedule. And on the top level, the upscale Eagle Bar offers comfy leather booths, luxurious decor, a moodier lighting style and full-sized windows that frame a gorgeous Rocky Mountain view. (Insert your own "eagle-eye" pun here.)
The sights weren't so pretty at Brewski's on New Year's Eve. Although brawls in the neighborhood of Highway 36 and Pecos Street aren't unheard of, they don't usually involve a bar's band or owners. But on December 31, Brewski's partiers got to witness a member of local rock group Russia in an altercation with a customer, and the flying fists led to the entertainment ending before 11 p.m. Worried staff called Brewski's bosses at home, interrupting the couple's own year-end revelry, and asked the two to come to the club. Once there, the proprietors became entangled in their own argument, leading to the husband's arrest and police shutting the place for the rest of the night -- which left the bar's clientele looking for a new spot for the countdown to 2005.
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Over at 9262 West 58th Avenue, the Brickhouse, Arvada's newly improved nightspot formerly known as No Excuses, is celebrating its rocking re-entry with a heckuva benefit for tsunami victims: an all-day (and -night) show featuring Erica Brown (Club Scout has dubbed her the "Tina Turner of Denver") and her band, plus Tommy St. James and many others. The event, organized by Brickhouse babe Marcia Kent Davis and cohorts, has a ten-dollar suggested donation.