The Pioneer celebrates its fortieth on August 20.
The Pioneer celebrates its fortieth on August 20.

Nederland's Pioneer Inn celebrates its fortieth

The Pioneer Inn has made a lot of history — and music — since it opened in Nederland four decades ago. During the heyday of the Caribou Ranch, a recording studio that ran from the early '70s until it was damaged by fire in 1985, musicians in Colorado for recording sessions would take breaks at the Pioneer. Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Carole King and Waylon Jennings all dropped by. John Lennon sat at the bar. Joe Walsh tended it.

It wasn't as star-studded an occasion, but sixteen years ago, Cindy Shaw and Dave Lyons met and fell in love at the Pioneer. And last May, they bought the place from Bunny Spangler, who'd run it since the early '70s. Lyons is a longtime professional musician who was looking for a venue he could guide; Shaw is a longtime restaurateur. "I get to have a restaurant that I take a little more interest in managing," she says, "so it's kind of a real good fit for us."

Live music had long been a fixture at the Pioneer, but it had faded away in recent years. Now Lyons is bringing that back, taking advantage of Nederland's music community and booking acts seven days a week. "There's a huge amount of local talent up here," Shaw says, "and a higher caliber of musicianship than most areas have per capita." Bluegrass acts Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon and String Cheese Incident all got early starts playing at the Pioneer, she notes; they plan to bring bluegrass back to the bar in the winter.

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Pioneer Inn

In the meantime, they're updating the kitchen and the menu. "We want to keep the charm of the old Pioneer as it stands, because it's kind of a wood and rustic feel in there, and the dining room was already absolutely lovely," Shaw says. "They already did a lot of American and Mexican comfort food; we're just using fresher ingredients and being a little more conscious of the vegetarian and gluten-free diets that are so important to people these days."

Shaw has spent a lot of time in the Pioneer over the past twenty years, and she knows what an important role it plays in the area, too. "I've had many powwows with friends," she says. "I've listened to many intimate conversations. I had a local reach-out when I needed it. It was kind of like the bar that's your Cheers bar, where you come and somebody knows your name and you feel at home. It's a small community, so it's a real important type of gathering place for this community."

To celebrate forty years of the Pioneer Inn, the bar is throwing a big bash on Saturday, August 20, and inviting a lot of the folks who have frequented the place over the years. Live music starts at 3 p.m., with the folk duo Monica & Jubal; New Orleans-based Cajun band Junco Partners will play later that evening, with local musicians sitting in.

Club scout: Since it opened in June 2010 in the former home of Buca di Beppo at 1400 Market Street, Wild Ivories has hit a few sour notes, with partners accusing each other of various bad deeds. And now the music at this dueling-pianos joint has stopped altogether: Wild Ivories just announced, via its Facebook page, that it closed on August 9, and so has Juke, the dance club downstairs.

While Servino's Bistro and Bakery opened in January in downtown Parker, Servino's Underground just celebrated its grand opening last week. Located downstairs in the new Victorian Peaks complex at 11020 South Pikes Peak Drive, the 7,000-square-foot club has live music and dancing until 2 a.m. on the weekends, as well as VIP bottle service. There's also a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., and the club hopes to eventually offer karaoke on Wednesdays and live music on Thursdays.

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