Houses performing on the patio last year.
Houses performing on the patio last year.
A.H. Goldstein

Worst news ever: Meadowlark's outdoor stage gets shut down

Just into its third year, the outdoor stage at the Meadowlark (2701 Larimer Street) got its third noise violation from the city, which essentially means the bar can no longer hold shows outside. "It's been really emotional for everyone at the bar," says Jonathan Bitz, the bar's talent buyer. "We've all been really proud. We felt like we were doing something really amazing for our music community. What we had to offer here was something that no other venue here in town really had."

Now all the shows will have to be held in the downstairs bar. "We're going to continue to do what we've been doing, which is to put together the best bills that we possibly can," Bitz says, "and continue to foster a good creative community here in Denver."

Loy Merck -- who says he doesn't necessarily like to be called the owner of Meadowlark and insists that the people who work in the bar own it -- says he wanted the Meadowlark to be a neighborhood bar and didn't want to bother the neighbors.

"I thought I was maybe doing something bad to the neighborhood and people that want to come to the bar," Merck says. "At the same time I enjoyed the music. I enjoyed the fun that we had. I don't know if there would be some other way to do it where everybody would be satisfied, but I don't know if there is such a thing."

Merck says he consulted with acoustic engineers about ways of containing the sound, but they couldn't offer a guaranteed solution. "There was never any science on what to really do to make it work," he says. "You can spend money and then after it's built, then you test it."

While they tried putting up sound abatement, another option would have been to build a wall. "I didn't want to build wall," Merck says. "I always wanted to be able to look out through on to the street and wanted the people on the street to look into that area."

"I take the blame for it not working," Merk allows. "I wanted it to kind of find its way in some sort of organic method. I don't know what to call it. It's nobody's fault. I don't blame the neighborhood. I don't blame the bands, and the city helped us in every way that they could."

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