Its origins may be in the Deep South, but Denver's rich and diverse blues scene runs deep as well — and just keeps getting better. For more than fifty years, clubs in the metro area have offered the full spectrum of styles, everything from Delta to Chicago, jump to electric, Piedmont to punk. Not to mention that about a decade ago, many jazz clubs in the area added blues nights to help drum up business, which resulted in a wider variety of venue options. No jive: Here's our list of the top ten in town, in alphabetical order — with last year's Best Blues Club in the top spot.
Will one of these blues bars make it to the top in this year's Best of Denver? Cast your vote to nominate your favorite in our 2016 Best of Denver Readers' Poll.
4923 West 38th Avenue
A frequent Best of Denver winner, Ziggies turned fifty in 2014 and hasn't missed a boogie-woogie step since. Seven nights a week — including a blues jam on Sundays for which the house provides a full backline — this unassuming spot is everything a blues bar should be: small, dark, friendly and lively, with a good selection of craft brews and cheap drinks all around. Periodic poetry jams help keep the Beat vibe alive.
9. Appaloosa Grill
535 16th Street
"The Horse" is a remarkably cushy spot for nightly live blues that skews toward funk and electric, a comfortable and updated restaurant that gets things going at 9:30 or 10 p.m. That gives you plenty of time to take down some four-cheese macaroni, truffle fries with housemade ketchup or fried pickles with sriracha ranch, all fuel for the inevitable dance party. If you get hungry again later, don't worry: The kitchen stays open until 1:30 a.m. every night.
8. El Chapultepec
1962 Market Street
One of the jazz clubs that permanently added blues to its regular roster, the 83-year-old 'Pec is an experience: a dimly lit, cash-only hole-in-the-wall famous for its live-music offerings — jazz and R&B acts, mostly, and almost always good ones, at that — as well as cheese-smothered Mexican fare (the gray, spicy nachos are top-notch) and cheap Coors and Bud Light on tap. A pool table offers something to do while you wait for things to get hopping.
7. Front Range Barbeque
2330 West Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs
Is there anything more evocative of the blues than the scent of smoky meats slicked with sweet-and-spicy sauce? The authentic feel of Front Range goes further than that: The cozy Colorado Springs eatery and club based in an old house serves up a heapin' helpin' of the blues, too, along with its popular 'cue. Wednesday nights are for bluegrass, but most other nights find blues bands, both local and from around the country. More than forty craft beers by the bottle and a rotation of ten on draft add to the appeal.
2057 Larimer Street
Tucked away a bit off the well-beaten LoDo path in the Ballpark 'hood, the usually jam-packed and jumping Herb's — founded in 1933 as Herb's Hideaway and famous as a favorite of Jack Kerouac's — is beloved by blues fans of all ages and offers a steady mix of blues, jazz, funk and reggae. The '70s setting, though, is ideal for getting your blues groove on, and the small stage looks out into a spacious seating area with plenty of room to move.
Five more of Denver's best blues clubs on the next page.