Music News

Bar Back: There's a rockabilly bar coming to Denver, and the Walnut Room is going to record bands

After working as a sound engineer at the Walnut Room (3131 Walnut Street) for nearly five years, the last year as the head engineer, Randall Frazier jumped into the job of talent buyer last month. He has big plans, plans based on his considerable expertise: He wants to bring in different types of acts than the room has hosted in the past, and he wants to launch a Walnut Room label. Right now he's looking at booking shows Thursdays through Saturdays — and on the off-days, he'll turn the music area into a recording studio, bringing in more microphones and pre-amps and building some sound-isolation booths that can easily be removed from the stage.

Although a lot of bands have recorded live shows in the Walnut Room, one of the town's best-sounding venues, Frazier will take things further with Walnut Room Records, which will digitally distribute live recordings. Through Helmet Room Recordings, he's been working with IRIS, a digital distribution company that has 450 retailers in over 85 countries. What this means for bands is that they can have their shows recorded and mastered by Frazier and then released on the Walnut Room imprint. The bands will split the digital royalties but can take home a finalized master and manufacture their own CDs. "They just give me exclusive rights to distribute it through the digital services," Frazier says. "I think it's a great idea, because it's going to show anyone who hasn't ever been to the Walnut Room how superior that sound system is.

"These recordings coming out all over the place are going to kind of showcase the room for what it's really meant for," he continues. "And at the same time, it's also going to promote Denver bands and shows that are happening in Denver mostly on a local level. I'm recording national people, as well, if they want, but a majority of the shows are local. It's going to be a ton of live local music being promoted through the whole world."

Club scout: After searching for a year for a spot where they could open a rockabilly-themed bar, Jimmy Nigg and his brother just took over the former Cucina Roma Roma address at 12363 West 64th Avenue in Arvada, which they hope to reopen as Rockabillies in early 2011. "We want this to be the place where people who love the rockabilly culture and subculture come to hang out and listen to good music," Nigg says. But while the decor might say "rockabilly," Nigg doesn't want to limit the venue to one genre of music; on the weekends, he plans to bring in a wide range of rock-and-roll acts (though nothing too heavy or too soft). In the meantime, they'll renovate the space over the next few months, building a bar and a stage and coming up with a menu. For starters, Nigg knows they'll have burgers — and they may partner up with someone from the South who knows good barbecue.

E-mail [email protected].

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon