Bars

The Ten Bars With Live Music That We Can't Live Without

Carioca Cafe, aka Bar Bar
Carioca Cafe, aka Bar Bar Westword
Booze and live music have long gone hand in hand. In this week's cover story, we poured out the fifty bars in metro Denver that we can't live without. And that got us thinking: What are the great bars around town that host live music? Here are our ten picks.

Carioca Cafe (Bar Bar)
There aren't many true dives left in Denver, as many of the greatest have been muscled out by development. But Carioca Cafe, better known as Bar Bar, is the perfect spot for people sick of sanitized bro-infested pubs and in need of cheap, stiff drinks without the attitude. Bar Bar has also been a consistent home to all stripes of experimental, noise, folk and punk music, and in its own way has kept the DIY music scene alive.

click to enlarge El Chapultepec - WESTWORD
El Chapultepec
Westword
El Chapultepec
Long before there was Coors Field and what became LoDo and countless bars, there was El Chapultepec. Since opening more than eight decades ago, the 'Pec has seen its share of internationally known jazz luminaries while also bringing in some of the best local jazz players — like Freddy Rodriguez, who holds court on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Tony Black on Sundays.

click to enlarge Goosetown Tavern - WESTWORD
Goosetown Tavern
Westword
Goosetown Tavern
For many years, the Goosetown Tavern was just a great neighborhood hang, but when Chris Swank (who owns the Bluebird Theater across the street and Mezcal next door) bought it from the Wynkoop Group in mid-2014, he had a new stage built and a new sound and light system installed. Since then, live music has become much more of a focus, whether it's rock and punk acts or DJ AKA Miggy's popular Motown Groove nights.


click to enlarge hi-dive - BRANDON MARSHALL
hi-dive
Brandon Marshall
hi-dive
For more than fifteen years, the hi-dive has been a refuge from crass commercialism, big business booking and bland bars. Cheap, stiff drinks and a revolving door of creative talent have kept the music venue ahead of the game. While Broadway and the Baker neighborhood have become a thriving entertainment zone, the hi-dive marches to the beat of its own drum, bringing in the best local bands as well as national acts on the cusp of hitting it big.

click to enlarge Lion's Lair - WESTWORD
Lion's Lair
Westword
Lion's Lair
Decades before it became the punk and rock haven it is today, the Lion's Lair was a jazz club where legends like Billie Holiday and Dexter Gordon once played. It's also got one of the oldest liquor licenses in Denver, and yes, indeed, the storied bar is perfect for downing a beer or four, but you can also see local bands, and every so often big names in punk, like John Doe or Mike Watt, will play multiple nights, or former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra will spin records. The Lair also boasts a killer jukebox.
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