The Climax Lounge (2217 Welton Street), which got its start four decades ago as an after-hours joint, has a colorful past. In the '90s, as the Raven, it hosted punk-rock acts; the Fray and M. Ward have played there. But over the past few years, the Climax hasn't seen a lot of action.
Now that's about to change. Timothy Reaves says his 85-year-old great-uncle, Albert Bryant, had maintained the building almost single-handedly over the past forty years, but lately hadn't had enough energy to keep the place running full steam. So Bryant enlisted Reaves, a Denver native who'd been living in the Bay Area, to come back and pump some youthful energy into the venue, which is now called the New Climax Lounge.
"It's really good for us because the people know it as the Climax Lounge," Reaves says, "but to say the 'New' really kind of tells people there's something that has changed. It is something that's new. It's not the old thing, even though the old mystique and old decor is still here. There's some new management and new structure, and some new ways of doing business."
During the three months Reaves has been back in town, he's been getting the word out that the club is back in business, booking bands on the weekends and just trying to get people through the door. "People drive by this place all the time," he says, "and when they finally come in, they go, 'Oh, my God, I had no idea how nice it is in here.' It's like you won't know until you come. Looks can be deceiving from the outside, but once you get inside, it's the most friendly and warm place."
Reaves has plans for some upgrades, including expanding the sound system to accommodate national and internationally known acts of all genres. "Not just R&B and jazz," he says. "We're known for punk rock to rock and roll, so we really want to stay with that — stay with what works."
On Friday and Saturday, September 9 and 10, the New Climax will celebrate forty years of business with an R&B vocalist, local bands and a spoken-word artist. Happy birthday, and many more.
Club scout: Jon Forget, the general manager of the British Bulldog, and Mark Berzins, owner of the Little Pub Company, which comprises nineteen joints in and around Denver, including the Bulldog, just opened Three Lions in the former Bank Bar & Grill at 2239 East Colfax Avenue. Three Lions is billing itself as a world football pub, and features zones where multiple games are shown on several TVs; an English-style "public bar" games area; and full lounge dining areas.
The Bulldog, too, has gotten a facelift — but the historic booths created when it was the Punch Bowl remain. We'll drink to that!