Club Nights

The Walnut Room

The vacant lot on Walnut Street was just a patch of dirt when John Burr bought it with the idea of expanding his rehearsal-studio business. Building additional studios led to the notion of attaching a live-music venue, which led to the concept of adding a bar and a thin-crust-only pizza kitchen. Lots of love, sweat and dough later, Burr had turned that bit of earth into the Walnut Room (3131 Walnut Street), which celebrates its first birthday January 20 and 21. Friday's lineup includes Redline Defiance, More Than Medium and Epilogue; Saturday brings Askimbo, the Trampolines, Meese and Russell Stafford.

"It's been a great year," Burr says, "but it's a lot of work, and it's been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be." Burr's expertise was in practice pads, not gig promotions, and he also had the challenge of getting people to a district just north of downtown -- NoDo, he calls it -- that's in the process of transforming from old warehouses to posh new lofts. Although there's not much walk-by traffic, the area's potential is enough to keep Burr's spirits high. "I love this neighborhood," he says. "It's just a matter of time before it comes around."

But even in established entertainment areas, presenting live music can be harrowing. "Though there are a lot of venues, and they're all fighting for the same bands," Burr explains. He tried to avoid the bidding war by opening the custom-built live room to an eclectic range of acts, from Cafe Nuba's monthly arts and spoken-word showcase to the weekly DJ stylings of Wigdan Giddy, Catamite and Floor. Rock bands of all types rounded out the rest of the schedule.

In its second year, the club plans to expand its range. Mark Sundermeier, former talent buyer for the Soiled Dove, has flown that coop and landed at the Walnut Room, and he'll expand its offerings of new and recognized acts. "The bar and the kitchen both have made their niche, but the live room hasn't yet," Burr says. "Bands know about us, but not the general public. By the end of this year, I want people to go, 'Oh, the Walnut Room. I know that place.'"

Get more dirt on the upcoming celebration at www.thewalnutroom.com or by calling 303-292-1700.

Sundemeier's departure isn't the only change for the Soiled Dove. The building at 1949 Market Street has hosted its last live act and will reopen as the Tavern Downtown, a more traditional bar, in time for opening day of the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, the live-music venue is moving to Lowry, where it will open as the Soiled Dove Underground sometime this summer. For more information, go to www.soileddove.com.

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Tuyet Nguyen