Music History

Three Kings Tavern Celebrates Ten Years and Changes in the Cards

To celebrate its ten years of existence, 3 Kings Tavern is throwing a free show featuring the musical projects of the club’s staff. This event will also mark the last day at the club for Jim Norris, who opened 3 Kings with Jeff Campbell and Martin Killorin in January 2006.

Norris, Campbell and Killorin previously worked for concert-promotion company Nobody in Particular Presents, primarily managing the Bluebird and Ogden theaters. But when NIPP stopped being the primary promoter at those venues, the three friends sought other opportunities together and discovered that the South Broadway bar formerly known as the Cherry Pit, which suffered a fire in 2005, was available. Campbell and Killorin toured the space. A disaster-recovery company had painted the interior white — “so we literally had a blank canvas,” Norris recalls.

Norris, Campbell and Killorin had a shared vision for 3 Kings. As a result of their collective experience, they agreed on a core principle for the new space: outstanding customer service.

“They just wanted everyone to feel awesome,” says current co-manager Vincent “Cheap” Fasano. “The customers were rock stars. The bands were rock stars.”

“I don’t care how you got there — you might have held a sign on the side of the road all day — but if you want a break and need some community, that’s what 3 Kings is there for,” says Campbell.

Since its beginning, 3 Kings has earned a reputation in the local music scene and beyond that reflects its operators’ vision. Between the art, the music and the friendly staff, 3 Kings strikes its guests as a welcoming place with a lot of activity. The shows are eclectic because everyone — including the bartenders, many of whom are musicians and artists themselves — is involved in the booking. And because of the staff’s diverse interests and connections, the unexpected happens regularly at 3 Kings: Punk band All was able to book a last-minute show, and musicians as diverse as Jerry Cantrell, Dashboard Confessional and the Vandalls have dropped by to hang out.

Though changes are in the cards for 3 Kings, the commitment to people will remain. Fasano says he’ll miss working with Norris every day, though he notes that they’ll still be neighbors, since Norris will continue to work at Mutiny Information Cafe down the street.

The tavern will move into its next ten years with new efforts. According to Fasano, there will be more shows every month, as well as larger, surprise shows once a month with bands that usually play higher-tier venues. There will also be free shows to thank longtime customers and to welcome new patrons, who have played a key role in Denver's development in the past few years.

“Denver has always been easy to do business with,” Campbell says. “Denver wants us to succeed, and I’ve seen the benefits of that. They give you every opportunity to do the right thing.”

“It’ll be subtle changes for a while,” concludes Fasano. “We’re not knocking down any walls yet. It’s just going to get better.”

3 Kings Tavern Tenth Anniversary Party
With the Fresh Fudge Family, MF Ruckus, Forth Yeer Freshman, Luke Schmaltz and much more, 9 p.m. Friday, January 8, 3 Kings Tavern, 60 South Broadway, free, 303-777-7352.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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