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(Submitted by Brigette Rodriguez)
(This way for your journalism degree?)
I’ve played music at a few places up and down the Front Range over the years. By playing I don’t mean listening, I mean performing. Usually just me and a guitar. It varied, from small coffeehouses with a couple of people, to wild bars with too many people, to a full house at the Paramount. Some were highlights, some were forgettable lowlights. I’ve recently heard that some of these places are no longer around.
One I won’t miss all that much was Penny Lane in Boulder. It had great ambiance, but it was a little too unorganized for someone who does more than just play music, you know, a life and schedules to keep. They called it the Open Stage From Hell, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but their lottery system was a little fishy at times.
One of my favorite places was also one that I was the most intimidated even bothering to go onstage at, Cricket On The Hill. I played there a couple of times, the staff was very nice, and the crowd was friendly and abundant. I rarely would play copies (other people’s music) and mostly stuck to originals. That’s always nerve wracking, but people were pretty open in these settings and it usually went well.
There were also a scattering of places I can barely remember, small coffeehouses for the most part. Some were in strip malls and have probably gone away by now. But there was one place I remember and was disappointed when it closed its doors permanently, Longmont‘s own Cheers.
For those that didn’t know of it or where it was, it was in the lower level of the building on the northwest side of 3rd and Main St. Yes, I’m aware of the irony of that very building (you’ll have to figure that out for yourself), and expected to be hit by lightning or a freak electrical accident when plugging in my guitar. But it went well and I dug that place. It was perfect for live performance, the right atmosphere. The first time I played there I wasn’t even aware there was another entire stage in the back, and it looked better than the front one.
Sadly, it closed down. I’m not part of the local music scene, so I don’t know if there’s a similar place like it in Longmont. I have recently seen the Dickens Opera House, that place is impressive, but I was told they don’t do much live music there, and no open mic nights. What a shame. When Cheers closed down, I briefly toyed with the idea of an alcohol and drug-free venue for bands at that location. The thought was not so much a nightly open mic session, but for local musicians and bands, especially younger ones, being scheduled and on the billing. And they would pay to play, believe me. It could have catered to any style; anyone could come and get some experience playing in front of crowds. I was realistic in knowing there was no way I would get that approved through city council, with the permits, crowd control issues, parking, etc. It’s too bad, could’ve been a good thing for musicians young and old. Maybe someone else will do it someday. Maybe they already have.