Past Places in Western Colorado to Celebrate July 4th’s ‘Other’ Holiday
Here's hoping you get to celebrate a very happy Independence Day on July 4th. What about July 4th's other holiday? Looking back over the years, where did you enjoy celebrating it?
In addition to Independence Day, July 4 is also National Country Music Day. That makes sense. With the exception of Jazz, it doesn't get any more American than Country Music.
For the younger crowd out there, you might find this hard to believe, but it used to be possible to listen to live Country music five nights a week in Western Colorado. Seriously, you could hear live Country bands, typically Wednesday through Sunday nights, and never even have to leave the valley.
Where exactly would you hear this music? Several places come to mind. Here's a short rundown.
J.J.'s was the first bar I ever played. Jumpin' Jimmy, a.k.a. Jimmy Rose, used to run bands from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Some of my favorites to play J.J.'s: Ralph N' Clyde (Ralph was retired by that time), Windfall, Doug Lenard, Rumor Hazzit, and the Junction All Stars.
Eventually bands like Shot Gun and Exit 42 made their way to J.J.'s. Somewhere around 1995 or 1996 Jimmy closed that location and moved down the road to the bright yellow building and opened Jimmy's Roadhouse.
On Fridays, The Rose would host an FAC. As I recall, doors opened at 5 p.m. The cover charge back then on Fridays was $7. For the record, minimum wage at that time was well below $5 per hour.
On any given Friday there would be a line running from the front door, all the way around the building, and then meeting itself again back at the door. Bands would start at 5 p.m., play until 7 p.m., and then take a two-hour break, and return to play a regular night starting at 9 p.m.
Typically, the Rose would hire road bands. Grand Junction is an awesome router for touring bands, so The Rose could pick them up cheap. Every now and then a local group like the Junction All Stars or Shot Gun would play a week at the Rose.
The Roundup was hot for a while. Before long, it was gone. When it was open for business, though, it was crazy.
The Roundup ran two house bands - Rumor Hazzit and Shot Gun. Bands would run Wednesday through Sunday, playing from 9 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Doug Lenard used to do a single there on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Eventually there were tax problems and a few other issues, and the Roundup was no more. The business owner pulled up stakes and quit the biz. The property owner, Jimmy Rose, moved his bar, J.J.'s to that location, and opened Jimmy's Roadhouse.
The Colorado Club featured live Country Music periodically. To my memory, they never really ran bands with any kind of consistent scheduling.
Young players back in the 70's, guys like Greg Achord and Doug Lenard, used to cut their teeth at the Colorado Club.
I used to go to the Outpost to hear bands on Friday's and Saturdays. Back in the very early 1990's, you could hear bands like Little Junior and Exit 42.
It occupied the same building which would ultimately become The Roundup and then Jimmy's Roadhouse.
Just off the town square in Fruita was Chaser's. It went through several names before become Chaser's. They typically ran bands on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Back in the early 90's I would go there to hear Ralph N' Clyde. By 1993, they were rotating two bands, Exit 42 and Shot Gun. By 1995, the band Cimarron was assembled to be the house band. Cimarron, I'm pleased to say, is still up and running.
The Branding Iron, a bar roughly the same size as a one-car garage, used to run live bands Wednesday through Sunday. On my 21st birthday I went to the Branding Iron and played a set with the Junction All-Stars.
Anytime you went into the Branding Iron you were taking your life into your own hands. It was rough, but really fun. The dance floor was about the size of a typical walk-in closet.