crowdfunding campaign aims to save Denver’s oldest concert hall

DENVER – For decades, there was a familiar roar after dark between Race and Vine Streets on Colfax Avenue in central Denver.

“It’s been Lion’s Lair for 63 years,” said Lion’s Lair co-owner Doug Kauffman. “Long time.”

The history of the intimate concert venue goes back even further.

“As far as I can see, since sometime in the 40s,” Kauffman said.

It was first a jazz club.

“There were an infinite number of jazz artists playing here,” Kauffman said. “Including Dexter Gordon and Clark Terry.”

The venue has housed legendary musicians and now some modern bands.

“The Black Keys, the Decemberists, the Ozomatli, the Mojo Nixon,” Kauffman said.

Kauffman believes that this monarch in the Denver music scene may just have the oldest liquor license among all concert venues in the city.

“When El Chapultepec closed, I can not think of anywhere else,” he said. “Wine spirits are numbered and it was one of the oldest spirits licenses at Colfax. They did not have records that go so far back, so they could not find out in the excise and licensing department. “

And boy – does the place have history. Some even believe that this hiding place is haunted.

“Ghosts from old jazz men, ghosts from old regulars,” Kauffman said. “You come in here and you get a few drinks in you, you might start conjuring those you never know. That could be right. ”

Like all other live music venues, the COVID crisis has silenced Lion’s roar of late.

“It’s been closed for eight months,” Kauffman said. “It simply came to our notice then. It really is. It’s not like its old self. ”

While the landlord of the place has been patient, with so much threatening uncertainty, Kauffman and one of his staff decided to start a GoFundMe campaign a few days ago.

“A lot of people have come out of the woodwork,” Kauffman said.

He and his business partner are absolutely blown away by the support.

“It surprised us all,” Kauffman said.

More than 350 donors and counts from Wednesday night.

“Small amounts, large amounts,” Kauffman said. “It has moved that the place means a lot to a large part of the community around here.”

They have raised $ 16,000 so far. People in our community who appreciate this cultural icon. ‘The King’ by Colfax, if you will.

“We are just very grateful to everyone who has been chipped in,” Kauffman said. “It’s coming back. I am convinced that it will. ”