crowdfunding campaign aims to save Denver’s oldest concert hall

DENVER – For decades, there was a familiar roar after nightfall between Race and Vine Streets on Colfax Avenue in downtown 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 hall goes back even further.

“As far as I can tell, since sometime in the 1940s,” said Kauffman.

First it was a jazz club.

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

The place was once home to legendary musicians and now some modern bands.

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

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

“With the closure of El Chapultepec, I can’t think of anywhere else,” he said. “Liquor licenses are numbered and it was one of the oldest liquor licenses in Colfax. They didn’t have such old records, so they couldn’t find it at the Tax and License Office. ”

And man – the place has history. Some even believe that this hiding place is haunted.

“Ghosts of old jazzmen, ghosts of old regulars,” said Kauffman. “You come in here and get some drinks, you can start conjuring them, you never know. It can be real. “

Like any other live music venue, the COVID crisis has recently silenced the Lion’s roar.

“It’s been closed for eight months,” said Kauffman. “It is a drag. Really is. It is not like before. “

Although the site owner was patient, with so many uncertainties looming, Kauffman and one of his employees decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign a few days ago.

“A lot of people came out of the den,” said Kauffman.

He and his business partner are absolutely delighted with the support.

“It took us by surprise,” said Kauffman.

More than 350 donors and counting until Wednesday night.

“Small amounts, large amounts,” said Kauffman. “It is moving that the place means a lot to a lot of the community here.”

They have raised almost $ 16,000 so far. People in our community who value this cultural icon. The ‘king’ of Colfax, if you will.

“We are very grateful for everyone who participated,” said Kauffman. “He will come back. I am confident that it will. “