Apartheid came to an end in South Africa. The Bosnian war erupted. The L.A. riots broke out upon the acquittal of the police officers charged in the Rodney King beating. The Space Shuttle Endeavor had its maiden flight. Bill Clinton was elected.
And on March 6, the Fox Theatre made its presence known on 13th Street as the premiere live music venue in Boulder with a landmark show featuring the (soon-to-be “Funky”) Meters.
The long history of the Fox includes decades before that, but what really counts is the last two. The Fox’s presence in Boulder not only cemented the city as a legitimate outpost for live music outside of the Mile High; it also bore witness to the burgeoning careers of some of the biggest names in Colorado music. Big Head Todd. The Frey. Judge Roughneck. String Cheese Incident. Leftover Salmon. The Flobots. Yours truly.
Both as a musician in some bands and covering music for multiple publications in Colorado, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Fox’s amazing sound system blow minds and melt faces over the years. It’s been the epicenter of live music as long as I’ve been writing, and I don’t think a single issue of this magazine has gone out where I haven’t mentioned at least one show to check out in its hallowed halls, for myriad reasons, not the least of which has been the incredible sound.
“The bottom end is like no other venue for possibly 1,000 miles in all directions,” says Chad Aman, who has played keys for several local acts over the years including Cocktail Revolution, Harmonious Junk, the Heavy Heavies, The New Majestics, Slack and the Byron Shaw Projex to name a handful. “It’s the kind of bass that rattles your bones.”
“I could write a book about what the Fox means to me,” says owner/booker Don Strasburg. “It’s an integral part of who I am.” One of the keys to the Fox’s success has been Strasburg’s effort to make the Fox accessible to local musicians in addition to the national acts.
“Almost every local artist who went on to national prominence cut their teeth at the Fox” Strasburg says. Furthermore the Fox isn’t just for the lucky few. For 20 years, countless incredible local artists have enjoyed the Fox. “Our local musicians perform and have fun on one of the top national stages.”
Aman agrees. “The pros that work and run the Fox really put it ahead of all the other rooms of that size in Colorado,” Aman says. “From the monitor mixes, to the ‘real green room’ to the front of house, they’re always putting us, the musicians, first.”
What’s even more compelling than 20 years of history is the future looks just as bright. Even as live music venues have sprouted all over the Front Range like weeds (though not quite as fast as weed dispensaries), the Fox’s legacy remains as bright as its deco marquee.
Here’s to another 20.