Breckenridge loses three20south music venue on south end of town |

Breckenridge loses three20south music venue on south end of town

"Hi all. Some of you may have heard, but I made a tough choice late last week. I decided it was time to shut down three20south at 320 S. Main St. for good." So began the post that greeted music fans on the three20south Facebook page on Thursday, May 1. They responded with messages of shock and heartbreak, love and encouragement for owner Matt "Rocko" Karukin, more than 100 people chiming in with their favorite memories and moments from almost six years of shows at the basement venue in Breckenridge. "It was the biggest post, the biggest reaction we have ever gotten from a Facebook post, a lot of heartfelt comments," Rocko said. "It was just great to hear all the outpouring of love and thankfulness from all of the — I don't like to use the word customer; our patrons just seemed like so much more than that." To the die-hards, the music fans who were part of the fabric of three20south, coming in night after night, week after week, it's hard for Rocko to know what to say. "There's been kids that have actually said, 'I just signed a lease; I don't think I'd have signed a lease if I knew this yesterday,'" Rocko said. "I just have to say, I'm sorry and I fought the good fight as long as I could." Not an easy spot Rocko said three20south's location, 9,600 square feet in the basement level on the south end of Main, has never been an easy spot for a venue. "You have to take big risks without ever paying off," he said. "It was always a labor of love. We had some changes to our bottom line this year, and we were break even at best. At the end of the season, I had to take a hard look at the numbers and decided that it was getting too tough to continue." Rocko has owned and run three20 since 2008, coming up on what would have been six years in July. Even before taking over the space, he had attended shows there when it was Sherpa & Yeti's on back to when it was the Alligator before that. "I'd always been a music fan, going back to high school," he said. "Lots of Grateful Dead and Phish, lots of touring, and the opportunity just came up. There was no conscious decision, the opportunity just came up and seemed to go along with my life's thread." Making the decision to close three20 wasn't at all easy, Rocko said, but he added that it felt good that he was able to make the choice now rather than limping along and being forced into a corner where the decision was made for him. "There could have been a better exit strategy," he said, acknowledging that the verdict probably came as a surprise to many patrons. "I kept hoping that we could get through this situation like we have a million times before. "There were a lot of rumors this year saying we were closing. There was never any truth behind them, as far as I knew, and ultimately, the decision was mine after the last show and I had to look at the numbers realistically and said it was time to walk away." Jason Bruton, production manager, sound guy, light tech and general jack of all electronic trades at three20south, said Rocko called him right after he had the conversation with the building owner to let him know the venue would be no longer. "I wasn't terribly surprised because it's one of those things when you're running a club in a building you don't own," Bruton said, adding that closing three20 had seemed like a possibility ever since the building was sold to a new owner. "When the new building owner came in, it was always in the back of my mind; I was like, crap. I wasn't totally surprised, but I was pretty disappointed. It didn't really hit until we were pulling the system out last week, and then it hit and I got all teary-eyed." Crawford Byers, of Rocky Mountain Entertainment, has been booking bands at the venue for 15 winters. He said he has seen a lot of clubs come and go, but that doesn't make it easier to say goodbye to three20. "I'm a lot less surprised this time around than I was in the earlier days," Byers said. "It's five good months a year, but you have to pay rent for 12, and in the case of three20south in particular, it's a basement nightclub — there's no après ski possible, there's no real ways to use it earlier in the evening consistently, there's no way to prepare or serve food there. "Without those extra sources of income, your only way to make money is to bring in music and use that as your draw. And the music business is inherently risky; it's gambling every night. You're wondering if this many people are going to pay this much money in order to cover your down investment on the door, and if that investment isn't covered, you have to pull the balance from your bar receipts. The bar business is tough, but it's always tougher when you risk losing money any night that you're opening your doors." Byers said in such a small market, even with the most reliable people who want to go to a venue night after night, you can't carry a whole business getting people in there five nights a week, December through April. "Most clubs that close down, you see it a mile away," he said. "A place like three20, you don't see it coming because it seems successful because you have people in there night after night, but you have to do extraordinarily well night after night. Breckenridge has tons of passion and nobody did anything wrong, but the small nightclub in the mountains thing sort of chews people up and spits them out. It's one of those things you just don't see coming; it's a surprise to all." Many fond memories There were way too many acts that came through three20south to play favorites, Rocko said. It was a great room for developing talent, catching a lot of bands before they hit big, and he said he'll miss having a hand in developing the musicians who came through. "I really enjoyed discovering and booking the talent and watching these bands grow," he said. "There were a lot of bands that circled three20 — they seemed to play every few months — to watch these bands take off was a really special thing. "Since we've closed, a lot of acts have approached me and have been thankful for me giving them their shot. It was kind of like, when they could get a gig at three20 that helped their resume. That's been really nice to hear; I'm grateful to all those acts." One of the local bands three20south helped put on the map was Yamn. The band played its first show in the venue in 2007 when it was still Sherpa & Yeti's and continued when Rocko took over, forming a very close relationship with the venue and the owner. "Three20south and Sherpa & Yeti's was the room, the venue that put Yamn on the map in Colorado," said David "Dewey" Duart, bass player for Yamn. "We would go on tour for months on end, sometimes playing in front of no one, and come home to Breck, play a show at Sherpa's or three20 to a packed house. "It was always what kept Yamn going in the old days. The road was tough, playing in front of no one and trying to get your name out there took a toll on us, but when we came home to Breckenridge and played in that little basement venue we felt like rock stars; we knew that it was all worth it. The crowds and locals have always supported us there, and that has meant the world to us." Dewey said three20south may not have been the best club in the state, but it was intimate, a good party and a place that was just a staple. For Yamn, the venue was home, and between theme parties for Oktoberfest and Ullr Fest and holidays from Fourth of July to Halloween, three20 was a spot the band played upward of 40 times in the past five-plus years. "When we did the first New Year's Eve there, when it became three20south, that was 2008 into 2009, we played till 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning and we did a pancake breakfast for anybody who made it that long," he said. "That was pretty memorable." Bruton said he'd miss working closely with artists and the vibe of three20 and having Rocko as a boss wasn't so bad, either. "It was always good music, whether they were known or not, whether they packed a crowd or not, it was always good music and the great group of the built-in crowd that we had," he said. "Being in that club and having that interaction with the artists have done a lot for my career. … I don't know where else I could have done that. It was an awesome place to build family." Losing a music venue Rocko said he has no idea what the owner of the building plans to do with the space, but both he and Bruton seemed to think that it was unlikely it would remain a live music venue of any kind. "We always had to be restricted of our noise because of the tenants upstairs because there were businesses upstairs," Rocko said. "We weren't allowed to make noise until 8 p.m., so with an hour sound check, that's opening the doors at 9. … I would have loved to have opened earlier but it was one of the things we had to deal with in that space." The loss of three20south is going to leave a hole in the music scene of Summit County, Bruton said, a void that will be hard to fill. "It's going to have an A-bomb sort of impact," Byers said. "Without the proper venue and without the proper people in place booking it, you're not getting nearly the caliber or consistency of musicians that come through that people there have come to expect over the past 15 winters." Dewey said when he found out three20south would be closing, his initial reaction was being bummed, followed by the thought, where are we going to play in Breckenridge? "I'm kind of at a loss for words, I think," he said. "To not think there will be a strong music club in Breckenridge. I moved out here 10 years ago and I've seen musicians in that room for that long and it's been around a lot longer than that. I don't know what to think." Rocko said closing the venue would have an impact on a lot of touring musicians. "For a local band, there's not very many places to play and not many spots where you're going to headline," Bruton said. "In the Denver market, it's all bigger clubs, so it was good for them to come up and play and work and do their thing." "It's one less place for them to play," Rocko said. "We were always a good stop because they could go to Denver and then play us on the off nights or make the stop between Denver and Aspen and walk into a place with a great sound system and just be treated well." Time to move on Byers said he would miss everything about three20south, but though the venue is gone, live music in Breckenridge isn't necessarily going to disappear with it. He said he and Rocko would always be involved with bringing music to the town on some level, including booking acts to other venues on a freelance basis. "I've always admired that Rocko's a hard-working guy who didn't just sit back on his club as his only source of income," Byers said. "He's always impressed me with his drive and work ethic, especially in the face of a very difficult operation to maintain year-round. So those are qualities that I work with and will continue to work with. Having a venue or not, he's still a good partner in the business." "Right now, I'm just catching my breath," Rocko said. "What we represented and what the three20 brand represents — even if (the audience) didn't know the band, they knew that it would be a good show — there's something we can do. Maybe take that into a different situation; at the very least, have some bigger shows in different rooms in the upcoming winter. "Hopefully, I can play some part in bringing music back to Summit County, at least at the caliber that we were bringing." Bringing back the music is one thing; opening a new venue likely isn't in the cards. "I'm not sure about entering into another venue," Rocko said. "The numbers just have to be right. It's just a tough business and we always had it stacked against us, so attaching to an actual place where you have to pay rent is pretty tough." "Overall, it's just a really sad thing," Bruton said about saying so long to three20south. "There's going to be a big gap, and I don't know who would be able to step in or where it would happen since it sounds like the building owner isn't going to another venue. We have a sound system, we have a network — so we'll see."

Get Werked in Breck

There are studio bands, those that take advantage of all the bells and whistles of mixing and overlaying sounds and funky effects and grooming their music to perfection. And then there are live bands, those that prefer an audience, a jam and a chance to fly by the seats of their pants. For Ohio band The Werks, nothing beats a live show. “It’s important because we’re heavy on the jam and improv side of the coin,” said Rob Chafin, drummer and lead singer. “Most of our songs we play have long, extended improv instrumentation. We play off of the crowd and the energy of the room or the festival. The more people giving us more positive energy, the better we play. “Nothing’s better than a sold-out room. We get the same energy from a sold-out three20south as a big festival.” Though The Werks are known for their extensive jam sessions, which will be in full effect at their show today at three20south, Chafin said it’s their willingness to go outside the box that sets them apart from other “jam bands.” “We’re willing to bring back that experimental, psychedelic vibe,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, where that song’s going to go. We never play the same song twice. Adding that ability to add the electronic jam side sets us apart.” Chafin said that electronic element of the band’s music allows it to jump from festivals such as Camp Bisco and Electric Forest to Dark Star Jubilee and beyond. “We can play these electronic bills, and at the same side, we can play jam festivals,” he said. “In my mind, for the style of music we play, there’s three types: jam-funk-rock, bluegrass or electronic, and we kind of have a little of all three.” The Werks have crisscrossed the country the past year, even taking a jaunt down to Costa Rica for a couple of shows in February, but Chafin said the band is excited to be back in Summit County. “Nice people, great town, great music scene, weed’s legal,” Chafin said with a laugh. “We love Colorado, we love three20south, and we love Rocko.” The Werks owe Rocko, aka Matt Karukin, of three20south, a debt of gratitude from a past visit to the Summit. “We were stranded in a flash blizzard after one of our shows, and he helped us get off the mountain,” Chafin said. “He saved our butts. We were supposed to be in Aspen at the Belly Up, and our tour bus stopped working on the mountain in Breckenridge, right before we were supposed to leave. “He found us a diesel repairman in the mountains on a Saturday. We made it with 10 minutes to spare at the Belly Up, and we rocked it. … So we owe Rocko a lot. This is the rock out for Rocko end of the season closer; it’s gonna be great.”

Social Summit: Readers submit photos from three20south in Breckenridge

When three20south in Breckenridge closed its doors at the end of April, it came as a surprise to many loyal fans of the nightclub. A post by owner Matt "Rocko" Karukin on Facebook garnered more than 100 comments and more than 75 shares. Patrons offered their heartfelt thanks for one of the county's handful of regular homes for live music, expressed their sadness at the news and shared some of their favorite memories. Here, we've collected a few moments captured on film from the six years of bands and DJs at three20south. If you have photos you would like to share, send them to, and we'll post them on the Explore Summit Facebook page.

Thanks for supporting Fourmile Canyon Fire fundraiser

On Friday Oct. 8, I organized a small benefit to raise funds for victims in critical need affected by the Fourmile Canyon Fire and the volunteer departments that help fight the fire. The night was a success and wouldn’t have been possible without a few people and businesses that help make it happen. I would like to thank Dave Roth and Copper Mountain for their donations of a 4 pack and a season pass. Sha Miklas and Arapahoe Basin deserve a big thanks for the last-minute surprise with a season pass. Rocko and 320south were great in giving use of the room and donating 10 percent of the bar sales. I want to also thank the High 5 and DJ Jahstone from KSMT for donating their time. KSMT was great in giving free advertising. Last but not least all of you who attended, thanks!

‘Ski porn’ hits bars

Rob Hunt, founder of Pressure Drop Productions, is bringing “ski porn” to the mountains, in the form of one big party. He decided to showcase a 10-film ski and snowboard series at three20south in Breckenridge, because he didn’t see anyone producing screenings as “an event.” “They weren’t capturing the market the way the filmmakers intended, with a huge crowd; they weren’t building a frenzy,” Hunt said. “I want to bring in music kids are putting on their iPods when they hit the slopes.” He started Pressure Drop Productions and All About Content in order to aggregate all action-sports content and repackage and redistribute it for online and foreign markets. For the past six years, he has held department head positions at some of the most prestigious national festivals, including Bonnaroo, Vegoose, All Good, Yarmony Grass and the Jeep King of the Mountain ski and snowboard tour. He also competed on the International Free Skiers Association freeskiing tour. As a result, he has plenty of connections with both musicians and snowsports filmmakers. And he’s bringing some of the best – from Teton Gravity Research to Level 1 Productions – up to Breckenridge. “I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘ski porn,’” he said. “That’s essentially what it is – matching music to images. It’s not telling a story. It’s about creating a feeling, creating a lifestyle.” And with three20south’s huge screen and killer sound system, it’ll be a party people won’t want to miss, said three20south owner Matt Karukin, aka Rocko. “Movie premieres in the fall are a huge tradition of mountain culture,” Karukin said. “It’s a chance to throw a great locals’ party (out of towners welcome too) focusing on why we are all here in Summit County and to get psyched up about the up-coming season.”

Frisco’s 10 Mile Music Hall will be biggest venue of its kind in the Rockies, owners say

Owners of The Barkley Ballroom broke ground on their newest business venture Tuesday, a new live music and events venue in downtown Frisco that they say will be unlike anything else for miles. "For the first time, we'll be drawing people from the city and other areas coming specifically for the music," said Keegan Casey, one of the two co-owners. Once complete, 10 Mile Music Hall, as they plan to call it, will be "the largest venue with a consistent slate of music" in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, according to Casey and his partner, Todd Altschuler, who together also run The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco. The architect's plans call for the new music hall to have 22-foot vaulted ceilings with a massive 1,650-sqaure-foot dance floor and the largest rooftop deck in Summit County. It will be at 710 E. Main St., built in the vacant lot beside Abbey's Coffee and Backcountry Brewery, not too far down the street from The Barkley Ballroom. However, Casey explained that 10 Mile Music Hall is a completely separate business venture, and the future of The Barkley Ballroom is not tied to it. Still, he and Altschuler feel lucky to be building from the ground up, giving them the chance to make construction decisions based on experience. "You look at 90 percent of venues (in Summit County and the surrounding areas), and they were all things that were something different and then built into a music venue," Casey said. "I hate to use our other place, but that was never supposed to be a music venue. We literally get to take what we've done and create the perfect venue." At almost 6,000 square feet inside, "the perfect venue" won't eclipse the capacity of the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, for example, but Altschuler said they expect to have a more robust lineup of regular live music and that 10 Mile Music Hall is going to be bigger than The Vilar Center in Beaver Creek and Belly Up in Aspen. Compared to The Barkley Ballroom, there will be three to four times as much room for the dance floor with an expanded 24-foot by 16-foot stage. A balcony will wrap around the dance floor and allow access to the large rooftop deck with a fireplace and south-facing view. The owners said the new music hall will allow them to sell more tickets and bring in bigger acts than they can with The Barkley Ballroom, which is typically limited to a handful of genres. "The bands that come are going to be bands that play in 1,000- to 1,500-seat venues, sometimes even more," Altschuler said "Headliners at music festivals that you see around, those are going to be the bands that we get to have in Frisco, Colorado — bands that play on the barbecue main stage, the Dillon Amphitheatre." They also expect the new music hall to be a go-to venue for mountain-destination weddings and other events. They've been working on the project since June of last year, Altschuler said, and if everything goes according to plan, they hope to be open by sometime next summer and booking big-name acts by the fall. "It's surreal actually getting to the point where we got to pick up shovels today," Altschuler said. "I'd say (before this), it didn't feel real. We've been seeing these drawings, but it didn't feel real until we get here and know that the tractors are coming in to build a foundation tomorrow."

Red Rocks reports a record-breaking season in 2011

While one Reverb columnist felt 2011 was a weak year for Red Rocks creatively, it ended up being an incredibly lucrative year for the natural outdoor amphitheater in terms of attendance and events.Red Rocks hosted a record-breaking summer in 2011, hosting 87 events and 593,919 people over the last few months – numbers that bested all previous statistics. “We are thrilled that Red Rocks has once again broken records as it continues to rank highest among the artists that play our fabled venue and the fans that love coming to Red Rocks,” said Erik Dyce, the director of marketing for Arts & Venues Denver, which manages Red Rocks and other city of Denver-owned venues, in a release. “We have a robust concert business in Colorado, thanks to our great promoters that bring the shows to our backyard, and local fans that come out to support the music they love.”Of course 2011 was also the amphitheater’s 100th year of live music, and so this was a fitting way to mark that occasion. The venue also hosted 17 sold-out events in 2011. And according to Tad Bowman, the director of venues utilization and services for Arts & Venues Denver, 2012 is already looking solid.”Red Rocks has been doing very well with the number of shows we’ve seen for the last few seasons, and this year was another really good year,” Bowman said in a release. “We attribute this to many things, including the high caliber artists the promoters bring, the exceptional natural venue itself, and the dedication our staff contributes to making each summer special. 2012 should be no exception, with bookings already looking strong.”

The infinite funk of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe visits Frisco venue

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe comes to Summit County Saturday to play at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco. Denson appears at major festivals like Bonnaroo and the Montreux Jazz in Switzerland, so this concert is an opportunity to see one of his sets up close and personal. “I can’t remember seeing Karl Denson in a venue this intimate in the past 10 years as he sells out large venues such as The Boulder and Ogden regularly. We are very lucky to have this concert in Frisco,” said Todd Altschuler, The Barkley Ballroom’s co-owner. Denson has developed his work in a variety of musical genres, from being a part of Lenny Kravitz’s band for five years and recording a series of jazz albums – one of them with Miles Davis’ alumni Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette – to joining DJ Greyboy in forming Greyboy Records, releasing the acid-jazz staple, “Freestylin’” and forming the groove band Greyboy Allstars. His latest band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, takes this mix of sounds, highlights vocals and adds funk, rhythm and blues and hip-hop features. The group’s latest release, “Brother’s Keeper,” combines rock, funk and afro beat with special appearances from Meshell Ndegeocello on bass and former Ben Harper/Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford. The lineup for the current tour includes DJ Williams on guitar, Chris Littlefield on trumpet, John Staten on drums, Chris Stillwell on bass and David Veith on keyboards. Denson takes part on vocals, sax and flute. “My style is based in dance,” Denson states on his website. “I love the idea of creating something that naturally makes people want to move.” Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has shared the stage with diverse artists including Jack Johnson, D’Angelo, James Brown, Dave Matthews Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Allman Brothers, Keane and Maroon 5. A newcomer to Summit’s live music scene as of December, The Barkley Ballroom has quickly affirmed itself as a prominent local venue, hosting up-and-coming bands as well as big acts like The Malah and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Altschuler reopened the venue, which carries on the tradition of Barkley’s West, which featured live music in the late ’90s and early ’00s, with partner Keegan Casey. “Since I rolled into Colorado on a bicycle with my dog Stanley in a trailer, I have helped create Mousike Magazine and for the last three years have served as marketing director for Telluride Jazz Festival. … I moved to Summit County to be closer to Denver and fell in love with the space that houses The Barkley Ballroom from the first time I stepped inside,” said Altschuler. “One local and Frisco business owner told me he was thinking about moving out of Frisco before the venue opened but we’ve breathed new life into the town. That felt pretty nice to hear.”The music spot differentiates itself by introducing new or little-known bands to the local public for free. “I want to have as much free music as possible. Having 10-plus free shows a month will allow locals to treat the venue as a local bar – somewhere to stop in just to see what’s on tap that night,” Altschuler said. “Those that have been to a lot of the free shows have come away with a new appreciation for bands like Springdale Quartet and Atomga, up-and-coming bands they hadn’t previously heard of.”Altschuler also wants to keep giving locals the opportunity to see renowned artists at the venue, featuring popular groups like John Brown’s Body and Dumpstaphunk. “It might be lofty, but my goal is to have people look back in 20 years on the history of The Barkley Ballroom and remember some of the best live music events they’ve ever seen,” Altschuler said. “Absolutely historical shows like when Widespread Panic played Toad’s Place in 2000 or The Grateful Dead was playing Magoo’s Pizza in the mid-’60s. The room really has all of the characteristics to make that dream a reality – great sound, great energy, and, of course, some of the best music fans in Colorado.”

The Silverthorne Pavilion is one of Summit County's premier arts & entertainment venues. The venue gives locals and visitors alike a place to enjoy shows and entertainment in a clean, safe environment. A variety of shows are hosted throughout the year, including comedy, all genres of music and movies, and children's programming. No matter the time of year, Silverthorne, CO is packed full of events. Don't miss out, check out Silverthorne's event calendar. Featured Winter 2016 Events Summit Music and ArtsJanuary 2, 2016 Country Western Dance January 22, 2016 Brewers RockJanuary 30, 2016 Father/Daughter Date Night February 12, 2016 Valentine's ComedyFebruary 13, 2016 Apres Ice Part (for Pond Hockey Tournament)February 14, 2016 Country Western DanceFebruary 19, 2016

Venue veracity

In Summit County these days, people are as likely to encounter art in a gallery as they are in a coffee shop, factory outlet store or a restaurant.Such is the case with Blue River Bistro, the unassuming but superb storefront restaurant on the north end of Breckenridge. The dining establishment has been displaying local artists’ work since last year. The current show exhibits photography by Rebecca Nord, a Summit County resident for the past two years, by way of the Midwest.While some of her black and white photos can be seen at Melissa’s Art gallery, also in Breckenridge, this is Nord’s first one-woman show. The 20 color photos on view at Blue River Bistro range in size from 11×14 to 20×24 and represent subjects in Colorado, Utah and California. Her landscapes include the ubiquitously photographed aspen trees of Colorado as well as the buttes and mesas of Utah. Her most interesting images incorporate vast blue skies and ponderous white clouds. Although many of her water scenes have a postcard quality to them, Nord demonstrates an eye for detail and a slightly different point of view. In her photos taken at Hanging Lakes in Colorado for example, the cropping of the image and the central subject matter make for more interesting viewpoints than found in typical travel brochure shots.One of her best in the show is a photo of the Golden Gate bridge. It is a hard shadowed, interestingly cropped image of one of the towers, set majestically against an azure sky. In fact, there seems to be a number of photos where a brilliant blue sky is the essential element of the composition.To maintain an affordable price for her work, Nord has done her own matting and framing. They are well crafted and add to the presentation.She hopes her work allows the viewer to see the world with a fresh perspective, she said. Although it is a noble concept, the similarity of her subject matter, and the all-too often photographed locales she has chosen, makes it unlikely at this early stage of her career. Blue River Bistro is to be commended for exhibiting artwork and promoting local artists. The venue however, is not set up well for viewing art. In the case of Nord’s prints, window reflections, tables, booths and lamps often stand or hang in the line of sight, causing viewers to bend, twist, or sit just to see the work.Stew Mosberg is a writer and journalist working out of Blue River. He holds a bachelor of design degree from the University of Florida, is the author of two books on design, and is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He can be reached by e-mail at: Gallery: The Blue River BistroLocation: 305 N. Main St., BreckenridgeHours: During lunch and dinner