With dozens of spots catering to music lovers, RiNo’s the place to be for those who want to make a night of it.


Once a tumbleweed-strewn warehouse district, RiNo’s hopping these days. Already famous for culinary and visual arts, RiNo has another dimension worth exploring – music.

For the uninitiated, Final Friday is a good place to start. John McCaskill, owner of Megafauna, will launch RiNo’s 5th annual Final Friday Music Walk and Urban Bazaar on May 27. The popular event starts at 4:00 PM with live music and open houses. The event will extend throughout RiNo until 10:00 PM, with select venues staying open until 2:00 AM.

The Final Friday series will continue through the end of September. Starting the last Friday in June, bands and vendors will also set up on 31st Street between Blake and Walnut.

Says John, “This year we’re concentrating on the 30th-32nd blocks of Blake and Walnut, which includes Epic Brewing, Backyard on Blake, The Preservery, The Walnut Room, and Beryl’s Beer. We’re amping it up to a full-scale street party with live music and gallery shows.”

The goal is to showcase the music, art, and food that RiNo has to offer. Art galleries, design shops, bars, and restaurants will host local talent – acoustic, alternative, jazz and blues, punk, rock, hip hop, and electronic.

“I started Final Fridays to help local businesses, artists, and musicians get a boost at the end of the month,” John says. “Now we have an entire team involved in the programming. The event has grown, but one thing hasn’t changed—our focus on building a fun social environment where creativity and community thrive.”

How does Final Friday work? Kick off the evening at Megafauna, a retail shop that supports local artists. Your $5 donation goes to local musicians, and you get a wristband and event map. The wristband earns you discounted entry or food and drink deals at local venues. Past participants have included Black Shirt Brewing, Dada Art Bar, Jake’s, Mockery Brewing, Park Burger, Stem Ciders, and Infinite Monkey Theorem.

On Final Friday or most any evening, you can explore the neighborhood on foot or by eTuk or B-cycle and take in performances throughout the neighborhood to your heart’s content.

“The neighborhood is a top selling point from the perspective of the bands that play here and the people who see the shows,” says Scott Campbell, AEG Live promoter and owner of RiNo’s Larimer Lounge, known for local bands and up-and-coming national acts. “The foot traffic is incredible.”

More venues are cropping up in RiNo all the time, including jazz supper club Nocturne, an intimate space that combines an industrial feel, art deco flair, and a speakeasy vibe. Owners Nicole and Scott Mattson offer a sophisticated menu, a high-end cocktail program, and world-class jazz Tuesday-Saturday nights from local and national musicians.

“RiNo is an arts-focused community where people try out new things,” Nicole says. “When you enter Nocturne, it feels like you’re entering another era. We’re innovating while keeping jazz alive.”

Adds Scott, “The RiNo music scene’s definitely evolving. We’ve got Final Friday, the Larimer Block Party, and the new Pabst Festival [May 21 with headliners Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats]. There’s so much going on. The neighborhood is beyond cool.”

For information about Final Friday, visit FinalFridayDenver.com.

Spotlight on RiNo Music Businesses

North by North Recording Studio provides recording, mixing, and mastering services for musicians in all genres, and the Decibel Garden, a self-described audio sanctuary, optimizes sound and brings out the best in new and veteran artists. Talented engineers handle major label recordings and hobbyist efforts.

Says Decibel Garden producer Haylar Garcia, “The Denver music scene is the best it’s ever been. We’ve always had creative talent here, but we’ve finally reached critical mass.”

The Future of RiNo’s Music Scene

As Denver experiences rapid development and growth, there’s increasing demand for affordable spaces for Denver’s artists, musicians included.

The forthcoming 2015-2016 Listen Local study explores ways to formalize the City’s support of music leveraged through city and state partnerships.

Bryce Merrill, PhD, Lisa Gedgaudas and the Denver Arts & Venues team, and others recently collaborated with CU Denver professor Storm Gloor, who created a Music Cities course that covers lessons learned from cities like Austin and Seattle. CU Denver student Olivia Shaw and her team are focusing their research on RiNo venues and live/work opportunities (options like Artspace, a proposed 84-unit, low-income-qualified project for RiNo artists and their families).

“We want to help musicians build sustainable careers in ways that benefit both the artists and the community,” Olivia says. “It’s about preserving RiNo’s music scene for years to come.”

—Carolyn Daughters (RiNo Art District 2016 Spring/Summer Field Guide)


North by North Recording Studio
3510 Larimer St
Denver, CO 80205

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