Setting the Stage: Performing Arts Venues

The last year or so has made it crystal clear that we are social animals, and as such, we tend to feel and function better when we connect with others. Here is a shortlist of small venues with big energy and historic beauty to make sure your outings are worth the effort.


Upstairs at Precedence, Montrose

Located above the Precedence Music Academy, upstairs in the former Masonic Temple on the 500 block of Montrose, is Montrose’s hidden jazz bar and lounge. It is one of the most beautiful and unique venues in the state, largely thanks to its beautiful stained glass domed skylight in the ballroom, which is huge, and vintage details throughout.


Owner Jordan Carls, an extensive network of studio musicians, music instructors, and performing artists, all spent some serious time perfecting the acoustics in this place. There’s live music every Friday, from Take Five, the highly talented house band, to big-name blues artists and local favorites. Plan on showing up early to enjoy cocktails and lite bites in the swanky library lounge.



Healthy Rhythm Art Gallery, Montrose

Healthy Rhythm Art Gallery is all about art and music. Located at 232 East Main Street, this space is a combo art gallery and music venue, with proprietor Ken Vail also offering creative consultancy services. The music inspires the art and the gallery art adds to the atmosphere. Hosting small-batch, artisan-crafted tunes that are curated by Vail (with input from [BREED] Butters). This is the venue for you if you like the kind of small and intimate acoustic shows that only small towns can offer. There is live music most Fridays, especially during the summer, but the website warns to call ahead to be sure, as opening days and times may vary.



The Wright Opera House, Ouray

Ouray was once a pretty rowdy place full of brothels, gambling, and whiskey. Legend has it that Ed Wright and his wife, Letitia, believed that Ouray needed “cultural” opportunities. They created a “decent” place that would feature “cultural and educational programs of high quality.” That was 1888, and 134 years later the Wright continues with its mission to class up the small mountain town.


These days the Wright is still a decent place that has stayed true to cultural and educational programs of high quality including, among other events, the Ouray International Film Festival, as well as shows such as “Colors of Spirit” by Paula Hayes which runs through April 15.



Sherbino Theater, Ridgway

The “Sherb” is owned and operated by the Ridgway Chautauqua Society, a nonprofit organized around a singular mission to keep the historic Sherbino Theater a community gathering place. In keeping with the historic tradition of the Chautauqua, the group aims to produce a variety of “programs celebrating lifelong learning, the arts, culture, and community.” Programming ranges from adventure film festivals to acoustic folk music - and seemingly everything in between, including, in the next few months, the Women’s Adventure Film Tour; and poet, percussionist, storyteller, mask maker, and seven-time GRAMMY nominee Will Clipman for an evening of multicultural mask art and original world music.