There’s a nightlife downvalley? |

There’s a nightlife downvalley?

Brett Heicher
Preston Utley/Enterprise

The infamous lyrics of David Allen Coe’s “Longhaired Redneck” may have described the downvalley area’s nightlife in the past – “Where bikers stare at cowboys/Who are laughing at the hippies/Who are praying they’ll get out of there alive” – but the scene has changed during the past few years. While the stories of cowboys riding horses into the bar still linger; there’s a different kind of entertainment these days. “This used to be a scary place to someone from out of town. It’s not that way anymore,” says Petra Richards, part owner of the Brush Creek Saloon, as she surveys the barroom. “Everybody’s really friendly.” The Brush Creek is a long-standing business on Eagle’s main street.In the past decade or so, the downvalley scene has evolved from a one bar, one stop locale to a place where a local bar-hopper may wake up the next morning with three or four receipts in his or her wallet – and have still failed to touch all the bases. These days many patrons begin their night at side-by-side establishments, Pazzo’s and the Back Bowl, just off Interstate 70. Here a local client can go back and forth so easily that it’s no problem to keep two tabs going. Before you know it, the party brigade is headed downtown to finish the night at the Brush Creek; or the crew may make the trek to Pastimes in Gypsum.Bar clientele in the western part of the valley once largely consisted of “cowboys and old-timers.” Richards, as well Brush Creek customers Emily Bonfoey and Jason Winkler, agree that today’s crowd is much more diverse. The patrons of the past still claim their stake in the market; but now they share it with a mix of construction workers, young people, and local Hispanics.Most characters that you’ll find in the downtown bars fit in the general category of local working class. However, the Back Bowl regularly draws crowds from throughout the entire valley, largely due to the fact that it’s the only alley for at least 30 miles in either direction. That’s especially true for end-of-the-season company parties, explains Back Bowl Marketing and Event Manager Meredith Richards (no relation to Petra).

Another stereotype that no longer applies to downvalley nightlife involves the kind of music that fills these buildings. “You’d expect to hear country, but you don’t hear it all that much,” says Bonfoey, a Michigan native now living in Eagle.”Our jukebox is famous,” Petra Richards proudly claims of the Brush Creek’s music selection. Although more than one country song blares from the Brush Creek speakers every night, the most popular genres on the play list range from classic rock (Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Rolling Stones), to jam bands like The String Cheese Incident and Phish, to whatever the person feeding quarters into the machine wants to hear. “I’d say it’s a better variety down here (as opposed to upvalley) because of the country,” shouts Brush Creek patron Cassidy Richards, of Edwards (no relation to Petra or Meredith), over a live version of “Hotel California.” “To tell you the truth, I don’t think you ever hear country in Vail bar. It’s actually a lot more diverse down here,” insists Cassidy. Live music is also a regular throughout the western part of the valley. Whether you’re enjoying the summertime patio music on a Friday night at the Grand Avenue Grill or ducking out of the snow into the Brush Creek or the Back Bowl, if it’s the weekend, odds are you’ll be greeted by the sounds of a great live band.La Scala’s, the eatery at Eagle Ranch, offers a Martini and Jazz night on Thursdays from 6-9 p.m., featuring live music and a big selection of $5 martinis. “We have a little bit of a following,” says General Manager Jan Rizza, of the Thursday night crowd. Last summer’s Saturday night live music series, which offered some more upbeat music, was also popular.”I think it appeals to the late 20s- mid-30s crowd. Most people in that age group have famlies, and can’t get out all of the time,” Rizza says.Similarly, during the summer the Grand Avenue Gille offers live music on Fridays, featuring local bands. Customers pack the patio and fill the restaurant as long as the music plays.

Deciding which side of the valley has a better nightlife, however, comes down to a simple matter of weighing the pros and cons. Residents from throughout the area stressed the upvalley perks of meeting more people and having more late night options as far as places to go. The fact that there are more girls upvalley was also mentioned by numerous downvalley patrons. Mark that in the “con” for downvalley men; but a likely “pro” for downvalley women. “But down here (downvalley) you don’t pay as much and you get a lot better service,” says Brush Creek patron Britney Kerst and Katie Kingston, who bar tends for Pazzo’s.”Fewer crowds” and “no covers” were routinely cited as down-valley “pros.” Some people like the short distance from the bars to home (many walk home, and leave vehicles parked for the night). There’s a general consensus that the downvalley social scene’s greatest perk is the lower prices. “Everything’s easier downvalley,” says Josh Friesen, as he sits in his work overalls and sips a Budweiser, “the prices, the cops … everything!”A more laid back setting was also stressed by Winkler. “If you bring a girl down here you don’t have to worry about other guys trying to draw her away all night. You can actually sit and talk to her. You don’t really get a good chance to know somebody upvalley.”

The bars are not the only locations that sport this kind of attitude. According to Meredith Richards, the interior of the bowling alley was designed to have a living room-like setting. Patrons seem to enjoy sofas a lot more than those plastic swivel chairs typical of most bowling alleys.Despite the pros and cons, however, most young people don’t have a preference between the two ends of the valley. “It’s just two different types of animals. I wouldn’t choose one over the other. They’re both equally as fun to me,” says Cassidy. “I come down here to relax and have fun with the good old boys; whereas up there, you spend the whole night chasing women.”——————————–What to do …

On Tuesdays:- Pool Tournament Night at the Brush Creek Saloon at 7 p.m.- BBB Night at the Back Bowl, featuring burgers, beer and bowling for $6.99On Wednesdays:- Poker Night at the Brush Creek Saloon at 7 p.m.- Ladies Night with half-price bowling at the Back Bowl from 5-9 p.m.

On Thursdays:- Karaoke Night at the Brush Creek Saloon at 9:30 p.m.- First Thursday of each month, Comedy Night at the Back Bowl- Live jazz and $5 martinis at La Scala’s On Fridays:- Live music at the Brush Creek Saloon starting at 9:30 p.m.

– Live music at the Back Bowl from 7:30-11:30 p.m.On Saturdays:- Live music at La Scala’s (seasonal)On Sundays:- Scormor Date Night at The Back Bowl featuring bowling, dinner and drinks for two for $35=========================

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