By Caramie Petrowsky

Fort Collins boasts a deep-rooted music scene, with plenty of live music venues as well as some unexpected ways to satiate your love of music. Read on for a handful of surprising ways to scratch your music itch in FoCo.

A Vinyl Experience

A new vinyl record store opened in Old Town Fort Collins in 2018. All Sales Vinyl caters to music aficionados who understand there’s a deeper experience available from a record than merely streaming an album.

“People of all generations are not only hearing the difference in the vinyl album but ... are able to see the album art, which is pretty amazing, and get to hold it in their hands, see who played on the album and get all the experiences you lose when you're just streaming,” said Owner Mike Fogerty.

The Downtown Artery

Located in Old Town Fort Collins, The Downtown Artery is dedicated to the revival of the working artist. This eclectic arts space caters to those who are ready to take the leap of faith, making their passion their profession. The Downtown Artery includes 16 studio rental spaces, a remodeled gallery with attached bar, a café, and two Airbnb-style rooms. The Downtown Artery also hosts fun live music events, like the June 27 show when Hot Sisters bring their ‘80s metal/’90s grunge sounds to the venue, along with three other bands. The upcoming SNAP! ‘90s Dance Party on June 29 is equally old school: Three DJ’s — DJ Gary Givant, DJ A-L and DJ Garthy Garth — will provide the ‘90s-inspired soundtrack as attendees “dance their faces off.”

Spin (or Jam Out) Where You Stay

The gorgeous Elizabeth Hotel is a 164-room boutique hotel that earned the honor of being the city's first four-star hotel when it opened in 2017. Listen to records via the in-room record player or make your own music in the lobby lending library full of musical instruments. If you stay in the Music Suite, you can channel your inner DJ with the high-tech record player and sound system, as well as tickle the ivories on your very own baby grand piano. Sip on a cocktail while listening to jazz music at the rooftop Sunset Lounge, or everything from rock ‘n roll to folk, funk and bluegrass at The Magic Rat live music venue.

Music District Nurtures NoCo Music Landscape

The Music District is helping drive the city’s thriving music landscape by serving as a musical incubator. The district’s campus boasts gathering spaces, apartments for artists-in-residence, a radio station, state-of-the-art rehearsal studios and performance spaces, making it a creative playground for the music community. Take lessons, rent equipment, write or compose in the treehouse or another space, learn production skills; you can do all of this and more at the district, which is backed by the Bohemian Foundation and aims to attract both music lovers and novice-to-pro musicians. With a slew of workshops and events on tap for 2019, they hope to get everyone involved in some way.

Learn About Music

Jam out on guitars, drums, marimbas and even a theremin at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, which features a permanent music-oriented exhibit. The Music & Sound Lab explores the physics of sound, the history of the Fort Collins music scene and some of the technology behind everything from Edison wax cylinders to iPods. The museums’ OtterBox Digital Dome Theater hosts concerts as well as a monthly “Acoustic Treatment” event, where a rising local musician shares tales in between an intimate acoustic set.

Add FoCoMX to Your 2020 Calendar

Held every spring in Old Town, FoCoMX, is a popular event featuring over 300 Northern Colorado-based bands at more than 30 downtown venues. Next year’s event is tentatively slated for April 24-25, 2020.

Music All Week Long

Live music can be heard any night of the week in Fort Collins

  • Music lovers gather at Oak Street Plaza for the intimate Noontime Notes Concert Series, live concerts that take place on Tuesdays from June through August. Also on Tuesdays this summer (through Sept. 24), listen to live music at the FoCo Food Truck Rally on Sheldon Drive in City Park. The event goes from 5:30 p.m. to dusk and music begins at 6 p.m. 
  • And over at Colorado State University (CSU), The Lagoon Series is a free summer concert series slated for Wednesday evenings mid June through early August. Catch well-known (mostly) Colorado bands. 
  • Head to Old Town for the Thursday Night Live free weekly Thursday Night Live summer concerts (through Aug. 1). Catch Railbenders (June 27), SolPride (July 11), FY5 (July 18), Manabi Salsa Band (July 25) and Kind Dub & Friends (Aug. 1).
  • On a few Fridays this summer (July 5 and Aug. 2), catch the Downtown Sessions Concert Series in Old Town. And the Ben & Jerry’s Summer Concert Series takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the heart of Old Town on June 28 (The Strange Parade), July 12 (Tony Trahan and the Bluekrewe) and Aug. 16 (Amy & The Peace Pipes). 
  • Front Range Village hosts its Live @ Lunch concert series on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Courtyard near Mary’s Mountain Cookies. Highlights include Max Mackey (June 27), Pamela Machala (July 11), The Seers (July 25) and Many Mountains (Aug. 15).
  • The Shops at Foothills hosts the Foothills Summer Concert Series on Sundays from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. on the East Lawn (through Sep. 1). Catch bands such as Colony Funk (June 30), The Symbols (July 7), Michael Kirkpatrick and The Honey Rider Band @ 1pm (July 14), Hendershot, Whitacre and Maxwell Mud (July 21), The Swashbuckling Doctors (July 28), Matt Mahern & Constitution (August 18), Envy Alo (August 25), and A Brother’s Fountain (September 1).