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Bohemian Foundation’s newest music venue, Washington’s, opens Saturday with high energy

The Fort Collins music community got a little bigger Saturday with the opening of a music venue, Washington’s.

Like many other music venues in Fort Collins, Washington’s is a place for community. Such was evident Saturday as there were a lot of community members and families present.

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band performs
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue perform at the grand reopening of Washington’s. (Field Peterson | Collegian)

“We’re hoping to see part of the community, part of the music scene and it’s a really wonderful location to be serving live music to the community,” said Greta Cornett, the marketing and talent coordinator for the Bohemian Foundation that funds Washington’s. 

This project of Washington’s has been in the works for a few years, and they have been working towards this date and this show specifically since last fall.

“I hope everyone tonight gets up and dances and has a great time, because that’s really what we want,” said Laura Wilson, the live music manager.

The venue is huge, with a capacity for 900. There are two full bars, both with TVs that show the stage that allow you to watch the show while you’re getting a drink. All shows are general admission, so do not get your hopes up for a special MVP space in the venue.

This is a historical building, and through all the renovations they have made the effort to preserve the history. There is sandstone in the back, stained glass, a trolley top, a painted bench and a handful of other staples from the old Washington’s. And of course, there is the stained glass of George Washington that is backlit at night.

“We essentially have redone pretty much all of it,” Cornett said. “We’ve kept some cool things to incorporate into the venue. The one that’s the most prominent is the stained glass from the old Washington’s. It’s George Washington. He sits right in our front window.”

While Cornett expresses love for the other venues in town and how they create community through live music, she ensures that this is not like Aggie or

Saxophone, bass and guitar players
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue perform at the grand reopening of Washington’s on Friday night. (Field Peterson | Collegian)

Hodi’s. With that new building smell fresh in the air, this venue is much larger than that of The Aggie or Hodi’s Half note and has more of an upscale vibe, she said. 

“It’s really incredible,” Cornett said. “All of us are just so honored to be a part of this. It feels good to open a venue.”

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Some concert goers who have been a part of the community for a long time expressed gratitude that Washington’s has been reimagined.

The Saturday show was without a doubt high energy. With the New Orleans jazz band, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, as the headliner paired with some incredible lighting design, jazz music has never been so lit. It felt like a renowned headliner at the Pepsi Center, but it was a show in downtown Fort Collins.

“I hope everyone tonight gets up and dances and has a great time, because that’s really what we want,” Cornett said.

The sold out show started with local DJ, DJ TwoscoopS, playing music as people slowly grabbed drinks and filled up the listening room until it was packed.

“We’re really excited and hope that everyone enjoys themselves tonight,” Wilson said.

Doors opened at 6 p.m., and DJ TwoscoopS started. Trombone Shorty came on at 7:30 and wrapped up at 9 p.m. 

“We’re hoping to add to the vibrancy of downtown Fort Collins we really want to give our guests the high quality experience that is focused on the art and performances,” Laura Wilson

It was clear the band was having fun as they filled the room and then some with their New Orleans sound.

One audience member pointed out the band’s talent in that they performed a solo in minor key.

“That’s very hard to do,” John Hintzman, an audience member, said. “They nailed it.”

With a large venue like this, there should be space for everyone. But according to a handful of concert goers, this was not the case.

There is limited seating, all on the second level. Everything else is standing. This poses a challenge for those who have difficulty standing.

The Bohemian Foundation now works on two venues, Washington’s and The Armory. The Armory has seating and Washington’s

guitar solo
Guitarist Pete Murano gives a solo at the grand reopening of Washington’s. (Field Peterson | Collegian)

is limited. Concert goers expressed surprise with not enough seating, some referencing their own injuries and operations as to why it is difficult for them to stand for extended periods. People could be found sitting against the wall.

“I’ve seen more people my age leave,” said Ruth Carrothers, an audience member who could not find a space to sit in the listening room despite expressing her medical needs. “I really expected more out of the whole thing.”

After years of planning, Washington’s is finally open and has the rest of their first year to gear up for.

“We want to help build the scene here in Fort Collins,” Cornett said. “We want to be a part of it and figure out what that looks like as we go along. It is a new adventure. It’s a lot of figuring it out. We’re looking forward to all of it.”

The importance of putting on a good show was emphasized. Washington’s wants to be known as a place that is showcasing incredible talent and putting on shows that people want to see.

“We’re hoping to add to the vibrancy of downtown Fort Collins. We really want to give our guests the high quality experience that is focused on the art and performances,” Wilson said.

Location: 132 Laporte Ave.

Upcoming shows: DeVotchKa; Karl Denso’s Tiny Universe

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddierwright.

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