The Loft provides range of live music from the top floor of the Templeton Building
When Uriah Werner was studying the performing arts in Chicago in the mid-'90s, the curriculum called for him to visit (and report on) a different venue every night.
This wasn't so hard, he pointed out in a recent interview, considering that Chicago had 932 theatrical sites at the time - from the large and well-known to the scarcely findable “holes in the wall.”
The experience helped Werner, a Colorado Springs native raised in Buena Vista, to define his vision for the live-music club he wanted to run some day. He found that location he wanted last February in Old Colorado City. It's called the Loft, a BYOB nightspot centered in Room 301 on the top floor of the historic, three-story Templeton Building, 2502 W. Colorado Ave.
People have to walk up two flights of stairs to reach the place, but when they do, they usually discover - as Werner did when he first heard the acoustics in the big rectangular room, with its old brick walls, tall wood-frame windows and high, drop ceilings - “this sounds good. As rough as it looks, it's amazing.”
In any case, he suggested, even if those stairs are long and steep coming up from 25th Street, they're more of a feature than a flaw. “People always complain about the stairs, but after they're here, they say, 'That was cool,'” Werner chuckled. “It's kind of like, 'we're really somewhere.'”
Werner usually books acts at the rate of one or two a week. He's enthusiastic about the groups he has coming in. About three-quarters of them are from out of state, with receiving airplay on local stations such as 91.5-FM or 1530-AM. “We're booking some amazing acts,” he said.
Ticket costs range from $8 to $15 (usually around $10), according to Werner. Tickets can be bought the night of the event (doors open an hour before starting time), and sometimes are available in advance on the website, which is loftmusicvenue.com.
Room 301, a rectangular space that's several hundred square feet in size, can seat about 100 people in chairs, Werner said.
Scheduled for the next few weeks (all shows starting at 7 p.m.) are Jared Anderson Oct. 16, Amy Petty Oct. 22, Cloverton Oct. 23, Gregory Allen Isakoff Oct. 28, FluteDaddy Jazz Nov. 7, Po' Girl Nov. 11 and the Blackthorn Project Nov. 13.
Music has been a part of Werner's life for a long time. As a kid, before his Chicago college studies, he had toured with youth singing groups, and three guitars sit by his desk. His brother, Jonah Werner, is a touring singer songwriter with five albums to his credit, and has played at the Loft.
Uriah Werner wasn't the first to put live music in Room 301 and call it the Loft. Joshua Martin had been bringing in shows geared for teenagers - often packing the place - for about a year and a half. Werner and Martin know each other, and when Martin was ready to start shutting down his operation, Werner was ready to start his. The two worked out an arrangement for Werner to lease the Loft space - including keeping two old-but-high-quality organs that had been there - and Martin still helps book bands now and then, Werner said.
In the works is a kind of “loft junior.” It's a smaller space down the hall (Room 307) that will have a coffee bar and could handle acts for audiences of 20 to 25 people, he said. Other potential uses he's open to are business meetings, dance classes or improvisational comedy.
Right now the Loft is mostly a labor of love for Werner, using his “day job” as founder/owner of the All About Merchants credit-card processing company to help pay the bills while his club's reputation spreads. His business partner in both enterprises is Jason Jackson.
In the meantime, Werner tries to be a good husband and father (he has three young children), but the Loft is hard to keep away from. “I hope to turn it something with a life of its own,” he said. “In Chicago, there were 932 theaters. There ought to be room for a few in Colorado Springs.”
Westside Pioneer article