Virginian Chris Merritt plays Velour Live Music Gallery, a mainstay of the Utah Valley scene.
They may lie miles from our region’s major metropolises, but they’re not necessarily sleepy. Towns and modest-size cities can boast lively entertainment options that go well beyond the usual movie theaters and locals-only haunts. Intimate cafés, galleries, and performance spaces all host talented bands at affordable prices. Here are some standout venues.
- Black Horse Saloon Bend, Ore. This friendly biker saloon hosts bar bands on most weekend nights and a preacher (a former biker) on Sunday mornings, when many regulars also gather to play bocce on the full-size court outside. (541) 382-4270, blackhorsesaloon.com.
- Bombs Away Cafe Corvallis, Ore. A few nights a week, funk, blues, jazz, and folk-rock bands back up this restaurant’s organic Southwestern fare. (541)757-7221, bombsawaycafe.com.
- The Crêpe Place Santa Cruz, Calif. In addition to serving salads the size of a satellite dish and massive crêpes, this quirky eatery hosts folk-rockers and neopsychedelic indie bands—many of them accustomed to far larger stages—on the floor of its front room. (831) 429-6994, thecrepeplace.com.
- Nuart Theater Moscow, Idaho. Secular and Christian touring indie-rock bands stop to play this former 1930s movie house that now serves as an interdenominational outreach ministry, bookstore, espresso bar, and performance venue. Free family-friendly film screenings on Fridays. (208) 882-0459, nuarttheater.com.
- Sophia's Thai Kitchen Davis, Calif. Thursdays through Saturdays from April until November, local and touring country, bluegrass, and folk acts play on Sophia’s wooden front porch. Come summer’s warm nights, capacity crowds throng the deck. (530) 758-4333, sophiasthaikitchen.com.
- Velour Live Music Gallery Provo, Utah. Alcohol free and blessed with excellent acoustics, Velour opened four years ago. Inside it’s more of a kitsch-cluttered cowboy chapel than the rough-and-tumble saloon its exterior suggests. (801) 818-2263, velourlive.com.
Photography by Adam Finkle
This article was first published in December 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.