Music has always had a home at the Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida.
Actually, P.T. Wood started hosting live music there before the distillery officially opened.
“When we took possession of our building, we threw a little party for our friends,” he said. “I had a bunch of friends who were musicians and this impromptu band formed.”
Since that night in 2012, musicians have weekly squeezed into the little distillery, which seats 44 people, to play where — and while — whiskey is made.
“It’s super intimate,” Wood said. “We don’t really have a stage or anything.”
As it turns out, a stage isn’t required to put on a good show.
A handful of Colorado distillers are proving that by hosting stripped-down live music in the middle of their production rooms.
It’s not quite like going to a music venue and not quite like seeing a bar band. It’s somewhere in between.
“There’s a mystique about it I think,” Wood said. “It just has this unique, funky vibe. The barrels are there, you’re looking back at the distillery, and you’re taking in the smells of it. The whole thing winds up in this pot of awesome.”
It also feels like you’re not necessarily supposed to be seeing music there.
Perhaps that’s why Sofar Sounds plans occasional secret pop-up shows at Stranahan’s, a distillery in Denver.
“It’s almost like, ‘I hope I don’t get caught,’” Wood says. “It’s that feeling.”
291 Distillery in Colorado Springs has hosted a weekly music series for several years, inviting patrons to sip on drinks and listen to blues or other types of tunes surrounded by more than 1,000 barrels.
If barrels aren’t being used for something more important (like whiskey), they’re often set up as stands for speakers.
When Michael Myers first started 291, he made whiskey drinks at MeadowGrass Music Festival. From then on, he’s always blended his two loves. “Music and whiskey,” he says. “Don’t those always go together?”
291 Distillery also donates spirits to the annual Mountain High Music Festival in Crested Butte, which is hosted by songwriter Dean Dillon. He wrote, by the way, “Tennessee Whiskey.”
There’s nothing particularly fancy about music at Myers’ distillery.
“I don’t want things too polished,” he said. “I don’t think that goes with whiskey for me or music. I like the rawness of it.”
But it’s different than anywhere else.
“If you love music, you really want to see an artist that way,” Myers said. “You want to see it stripped down.”
Recently, the distilleries have been quiet because of the coronavirus pandemic. But 291 has still managed to pump up the music by hosting almost daily virtual concerts from its Facebook page.
Myers plans to bring music back as soon as it’s safe.
”I miss having music there,” he said.”I can’t wait to get back to that.”