Farewell to a local treasure | SkyHiNews.com

Farewell to a local treasure

Live music legend Ullrs’ ride has come to an end

Sarah Morin
For Sky-Hi News
Hunker Down performing a sold out show at Ullrs. The bar, which has been instrumental in putting Winter Park on the map for great live music, is closing on April 30 with Hunker Down playing the farewell show.
Jon Geeslin/Courtesy Photo

“Since we opened our doors in October 2009, this business has been an adventure we never could have imagined,” said Rebecca Kaufman and Jerod LaChance, owner of Ullrs Tavern in Winter Park.

Ullrs has been a local live-music legend that helped create a revered music and late night scene in Winter Park. On Saturday, April 30, Hunker Down will be the last band to perform at the club named after the Norse god of snow.

Ullrs history dates back to 2008, when LaChance, then 30, and Kaufman, 24, became business partners. LaChance had moved from Dallas, Texas, to Winter Park at the end of 2004, and Kaufman came in from Ashville, North Carolina four years later. A friend, Matteo Lamuraglia, introduced them, and you could say the rest was ski-town rock-and-roll history.

LaChance had always toyed with the idea of owning his own bar.

“I was in a band, 8 Trak Mind, in Dallas, and my dreams had kind of changed,” LaChance said. “If I can’t be a rockstar, I want to have a stage and throw shows.”

The first time Buckets Saloon and Laundry went up for sale, LaChance wanted to buy it. After many conversations around business ideas with Kaufman and Lamuraglia, more gears began to turn.

The pub was the only place in Winter Park with live music in the early 2000s. With high hopes to open a larger music venue in Winter Park, the trio got together and eventually created what will go down in history as Ullrs.

“When we started, none of us had ever owned a business,” Kaufman said. “Lamuraglia had never booked a band in his life… I called my dad about the idea. We needed to create a corporation and make a business plan.”

In early 2009, LaChance and Kaufman purchased Buckets.

“We ran it as Buckets for like a month,” LaChance said. Afterward, they shut down for renovation.

“Our business plan was specific to live music,” Kaufman said. “We made sure we had enough funding to purchase the business, do a significant renovation and encompass Jerod’s dream to have a live music venue.”

When Ullrs reopened in late 2009, “no one in this town had been charging for cover,” LaChance said. Del the Funky Homosapien was their first big show and Ullrs charged $7 for entrance.

The first show that went right, though, was John Brown’s Body, in their second winter, LaChance said. “We charged a $12 cover and sold out.”

That’s when the business began to take off. After that show, Kaufman thought, “we made it and we can do this.”

Lamuraglia was in charge of booking all of the bands for Ullrs.

“He would always keep pushing us to book more,” Kaufman said. Thinking the town was ready for more, Ullrs booked their first Trampled by Turtles show in 2013, the late night bar placed its stake in the Rockies as a sought-out music venue that hosted big-name bands.

After their success with hosting larger shows, it was a snowball effect.

“Once the word started getting out that we knew how to throw shows, that we could pull it off, our security was good, we could sell it out, and it sounded good … we built trust with the higher-level music industry,” LaChance said.

Soon, Ullrs was becoming the Fraser Valley music venue that everyone wanted to attend.

“We always wanted to serve tourists, but our mindset was always to be the bar of the people,” LaChance said.

“We wanted all the kids working here to be able to afford Ullrs,” Kaufman added. “And we needed them (in order) to survive.”

They say the only way they made it through all of the mud seasons was with that local support, which they built by giving the local workforce that needed a place to grab a beer, listen to live music and create memories of a lifetime a place to do so.

“We were always trying to do as much as we could and we were willing to throw shows even if we knew we weren’t going to make that much money,” LaChance said.

In Ullrs first few years of being open, James and the Devil played 15 times. Sometimes bands would cancel at the last minute and they’d say, “We should call James and the Devil,” Kaufman said. “It just worked every time.”

When Ullrs first opened, James and the Devil was a small band. If you lived in Winter Park at the time, you were a die hard James and the Devil fan. Then they began to blow up throughout Winter Park, LaChance said.

“Them growing, and us growing at the same time was one of the most special things.” Kaufman added. “It was the perfect fit of a bar and a band moving up together.”

James and the Devil began competing in Battle of the Bands in Denver. They were so popular throughout the valley that Ullrs would take a bus full of Winter Park folk to go along and vote for them. This helped the band get into Wakarusa Music Festival and Red Rocks.

Years later, James and the Devil lost their lead singer to brain cancer. The remaining members changed the band’s name to Dealer Takes 4. After Dealer performed their final show at Ullrs on April 22 of this year, they made a post on Facebook honoring the relationship they built with Ullrs and the community of Winter Park.

“We met Jerod when Ullrs was a hole in the wall called Buckets,” read the statement. “After being taken over by Jerod and Becca, they turned it into one of the destination venues in the Rockies and built a music scene in Winter Park that brought in some of the biggest names in the national touring scene. Ullrs quickly became our favorite venue, a home away from home.”

Ullrs will always be remembered for shaping the late night, live music scene we know and love in Grand County. Through years of hard work, perseverance and attention to the local crowd, they created an imprint on this town that will live on through many a music-lover’s heart.

“It’s been a long goodbye for me,” LaChance said.

As for the future?

“My plan is to take a long vacation and use that time to figure out what’s next. I’ve lived here for 17 years, so I want to be warm for a while. But I’ll always be back. This is my home. This is more my home than where I grew up at this point.”

Kaufman, now the co-owner of Wake N’ Bacon, will continue working there. She most recently has been re-elected for another four-year term as a member of the Winter Park City Council. She plans to focus on volunteering for the Grand Foundation while working with the city on future housing developments for the workforce.

“We are hoping someone will pick up the torch and fill that void (in the music scene). I think skiing goes hand and hand with live music, and we’ve helped change the nightlife (in Winter Park) over the years,” she said.

As Ullrs closes their doors, “we are grateful to go out on top,” LaChance said. Each of the owners appreciates the support they have had this season, from locals old and new, to their hard working staff that has been by their side since day one.

Don’t forget to stop into this epic music venue before they close on April 30. Hunker Down will be there and it’s sure to be a raucous event. It’s a sad goodbye to a place Winter Park has known and loved for many years. But we’ll remember all of the good times, and the music.


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