By Published: Oct. 1, 2019


The Tule

During winter break 1971, around Christmas, a disheveled band took the Tulagi’s stage on The Hill. The heater was broken, the club was frigid, the crowd was small. One of the musicians strummed a banjo in gloves.

G. Brown (Jour’79), then a CU freshman, (legally) served 3.2 Coors beer from the bar and listened skeptically.

“I remember them saying, ‘We’re going to be the biggest band in the world,’” said Brown, now executive director of the nonprofit Colorado Music Experience. “I was thinking, ‘What are you talking about? There’s 30 people here.’”

Less than a year later, the band toured the country with “Take It Easy.”

“The Eagles were off to the races to become the biggest American band of the 1970s,” said Brown.

In its 1970s heyday, Tulagi, located at 1129 13th St., hosted star acts, including the Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and ZZ Top.

“Bonnie Raitt was the only artist to help me clean up,” said Brown. “She picked up a broom.”

Founded in the 1940s, it was first located in what is now the Fox Theater, according to Boulder’s Daily Camera. In 1948, the owners changed the name to Tulagi, after one of the Solomon Islands. (A tropical painted mural served as the stage backdrop for the venue’s entirety.) The club moved next door in 1951.

“We did quite a bit of dancing at the Tule, ’cause it had a nice dance floor,” said Larry Knadle (Bus’60).

In 1969, Sink owner Herb Kauvar took over Tulagi, said his son Rick Kauvar (EPOBio’75). Music promoter Chuck Morris brought in the famed 1970s performers.

After Morris left to open his own nightclub, Tulagi struggled, Rick Kauvar said. In 1973, Herb sold it to three men who defaulted on the lease, and the club changed hands again.

And again.

Still, Tulagi endured into the early 2000s, hosting acts like Big Head Todd & the Monsters and The Samples.

Anne Thurman (Mktg’87) met her husband of more than 30 years there.

“It was April 1987 … Bahama-Mama Tuesday,” she said, recalling that David Thurman (Fin’87) called her by the wrong name after their initial introduction. “He was calling me a couple days later asking for a date. Luckily, he then remembered my name is ‘Anne.’”

The end came in 2003, when state tax agents seized Tulagi, according to the Camera. The Fox Theater bought the business. The building’s owners converted it into commercial rental space. Today it’s occupied by a yoga studio and a pizza parlor.

The Tulagi sign, in its slanting script, remains — a reminder of good times past.

Photo courtesy William Wardwell