Boise Historic Music Tour

Group Members: Jacey Brain, Tabatha Butler, Sarah Phillips.

The Boise Historic Music Tour guides users as they find and recognize historic (and current) Boise music venues. We focused on the past twenty-five years (1986 to present). The venues included in the app were not necessarily founded after 1986, but they have been actively involved in the Boise music scene since then. The guide allows users to locate venues on a map and learn more about the location. The historical information included for each venue varies, however each location description includes the significance and contribution of the venue to the Boise music community, including a listing of some of the artists who have performed there.

We used archives, newspapers and other periodicals, and other primary and secondary sources to complete the research for the project. We also used electronic resources such as YouTube to locate supplementary videos which are linked through the application. After completing the research and writing blurbs for each site included in the tour, we created a map of venues through Google Touring, and placed the blurbs and YouTube links into the venue descriptions. We then registered a Google website for the tour at We posted a link to the tour, a list of sources used in creating the project, an introductory page and a link for comments on the website.

The biggest challenge we faced as a group was the issue with BuzzTouch. We decided within a week of finding the mobile application developer that it was perfect for the project. We ran a test of the application attempting to publish an app with just one music venue complete with sources, YouTube links, and quiz questions on what the users learned. After starting the publication process we discovered that Xcode is required for publication of the application. This service is free with a Mac computer to provide a simulation of the application, but to make it available in the app store, purchase of Xcode is required. According to the FAQ’s on the BuzzTouch website, Xcode is available for only $99 a year. At this point in the project we decided to try to find a different route.  We were able to overcome this complication because we tested the application early in the project to ensure it would be available for the deadline. This allowed us ample time to find a solution. We decided to use Google. We put together the tour using Google Earth and Maps to remedy our Buzztouch problem. Getting venue information was the only other notable challenge we faced as group. We emailed several venue owners to get additional information or possibly include an interview in the tour. We did not receive a response from any venue contacted. We started with a list of 25 venues expecting the challenge of getting information, and allowing on one other to cut two or three venues from their share of the list.

The Boise Historic Music Tour serves as a base for a number of other potential apps and websites. Ways to build upon this idea might include:

Expanding the Music Tour into a fully developed tour app. This app could incorporate the venues already listed, as well as any other appropriate venues within the Boise area. As a tour, this app could incorporate GPS locations to queue recorded information for the user to listen to. This information might include history of the venue, larger history of the area, artist information, or a combination of all three.

QR Codes located at various venues could be used for patrons. Rather than being an “active” tour which users download for a specific use, QR codes would provide patrons of each venue the opportunity to find “secret” stashes of information about its history.

The Historic Music Tour could also easily be turned into a walking tour of downtown Boise. Brochures containing information about each venue, along with a map providing a route that stops at each location could be viewed as an app or website, or provided as printed brochures.

Possibilities for including more information on the Tour are abundant as well. If the app remained a website or was converted into a fully functional app, options could be added to increase the user’s interaction with it. Links to current show information, ticket purchasing capabilities, discounts, reservations and reviews are all well within the reach of what may be added to the Tour. 

Other options to expand could also include creating tours for new cities. Although there are a small number of music tour apps for other cities, having a unique format in which history and current day are combined give this Tour greater depth. Besides new cities, tours could be created for a number of historic venues; theaters for instance.  By expanding in this way, the user demographic would be similar and could be easily marketed. It could also reach more people by being able to cover a variety of types of places that are interesting to the general public.

Other individuals or groups creating apps such as this are likely to run into a number of the same problems we did. With that in mind, people should be aware that time is crucial. Time to properly plan, research, and build the app is something that could easily be underestimated. For Historic Music Tour apps such as ours, developers need to have the time to dig into archival materials, microfilm and books, sometimes to just get the basic venue information. Anyone taking on a project like this needs to know how to find primary source material. Be prepared to sift through newspapers to find concert advertisements and tour information. Along these same lines, be ready to actually make connections with people at each venue, as well. Sometimes, actually visiting the place and talking to employees is the best source of information.

Time is also necessary when trying to figure out just how to implement the final product. Be able to go through various programs, build maps, websites, and really play with what is available to find what works the best.

Also, take nothing at face value- for most historians; technology like this is foreign ground. Nothing is as easy or simple as it seems. Be sure to read the fine print and find out costs before you stop your search, otherwise it might come as a rude surprise after a lot of time and effort has already been invested.

Applications such as CityListen: NYC Rock & Roll Tour influenced the model and idea for the project. This tour takes the visitor through New York City on a walking tour, stopping at notable musical spots. Other applications we used include Sutro Media’s Nashville Essential Guide, an application featuring historic sites and entertainment locations in Nashville. The Rock Junket – Rock ‘N Roll East Village Tour, an application featuring music venues and historic music sites marked with pinpoints on a Google Map, also influenced the production of our project. A majority of our information was found in Boise directories, Boise Weekly, The Idaho Statesman, and venue websites, as well as the following sources:

Hart, Arthur A. Western Idaho Fair: A Centennial History. Boise: Western Idaho Fair, 1997.


Ann Morrison Park:

Basque Block:
Basque Museum and Cultural Center:

Big Easy/Knitting Factory:;col1

Egyptian Theater:

Idaho Botanical Garden:

Idaho Center:

Julia Davis Park:,

Morrison Center:

Old Boise/Pengilly’s:

Record Exchange:

The Reef: 

Taco Bell Arena:,

Terrapin Station/Crazy Horse:

Other sources:

The Idaho Statesman archives, via microfilm collection at the Albertson’s Library, Boise State University

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