Friday, April 22, 2011

Several Species Of Small Furry Thoughts - Whatta Day!

Yesterday was one of those days when so many good things happen that you just wait for a tap on the shoulder. It never came. It started with the reception for CMHOF (The Colorado Music Hall Of Fame) before the John Denver celebration concert at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield. I went to the upstairs bar area which is one of the places displays of the CMHOF will be gathered. Here, it was all about Red Rocks. The inaugural class of the Hall is made up of John Denver and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. I can think of no two more deserving entities. With every season and every show I attend (and it has been hundreds) I realize what a completely unique and magical place Red Rocks is. Seeing a concert at Red Rocks transcends the normal consumer-oriented rock and roll industry experience. It is a communion with nature, and artists almost always recognize this and play differently there. As I was walking in, and during the reception, I could hear the Boulder Philharmonic and various performers sound checking and running through that evening’s show. I was immediately startled by the full sound and beautiful arrangements culminating with a wonderful “Country Roads.” This was going to be a powerful musical experience. I schmoozed up a bunch of nice and interesting music industry insiders before making my way downstairs to the North lobby of the events center. The crowd for that night’s show was starting to really pour in to the arena. I’m not sure what I expected the crowd to look like. For the most part they were my age and older, but the diversity was surprising. I saw way more bona-fide hippie types than I expected; lots of guys with long graying hair. There were also lots of people who seemed to know John Denver from his television and film roles. Ultimately, that is the thing that makes John Denver such an interesting and singular figure. He was not a rock star, he was not a movie star, he was not a pure folk singer, he was not just an environmentalist, pilot, humanitarian, poet, family man, etc, etc. He was truly an American Renaissance man: a celebrity in the largest sense of the word. Almost a Will Rogers type figure. 
There in the North lobby are two huge display cases containing an amazing variety of John Denver memorabilia: everything from a beautiful guitar to handwritten lyrics, gold records, stage outfits, photos, and records, all put together in a museum quality case curated by Hall director and Colorado music author and historian G. Brown. I stood there for a few minutes with dozens of other people staring up at all this cool stuff. I became aware of a woman standing next to me taking photos of the cases. When she took the camera away from her eye I saw tears running down her face. I moved on and heard more people making emotional exclamations. As I headed for the door a woman grabbed her husband’s arm when she saw the display and said “Oh my God, It’s him, I’m going to cry.” I have been telling my employees for a long time, that they should never underestimate the passion that virtually EVERY artist ignites in their fans. John Denver was not just any artist. He had a profound effect on millions of people. He represents something good and unspoiled from a confusing and misunderstood era. We could all use that clarity once in a while – no? 

So I ran out the door and tore across town back to Twist and Shout for The Denver Post/Reverb Magazine’s “Fermented Barley Cabaret.” This event is an open call to anyone in the city to come hoist a free beer in some interesting or fun location around town every so often. I went to one at the restaurant Interstate a couple of months ago and had such a good time that I suggested we do it at Twist sometime. There was an auspicious start when John Taylor from Duran Duran came in for a shopping spree just before the event started. He loved the store and bought a huge stack of vinyl. As the crowd for “Fermented Barley” started to filter in he took it in stride, shaking hands, posing for photos and signing autographs. One might forget how HUGE Duran Duran were in the 80’s. They define a certain era and have maintained the loyalty of many fans. This crowd could not have been more different than the John Denver event. Over the three hours it lasted a couple of hundred people came and went and the crowd was heavy on bands, people who like bands, and people who like free beer. All fit in really well at Twist and Shout. It was a fantastically animated and chatty crowd - relaxed and having a good time. I love this kind of event. No pressure, just lots of like-minded people enjoying each other’s company. Kamptin from the band Chain Gang of 1974 performed a perfect DJ set for the event - heavy on 80’s-ish Duran Duran-friendly music.
As I was driving home after the event I ran over the events of the evening in my head. Live in the most beautiful place in the world - check; make my vocation my avocation -check; give free beer to the masses – check; do something to help glorify music and Colorado - check. Ahhh whatta day!

1 comment:

Sean Anglum said...

Makes me proud to be a loyal customer!