This week marks the 100th anniversary of tours that include live concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the legendary western venue in Denver. Shortly after the internationally recognized opera singer Mary Garden sang “Ave Maria” on Stage Rock this week in 1911, she enthused: “I have never found more perfect acoustic properties in an opera house around the world.”
“I assume that one day 20,000 people will gather there to hear the greatest masterpieces in the world,” she wrote.
Garden’s feeling turned out to be prophetic. The dramatic twin fins of monolithic sandstone that house a historical record spanning 250 million years have hosted a much shorter but equally inspiring record of musical performances over the past century.
“It just makes your hair stand up when you think about the artists who have been here,” said Erik Dyce, who has been head of Red Rocks marketing for the Denver Theaters and Arenas Division for 23 years. “This place is a temple. It’s overwhelming when the venue overwhelms the artist. “
Red Rocks served Denver well, which acquired the venue for $ 50,000 in 1941 and quickly made the 868-acre park and venue its crown jewel in an already impressive mine of mountain parks. Culturally and financially, Red Rocks is an important part of the city and contributed $ 1.85 million in tax revenue last year.
This week Denver officials merged the theaters and arenas division, which includes Red Rocks, with the city’s cultural affairs bureau to save the troubled Denver general fund $ 1.2 million annually.
Without the use of general fund taxpayers ‘money, Red Rocks’ constant income can now help support events like the Five Points Jazz Festival as well as the city’s Performing Arts Complex.
This summer promises to be a barn burner at Red Rocks, bringing thrills to Denver for thousands and dollars.
“Biggest year I’ve seen in over 20 years,” said Chuck Morris, Denver’s fabled concert promoter who began his career with concert promoter Barry Fey. Morris has hosted more than 1,500 shows at Red Rocks since 1976 and as director of AEG Live is bringing 40 shows to the venue this summer. “Ticket sales are going very well. I don’t think anything is immune to huge economic slumps, but Red Rocks is resilient. I consider it the largest amphitheater in the world. “
From the stage, with its red-walled dressing rooms and calcium-colored tunnel etched with decades of artist graffiti, Dyce’s voice echoes as he recounts his most memorable encounters in musical history: lounging with the late Stevie Ray Vaughn while teaching some chords for starry visitors. Watch Neil Young share his harp and a whispered, tearful moment with a child in a wheelchair. Tracy Chapman hears a song compose in her perfectly acoustic changing room.
“There’s a real magic here,” he says.
This spirit has captivated not only concert-goers but also performers who go significantly deeper when looking at 9,450 eager fans flanked by the massive monoliths that make up the natural acoustic amphitheater. Todd Mohr, whose Colorado-bred Big Head Todd and the Monsters has played Red Rocks 17 times in the past 20 years, calls the legendary venue “the pinnacle of musical performance.” Even with his worn out position in front of an audience in his home country on the best stage in the West, Mohr gets nervous every time.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking to step on this stage,” says Mohr. “Just the extent. You see quite a lot of the audience. You can see almost any of them. It’s a little daunting. “
Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374 or [email protected]
Development of the red rocks
May 1906 – Grand opening of the Garden of the Titans with Pietro Satriano from Denver and his 25-piece brass band
May 1911 – Mary Garden plays the first solo concert at Red Rocks.
1928 – Denver is buying 640 acres to make Red Rocks Mountain Park.
1935 – The Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was set up for the thousands of 17- to 24-year-olds who worked on the construction of Red Rocks from 1935 to 1947.
June 1941 – The Red Rocks Amphitheater, now owned by the City of Denver, is officially inaugurated.
April 1947 – The first Easter sunrise service at Red Rocks attracts approximately 60,000 people.
1964 – Denver City Council bans alcohol, cans, and bottles from the amphitheater after two concerts – Ray Charles in August 1962 and Peter, Paul, and Mary in July 1964 – in which spectators tossed beer cans onto the stage.
August 1964 – The Beatles stop in Red Rocks on their first US tour.
August 1968 – Aretha Franklin refuses to play after a contract dispute with the concert promoter, which led to a riot in which spectators stormed the stage and destroyed a piano.
1969 – Denver bans rock concerts at Red Rocks for a year after the Franklin Riots and a tearful collision at the Denver Pop Festival in 1969.
June 1971 – Ticketless fans storm the Jethro Tull concert and call on the police to use tear gas. Red Rocks is canceling the rest of the month’s concerts.
1988 – A large metal roof is installed over the stage.
2003 – Denver is introducing approximately $ 29 million of investments and upgrades at Red Rocks, including the $ 15 million visitor center and the Ship Rock Grille.
August 2003 – Willie Nelson beats the Grateful Dead record for most appearances on Red Rocks.
June 2010 – Widespread Panic is playing its 35th sold-out concert at Red Rocks, more than any other band.
Source: “Sacred Stones, Colorado’s Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater” by Tom Noel
Random Red Rocks Trivia
– Jason Blevins
Concert schedule 2011
28th of May – The disco biscuits, rusko, big boi and more
June 3rd to 5th – shipping
June 7th – Earth, wind
8th June – Jethro Tull, with special guest Kansas
June 10th – Ultimate Thriller – Michael Jackson Tribute Concert
June 11th – Big Head Todd and the Monsters
June 13 – Peter Gabriel
17th of June – Ray LaMontagne
18th of June – Bass nectar
June 21st – Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Tour 2011
June 24th to 26th – Widespread panic
2nd July – The Glitch Mob and Lotus
3rd of July – Umphrey’s McGee – Red Rocks and Blue
July 4th – Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Toad the wet sprocket
6-8 July – Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Uncle Kracker
July 9 – The Avett Brothers with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
10th of July – Sarah McLachlan with the Colorado Symphony
July 14th – Global dance festival
15.-16. July – Global dance festival
17th July – Idina Menzel with the Colorado Symphony
July 18 – Sound garden
July 23 – Steve Miller Band, Buddy Guy
24th July – Chicago with the Colorado Symphony
July 26th – Styx, yes
July 28th – Zug, Maroon 5, Gavin DeGraw
29th of July – OAR
30th July – Abba the concert
August 2nd – A perfect circle
3rd August – The flaming lips, Primus
4th of August – My morning jacket, Amos Lee
6th of August – A bit stupid
12. August – The John Butler Trio
13 August – Beautiful lights
August 14 – Thievery Corporation, Ghostland Observatory
August 16 – Unity Tour 2011: 311 and Sublime with Rome
August 19th – the atmosphere
20th of August – Yonder Mountain String Band
August 23 – Death Cab for Cutie
26th of August – 1964 the tribute
August 27 – Reggae on the rocks
Aug. 31-Sept. 1 – Lion King
September 2nd – Alison Krauss and Union Station
3-4 September – Carlos Santana, George Lopez
9-10 September – Sound Tribe Sector 9
EXPLANATION: Chuck Morris began his career with longtime concert promoter Barry Fey and has been involved in hosting more than 1,500 Red Rocks concerts since 1976.