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Listen up, Colorado!

Colorado’s music scene is about much more than its famous musicians: Without the support of music-minded businesses, this state’s award-winning scene might never have developed.

ListenUp’s Beginnings

Definitely deserving the status of best-supporting player, ListenUp has been an intrinsic part of the scene for almost five decades. The business got its start in 1972, when college friends Walt Stinson, Mary Kay Stinson and Steven Weiner opened a small storefront in Denver with a single goal: to offer the very best in sound. From there, ListenUp has grown into a company with over 100 employees and stores in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Albuquerque and Portland, as well as a robust online presence that’s given it a global reputation. But providing incomparable sound and service remain the primary missions. “To put it simply, our goal is to create loyal and enthusiastic customers,” says Walt Stinson. “From staying ahead of the latest technologies and trends to hiring and retaining the people best qualified to take care of our clients, we are totally focused on that goal.”

ListenUp on The Road

To realize that goal, ListenUp has often taken its show on the road. In the mid-’70s, it orchestrated regular weekend concert broadcasts for KFML at the legendary Ebbets Field (where “Sound by ListenUp” became a hallmark), then went on to install the sound system as well as a recording studio at the legendary Rainbow Music Hall, founded by Colorado Music Hall of Fame members Barry Fey and Chuck Morris and which, like Ebbets, was named Billboard magazine’s Club of the Year. “We created a pretty amazing system – it still gets talked about,” remembers Stinson. “We were doing more live broadcasting than had ever been done in Denver’s history.”

LIstenUp & Technological Innovation

But soon ListenUp became known for another technological innovation: The founders bet the company’s future on compact discs, laying the groundwork for the CD market before the product even hit the streets in the early ‘80s and helping CMHOF inductee KBCO become one of the first stations in the country to adopt that digital format. A few years later, they created a custom installation department, focusing on the best in high-fidelity, high-definition sight and sound, an emphasis that continues to this day. When ListenUp moved its longtime headquarters at the start of the millennium, it created the cutting-edge Reference Theatre as a testing ground for new technologies.

LIstenUp’s Commitment to Excellent Service & Products

And since everything old is new again, ListenUp has rededicated itself to analog perfection with its world-class selection of turntables, accessories and service. From ListenUp’s hands-on customer service to its stellar reputation for commercial sound reinforcement, the company is a part of Colorado’s music past, present and future, continuing to provide sound systems for businesses and venues like Fiddler’s Green, as well as outfitting homes around the country. “Our knowledge of commercial systems prepared us well when home systems began to get more complex,” recalls Weiner. Adds Phil Murray, longtime ListenUp marketing manager, “We’ve helped music fans bring the excitement of a night at Red Rocks to their home audio systems.”

ListenUp Supporting the Music of Colorado

As Listen Up’s reputation continues to expand, it hasn’t forgotten the state it calls home, or the music fans who live here. And just as Walt Stinson was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame in 2009, ListenUp has recognized Colorado’s own music all-stars. The company recently renewed its sponsorship of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental, in an extension of its commitment to the music community. ListenUp helped design and install the screens for the CMHOF’s archived movies and videos on display throughout our Trading Post location at Red Rocks; those movies bring the history of Colorado music to life for the thousands of music fans and visitors who see the Hall exhibits. “We’re proud to continue to support the state’s musical heritage through our involvement with the Colorado Music Hall of Fame,” says Murray.

Listen up, Colorado!

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre

History and Future of Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Over the past century, Red Rocks Amphitheatre has become one of the most storied venues not just in the United States, but around the world. Now it’s getting ready to open another chapter as the summer concert season kicks off in April.

Garden of the Angels

Back at the turn of the last century, John Brisben Walker realized that the 200-million-year-old formation of red rocks southwest of Denver provided the ideal acoustic environment for live performances, and began producing concerts there in addition to offering a thrill ride. In 1911, opera singer Mary Garden became the first nationally-recognized act to perform on a makeshift stage at what was then known as the Garden of the Angels. It was not long before the natural amphitheater was recognized as a Natural Wonder of the World.

Construction of The Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Later, the City of Denver purchased the property for just over $50,000. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps Works Progress Administration created by then-President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1936 the city began constructing a formal amphitheater in the rocks, along with other buildings.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre was officially dedicated on June 15, 1941. Into the ‘50s, orchestras and opera companies typically performedat Red Rocks. But soon solo artists began appearing more frequently.

The Beatles at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Concert Ban

The earliest rock performance at Red Rocks? The Beatles in 1964. It was the only venue on the band’s first U.S. tour that did not sell out. Many legendary acts followed. But during a Jethro Tull performance in 1971, an incident between concertgoers and police resulted in a five-year ban on any rock acts performing at Red Rocks.

U2 and Lifting of the Concert Ban Red Rocks Amphitheatre

That ban was lifted well before U2’s renowned show at Red Rocks in 1983. The performance was filmed, and later released as the band’s concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky.

Live CDs and DVDs Recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Other acts that have produced CD and DVD material at Red Rocks include the Dave Matthews Band, The Samples, The Moody Blues, Incubus, Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, Boukman Eksperyans and Neil Young. B.o.B., the Zac Brown Band and Train have all filmed music videos at the venue.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre’s Cultural Influence

Red Rocks’ influence on pop culture extends well beyond music, too. The venue has been featured on episodes of The Simpsons, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, The Amazing Race and South Park. And with only a few exceptions for weather, Red Rocks has hosted a sunrise service every Easter since 1947.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre as a Right of Passage

For Colorado-based acts, performing at Red Rocks has become a rite of passage. John Denver; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Lumineers; OneRepublic; 3OH!3 and Judy Collins have all done shows there.

Shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre for Summer 2019

Over the past decade, the number of shows booked at Red Rocks has tripled, to over 2019 slated for 2019. The season opens on April 13 with Flabbush Zombies/Joey Bada$$; go to redrocksonline.com for the complete schedule.

 

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Colorado Has Inspired Many Famous Musicians and Artists

If you happened to venture out to Herman’s Hideaway in the 1980s, you might have caught Big Head Todd & The Monsters before their big break with Giant Records. Similarly, if you had found your way to the Meadowlark on “open mic night” around 2010, you might have caught The Lumineers debuting their new song, “Ho Hey.” Over the years, Colorado’s been the proving ground for acts ranging from Leftover Salmon and String Cheese Incident, which started out in the mountain bars of Crested Butte and Telluride, to Dianne Reeves and Charles Burrell, her uncle, who played late-night gigs at El Chapultepec. And members of The Fray wrote songs while they were attending the University of Colorado Denver.

Here are just a few examples of Colorado-based music makers.

Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire is considered one of the greatest pop-funk bands of all time. From its origins in the 1970s, when Denver’s Philip Bailey, Andre Woolfolk and Larry Dunn (all graduates of East High School) joined the act, to its continued success touring the world with Bailey leading the band after Maurice White passed away, EW&F has won nine Grammys and recorded some of the biggest hits that continue in rotation on pop and soul radio stations today. Known for its costumes, dancing, positive vibes and incredible vocals (Bailey has a five-octave range), EW&F brought funk to the forefront of pop music with songs like “Sweetback’s Theme,” “Shining Star,” “Devotion,” “That’s the Way of the World” and “September.”

The Lumineers

One of the hottest acts to come out of the folk-rock tradition of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and The Band with Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm is The Lumineers. Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites began playing together in their hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey, then moved to New York in what proved to be a frustrating attempt to carve a niche in the Brooklyn music scene. The two came to Colorado in 2010 and began playing “open mics” and “basket houses” for tips. As their focus and songwriting moved towards the emerging Americana sound and radio format, they added Neyla Pekarek on cello. With songs like “Ho Hey,” from the band’s first widely successful album, to hits like “Ophelia,” from the second album, Cleopatra, The Lumineers earned two Grammy nominations, five Billboard award nominations and both Song of the Year and Group of the Year from the Americana Music and Awards organization. And The Lumineers have only just begun. At the 2018 induction of 97.3 KBCO, The Lumineers debuted their new lineup and new songs for an upcoming third album.

OneRepublic

OneRepublic may be the most successful pop band to come out of Colorado. It formed in Colorado Springs in 2002 with lead vocalist and songwriter Ryan Tedder, guitarist Zach Filkins, guitarist Drew Brown, bassist and cellist Brent Kutzle, and drummer Eddie Fisher. This was one of the first acts to exploit the power of social media to build an online following: In 2006, OneRepublic released its first single, “Apologize,” through the MySpace platform; it went to #1 on the MySpace chart and helped the band secure a 2007 release of its first album, Dreaming Out Loud. The musicians remixed “Apologize,” and it went to #1 in sixteen countries and was nominated for a Grammy. The second album, Waking Up, reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart; the third album, Native, became the band’s biggest-selling album and reached top ten on the American charts. OneRepublic has sold more than 10 million albums so far, and the act continues to evolve. In 2016 and 2017 it moved away from the album/touring model and focused on releasing singles through the internet; future plans include a more traditional album release and international tour.

India.Arie

India.Arie, who was born in Denver, has sold over 3.3 million albums in the United States alone; around the globe, she has sold over 10 million records. She has also won four Grammys and accumulated 21 nominations. The first of eight albums, Acoustic Soul, came out in 2001 and the latest album, Worthy, was released in February 2019 to critical raves and worldwide radio and internet airplay. India.Arie is one the most successful and prolific artists to come from Denver.

3OH!3

The band’s members are natives of Boulder, and took the group’s name from Colorado’s original area code. The band’s hits include “Don’t Trust Me,” “Want” and “My First Kiss.”

Breathe Carolina

This electronic act may have “Carolina” in its name, but the members hail from Denver. Since 2007, they have released nine EPs and four albums, all in the electronic dance music genre. Although the group has gone through various members over the years, David Schmitt remains a constant.

Flobots

Most people know Flobots for its 2007 hit “Handlebars,” which was played on modern rock stations around the country. Over the years, the band has proven incredibly successful at merging rock and hip-hop… and it all began in Denver.

If you want to learn more about the history of Colorado music and musicians, or see who’s playing where,  Colorado Music Hall of Fame has stories and lists of upcoming events.