Gov with Award BEST Dec 3

Hickenlooper Has a Winning Soundtrack for his Campaign

On March 4, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper made it official: He’s running for president. He joined an already crowded Democratic field, but as Hickenlooper’s March 7 kickoff rally at Denver’s Civic Center Park showed, he’s got a winning soundtrack for his campaign.

The rally included performances by local singers SuCh and Mary Louise Lee, and ended with a three-song set by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. 

Hickenlooper was a music fan long before he became a successful brewpub owner, much less a popular politician. And as mayor of Denver and then governor of Colorado, no one did more to support this state’s music scene than John Hickenlooper. 

“I have never known a politician so involved and caring of the Colorado music community as John,” said promoter Chuck Morris, who had to miss the rally because he was at a concert in Uganda with Michael Franti. “When tragedies like the Boulder floods and fires hit, John was there, helping us reach out to artists to come and perform, helping get donations from corporations and literally emceeing and partaking in the events themselves.” At the rally, the former mayor of Jamestown lauded Hickenlooper’s work dealing with the 2013 floods.

In his push to elevate Colorado’s music industry, Hickenlooper did not just respond to emergency requests, though. As mayor of Denver, he helped propel Red Rocks Amphitheatre to its top-tier status, tripling the number of shows at this legendary venue to more than 100 a year. He used property tax discounts to encourage live music downtown, and today Denver rivals Nashville and Austin for the number of spots booking music. He also worked with established organizations like the Colorado Symphony and Swallow Hill so that they landed on solid footing. And certainly, one of his lasting legacies as governor is Take Note Colorado, a statewide initiative he introduced to provide access to musical instruments and instruction to every K-12 student in Colorado.

Hickenlooper’s support of the scene has earned him many fans, including musicians themselves. “Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lumineers, One Republic, The Fray, Bonnie Raitt and Dave Matthews are only a few of the acts that he calls friends, and he is usually seen when they appear in our great city,” Morris added. “My favorite story is when the Denver Art Museum called me to get a band to surprise him when John was awarded the Man of the Year at its 2019 gala. It took five seconds of asking The Avetts to fly all the way from North Carolina and surprise John with a beautiful show to end the evening. The look on John’s face was priceless.  If there is one person who personifies the greatness of Colorado music for the last 25 years, it would be hard to top John Hickenlooper.”

Hickenlooper was honored with the Barry Fey Visionary Award at the December 2018 induction ceremony for the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental. How to top that? Running for president, of course, backed by a winning soundtrack.


Who was John Denver? Learn about this legendary music artist.

Who Was John Denver?

A legendary artist whose love for the state of Colorado shines through the lyrics of his music, John Denver was a creative visionary and one of the most beloved singer-songwriters of his time. His imaginative mind and peaceful spirit still influence millions today through the legacy of his music.

Starting Out in the Music Industry

John Denver was born on New Year’s Eve 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico, as Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.  His father, “Dutch,” was a record-breaking pilot in the United States Air Force, and because he was born into a military family, young John lived in a number of places while growing up. His grandmother gave him his first guitar, and he got his first major break during an audition for the popular Chad Mitchell Trio. Chad Mitchell was leaving the group, and he was chosen as the new lead singer over 250 other hopefuls. Young Deutschendorf started writing songs at an early age and made demos of some of them, including a 1967 song he called “Babe, I Hate to Go.” In 1969, Peter, Paul & Mary, the most popular folk group of that decade, had their first and only No. 1 hit with a cover of Denver’s renamed “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” By then, Deutschendorf had chosen the new professional name of John Denver to honor what he said was his “favorite state, Colorado” and also because the newly named Mitchell Trio could not fit Deutschendorf on the marque. The Mitchell Trio morphed into Denver, Boise and Johnson (Michael Johnson, who wrote “Bluer Than Blue”) and disbanded in 1969.

Success as a Solo Artist

Less than two years later, Denver was zooming up the pop charts with “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” the first of many hits. He soon became a household name with “Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song,” “Back Home Again” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” The strength of Denver’s popularity was measured in record sales that few other artists have achieved, including eight platinum albums in the U.S. alone.

A cheerfully optimistic image marked Denver’s 1970s heyday, when he emerged as one of the five top-selling recording artists in the history of the music industry. Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, the couple who co-wrote Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” created the Starland Vocal Band, and the clean-cut, all-American group became the first act signed to Denver’s new Windsong label in 1975; “Afternoon Delight” was Windsong’s first and only No. 1 single.

Collaborations with Other Artists

Denver starred alongside celebrities as diverse as opera singer Beverly Sills, violinist Itzhak Perlman and flautist James Galway. Frank Sinatra was the “Friend” in Denver’s John Denver and Friend television special, and their back-to-back co-billing at Harrah’s Tahoe was one of the most sought-after tickets in the casino hotel’s history. Denver and Placido Domingo recorded “Perhaps Love,” a song written by Denver, as a duet, earning the Spanish tenor considerable recognition outside of the opera world.

Environmentalism and Humanitarianism 

Due to his popularity, John Denver was given a platform to pursue his passions for environmental and humanitarian causes. He founded the Windstar Foundation in 1976 as an education and demonstration center dedicated to the creation of a sustainable future. He was known for his close friendship with Jacques Cousteau, the most famous underseas explorer of the 20th century; he wrote “Calypso” in 1975 as a tribute to Cousteau and his research boat of the same name, which sailed around the world for oceanic conservation.

Denver took his music beyond American shores, traveling to mainland China (where he was the first Western artist to do a multi-city tour) and the Soviet Union (the first time an artist had been invited to give public performances since the cultural exchange agreement expired in 1980), as well as Europe, the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. His charitable activities included a trip to Africa to publicize the food crisis there, and act as spokesman for UNICEF’s fundraising drive.

Movies and the Muppets

When Denver guest-starred on The Muppet Show, he began a life-long friendship with Jim Henson that spawned two television specials with the Muppets ensemble. Denver’s movie debut alongside George Burns in the comedy Oh God! was a solid hit. He also starred and guest-starred in many television productions, including the seasonal special A Christmas Gift, filmed in the Rocky Mountains in 1986. He guest-hosted The Tonight Show on multiple occasions and hosted the Grammy Awards five times.

Denver was a photography buff for three decades, taking picture of people and places during his many tours around the country and abroad. Denver’s father had taught him how to fly, and their shared passion for flying brought them closer together.  Denver, a licensed pilot, died at the age of 53 when his experimental aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean in October 1997.

John Denver & Colorado Tourism

John Denver’s effect on the world of music is felt the strongest in Colorado, where “Rocky Mountain High” is one of two official state songs. People from all over the world have fallen in love with the images he portrayed of the mountains and countryside surrounding his adopted state, and want to experience some of that beauty in person. John Denver fans can enjoy a variety of landmarks celebrating his life and career, including the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental; Denver was the Hall’s first inductee in 2011.

Visit our website to learn more about the John Denver music exhibit and the musician’s inspiring life, as well as to see upcoming events on the CMHOF schedule for 2019. 


The Lumineers

The Lumineers Play at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame

With their rootsy blend of Americana and indie rock, The Lumineers deliver foot-stomping, dynamic live performances that draw crowds to sold-out shows. Their message and authentic passion for the music resonates with audiences around the world, making them one of today’s most beloved, inspiring bands.

Passionate Storytelling

New Jersey natives Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites began collaborating and playing gigs in New York City in 2005. Moving from covers to writing original music, they experimented with various styles while working several jobs just to pay rent. In doing so, they discovered that while New York was a fantastic place to grow creatively, they couldn’t make the time to focus on their music. They moved to Denver in 2006 to explore a more affordable market.

As it turned out, the move to Denver and teaming up with classically trained cellist Neyla Pekarek was the change they needed to kickstart their professional music career. A recent college graduate, Pekarek was planning a career in music education when she took a chance and answered a Craigslist ad for a cellist. Open mic nights allowed the lineup to test new material at such Denver venues as the Meadowlark and Larimer Lounge. In the process, The Lumineers attracted the interest of Onto Entertainment and signed with the management company, which funded the band’s first recording. The eponymous album was produced by Ryan Hadlock at Bear Creek Studio in Seattle, and “Ho Hey” was released as the first single. It was part of the CW’s Hart of Dixie season finale, and a Seattle morning show DJ began playing it twice in a row daily, declaring it the best song of 2012 and fueling a national buzz. The song went on to reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Triple A Radio Charts for eight straight weeks, culminating in two Grammy Award nominations in 2013.

In 2016 the band released Cleopatra, and the single “Ophelia” went to #1 on the Triple A Charts for thirteen weeks. After that, The Lumineers embarked on a world tour that included shows with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and U2. Now Schultz and Fraites are working on their third album with new members and an exciting new sound, and the band is poised to become one of Colorado’s most successful acts.

Colorado’s Deep Musical Roots

For more than a century, Colorado has been a mecca for musicians.

Denver’s love affair with music blossomed in the 1920s, at the height of the jazz age with Paul Whiteman. Musicians such as Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker played at the Rossonian Hotel in Five Points, and artists as diverse as Charlie Burrell, guitarist Bill Frisell, Chet Baker, and Frank Sinatra hung out in establishments ranging from El Chapultepec to the Roxy. In the 1960s, bluegrass and folk took center stage, with Judy Collins and the Denver Folklore Center moving into the spotlight. John Denver

found a home in Aspen and artists from Townes Van Zante to Little Feat found an audience at venues like Chuck Morris’s Ebbets Field. Through the years, everything from hip-hop to punk, funk, and country have found a place here. Denver audiences have always been full of passionate, adventurous music lovers. No single style or sound dominates the scene, unlike at many other urban music centers. Artists come to Denver to make great music, so it’s no surprise that The Lumineers found their voice here.

Earning Their Place in the Spotlight

After spending years in local venues, The Lumineers have gone from a hardworking Denver act with incredible talent to an international headliner. On December 3, 2018, the band played at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental induction ceremony for longtime Colorado promoter and artist manager Chuck Morris and 97.3 KBCO. The gala also included performances by Isaac Slade and Ben Wysocki of The Fray, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Billy Nershi from String Cheese Incident, Amos Lee, Leo Kottke, Vince Herman and Drew Emmett from Leftover Salmon, and Big Head Todd & The Monsters with Hazel Miller and Chris Daniels and the Kings. Such diversity is at the heart of Colorado’s music scene. To learn more, visit our website to read about everyone from John Denver to Dianne Reeves, as well as events and inductions coming in 2019.


Who Is Otis Taylor?

Otis Taylor is a critically acclaimed blues musician whose work speaks to the tragic, haunting legacy of America’s treatment of the disenfranchised, often, specifically, African-Americans. His songs provided emotional resonance in popular movies and hit television shows, and his albums have proved themselves to be a soundtrack to the darkest moments one can experience.

Yet, as he puts it in his official website’s biography, “I’m good at dark, but I’m not a particularly unhappy person. I’d just like to make enough money to buy a Porsche.” Furthermore, before his songs reached critical fame, he achieved a level of local celebrity in Denver, not for the genius of his music, but because, as a teenager, he rode to school on a unicycle while strumming his banjo.

Early Life

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1948, Otis Taylor was only a child when his uncle was shot to death. Seeking to raise their son in a safer environment, his parents moved the family to Denver. There, Taylor fell in love with blues music and the banjo. However, after learning of the racially charged history behind the popularity of the instrument, he developed his guitar and harmonica skills.

As a young man, Taylor toured Europe and North America as a professional musician, and played for a short time with Zephyr, with famed vocalist Candie Givens, and later with the Legendary 4Niktors. In 1977, Taylor stepped away from his passion to become an antique dealer. During this time, he also utilized his experience as a master unicyclist and coached a nationally ranked cycling team.

Music Career

It took until 1995 for Taylor to restart his musical career. He began by playing an intimate show in Boulder, and one year later he released his first album, “Blue-Eyed Monster.” His impactful second album, “When Negroes Walked the Earth,” brought critical acclaim and started a prolific period that saw him produce nine albums from 2001 to 2010, many with the Telarc International.

During this period, he also stretched the definition of blues, originating a fusion genre Taylor dubbed “trance-blues.” This musical form calls for repetitive looping beats that create space for urgent lyrics falling on the darker end of the emotional register.

Taylor brought this genre to the music festival space when he created and performed in the first ever Trance Blues Festival. Staying true to his Colorado roots, the festival plays every year in Boulder.

Over the years Taylor’s deep baritone voice and consistent push for expansion of the blues genera have earned him a number of prestigious accolades including, Down Beat magazine critics’ Poll that named “Taylor’s Truth is Not Fiction” as Blues CD of the Year for 2002 and Living Blues readers’ poll awarded him “Best Blues Entertainer” title in 2004. In 2005, Down Beat named Taylor’s “Double V” as Blues CD of the Year, “Definition of a Circle” as Blues CD of the Year for 2007 and “Recapturing the Banjo” as “Blues CD of the Year, 2008.”

Contact Colorado Music Hall of Fame

For more about Otis Taylor and other Colorado music legends, visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame’s website. As 2018 winds to a close and 2019 are about to begin, keep a close eye on the calendar for future musical events.


Colorado Music Hall of Fame Commemorates Black History Month

Since 1976, February has been dedicated to recognizing and appreciating the achievements of African Americans in many different walks of life.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame Presented by Comfort Dental celebrates the incredible contributions of African American musicians who have impacted Colorado and international music scene over the years. Many of these artists were either born in Colorado, studied here, or ended up in the area through their musical journeys. These artists have been powerful advocates for social issues, cultural issues, and entertained Colorado music fans and music lovers all across the country and throughout the world.

Back in November, the Jazz Masters & Beyond Induction Ceremony and Concert was a capstone event honoring some of the most prolific musicians from Colorado who have literally changed the course of music. Dianne Reeves, Charlie Burrell, three members from Earth, Wind & Fire, Ron Miles & Bill Frizell and the music department of East High School were the first inductees from the Jazz tradition who received awards for their contribution to the Colorado music scene.

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves, an inductee in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, is at the forefront of producing and performing quality Jazz music since she started out in the 1970s. Inspired by her family’s deep musical background, Dianne Reeves has contributed significantly to the genre of Jazz around the world and in Colorado.

After studying at the University of Colorado, Reeves signed with Blue Note Records in 1987. She’s won two honorary doctorate awards, from Berklee in 2003 and Juilliard School of Music in 2015, and she has won 5 Grammy awards. She was featured in George Clooney’s movie “Good Night and Good Luck” as a featured singer and as the music of the soundtrack for the movie. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards. We were honored to celebrate Dianne Reeves as part of the Jazz Masters & Beyond class and for all of her incredible achievements and contributions.

Charlie Burrell

Charlie Burrell is widely known for being the first African-American to be a member of a major American symphony. For this accomplishment, he is often referred to as “the Jackie Robinson of Classical Music”. Born in 1920 in Ohio and raised in Detroit, Burrell was drawn to Colorado to be with family and where he joined the Denver Symphony that year. As one of the few black classical musicians of his time, Charlie Burrell pioneered his authentic sound and put the Colorado music scene on a national platform. He rose to prominence in the Denver Five Points Jazz scene by becoming the house bass player at the Rossonian Hotel. During those years he played with almost all of the legendary Jazz musicians of the time who came to Five Points including Billie Holiday, Erroll Garner, Charlie Parker, Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, Lionel Hampton and Gene Harris to name only a few.

Burrell lived through the age of segregation in the US and was at the forefront of championing equal rights through his classical music background. He also served to bridge the gap between classical and Jazz with his groundbreaking and effortless transitions between the two fields. We celebrate Charlie Burrell during this Black History Month for all of his incredible contributions to Colorado and to the country.

George Morrison, Sr.

The late George Morrison, Sr., was born during the height of the “Jim Crow” era in this country (1891). His dream was always to play the violin in a major orchestra, but the rules of the day served to nullify that dream. However, Morrison, Sr., did not relent, and he later ended up forming an 11-piece band that ultimately caught the attention of Colombia records. His work and recordings served as a great inspiration for many black musicians who came after him. He became a light and inspiration along the path that black musicians would follow, breaking into every style and genera in our State and all across the US.

Earth, Wind & Fire

The CMHOF’s Black History Month celebration would not be complete without recognizing one of the most popular bands in the US and the world, Earth, Wind & Fire. Their unique fusion of jazz with soul, gospel, pop, and rock dominated the airwaves between 1973 and 1981 with seven Top 10 hits, 12 Grammy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The supergroup’s Colorado connections run deep with East High graduates Phillip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk being inducted into the Hall in November and the studio where they recorded their breakout hits, Caribou Ranch Recording Studio being inducted in August of 2017. The incredible sound of joy that EW&F brought to the world was of a celebration of both the power of funk and the power of their positive uplifting lyrics despite the difficulties we all face. It was and is the sound of remembering September and the “Shining Star” that lives both within the African American community and within all of us.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental is proud and honored to celebrate the careers, contributions, and legacies of all these remarkable men and women during Black History Month.

And there is more to come including a celebration of Ron Miles and Bill Frizell and their upcoming concert this month.


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio/


What Aspiring Young Musicians Can Learn From the Legacy of Producer Bill Szymczyk

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame Presented by Comfort Dental recently presented a Special Achievement award to legendary producer Bill Szymczyk. His work helped define the golden age of rock from the late ‘60s through the ‘90s. From his beginnings as a Navy SONAR operator with no musical training to his recent induction into the Hall, he’s credited with producing many of the albums that defined a generation.

Early Days

Szymczyk left the Navy in 1964 with advanced knowledge of electronics and a love for music. He took a temporary job at a recording studio sweeping floors and fixing gear while working his way to an engineer’s seat. That eventually led to a series of engineering and production jobs with various recording entities before striking out on his own. The rest, as they say, is history!

If you’re a fan of classic rock you know Szymczyk’s work. He’s produced recordings for BB King, Bob Seger (Against the Wind), the Eagles (One of These Nights) (Hotel California) (The Long Run), Joe Walsh, The James Gang, J. Geils Band, Johnny Winter, Elvin Bishop, and the Who among many others.

The connection to Colorado came from discovering a unique new recording studio in the mountains above Boulder—Hall Inductee, Caribou Ranch. He was instrumental in turning the barn of a former horse ranch into a production mecca for many of the most popular artists of the era!

For a young up and coming musician or producer, the legendary career of Bill Szymczyk should serve as an inspiration. Here are some lessons to consider from his illustrious 40 plus year career.

No Job Is Too Small

According to Szymczyk, you should take any job that can get you in the door. The music business is about paying dues and learning. Just being around the artists and the process can be a learning experience. In a 2004 Sound on Sound interview he described his career as, “…an ongoing series of happy accidents.” He worked hard and earned many jobs over the course of his career, meeting each with professionalism and an openness to learn from everyone he met.

Creating Music is a Team Sport

To be a successful engineer or producer, you need to be a team player. It was always about the music. Though Szymczyk had no formal music training and never played an instrument, he considered himself a great listener. He maintained his job was to listen and determine what he could bring to every song to make it the best it could be.

As a producer, you must continually keep things moving forward. Whenever there’s a group of creative musicians in a studio together there are bound to be disagreements. He tried to keep everything light and happy in order to eliminate as much tension as possible.

Producing “Hotel California” with the Eagles was definitely challenging. Szymczyk recalled, “I was a bud, not a boss. …mostly listened and was always willing to try new stuff.” In spite of the creative friction, he and the Eagles created a huge multi-platinum album that won several Grammys!

Lessons Learned

It’s OK to start at the bottom, learn everything you can along the way, welcome all the happy accidents, work hard, and most of all—Listen!

Red Rocks Trading Post

Rocky Mountain Way: An Evening to Remember

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental’s latest & largest Induction Event, “The Rocky Mountain Way” brought together musicians for a special evening of music and entertainment. Artists performed tribute sets, honor videos were played, and award presentations made, all celebrating the music and contributions of the Hall’s inductees – Caribou Ranch, Joe Walsh & Barnstorm and Danny Fogelberg. Events like this happen once in a lifetime and the Induction’s theme fittingly echoed throughout the night.

Caribou Ranch

In the early 1970s, musicians were starting to hear about an out-of-the-way recording studio far from the major recording hubs of New York City and Los Angeles. That studio was Caribou Ranch, and over its short history, it would play host to dozens of musicians and artists who would record some of their best-known works there.

Artists of Caribou Ranch

Artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, U2, John Lennon, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Chicago, and The Beach Boys wrote and recorded timeless music at Caribou Ranch.

Elton John’s album “Caribou” was named in honor of the studio, and John Oates (of R&B duo Hall & Oates) was on stage to perform the single, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” from that album during the concert. 

Two other major acts of the ’70s – Earth, Wind, & Fire and Supertramp – also recorded at Caribou Ranch. Big Head Todd & The Monsters and The Lumineers helped pay respects to both the bands and the studio itself with covers of “Shining Star” and “Give a Little Bit,” respectively.

The musician who holds the distinction of being the first artist to record at Caribou Ranch was also on hand since he was being inducted as well. Joe Walsh was between bands at the time, having just left The James Gang and not yet on the radar of The Eagles. His solo album ‘‘Barnstorm’’ was recorded at Caribou Ranch after a mixer at his house failed. The rest is rock and roll history.

Joe Walsh & Barnstorm

Joe Walsh rejoined his Barnstorm bandmates on stage, who also helped write and record the album, to play some of its best-known tracks. He even cheekily introduced “Rocky Mountain Way” as “the anthem of Colorado.” Before his performance, Walsh presented his good friend and producer Bill Szymczyk (who’d worked with Walsh and The Eagles on a number of albums) with the Award of Excellence.

Dan Fogelberg

The last inductee of the night, Dan Fogelberg, also recorded at Caribou Ranch during the ’70s. The many admirers he had was reflected during the last portion of the event as they paid tribute to him. 

The final batch of performers included artists playing their renditions of Dan Fogelberg’s songs, which have been recently re-recorded for an upcoming Fogelberg tribute album to drop next year – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Riche Furay, Amy Grant (singing a duet with her husband Vince Gill) and new folk-pop duo Johnnyswim.

The night ended with country superstar Garth Brooks performing two of Fogelberg’s hits before rounding out the event with “There’s a Place in The World for a Gambler.” Most all the artists joined Garth on stage for this final tribute song.

It was a fantastic event and we are immensely proud to welcome our newest Inductees!

Jazz Masters and Beyond Press Release

Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental

Induction Concert honoring  “JAZZ MASTERS AND BEYOND”

On Sale Friday, October 13, 2017 at 10am MT


DENVER – 10/9/17 -The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental, will host its next induction concert “Jazz Masters and Beyond” Tuesday, November 28, at Paramount Theatre honoring world-class musicians who have tremendous ties to the state.

Tickets go on sale starting on Friday, October 13, 2017, at 10 am MT.

The evening features performances from some members of the induction class—jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, guitarist Bill Frisell, trumpeter Ron Miles, Philip Bailey and Larry Dunn of Earth, Wind, & Fire with Friends.

A closer look at all the inductees, who will be the seventh group for enshrinement in the Hall since its inception in 2011:

  • Philip Bailey, Andrew Woolfolk, and Larry Dunn longtime Denver natives left in 1972-1973 to join Earth, Wind, & Fire.  The band has won 6 Grammy Awards, 4 American Music Awards, have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The band has sold over 100 million records making them one of the world’s best selling bands of all time.
  • Dianne Reeves grew up in Denver knowing that music was her path. After studying at the University of Colorado, she moved to Los Angeles and recorded and toured with various artists. Reeves was the first vocalist signed to the revived Blue Note label in 1987, and she rose to the top echelon of jazz singers, performing on some of the most prestigious stages of the world and recalling the era of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan while imparting her own versatile and original style. She received four Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. The long-time Park Hill resident moved back to Denver in 1992 after years away from home.
  • Reeves learned about jazz from her uncle Charles Burrell, a bass player revered by generations of both jazz and classical music devotees. In 1949, Burrell joined the Denver Symphony as the first person of color under contract with a major orchestra.  In his 60-plus years as a professional musician, Burrell played for conductors Arthur Fiedler and Pierre Monteux; he was an acclaimed jazz bassist appearing onstage with the likes of Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Lionel Hampton.
  • Bill Frisell became interested in guitar as a teenager in Denver, playing in rock and R&B bands. Dale Bruning, a Denver-based guitarist, and educator, advanced Frisell’s preoccupation with jazz; Frisell studied with Johnny Smith at the University of Northern Colorado. He developed a niche through his unique explorations of variations in timbre, using an array of effects. He held the No. 1 spot for guitar in the annual DownBeat Critics Poll in nine out of 10 years. In a career that spans more than 100 recordings, he continues to garner notoriety as one of the world’s most well-known and sought-after jazz musicians.
  • Trumpeter, composer and bandleader Ron Miles, a staple of the Denver jazz scene, is solicited all over the world for his unique sound. He studied music at the University of Denver and the Manhattan School of Music and gained national exposure recording on his own and performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Ginger Baker and the Bill Frisell Quartet. For recent recordings, he has incorporated a trio of himself, Frisell and drummer Brian Blades. Miles has balanced his musical output with his career as an educator at Denver’s Metropolitan State College, where he heads up the jazz studies program.
  • East High School will be getting a special non-performer award for their long history of musical alumni. Artist who attended East High School include; Philip Bailey, Andrew Woolfolk, and Larry Dunn, three long-time members of Earth, Wind, & Fire, Bill Frisell, Dianne Reeves, Ron Miles, Jamie Laurie from the Flobots, Reese Roper of Five Iron Frenzy, as well as bandleader Paul Whiteman and singer-songwriter Judy Collins, both previously inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental is a non-profit organization that educates the public on everything that makes our state’s music great and is currently located at the Trading Post at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Inductees include John Denver and Red Rocks Amphitheatre; Harry Tuft of the Denver Folklore Center and promoter Barry Fey; the Astronauts, Sugarloaf, Flash Cadillac and KIMN radio; Judy Collins, the Serendipity Singers, Bob Lind and Chris Daniels; Stephen Stills/Manassas, Firefall, Poco and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; and “20th Century Pioneers” Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman, Max Morath, Billy Murray and Elizabeth Spencer and Lannie Garrett; Dan Fogelberg, Joe Walsh & Barnstorm and Caribou Ranch.

Produced by AEG Presents reserved seats are available at starting 10 am MT Friday, October 13.

Additional information can be obtained on the Hall’s website,

# # #

NATIONAL PUBLICITY: Phil Lobel, Lobeline Communications phil@lobeline.com310-271-1551 ext. 13 

Empty illuminated stage with drumkit, guitar and microphones


On the eve of Joe Walsh & Barnstorm’s induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, the 2000 film Almost Famous comes to mind. In the Academy Award-winning film, screenwriter Cameron Crowe expertly shares his experiences as a 15-year-old music journalist on the ‘70s rock scene.

I used to be one of those, too. The movie reflects a lot of what we lived, coming of age when the music business was less corporate and more of a community.

Growing up in Arvada, Colorado, I spent my days listening to the radio, blowing my allowance at the local record shop—and reading Creem magazine and the writing of, among others, the legendary Lester Bangs (played brilliantly in Almost Famous by Philip Seymour Hoffman). I played drums in garage bands, but it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to be playing at Red Rocks anytime soon.

So, I decided to channel my passion for music into writing about it. At age 15, I took a record review to the Arvada Citizen, the suburban weekly newspaper.

The editor was Mark Wolf, soon to be a fine reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, then a 22-year-old fresh out of college. And he decided to print my piece. I don’t think he called the Pulitzer committee, but I know he enjoyed having someone to sit at his feet slackjawed as he spun the story of how he saw the Yardbirds play at an Indiana nightclub while he was still in high school.

A few clippings later, I got up the moxie to contact RCA Records for an interview with the Guess Who, a band I dearly loved. The guys were touring in support of American Woman, their classic album, and I thought Burton Cummings had the most compelling vocal style in the world.

And I was told I could meet Cummings before the Guess Who played at the Denver Coliseum—a prospect that thrilled and terrified me in equal measure.

On that unfathomable day in July 1970, I got dressed and, wanting to make a good impression just like my mom taught me, I put on my brown wool suit, an orange shirt and matching tie. I took my place backstage, pen in one sweaty hand, spiral notebook in the other, and introduced myself.

Cummings was the epitome of rock star cool. Looking back, I’m sure that he must have pulled the road manager aside and said, “Who sent this geek?”

But to his credit, he came back into the dressing room, curled up in a chair and answered my questions, picking his toes the entire time. It taught me a valuable lesson right off the bat, that brilliant musicians weren’t gods—awe-struck elation had to be tempered in journalism.

Who could handle rejection at the tender age of 16? If Cummings had blown me off, I might have never recovered. But he didn’t—and with the zeal of the newly converted, I wanted to interview every rock band that I could.

I started thinking of story angles, an exclusive. I targeted Joe Walsh, who had come to national fame as the lead guitarist for the James Gang. He had left the band and moved to Colorado to start a solo career under the moniker Barnstorm. He was going to play a woodshedding gig at a nightclub on East Colfax.

Chest heaving, I drove to the joint, walked through the door—and was denied further access. You had to be 21—and having just turned 17, I wasn’t going to pass muster.

I asked the bouncer to get word to Walsh that I had tried to contact him. I went back to my car and pondered my next move…and five minutes later, Walsh came out to the parking lot, introduced himself and got into my Dodge Dart. He sat in the passenger seat and answered all of my questions for a half-hour. Then he went back inside, presumably to play a great show.

I was smitten.

I wound up going to journalism school, and I’ve interviewed well over 1,000 musicians. I still wait on them in hotel lobbies and backstage areas, hoping they’ll deign to speak to me. It sounds like nice work if you can get it, and I agree it’s been a blessed existence.

But the writer’s experience is different now. Publicists are paid to keep interviews short and shallow—on occasion, they come up with questions that you’re not allowed to ask. Too often, interviews become pure promotional events, not a chance to reveal anything about the music.

So when I watch Almost Famous, I see a reflection of what got me started in the first place—that the industry, often lost in cynicism, greed and disillusionment, is driven by the love of music.  It’s the heart and soul of what I do.

And it’s time I thank Joe Walsh. When I wasn’t entirely sure if my heart was in it for the long haul, he kept an introverted teenager interested in writing about music.

G. Brown

CMHOF directorBenoit Daoust


A Soulful Trailblazer - Greg Allman circa 1975 - Colorado Music Hall of FameThe death of Gregg Allman on May 27 at age 69 brought back memories of the countless Allman Brothers Band shows I attended over the years.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Allmans conjured a mix of virtually every American musical form – blues, country, R&B, jazz and rock – bound by an ethos of soaring concert improvisation. They disbanded, regrouped, splintered into various offshoots and disbanded again before coming back together in 1989 and garnering a new generation of fans.

Gregg Allman was the primary voice and face of the band, and I was lucky enough to spend time in his presence. The last time we spoke was when the 2003 edition of the jam-band progenitors performed at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Dickey Betts, who sang and penned many of the band’s trademark songs, had been forced out of the band on the eve of its 2000 summer tour, but the Allmans had found stability. An album called “Hittin’ the Note,” the group’s first release since Betts’ firing, was vintage ABB, and Allman’s world-weary singing had never been better. “High Cost of Low Living” was a cautionary tale of hard living, and Allman still sounded like the best white blues belter around.

“It sure sounds autobiographical,” Allman said. “If the shoe fits… it probably fits a lot of people.”

“Blues is usually about a good man feeling bad about a good woman,” he said. “Or not having any money, or a broken-down car. But the real art of blues is, you’ve got a story about a man that’s hurting, but somehow you inject some humor into it. Muddy Waters was a king of this, if you ask me.”

Allman claimed that Betts’ drinking and drug use interfered with the band’s performance. Cynics had asked if Allman was pot or kettle. He fought an alcohol problem for years and endured a much-publicized drug trial in the 1970s. But at 54, he seemed to have turned a corner.

“Butch (Trucks) and I were leaving (the band) – I had my letter already written out,” Allman said. “Somehow our wives got to talking. I didn’t know he was also leaving. So we got together and he asked me, ‘Are you through with it? Have you done everything you feel like you need to do in this band?’ I said, ‘Not really.’”

The Allmans rocked harder than a band with four AARP-eligible members were expected to. Laurels, they believed, weren’t for resting on.

“We try hard,” Allman said. “It’s weird how things happen and turn around. We landed on our feet.”

“It feels refreshing,” he added. “In the end, you get the same result, but more refined. I think it has to do with maturing. You’re putting a glaze on your art form.”

The last time I saw the Allman Brothers perform, I didn’t see Allman, literally. It was the 2006 pilgrimage to Red Rocks, a two-night package, the last shows of the band’s summer tour. Mother Nature made her statement on the first night. Large rain clouds surrounded the outdoor venue throughout the show, unleashing a long soaking. As temperatures plummeted to the low 40s, conditions started to affect the stage.

The road crew prepared a large steel box structure, then surrounded it with tarps on the sides and on the top, creating a “roof” for Allman and his keyboards. Large holes were cut on the sides so that the players and Allman could retain eye contact. The structure – guitarist Warren Haynes deemed it “the hut” – prevented some audience members from catching sight of Allman at all!

G. Brown

CMHOF executive director