Let Me Take You Down (to the basement) #1

Paul Epstein, Hall of Fame board co-chair and founder/former owner of Twist & Shout, is an avid music historian and archivist. We are delighted that he has agreed to share some of his collection and Colorado music memories with us every other Tuesday.

“I moved to Colorado in 1968 and started going to concerts almost immediately. I eagerly grabbed posters, flyers, ticket stubs, advertisements, concert recordings, pretty much any proof I could find that the event happened. In 1988, I started a record store called Twist & Shout, and my collecting of memorabilia went into even higher gear. Over the next 34 years, I had rare access to memorabilia of all types and sizes. Now that I’ve retired, the time seems right to start sharing these things, and the stories that go with them. So, every other Tuesday, I will ask you to Let Me Take You Down (to the basement) to check out some of the good stuff!” – Paul Epstein

Let’s kick it off with “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band,” The Rolling Stones, during their November 29, 1965 concert at The Denver Coliseum. Built in 1951, the Coliseum was many Denver kids’ first venue for large-scale rock and roll. A who’s who of great bands played there over the next 50 years. There may have been questionable sound, but the original green hallways and concession stand funnel cakes stay with me to this day.

The Stones’ second American tour ran from late October to early December of 1965 and supported their Out Of Our Heads LP and, on most nights, included such classics as Heart Of Stone, Play With Fire, The Last Time, Get Off Of My Cloud and, of course, a show-ending (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. As far as I can figure, The Stones played 13 times in Colorado. The memorable ones for me were them kicking off their 1969 tour in Fort Collins, a stadium show in 1975 also in Fort Collins where Elton John joined them onstage and then wouldn’t leave, and their most recent show on August 10, 2019 at the Broncos Stadium with local heroes Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats opening the show.

Here is a poster and a photo from that first 1965 show. A couple of things worth noting on the poster: ticket prices are $3.50 and $4.50 (you could add several zeroes for their 2019 show) and Patti La Belle and The Blue Belles are one of the opening acts. In 1971, she started a group called Labelle and in 1974 had a monster disco hit with Lady Marmalade. Her career is still going strong. On the photo, note the background set-up the band played in front of on stage. Last, what about Mick’s pants and the late Charlie Watts’ great, vintage drum set and beatific look on his face?


Paul Epstein in his basement

The Hall of Fame Welcomes Inductee, The Fox Theatre

The Fox Theatre in Boulder was inducted into Colorado Music Hall of Fame on November 4, 2022 at one of their 30th anniversary shows, featuring moe. The Fox is part of the Flatirons Sessions induction class of 2021, which has been delayed being inducted due to the pandemic. In its 30 years, The Fox has hosted world-class artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Chance The Rapper, Radiohead, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Widespread Panic, as well as its fellow inductees, String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band. Rolling Stone magazine named The Fox one of the top live music clubs in the nation! The Fox Theatre is well-deserving to be a Colorado Music Hall of Famer. Congratulations!

The Fox marquee
The Fox marquee
Chuck Morris, Founder of Colorado Music Hall of Fame, inducting The Fox


Cheryl Ligouri, CEO of Z2 Entertainment and a shareholder of The Fox
Dave MacKenzie, one of the original shareholders
The Fox shareholders, Dave MacKenzie, Cheryl Ligouri and Don Strasburg (l to r)
The Fox Inducted!
The Fox Inducted!
Cheering on The Fox
moe. performing for The Fox’s 30th anniversary-night one of three

Photo credits: Lisa Siciliano of Dog Daze Photo

Colorado Music Hall of Fame Inducts Leftover Salmon

Jamgrass band Leftover Salmon will officially become Hall of Famers at the first of two shows the band is performing at the Boulder Theater on November 25, 2022. Legendary music promoter, founder of Colorado Music Hall of Fame and one-time manager of the band itself, Chuck Morris, along with The Hall’s executive director Karen Radman and board member Jay Elowsky, will formally induct Leftover Salmon into The Hall of Fame. “Leftover Salmon has consistently put on some of the greatest live shows I’ve ever seen,” Morris says. “For a band that never rehearses, that’s even more amazing!”

For three decades, Leftover Salmon has built an audience through exhilarating live shows, musicianship and an eclectic blend of musical genres. Providing a template for a new generation of string bands, Leftover Salmon has been one of Colorado’s most beloved musical exports with its own potent brew of Bluegrass, Rock and Roll, Folk, Cajun, Soul, Zydeco, Jazz and Blues.

The band’s current line-up has been together longer than any other in the band’s history. Built around the core of founding members Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman, Leftover Salmon is powered by Andy Thorn on banjo, Greg Garrison on bass, Alwyn Robinson on drums and Jay Starling on dobro, lap steel and keyboards. Leftover Salmon emerged from the progressive bluegrass world and came of age as one of Colorado’s original jam bands before rising to become the architects of what is now known as Jamgrass.

“Leftover Salmon have consistently straddled the line between masterful reverence for traditional music and defining what we now understand as festival-style rock improvisation. Their music is a wonderful blend of virtuosity, eclecticism and fun. Leftover Salmon illustrates the endless horizons that characterize Colorado music,” says Paul Epstein, co-chair and founding member of Colorado Music Hall of Fame’s board of directors.

The band joins a legendary group of over fifty Hall of Famers to date, including John Denver; Caribou Ranch; members of Earth, Wind & Fire; Judy Collins; Barry Fey and Swallow Hill Music. Leftover Salmon is a member of The Flatirons Sessions Hall of Fame induction class of 2021 along with The Fox Theatre, Hot Rize, The String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band.

“It’s a great honor to be included in this collection of Colorado musicians at The Hall of Fame. Colorado has been so good to us over the years and we look forward to many more years of playing for the greatest audience on earth, a Colorado crowd,” comments Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon.

Leftover Salmon’s induction into Colorado Music Hall of Fame will take place at the band’s November 25, 2022 Boulder Theater concert featuring special guest Sam Bush and opening act Lindsay Lou. Limited tickets are still available by clicking HERE.

Colorado Music Hall of Fame Inducts The Fox Theatre

The Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, will be inducted into Colorado Music Hall of Fame on November 4, 2022, during The Fox’s thirtieth-anniversary concert series. Before moe. takes the stage on the first of a three-night stint, legendary music promoter Chuck Morris, founder of Colorado Music Hall of Fame, will formally induct The Fox into The Hall of Fame. “For The Fox to have been successful for thirty years as a venue is almost a miracle in our industry,” Morris says.” With the average life of a rock club less than five years, The Fox’s legendary reputation and success is a testament to their ownership, staff and, of course, the greatest music community in the greater Boulder area.”

The Fox is a member of The Flatirons Sessions Hall of Fame induction class of 2021, along with Hot Rize, Leftover Salmon, The String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band. “The original plan was to host an induction concert in December 2021, but the pandemic had other ideas for this induction class,” notes Karen Radman, executive director of Colorado Music Hall of Fame. After inducting Hot Rize at its headlining show at RockyGrass in July, The Hall of Fame decided to induct the rest of the class members individually as well. 

“It is unreal to us who made a dream come true thirty years ago that The Fox Theatre is inducted into Colorado Music Hall of Fame, especially alongside the amazing family of musicians who have graced our stage over the decades. We are honored to be part of this great tradition,” says Cheryl Liguori, CEO of z2 Entertainment, which owns and operates The Fox. 

The Fox joins a legendary group of over fifty Hall of Famers to date, including John Denver; Caribou Ranch; members of Earth, Wind & Fire; Judy Collins; Barry Fey and Swallow Hill Music. An iconic music venue located on The Hill near the University of Colorado Boulder, The Fox opened in 1992 in a building that’s almost 100 years old, whose previous incarnations include a dance hall, movie theater and other businesses. The Fox’s original talent buyer was Don Strasburg, now the co-president of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains, who remains an owner of The Fox. When Strasburg left for AEG, Eric Pirritt was hired as his successor; Pirritt is now the president of Live Nation Colorado. As a music venue in the ‘90s, The Fox quickly became a “must-play” spot for some of the best artists of our time. Named by Rolling Stone as one of the top live music clubs in the nation, The Fox has hosted a broad spectrum of world-class artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Chance The Rapper, Tyler-The Creator, Radiohead, Ween, Billy Strings, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Widespread Panic and Griz. Fellow members of the The Flatirons Sessions induction class –  Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band – have all performed on The Fox’s stage multiple times.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame induction will take place at one of the many thirtieth anniversary shows that The Fox is putting on this year to celebrate its milestone birthday. Tickets for the Friday, November 4 concert are sold out, but livestream tickets are still available at: https://boxoffice.mandolin.com/products/moe-from-the-fox-theatre-boulder-3-show-pass.

Searching For John Denver


Guest Writer: Randall Peterson (randallleepeterson@gmail.com)

The Darkness

Monday morning, October 13, 1997, I woke up to the news of the death of the best friend I had never met. It is impossible to believe that it has now been 25 years since John Denver was killed in a plane crash in waters outside of Monterey, California. As a native Coloradan who had been intimately touched by the magic and wonder that John brought to the world, I remember only being in a heavy fog that day. I was not alone. There was a dark cloud hanging over the Centennial State, the shared grief of a collective loss. News stations showed pictures of John in his passion and natural buoyancy, while his songs of innocence, simplicity and harmony with nature once again graced the airwaves.

It is a testimony to his legacy and to his family’s benevolence that a celebrity of John Denver’s status had a public funeral. While I would never truly say goodbye to him, I needed to pay my respects. I lined up in the early morning hours at Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora, joined by others through the camaraderie of quiet tears. As the early morning chill gave way to the warming sun, the church began playing his music. The haunting beauty of “Sunshine On My Shoulders” as the sad day broke was not lost on anyone.

Early in the service, a beautiful photo was revealed of Denver in the mountains, wearing denim and holding a blue guitar that mirrored the Colorado sky. It was the cover photo for his autobiography Take Me Home. The lyrics of the song, “The Wings That Fly Us Home,” filled the chamber. The song was written about the death of his own father but eerily prescient about his own death in a plane crash:

“Yesterday I had a dream about dying, 
about laying awake and then flying, 
how the moment at hand is the only thing we really own.  
And I lay in my bed and I wonder, 
after all that is said and is done for, 
why is it thus, we are here and so soon we are gone.”

Among those who spoke was his friend and the co-founder of Denver’s Windstar Foundation, Tom Crum. To this day, I remember Crum’s words as much as I remember the lyrics to John’s songs. He said, “I hate that John died.  But I am so glad that he lived.” While I felt that a light had gone out of the world that day, Crum’s words and a particular line in “The Wings That Fly Us Home” stuck with me and helped rekindle John’s light: “Though the singer is silent, there still is the truth of his song.” John Denver has been silent and gone from this world for 25 years this month, but there is indeed still the truth of his song. 

The Dawning 

The opportunity to engage in the act of creation is the lasting legacy of all artists. To be able to spin the potter’s wheel, from the genesis of an inspiration to the manifestation of a reality that transcends our brief years on earth is a gift befitting only the few. Yet the magic doesn’t just happen. It takes countless risks.

So it was for John. He didn’t inherit his throne on the literal and figurative top of Starwood mountain in Aspen; John took the road less traveled. He quit college, moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music, faced the disapprobation of his Air Force father and the dissolution of his singing group (The Mitchell Trio). Then he doubled down on his leap of faith to become a solo artist. Driven by an unending passion to write meaningful songs that reflected his values of love, nature and family, his passion became a life of purpose, and his purpose became our pleasure. By being true to his own heart, he was able to touch our own.

On July 21, 1972 in Morrison, Colorado, a 29-year-old singer was coming home to a place he had never been before to perform at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. It was the first of his seventeen appearances there on Stage Rock. It was on that night that “Rocky Mountain High” debuted, when Colorado first heard the love song written to her and introduced the world to the anthem for the Colorado lifestyle. The rest is history: for John, for music, and 18 years later, for me.

The Discovery 

The truest definition of timelessness is the act of discovery by new generations separated from the life, time and fame of the artist. It is like the archaeologist who recognizes the worthiness of an ancient treasure from so long ago and marvels at its wonder. There, only the creation of the artist remains, seen by fresh eyes or heard by new ears, and, if merited, it becomes eternal.

Such was my accidental discovery of John Denver. I was 18 years old and getting ready to move to the mountains as a summer camp counselor. I found an old cassette tape of my dad’s, John Denver’s Greatest Hits, and vaguely recalled the chorus of “Rocky Mountain High” followed softly by the word…Colorado. I thought it was fitting theme music for packing for my journey. Although a Colorado native, I had never really known the mountains nor felt their magic until a few weeks earlier. As John sang, I listened and heard truths in the song that I had recently discovered in my own life. His words struck me with the affirmation of all that I valued and all that I was becoming: “He was born in the summer of his 27th year, coming home to a place he’d never been before. He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again, you might say he found the key for every door.”

And I did. I’ve spent the past 30 years of my adult life blissfully walking through the doors of self-discovery, endlessly inspired by the wisdom the mountains have given me. All the while I walked with John; he provided the soundtrack for my seclusion, the poetry for my paths.

The Struggle

John Denver’s music was more than a celebration of being on the highest mountain; it allowed us to touch the emotions of our deepest valleys. His own struggles in this world are heard in his melancholic and painfully personal ballads: “Like a Sad Song,” “Fly Away,” “Seasons of the Heart” and “Whispering Jesse.” With two divorces, two DUI arrests, being dropped as an artist from RCA and the ongoing destruction of the environment, Denver sings of the intimacy of loss.

In the changing Colorado today, it is easy to feel similar loss as it is increasingly harder to find the Colorado he sang about. Since 1973, both the Denver Metro and Colorado population have more than doubled. In fact, today more people live in the Denver Metro area alone than lived in the entire state in 1973. We see and feel those changes on I-70, campsites reserved a year in advance, trailheads that can’t be accessed, reservations and timed entry into Rocky Mountain National Park and shuttle buses to Bear Lake and the Maroon Bells.

Yet, the mountains of yesterday, as well as the mountains of tomorrow are still there; and no doubt John would be singing their stories and looking at the positives. In the brilliance of a Colorado autumn, the treasures of aspen gold and sapphire skies await and reward those who seek to discover her glories. The same can be said for those who discover John.

The Statue 

It was in October, the month that John left this world, that I went to see his legacy living on at Red Rocks at his exhibit at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame museum, where Denver was the very first inductee. Just steps below Stage Rock is a statue of the songwriter, gifted to The Hall of Fame by the Windstar Foundation. He holds his guitar, its strap famously says “peace” and a grand and glorious eagle rests on his arm. Its sharp and jagged feathers of bronze stretch endlessly upward and seem to mirror the same shape and features of the angular sandstone deposits in its background. So seamless is the art of man and nature that it’s hard to tell where the statue ends and the mountains begin. The statue, titled “Spirit,” stands like a bridge between two worlds. With his feet on the ground and his eyes toward the sky, in statue and substance, John Denver connects our lives to our aspirations, teaching us that they are one in the same; inseparable. As I stared, transfixed by John’s legacy, it was clear that in a world seemingly gone mad that it is his words and his voice that need to be heard, whether again or anew, now more than any time in his career. The song played at John’s funeral came back to me: “Though the singer is silent, there still is the truth of his song.”

Twenty-five years after his death, it is a time for a rediscovery of John Denver and the truth of his songs. It is time for his simple and soulful music to provide peace to a hurting world; to rediscover our common humanity; to cherish and be inspired by the natural world; and to become our fullest, greatest selves. I hate that John died.  But I am so glad that he lived.

“It’s in every one of us to be wise.
Find your heart, open up both your eyes.
We can all know everything without ever knowing why.  
It’s in every one of us, by and by.” 

      • “It’s In Every One of Us” by John Denver

SCFD Awards over $26,000 to The Hall

Colorado Music Hall of Fame is truly honored to be a member of SCFD (the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District). This month in our second year as a SCFD cultural partner, The Hall was awarded over $26,000. SCFD is a sales tax collected and distributed to nearly 300 cultural organizations in the seven-county Denver metro region. SCFD makes our community more vibrant! Read more about how SCFD works in their 2021 Annual Report.


50th Anniversary Celebrations of John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High

“John Denver’s presence here and specifically writing songs that referenced the beauty of the area and this idealized world that people imagined when they heard those songs, I think it had a profound effect on the way people here felt about the state and felt about themselves,” Paul Epstein, Hall of Fame board co-chair as quoted in KUNC, a NPR-affiliate special on John Denver and the song’s anniversary.

On September 16th, Windstar Records and Secretly Distribution released a reissue of Rocky Mountain High on limited-edition blue vinyl. From the time of its release fifty years ago, Rocky Mountain High has done wonders to promote our lovely state. In 2007, the song officially became Colorado’s second state song. Now in celebration of its historic anniversary, Governor Jared Polis renamed a trail at Golden Canyon State Park the “Rocky Mountain High Trail” in its honor. 

LISTEN TO MORE OF THE NPR SPECIAL https://www.kunc.org/regional-news/2022-09-26/john-denvers-iconic-tune-rocky-mountain-high-turns-50 

Here are some other fun ways you can celebrate John Denver’s historic album and song too:

Visit Colorado Music Hall of Fame’s museum at Red Rocks Trading Post. The Hall has a great display on Denver. And don’t forget to take your Red Rocks pictures next to the ___foot bronze statue of Denver, titled “Spirit” by artist Susan DiCicco, which was donated to Colorado Music Hall of Fame by the Windstar Foundation. 

Attend one or the entire week long of concerts and activities from October 5 – 12th at the John Denver Celebration in Aspen. Perfect timing to also see the leaves changing in the gorgeous Roaring Fork Valley! 

Buy John Denver’s limited-edition reissued album and other commemorative anniversary merchandise.

Keep your eyes and ears open—more events, concerts and celebrations will continue to be announced through the anniversary on October 30th!

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Colorado Music Hall of Fame is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year with our first-ever bilingual exhibits at The Hall’s museum at Red Rocks Trading Post. Come visit the museum, which is free and open 363 days a year.

Here are some other ways to engage in Hispanic Heritage Month in Colorado:

Tune in to KUVO (89.3 Denver, 89.7 Breckenridge) on Sundays during Hispanic Heritage Month—or any month. From 8 am – 5 pm, the station’s programs include: La Nueva Voz, Canción Mexicana, La Raza Rocks, Salsa Con Jazz. And every Friday night from 8 pm to 10 pm is KUVO’s Latin Soul Party.

Dance in the streets at the Larimer Sessions all month: on October 1st with Machu Linea bringing electronic dance to the Square; on October 22nd with DJ Cyn, spinning Latin-inspired house/dance music; and on October 29th for Fiesta Finale ft. Los Mocochetes, a Xicanx/Funk band. Larimer Sessions are free, Saturdays through October from 6 pm – 8 pm at Larimer Square in Downtown Denver.

Photo credit: Denver Art Museum

Visit the Denver Art Museum’s “Who Tells a Tale Adds a Tail: Latin America and Contemporary Art,” a multi-media exhibition of millennial-generation artists that includes painting, video, sound, digital and performance art, sculpture and textile. Through March 5, 2023, included in regular museum admission.

Photo credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Congratulations to the sixth annual Latin Beats: Sonidos de las Américas for their upcoming sold-out show! In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and the Latin culture’s influence on sound in the Americas, the Mexican Cultural Center and the Colorado Symphony present this free concert, showcasing a fusion of traditional, classical, and contemporary music. This year’s show, scheduled for October 6th is already sold-out, but look for it again next year!

Hot Rize Inducted into Colorado Music Hall of Fame at 50th Annual RockyGrass!

While the band was all in town, Hot Rize was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at their headlining show at the 50th Annual RockyGrass Festival on July 31st. Hot Rize is part of The Flatirons Sessions induction class of 2021, which the pandemic has delayed making official.


Hot Rize is truly a music legend– the patriarchs of Colorado’s modern progressive bluegrass movement, inspiring so many bands – including fellow Colorado Music Hall of Famers: String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band. From their 1979 self-titled debut album through their live 40th Anniversary Bash album, Hot Rize and their western-swing alter-egos, Red Knuckles and The Trailblazers, have championed traditional forms of Americana music for a modern audience.


The Grammy-nominated band has played at almost all of the major festivals, produced eight studio albums, three live albums, did countless tours across four continents, appeared many times on television and radio and was awarded the International Bluegrass Music Association’s very first Entertainers of the Year Award.


Following the induction, banjo player, Pete Wernick expressed his appreciation for being recognized as a Colorado Music Hall of Famer: “It was meaningful to me to be inducted, as Colorado is the main place I’ve lived, and this is quite a high honor for a musician.” But the honor is all ours.


Big congrats to Hot Rize members – Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick and Bryan Sutton

Read more about Hot Rize

Photo caption: Patty Calhoun (left), Hall of Fame Board Member and Founder/Editor of Westword, and Karen Radman (right), Executive Director induct Hot Rize at RockyGrass. Photo credit: Benko Photographics

Photo caption: As seen from backstage, the induction of Hot Rize (Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien, Pete Wernick and Bryan Sutton) at RockyGrass. Photo credit: Stephen Ramsey

SUGARLOAF Album Release Party

SUGARLOAF Album Release Party – September 11, 2022

A tape long ago misplaced in a case of cables was found in 2020, after almost being tossed into the trash. The tape was a recording of a live Sugarloaf concert from 1975 that had never been released. Original guitarist, Bob Webber, restored and remastered the production for vinyl. Now, almost fifty years after the original recording, 2011 Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee Sugarloaf will be hosting an Album Release Party of Sugarloaf Live 1975. The release party will be held on September 11th from 6 pm – 10 pm at the Wild Goose Saloon in Parker and will include musical performances by JR Rabbit, Shiver and an encore appearance by original members of Sugarloaf.