Colorado Music Hall Of Fame Induction

09 January 2015

Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO


A dream concert for me, in a sense. A non-profit organization called the Colorado Music Hall of Fame began recognizing artists, venues, promoters, and the like, for significant contributions to Colorado music history and culture. Past inductees have included John Denver, Judy Collins, Barry Fey, Sugarloaf, the Serendipity Singers, and even Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

This year's induction class was packed with artists near/dear to my musical heart.

Though tonight's first award recipient, Stephen Stills & Manassas, didn't send any members to accept induction, the packed Paramount Theatre did show a video clip with some interesting and humorous interview comments from Stephen, as well as archival clips that I've personally never seen before. Additionally, a pick-up team of acoustic guitar players (Jeff Hanna, Jock Bartley, Richie Furay, and a local artist named Nathaniel Rateliff) played a three-song set of Manassas classics. Jock handled the lead on the Manassas version of "It Doesn't Matter", Nathanial on "Johnny's Garden", and Richie on the Manassas song "Colorado" (not to be confused with the Rick Roberts song of the same name).

Following a similarly brilliant video clip of Firefall's history, all surviving members of the band's original lineup (Rick Roberts, Larry Burnett, Jock Bartley, Mark Andes, & David Muse) took the stage to proudly accept induction. All of them looked significantly healthier than when they appeared together in their 2008 Reunion Concert. With cancer-survivor David Muse, and Mark Andes, both back in the lineup again with Jock Bartley, Firefall sounds more original than it did three decades ago. The band's current lineup strolled perfectly through "Livin' Ain't Livin'", "Cinderella", "Just Remember I Love You", "So Long", "Goodbye I Love You", "Strange Way", and "You Are The Woman". Only for the set finale, "Mexico", did original principle lead singer/songwriter Rick Roberts join the band to sing and strum on an acoustic guitar. Larry Burnett joined the band midway through the selection, possibly because he may have been using the restroom.

During the associated video clip for Poco, the host computer froze, prompting original member Rusty Young to speak into the microphone, "The story of my life!" After a few minute delay, and some kind of processor reboot, the video clip resumed. Though Poco's lineup has changed numerous times over its 45-year history, tonight's inductees included the lineup that lived in Boulder County from 1971-1973, namely Richie Furay, Rusty Young, Paul Cotton, Timothy B. Schmit, and George Grantham. To everyone's delight, Richie traveled from Broomfield to rejoin the band he founded, Timothy took a break from the Eagles sing and play bass with his Poco band mates for the first time in 6 years, and singer/guitarist took a break from his semi-retirement to reunite/reconnect for the first time in 5 years. George was unable to attend due to an injury. Richie, Rusty, Paul, and Timothy, backed by members of the Richie Furay Band, played wonderfully through "Call It Love", "Pickin' Up The Pieces", "Bad Weather", "Keep On Tryin'", "Rose Of Cimarron", "Crazy Love", "Heart Of The Night", and "Good Feelin' To Know".; Paul sounded and looked great, appearing trim and sun-drenched from a relaxing life in Key West, FL. Rusty gave a shout out to his 92-year old mom (who lives in Denver); Paul expressed his thanks to Richie for a phone call in 1970 inviting him into the band. Timothy appeared awkward and nervous, possibly because performing with little rehearsal is outside of the rigorousness & tightness that he, Don, Glenn, and Joe are used to. Despite his apparent reticence, Poco sounded brilliant this evening.

The induction finale featured the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band who, despite their musical style, I've honestly never really connected with. Tonight's lineup included long-time singer/guitarist Jeff Hanna, long-time multi-instrumentalist John McEuen, and longtime members Jimmie Fadden and Bob Carpenter. After opening with the Bob Dylan penned track originally popularized by the Byrds, "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", the rest of the set included "Mr. Bojangles", and an all-star finale featuring tonight's members of Firefall and Poco, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". Jeff Hanna continues to look far younger than his stated age, and for that matter all band members appeared fit to put on a great set. No "American Dream" or "Make A Little Magic" from their [Dirt Band] days, though.

After the show, I had the pleasure of meeting Jock Bartley's brother Dennis, with whom I chatted for about 15 minutes about the band's history, their original home town of Manitou Springs, and the future.

With this induction of several of my favorite bands, tonight was truly a dream realized. Now, perhaps the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should get around to taking notice of these same bands.

[**** 1/2] - Steven T.

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