DENVER – Singer/songwriter John Denver was known worldwide for his sensitive music, love of Colorado and pro-environmental advocacy. But G. Brown, director and curator of the one-year-old Colorado Music Hall of Fame (CMHOF), acknowledged during a Feb. 1 visit with Music Business Senior Seminar students in CU Denver's College of Arts & Media that the choice of John Denver as the first artist inducted into the CMHOF was not without controversy.
"There was definitely a divide between his sweet-sounding music and the rise of hard rock in the 1970s. That reared up when we chose him for the Hall of Fame," Brown noted. Still, the induction ceremony and tribute concert by John Denver family, friends and affiliated musicians resulted in a sold-out show in April 2011 at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield. (Red Rocks Amphitheatre also was a first inductee, as a Colorado music venue icon.) The Bank Center currently houses the CMHOF's modest but growing collection of music memorabilia.
The Colorado Music Hall of Fame grew out Brown's discussions with longtime Colorado concert promoter Chuck Morris, president and CEO of AEG Live Rocky Mountains and the Hall's chairman. Brown was the logical choice as curator. He served as rock critic for the Denver Post for 26 years, was a local radio personality and music director at KCUV, and authored the book Colorado Rocks!—A Half Century of Music in Colorado.
During his CU Denver visit, Brown fielded questions from Music Business Senior Seminar students about the transformation of the local music industry from what he described as "pretty sleepy" in the 1950s; to a folk music boom in the early 1960s; development into a major national music market in the 1970s—with "the highest per capita concert attendance in the country;" jam-band boom in the 1990s (think String Cheese Incident and Yonder Mountain String Band); to the thriving variety of original-music artists based here today.
With goals of carving out influential roles in Colorado's music industry, the Music Business Senior Seminar students offered their own ideas for CMHOF-branding activities as well as for future Hall of Fame inductees from today's pool of Colorado artists.
Senior Seminar student Sandy King suggested traveling the state with memorabilia exhibits and music education workshops. Student Corey Blecha would like to see a video history of performances at Red Rocks.
Senior Seminar recommendations for future Hall of Fame inductees included the Fray—the first band of Colorado natives to achieve major national success with a debut album, 2005's "How to Save a Life"—and the Denver-based, multi-genre DeVotchKa. Both groups have ties to CU Denver.
The next CMHOF ceremony will be Feb. 12 in the Stadium Club at Folsom Field on the CU-Boulder campus. Inductees are legendary concert promoter Barry Fey, who moved to Denver in the 1960s and Denver Folklore Center founder Harry Tuft.
For more information on the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, visit: http://coloradomusichalloffame.org/.
(Photo: G. Brown addresses CU Denver Music Business Senior Seminar)
Contact: Stan Soocher, College of Arts & Media