Thursday, July 26, 2012

LIVE at Red Rocks

Some Concerts Attended by Me or my DH but mostly Both
I'm not at all musical.  My parents aren't terribly musical either (my Eccentric Ol' Dad - here after EOD) plays the harmonica from time to time but I don't know that I would go so far as to call it a talent. But they did have highly talented friends; as a kid, I spent countless nights curled in a corner and lulled to sleep by guitars and drums jamming out all sorts music.

I "played" the clarinet for 6 painful years before the realization really set in that I have very little rhythm and no increased ability regardless of how long I practice.  But I never-the-less LOVE music.  We sing along, however off-key and off-beat we might be, and we especially love a wide variety of outdoor live music.  It could be U2 or a Fest (we went to Ska-fest in Victoria BC) or a local park or the 5th grader on the next street over playing Stairway to Heaven.  Music refreshes my soul and brings me to tears nearly every time I see it live.  I don't know exactly what it is, but music heals and cleanses me. Maybe it is because of my total lack of talent, but music seems magical; it inspires me. I love to hear talented (not necessarily famous) people play.

As soon as I could drive myself, I've been going to any live music that I can find (most often with my then very adorable boyfriend - now DH). Mostly local free fests and then save up for whatever concerts I could afford (and without much discretion, as you can tell by the wordle above).  I rarely, if ever, have left disappointed.  Once over, I have no idea how much that concert cost; the heat or cold or the bugs or the rain and the crowds and the uncomfortable seats --all fade away, and I'm just left with a vibrating and happy soul.

the winding walk
Probably since U2 did Under a Blood Red Sky there back in the 80's, but then solidified when Dave Mathews Band did their live album, I have been dying to see a show at Red Rocks.  It seems like the Mecca of concert going. We knew we were going to Colorado to hike at Estes Park so the DH and I sat down to look through the concert schedule for the summer.  With a little adjustment, a couple bad driving days, and rushing through Cali, we could make it to see James Taylor LIVE at RED ROCKS, a literal dream come true.  The tickets were insanely expensive, but we couldn't wait to bring the kids to their first real concert - and what better story for them to tell (and James Taylor is so chill but the kids know his songs).

On the way we had crazy stressful unpredictable car troubles, the kids (actually all of us) were way over tired from 3 1/2 weeks on the road.  I had this fear run through me as we were carefully driving up the mountain, hearing thunder in the distance, and daring not to breathe lest it change our equilibrium and our transmission would lock-up for good, that I had built this event up WAY to much in my mind.  This was nuts and it was sure to be a let down.

As we parked the car and readied our solo cups for the long walk, everything washed away.  The craziness of this particular month-long adventure, the kids being tired... and the closer we walked, the more the energy shifted.  Our seats were near the back row (63 of 69 to be exact), if you didn't know, Red Rocks is VERY small.  It seats only 9,450 people, bleacher style.  As a comparison, the Chicago baseball stadiums each seat about 40,000.  But at Red Rocks, there is literally not a bad seat in the house.

From our seats, we could see Denver and the concert, and we were surrounded by the immense red rocks that created this beautiful natural amphitheater.  When James Taylor took the stage, we could hear every word that he said/sang, as clear as if he was standing next to me.  With the conclusion of the first set, and coincidentally, "Fire and Rain", the lightening and thunder escalated.  They cleared the stage and warned of severe weather.  From our vantage point, we could watch the storm roll in with a lightening show to rival any fireworks display; the electricity around Denver went out in pockets around the city.  Our seats were so high that they were mostly protected from the torrential down-pour-- for awhile, and then the rain just kept coming.  More people left until the rains stopped and about 1/3 of the crowd was left.  MAYBE 3000 people.  At which point we walked as far forward as we felt comfortable with the kids (we could have gone front row).  We stopped at row 22.

Eventually, James Taylor came back out and and played the most wonderful set you could imagine.  Before the rain my soul was over-flowing, but by this point it was bursting.  Being surrounded by my wet adorable family, and singing Shower the People you Love with Love, with an audience that is laughing and dancing and not daring to sit down because we are so cold and wet.  From this new vantage point, we were right on top of the band.  JT just kept playing, and calling out unscheduled songs to his band (like Let's Do the Twist).  He could not have been more fun (it was rumored ahead of time that he was an arrogant ass, but then again, we all have been at some phase of our lives; I'm sure fame only magnifies indiscretion) and it is a concert we all (including JT) will never ever ever forget.

And with that, I don't know how much those tickets were, or how exhausted we are, and if it weren't for the fact that the sopping wet clothes are still in the van, I would forget those too.  And all the crazy "adventure" of this trip is washed away... and just the happiness in our souls remain...  Happiness and magic that the state of Colorado, with its fire and rain and tragedy, needed more than any other place.

It won't be long until we are back, Red Rocks... it won't be long...

--- DISCLAIMER:  I DO NOT recommend sitting outside during a thunderstorm especially with one's kids.  I'm not sure why we felt so safe, it must have been the  music and rain talking, but we did, and admittedly, I'm not at all sorry about our choice.  The thunderstorm just added to the magic of the night. 


  • There is no public trans to Red Rocks but parking is free (Lakewood was less than 20 minutes away)
  • Tailgating is nearly expected.  Bring solo cups and enjoy the socializing
  • It is a HIKE to the top.  Wear practical shoes, not flip flops or cute strap-y heels.
  •  Small cameras are allowed but no large cameras or video equipment
  • Sealed beverages (not alcohol) are allowed into Red Rocks (water was $7 so bring a bottle for everyone)
  • Alcohol was $8 for a good size glass of wine / 16 oz beer -  they took cc
  • Seats are backless bleacher style; may want to bring one of those cushions
  • By personal experience, bring an umbrella or two and maybe those plastic ponchos :0)
  • It is windy up there in the "cheap seats" but the view and the sound are both excellent 
  • Red Rocks can be toured for free when there isn't a concert; the museum is so cool


  1. Love this entry...sounds like a magical time. Great end to a yet another memorable summer vacation. Can't wait to hear more about it and see pictures!

    1. Thanks! We have never been more ready to be home than on this trip! We REALLY needed this happy ending. <3 to you guys!

  2. Kelly, Thank you for taking the time to capture your thoughts while they are fresh (I'm sure you have millions of important things to do). You are such a good writer and Dad and I enjoyed your musings immensely. I'm so glad Red Rocks was everything you could have ever dreamed it would be. I'm not sure you could have emotionally handled another letdown on this trip. (Although, I know you'll agree that in spite of the whole transmission mess, you still had a wonderful trip in so many other ways.) I agree, the feelings at a concert, way deep down in the soul, are shared by your mother too. I'm sure it's genetic - at least I can pass along one good thing. Oh, and you can add at least 2 more names to your very creative poster - Sha-Na-Na and Don Francisco - although I'm not real sure you would claim attendance at either of them. One last comment, Dad likes the title you gave him (it's better than COM - crazy ol' man!). We love you and we're proud of you (and don't think for a minute we thought you were bad parents to stay in the thunderstorm - you got that from us too, I'm sure!). Love, Mom + Dad

    1. Thanks Mom (and Dad)! Although you may not have passed down a talent for music, I'm thrilled that you passed down a love and appreciation for music (even, or maybe even especially, during thunderstorms). I hope it lives through many more generations. <3