Backbeat's 2014 Colorado bucket list: #25-16
What are the hundred things everyone should do in Colorado before they die? We posed this question to our writers and editors, and over the next week, we'll be rolling out the answers across our blogs. Check back on January 16 for the full list -- and in the meantime, feel free to post your own suggestions below.
See also: 25 reasons the Denver music scene rules
25. Get a picture with the dancing security guard at Red Rocks It's hard not to dance when you have the chance to see some of the biggest music acts in the world playing one of the best stages in the world on a regular basis. That said, a certain security guard at Red Rocks has made a name for himself by shamelessly getting his groove on. He's got moves that get the whole front row going, and he has no qualms about showing off for the whole show. If you ever get the chance, run down and get a quick picture with this guy, because chances are, you will never meet a cooler security guard, one who isn't scared to have a good time -- even when the boss is watching.
24. Sign your name (or take a pic) in the tunnel at Red Rocks This is more of a bucket-list item for musicians, but every act wants to be able to have its name on a wall that has been signed by the likes of Jerry Garcia, Joan Jett, Snoop Dogg, STS9, Phish, Atmosphere, 311, the Fray, Kaskade, Deadmau5, Skrillex, and pretty much every other act that has ever graced the famed stage of Red Rocks. It's the tunnel that leads from the green room to the sound board, and every act takes a moment to appreciate the work that was put into the side of a mountain and makes it possible to play before taking in one of the most beautiful sights in the world: the sun setting on the Rocky Mountains behind a wall of fans.
23. Celebrate Elvis's birthday with the late, great Velvet Elvis Although Velvet Elvis was officially laid to rest in 2011, his spirit, like his inspiration, will live on forever. Every year around this time, he mystically reappears to deliver a Blue Christmas and to celebrate the King's birthday (like this Friday, January 10, at the Oriental Theater). If you haven't seen this show, it's worth adding to your bucket list. The must-see concert is so faithful to the essence of Elvis that you'd swear the King never truly died.
22. Busk on the 16th Street Mall In the past decade, the Denver music scene has gained massive exposure thanks to acts like the Lumineers and the Fray -- a fact that inspires a new wave of musicians every year to reach for the brass ring. Before working toward wowing capacity crowds, however, a real test for musicians is seeing whether they can capture the attention of an otherwise inattentive audience. Can you make captive commuters stop and hear you out? Only one way to find out.
21. Audition for the People's Fair Okay, so you've successfully busked on the 16th Street Mall, and now you're ready for another rite of passage in the local music scene: auditioning for the People's Fair. While the crowd at these annual tryouts is obviously more engaged, the task is a little more daunting. After watching so many acts perform, the judges' ears are subject to fatigue, and you only have a few songs to prove your merit and hopefully earn a slot to perform in front of thousands at Civic Center Park. But whether you make the cut or not, it's worth throwing your hat in the ring, just to say you did.
20. See a summer concert at the Botanic Gardens While seeing a show at Red Rocks can be an epic experience, the intimacy can sometimes get lost, the higher the row you're sitting in. One of the things about seeing outdoor shows at the Botanic Gardens is that most spots on the grass around the stage are close enough that you won't have to use binoculars. And for the past few years, the folks at Swallow Hill have been doing a stellar job booking a variety of acts, including last year's lineup, which included such luminaries as Tony Bennett, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Hornsby and Chris Isaak.
19. See Itchy-O wow unsuspecting crowds Although you never really know where Itchy-O is going to turn up (that is, unless it's New Year's Eve), the spectacle is always exhilarating, not only because the massive marching band creates such a joyful noise, but because it's also endlessly rewarding to witness the surprised/bemused/befudled looks on the faces of unsuspecting onlookers who've never seen the band before. Whether the outfit is crashing shows at the Gothic, appearing on stage with David Byrne and St. Vincent, or manning an outpost at Riot Fest, it's totally worth being on hand to see this Denver treasure in action.
Ken Hamblin III
18. Catch a Colorado Symphony collaboration You're probably already aware of how blessed you are with the number of world-class venues and artists we have in Denver. So it's easy to take for granted just how unique and awesome it is that our city's symphony goes out of its way to immerse itself in the music scene by initiating one-of-a-kind collaborations you won't see anywhere else. From performing songs from Beck's Song Reader at last year's Westword Music Showcase to backing a host of lauded locals like DeVotchKa, the Lumineers and Gregory Alan Isakov, the Colorado Symphony is as innovative as it is sharp. If you get the chance to see one of these special events, don't pass it up.
17. Visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame While it's relatively new, having only inducted its first class in 2011, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is steadily building an array of artifacts from local music luminaries, everyone from celebrated performers like John Denver and Judy Collins to local legends like Harry Tuft and Barry Fey. The Hall, which is currently housed at 1STBANK Center, is in the process of making a move to Red Rocks, where it will set up a permanent home. So whether you stop by now and admire the collection or wait until it moves to Morrison, make it a point to pay a visit.
16. Take a Class at Swallow Hill Swallow Hill has been integral part of music education in Denver for more than three decades. The Julie Davis School of Music teaches more than 5,000 students every year. Swallow Hill offers classes, private lessons, workshops and camps that cater to a number of different interests and ages, on a variety of instruments, including guitar, bass, banjo, percussion, fiddle, harmonica, ukulele and hammered dulcimer. And once you've got some chops under your belt, you can take advantage of Swallow Hill's varied jam sessions.
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