Music News

Mile High Tree's New Light-Show Playlist Includes a Bounty of Local Musicians

The Mile High Tree in Sculpture Park.
The Mile High Tree in Sculpture Park. Photography By: Brandon Johnson (@BJohnsonxAR)
The massive Mile High Tree in Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which will be up through the end of January, just shifted its music selection from holiday tunes (because who hasn't had their fill of those?) to two new playlists that accompany the evening light shows. And the digital graphics of the shows have been ramped up, too, with dancing guitars and dramatic patterns of pixel LED technology choreographed to the music.

The first set — which starts things off at 5:30 p.m. nightly — comprises all Colorado artists; the second includes national acts playing upbeat songs suited for National Western Stock Show season...or maybe just for an impromptu sing-along. During the break between programs, you'll hear the Colorado Symphony playing Charles Denler’s sweeping Portraits of Colorado — An American Symphony No. 1.

The locals-only playlist is a testament to the quality of the state's music scene and includes some of the biggest artists to break out of Denver in the past fifty years:

There's the classic 1978 disco-infused R&B hit  "September," by Earth, Wind & Fire, whose lead singer, Philip Bailey, and former and current members Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk all went to East High School.

One of two official Colorado state songs, "Rocky Mountain High," by John Denver, is on the playlist, but the original state song, "Where the Columbines Grow," didn't make the cut.

"She Is," by The Fray, brings an injection of mid-’00s indie rock — and also raises the question: When will we get new music from the Fray?

"Ho Hey," The Lumineers' mega-hit that put the folk-rocker transplants on the map, will keep tree visitors stomping along.

The two most recently released songs on the all-Colorado playlist are Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats' "I Need Never Get Old" (try not to dance to that one) and, from the rising rockers in Wildermiss, "Carry Your Heart."

The second playlist includes “Conga,” by Gloria Estefan; “Crazy in Love,” by Beyoncé; “Dancing Queen,” by ABBA; “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” by Whitney Houston; “We Are Family,” by Sister Sledge; “Good Time,” by Alan Jackson; “Any Man of Mine,” by Shania Twain; and “Mountain Music,” by Alabama.

So if you're still trying to get your fill of holiday lights and would appreciate seeing those lights in conjunction with feel-good music — from Colorado and beyond — we recommend heading to Sculpture Park for a free light show or two...or three...(they alternate from 5:30 to 9 p.m., with a show every fifteen minutes). And thanks to the Denver tradition of keeping the lights on through the Stock Show (we're looking at you, City and County Building), you have until January 31 to get with the program at the Mile High Tree, Denver's newest — and, at 110 feet, definitely tallest — holiday attraction. By the end of December, more than 116,000 people had stopped by.

The action starts every night after sunset at Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Admission is free, and adult (and non-adult) beverages are available for purchase.

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris