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October 2010

September 2010

Red Rocks

DSC00302I can't think of a better way to end my weeklong tour of the Southwest than with a visit to Red Rocks: the legendary outdoor amphitheater just west of Denver that's been hosting concerts here since 1941. Red Rocks, which seats 9,000, is situated in a natural bowl, with a massive "Stage Rock" and huge stone monoliths that rise like wings on either side of the audience. The design - which result in near-perfect acoustics - is nothing short of miraculous.

I would have been content with seeing just about any show at Red Rocks, but last night's show - featuring the electric/electronic music of Thievery Corporation and STS9 - lent the space an ethereal, feel-good vibe that swelled all the way to the back of the sold-out theater. Food and drink prices were reasonable, and the staff were extremely gracious and courteous. And the crowd - a mix of kids with glowsticks and older folks in hemp and dreads - brought back positive memories of raves and parties from the turn of the last decade. With the lights of Denver brightening beyond the stage and the sun setting over the rocks and mountains behind, it's hard to imagine a more beautiful way to experience music. Or life. (More pics on Flickr.)

Mariachi Matinee

I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the skies are azure blue, dappled with brilliant white clouds. But, at the moment, I'm indoors at the Lensic Performing Arts Center for an afternoon concert of Mariachi music, part of this week's Fiesta de Santa Fe, which has been held every September for the past 298 years. (Santa Fe itself is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year.) An astonishing display of musicianship, with violinists, trumpet players, and that big acoustic guitar unique to Mariachi bands. There are also costumed singers - male and female - who sing with pure emotion, with the whole sold-out crowd singing along.

The big show, though, is tonight, when they burn Zozobar - a
50 foot high man puppet - in the town park. The locals say they get crowds in the tens of thousands, with partying that lasts all night long. Just like the Ferias in Spain.
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Taste of Colorado

I'm in Colorado all this week, more for hiking and biking than music, but this weekend, Denver is hosting its annual free Taste of Colorado festival on the Civic Mall. On the main stage now is former Journey and Traffic guitarist Dave Mason and band, playing a bluesy mix of vintage rock under a crisp blue mountain sky. Framed by the golden domed State Capitol to the east, its hard to imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
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