Red Rocks Amphitheatre

One Colorado location on my sketch list is Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Morrison, Colorado.

While I have never seen a concert at Red Rocks, the stunning amphitheatre first came to my attention from a live music video played on MTV (back when MTV played music videos). It featured a little known Irish band named after a spy plane. This was U2 and the song was the anthem about the Troubles, Sunday Blood Sunday.

The band was framed in tall, red rock with fire blazing on the top of three of the mesas. The singer, Bono, with this breath steaming into the 6,400 foot, cold, rainy air, yells, “No more, No more war!”

This was in 1983 but Red Rocks has been a music venue since June 15, 1941 and has hosted such notable artists as the Beatles, Hendrix, Jethro Tull (part of the Red Rocks Riots that banned rock music at the venue for five years), John Denver (Duh!), U2, the Grateful Dead (they have played the venue 25 times, more than any other band), the Moody Blues, Steve Martin, a ton of jam bands, Neil Young, and many others who will never be mentioned in this blog! (Think John Tesh).

A statue of John Denver with a Golden Eagle at the Trading Post.

The venue is not only used for musical performances. On May 2, 1999 a student memorial for the Columbine High School shootings was held at Red Rocks. At the time, Columbine was the most deadly school shooting in history. Columbine High School is in Littleton, 22 miles from the amphitheater. Sadly the death toll has now been eclipsed.

Looking toward the stage from the top of the amphitheater. In the distance is the Denver metropolitan area.

Red Rocks is open to the public, even when there is not a concert. When I visited in the afternoon, there where quite a few visitors, just to see the beautiful location. Music was provided by a high school girl playing the flute. Her rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” was sublime. I picked a row (42) and a seat (8) to start my sketch. I sat in the shade because Colorado was unseasonably warm and under my feet was unmelted snow.

A different angle of Creation Rock. On the opposite rock formation, Ship Rock, where two peregrines and I couldn’t leave Red Rocks without hearing the best music ever performed here. The call of the canyon wren. The wren did not disappoint.

As I was sketching a young girl, a third grader I would guess, walked by. She doubled back and looked at my work in progress. “Nice drawling” she proclaimed.

That’s all the encouragement I need to just keep on sketch’in!

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