Because my parents were baby boomers, the music of the 1960s and 1970s was the soundtrack of our home. Our family vinyl collection included Blonde on Blonde, Quadrophenia, Rubber Soul and Machine Head in addition to the Jungle Book and The Sesame Street 10th Anniversary Album.
I attended my first concert, Asleep at the Wheel, at 16 months. By the time I was five, we were attending regular fourth of July Beach Boys concerts and fireworks displays after Denver Bears games. At eight, my parents took me to see Huey Lewis and the News at Red Rocks, the beginning of a life long love affair with the world famous venue. The same year, I saw Bruce Springsteen play a snowy March night at Mile High Stadium.
In high school, I decided to see as many concerts as I could at Red Rocks. Before I graduated, I saw over twenty shows there, including Don Henley, Johnny Clegg, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Tracy Chapman, Jimmy Buffett and Steve Miller.
In December of my senior year, I attended my first Grateful Dead concert and the experience changed my life. While I enjoyed the music, the community made the greatest impact on me. The travelling circus that followed the Dead from city to city elevated the concert, an activity that I had been taught to love since infancy, to an outrageous new level that I gladly embraced.
In the nineties, my musical tastes expanded as I met people from across the country and learned about the diverse musical community that exists outside of suburban Denver. My CD collection grew to accommodate everything from hip hop to bluegrass and from metal to jazz. I remember fondly the stares that record store employees would give me when I would hand them a pile of purchases that included both Old and in the Way and Finger Licking Good by the Revolting Cocks.
I continued to see the Dead until Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. I also discovered similar concert experiences when I was introduced to Phish and stumbled across Widespread Panic, opening for Blues Traveler in 1991. I continue to see both bands today and look forward to their concerts as much for the sense of community as for the exploratory music.