The Red Rocks Amphitheater, nature’s perfect music scene, celebrates its 80th anniversary this year – CBS Denver


(CBS NEWS) – It’s 7 a.m., and on the outskirts of Denver, one of America’s most iconic concert halls is already buzzing.

“Circle your arms, put the star down, look up, exhale your hands towards the heart, squat down, sit low, one more, then we take a break…”

Here is Red Rocks, a nature-formed and human-shaped amphitheater that could provide the most incredible sight ever for your vinyasa. Every weekend morning in June and July, thousands of yoga enthusiasts flock to Red Rocks, which is just starting its day.

(credit: CBS)

Meanwhile, in just 12 hours, this place will be filled with a whole new group of people ready to vibrate under the stars.

(credit: CBS)

“Every night is special when you work here, but there have been millions of those nights,” said Brian Kitts, spokesperson for Red Rocks. And he’s not exaggerating; there have been millions of nights like these. Scientists say that somewhere between 70 and 40 million years ago, a geological event called the Laramide Orogeny pushed two giant red rocks into the position they still stand today, allowing us to safely say that this is probably the oldest concert hall in America.

CBS News correspondent Luke Burbank asked, “What about the acoustics? I mean, it’s very beautiful, but do rocks really have any acoustic use? “

“Yeah, the acoustics here are really good,” Kitts replied. “It’s sandstone. It is the pink feldspar and iron oxide that make it red. But it absorbs sound instead of bouncing it around, like stepping into a modern place. “

(credit: CBS)

The Ute inhabited the area surrounding Red Rocks for centuries until they were hunted down in the 1800s. In 1905 John Brisben Walker purchased the area to build an amusement park named Garden of the Titans. But when his fortune ran out, the city of Denver acquired the property in 1927, officially naming it Red Rocks.

In 1936, as part of FDR’s New Deal, the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps – unemployed young men – began hand-carving the amphitheater we know today.

Burbank asked, “So what we’re walking on right now was basically hand carved and chipped by a group of people in the 1930s?” “

“Yes,” Kitts replied. “You know, the bowl is here naturally, and there would have been some big boulders right in the middle.” They would have been blown up. But then they started carving every row into the side of the hill – picking axes and just human energy. “

This “human energy” has been palpable here at Red Rocks over the years, with performances from everyone from the Beatles to Lionel Richie to – the night a the CBS News national team was there – The string cheese incident.

Bill Nershi and Keith Moseley, founding members of the String Cheese Incident, described performing there.

“The intensity at Red Rocks is different,” Moseley said. “You look up there and everyone’s looking at you, aren’t you? Framed by giant rock monoliths.

Nershi said, “The energy is channeled from the crowd to the stage. And you go on stage and you watch and it’s everyone – just a wall of people above you.

Musician Yola opens for Orville Peck Summertime Tour at Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 22, 2021.

Musician Yola opens for Orville Peck Summertime Tour at Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 22, 2021. (Photo by Tom Cooper / Getty Images)

The String Cheese Incident (don’t bother asking where the name came from; Burbank did, and they don’t say it) started in the 1990s playing in ski towns in Colorado, sometimes in exchange. free lift tickets. But they always dreamed of playing here one day.

Moseley said, “We were on tour, playing shows in Colorado, and drove in. And actually, we got on stage, the band, and we stood there together, and we thought: “Let’s visualize that happening. “”

Nershi added, “Stand where you think you stand in the show, look at the seats and just say, ‘We’re going to do it! “”

Apparently it worked, as The String Cheese Incident has now played Red Rocks 45 times, making him one of its most frequent performers.

Speaking of frequent attendees at the Red Rocks, there were plenty of them in the audience tonight.

When asked how many times he had been to Red Rocks, Nathaniel Smith replied, “Probably a little over 30, I would say.”

For Carmel O’Farrell, “It’s about 45, 50. Sixth time this year.”

“Oh, definitely hundreds,” Tracy Drennan said.

RELATED: Check Out The New Rooftop Over The Stage At Red Rocks

In fact, Red Rocks has achieved something quite rare, the place itself attracts a lot of people, like Kelsey Powell and Bo Weller, who moved here from New Jersey. “Red Rocks was one of the reasons we moved to Colorado,” said Powell.

Burbank asked, “So you’ve really had a time where you’re, like, in Jersey, you line up the pros and cons of where to move, and on Colorado’s pros list, there’s, ‘Well , Red Rocks is there? Like, was that a real thing that you discussed?

“Oh absolutely! Powell laughed.

“And did it live up to what you hoped it would be?” “

“Without a doubt.”

As the night wore on and the stars came out, the band and audience began to slide into a sort of cosmic groove, feeding off each other’s energy.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of this unique venue, which seems like a long time for rock’n’roll – but, geologically, it’s just a nod to these Red Rocks.

For more information:

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, Morrison, Col.
The string cheese incident

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