Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre paid tribute to its 80th Anniversary season on Wednesday, April 28th with a powerful concert event—not with one of the venue’s usual platinum-selling headliners, but with a roster of acts that performed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for those in nursing homes, intensive care units, churches and front yards. Among those performing were firefighters and first responders who played their bagpipes and drums for communities across the state and an ICU nurse whose voice was the sound of caring during the pandemic.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock welcomed the crowd of 2,500 in recognition of the historic venue’s 80th anniversary. Additionally, the event featured an “8 o’clock howl,” a literal howl at the moon from all 2,500 people in the venue. The howl was led by the Denver couple who spurred the thank-you ritual last year in appreciation of frontline workers.
A number of seats were filled by frontline workers including those who work in grocery stores, public safety and COVID-prevention services. Tickets to the concert sold for 80 cents (the cost of a show at Red Rocks in 1941) in honor of the venue’s 80th anniversary.
“For more than eight decades, Red Rocks has hosted the biggest acts in music history, but few performances had more heart on stage than what we saw tonight,” said Ginger White, executive director of Denver Arts & Venues, the city agency that operates the venue. “There are so many caring musicians who lifted our spirits in surprising ways throughout the pandemic, and we wanted to thank them all with the representatives in this show.”
Artists were selected based on recommendations from music and news journalists, whose coverage of these musicians put a spotlight on their musical notes from across Colorado. See below for a full list of performers featured at the special event.
Red Rocks Pandemic Tribute Performers
• Colorado Emerald Society Pipes and Drums – These fire fighters and first responders performed nightly across Colorado communities.
• Raditya “Rad” Muljadi – This 11-year-old fifth grader from Parker dazzled online fans with his concerts for charity.
• Emily Worthem – This Denver ICU nurse sang to her patients and hospital staff throughout the pandemic.
• Longmont High School Drumline – The nationally-ranked group was forced to compete at nationals online because of the pandemic.
• D’Evelyn Jr-Sr High School Marching Band – Substituted a Presidential Inauguration performance for online participation in the “Parade Across America” on Inauguration Day.
• JoFoKe, Shane Endsley, Adam Waite – The trio’s online performances showcased a star-studded career in jazz, sacred music and Dove Award-winning vocals.
• Rico Jones – The saxophonist’s front porch performances were like many that turned into joyous neighborhood concerts.
• Colorado Conservancy for the Jazz Arts – The kids of the CCJA went from front porches to the Red Rocks stage.
• Brice Maiurro/Shelsea OChoa – This couple’s Facebook group popularized the howl and grew to 600,000 members from 100 countries.
Red Rocks has a full slate of limited-capacity concerts in store for the coming months. For a full list of upcoming Red Rocks shows, head here. Scroll down to check out a gallery of photos from Wednesday’s festivities via photographer Michael Martin.