Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon pay tribute to John Denver at the Riverwalk Center Sunday, joined by Jim Connor, the renowned banjo player who picked with John Denver's band and authored the iconic tune, "Grandma's Feather Bed."The concert, which will feature popular John Denver songs, kicks off a weeklong celebration that moves to Aspen after Breckenridge and honors the 15th anniversary of the singer/songwriter's death. Proceeds will benefit preservation efforts by the Frisco-based Alliance for Historical Preservation. Connor is a heavy-hitter who has appeared as a singer, composer, soloist and/or instrumentalist on at least 18 gold and platinum albums. His song, "Grandma's Feather Bed," was included on two Grammy-nominated John Denver albums, and he has shared the stage with the Kingston Trio, Barbra Streisand, Judy Collins and Jack Benny, to name a few.Collins, who performed Frisco on July 4, has an international following for his pure and heartfelt renditions of John Denver's songs. He shares Denver's commitment to environmental causes, and in fact looks a bit like the late artist. "John was a big influence on me as a young musician and his connection to our environment resonated with me," Collins said. "So, it was a natural evolution of my performing that led me to keep his music and his message alive through my performances.""He's so popular because of his effervescence on stage," said Charlotte Clarke, president of the Alliance for Historical Preservation. "A lot of us think it's like having John back. His demeanor, his beautiful range and his voice are so similar. He doesn't try to be an imitator, but there are so many similarities; it's just wonderful to see him on stage." As for Connor, Clarke said: "He's got a story about everybody. He's a fabulous banjo player. It's world class. You don't often get such fabulous talent in such an intimate setting."The Alliance for Historical Preservation, formed in 2007, will use funds raised at Sunday's performance toward preserving the office of the Excelsior Mine, which gave Frisco its first electric power. "We've been fundraising for 10 years," Clarke said. "It's a dream; I admit it's a dream, but I'm raising money for that." Other fundraising goals include setting signposts at Frisco historic mines and landmarks along the recreation path, which sits atop the old railroad grade, Clarke said. The group has produced Chris Collins in concert in Silverthorne twice before and helped with a Keystone Limelighters concert a few years ago for the Continental Divide Land Trust, but Sunday will be its largest and first Riverwalk Center concert.Afterward, Connor, Collins and the band move on to Aspen, where they will take part in the 15th annual John Denver tribute and celebration, Wednesday through Oct. 15. Among the events are the Concert for Charity on Wednesday and a free chairlift ride on Aspen Mountain, where "Annie's Song" was inspired, followed by a storytelling session. Both are sponsored by the Alliance for Historical Preservation."Chris is magic on stage," Clarke said. "His enthusiasm, wholesomeness, beautiful voice and exuberant personality just light up the stage. He really sells out in Aspen and elsewhere." The Riverwalk Center concert will feature some of Denver's biggest hits, like "Annie's Song," "Take Me Home Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," and "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." Tickets are available at www.breckenridgeriverwalkcenter.com or the Alliance for Historical Preservation at (970) 370-5726.
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