Experience the music of John Denver at the Riverwalk Sunday | SummitDaily.com

Experience the music of John Denver at the Riverwalk Sunday

Erica Marciniec
Summit Daily News
Special to the DailyJohn Adams performs 'John Denver: The Tribute' earlier this month at Red Rocks. Adams plays the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge on Sunday.

Whether it’s the Rockies themselves, John Denver’s iconic songs about them or the joy of helping others that elevates you, Sunday’s tribute concert at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge provides the opportunity to experience all three.

John Adams Band takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. for the fourth year to spread John Denver’s good cheer, this time to benefit the local nonprofit Domus Pacis Family Respite, which uses loaned homes and volunteers to provide a week of respite for cancer sufferers and their families.

Adams, who is from Holland, started playing John Denver’s songs in 1972 when “Take Me Home, Country Roads” became a hit in Europe. He moved to the U.S. 12 years ago after the artist’s death, committed to keeping the music alive.

“What we do is a very authentic, traditional John Denver concert. We don’t change John Denver’s music; we keep it in the authentic way that he wrote it and performed it,” Adams said. The lineup includes classics like “Annie’s Song,” “Back Home Again,” “Calypso” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” as well as lesser-known works.

Before his death, John Denver was in fact working on a project with Adams, as the two were well acquainted, having met on 14 different occasions. They once performed “Whispering Jess” on a television program together.

“He loved to sing in different languages: Russian, Chinese. Because I’m from Holland he wanted to sing together in Dutch and English,” Adams said. “I recorded my part. He never had a chance to record his part.” Adams will share some of his personal stories about Denver between songs. “He was such a down-to-earth person,” Adams said.

Domus Pacis aims to raise awareness and solicit more homes – in particular those that remain unoccupied for portions of each year – to make it possible to serve more families. The organization started with eight homes in 2008 and now has 85 “potentially available” in Summit County, meaning homeowners will provide the homes if they are vacant when needed, said Marylouise White-Petteruti, who co-founded the organization with her husband Vince. Their goal is to get to 100 homes this year.

“There are a couple of things in life you don’t control, and one of them is getting sick,” said Adams, who recently played a breast cancer benefit for Susan G. Komen for the Cure at Red Rocks. The concert comes at a time when Adams’ ex-wife in Holland is nearing her final days in her battle with breast cancer, so the cause is a heartfelt one for the musician.

“People open up their homes for people to have a last chance to spend together in the mountains, who would say no to a cause like that?” he said.

Adams has served as a UNICEF teacher and ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House and raised funds for the Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation in Southern California, in addition to many other causes. He credits John Denver as his role model.

“John didn’t only inspire me with his music but also for all the good things that he did for the planet,” he said, citing Denver’s work to end hunger, replant trees and protect places like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Tickets to the benefit concert cost $20 or $50 for VIP seating and after-party at Fatty’s Pizzeria, with proceeds benefiting Domus Pacis. Books by landscape photographer and nature writer John Fielder will be on sale at the event.

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