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Gee, it’s good to be back home

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – John Denver’s love of the Rocky Mountains lives on in his friends as they pay tribute to him at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Riverwalk Center.

Emmy-award-winning singer and songwriter Jim Salestrom began a lifelong friendship with Denver at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, when Salestrom, at age 16, jumped at the opportunity to do sound reinforcement for Denver’s performance. As Salestrom unloaded equipment, he heard a voice asking if he needed help.

“In my largest adult voice I said, “No … these are John Denver’s mic stands – this is my job and I’m on it,'” Salestrom said. He turned to see Denver laughing. The musician had showed up early to help in any way he could. “For that day and night, he treated me like a little brother. He asked me that afternoon to listen to a song he was going to premiere.” The song was “Rocky Mountain High,” and Salestrom told Denver he thought it was his best song yet.

More than 25 years later, Salestrom sings “Rocky Mountain High” and other Denver favorites to salute his friend. He performs with Chris Engleman on bass, Jerome Gilmer on keyboards, Steve Ivey on drums, Mollie Weaver on vocals and John Sommers on fiddle, mandolin and banjo. Aspen resident Sommers recorded and toured with Denver through the golden years, composing No. 1 hit and Grammy nominee “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”

The evening will begin with original songs Salestrom wrote, then continue with Denver’s songs, followed by an old-fashioned ice cream social.

“It’s a time for us all to get together,” Salestrom said. “It’s become a bit of a tradition.”

A $10 suggested donation at the door benefits John Novotny’s family and the John Novotny Memorial Emergency Medical Fund. For information, call (970) 547-3100.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

Jim Salestrom and Friends: A Tribute to John Denver

– When: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27

– Where: Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge


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