AUDITIONS ACCEPTED NOW-6th Annual John Denver Celebration Tickets (& Memory Page from last year)
The 6th Annual John Denver Celebration will be held October 1-3, 2004 in beautiful Salida, Colorado.
AUDITIONS-- Musicians wishing to be considered to perform at the 2004 event should contact Manager Christine Smith now. Email her at: Celebration Auditions
Currently, we have 9 applicants. If you are a musician/band interested in performing, you are advised to contact us as soon as possible, as there are limited performance slots available.
TICKETS--Tickets to attend The 6th Annual John Denver Celebration (to be held Oct. 1-3, 2004) will go on sale on January 15, 2004. Visit this website on or after Jan. 15 for full details of activities and how to obtain tickets. We will have a description of the event activities planned for all three days, motel discounts, and ticket ordering available via online instant order or via telephone.
Below are details regarding last year's John Denver celebration:
This was indeed the best celebration for John we have ever had. Activities began with the main event on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003 at The Great Hall where our performers, Chris Collins (Texas), Keeper Koepplinger (Wyoming), Jeffrey Pine (California), Christine Smith (Colorado) &Veronique VanPelt (Colorado), performed a full day of beautiful renditions of John's music. Mid-day, we all enjoyed a delicious professionally catered all-you-care-to-eat meal...then the music began again. Saturday night, everyone gathered together at a local restaurant where Christine Smith & Jeffrey Pine (later joined by all performers) entertained not only the JD Celebration guests but also anyone in the community who wanted to come...it was a magical night of beautiful harmony as friends and musicians! Sunday, we all gathered together and viewed rarely seen film footage of John - inspiring & educational! After discussing environmental/social justice concerns, and how each of us can make a positive difference...we then all headed for the beautiful mountain lodge for an afternoon of good food and good music beneath 14,000-foot mountain peaks. Sunday night, more concerts ended a perfect weekend celebrating John's music and his message.
Photos below, followed by guests' comments & media coverage. These are just a few of the photos and media coverage...will place much more on this webpage as time permits in the next few weeks. (I am busy working, so am only able to add photos and articles, etc. on weekends.) Scroll below album, to read comments and coverage.
A few of the recent comments I have received from guests who attended...Thank you, everyone for the beautiful letters & emails I am receiving!
I know you are super busy, you needn't reply....I just needed to tell you how much this past weekend has meant to me. Through the celebration you have givenme one of the most precious gifts I've ever received.
The performers were more than wonderful, they are all beautiful people. Your program was so compelling as well as tender. Your devotion and dedication to
everything that John stands for runs incredibly deep... that is so clear to me; you gave so much of your time and energy, to say nothing of your vast talentsin both writing, singing. To have attended is a blessing to me
How beautiful a weekend I could not imagine!~ How could one experience such a weekend and not forever be touched? The people I've met, the voices I've heard, the scenary I've seen. I am speehless over the whole experience!~ Such beautiful people as far as the eyes could see. The moment I pulled up to the church where the event was to take place and I saw Chris Collins (one of the singers) out front, I (laughing) knew that I had found the right place. I truly felt like John Denver was watching and flying "like an eagle" above us that entire weekend. We were afterall in John's country!~ I couldn't be happier to make the trek to this incredibly worthwhile event. Coming all the way from Maryland...the John Denver spiritual experience was mine and Sunni's main purpose for coming to Colorado. We have also discussed, maybe someday, like John, adopting Colorado as our new home. What an adventure that would be. Christine, words escape me on how beautiful and perfect everything soared. It all was a breathtaking experience to certain-One that I will never forget. I will make every effort to come together annually for this special occasion. It could never duplicated, as you "Christine" have proven what a little love can accomplish. John would be and I am certain "is" so very pleased.
If you will allow, I'd like to borrow from John's words...
"He'd be a poorer man if he never saw an Eagle fly,"
I'd like to add to that...
"I'd be a poorer man if I never experienced John, his music and Christine's John Denver Legacy Celebration."
I have said before that I believe as John, himself was a beautiful person, anyone attending and participating in this event, is in my mind a beautiful person. To those that I was lucky enough to meet-You are ALL so great!~
TO THE SINGERS: Thank you Keeper, Chris, Jeffrey, Veronique and a special thank you, to you Christine. Thanks for such a warm memory.
Thanks to Everyone for a Very Special Time from the Both of Us.
Take care, SL, Maryland
From the three of us, thank you for a wonderful, wonderful week in Colorado. Truly, it was extraordinary. JP, California
Dear Christine - I wanted to take this time to tell you how I greatly enjoyed myself at the 5th Annual John Denver Celebration this year! It was very impressive & so organized and you are such an excellent speaker!
As far as the entertainment went, Jeff Pine, impressed me as a guitarist, and and he has such a great voice! I was amazed at how talented Veronique Van Pelt is for her age - 14 years old! - and enjoyed hand-clapping to her rendition of Grandma's Feather Bed. Chris Collins bore an amazing resemblance to JD, and I really liked Keeper Koepplinger's revision of John's unfinished Yellowstone. What a moving moment when you surprised Jeff Pine with the John Denver Memorial Peace Prize for his work to preserve free public access to national lands! When he spoke & wiped tears from his eyes, I saw you leave the stage to compose yourself, & I found myself crying along with both of you! I also loved Jeff's daughter's ringing the bell to his performance of JD's Calypso! What a surprise for the audience!
It was great seeing you in concert at Bongo Billy's! You looked so good in that black cocktail dress & sang so beautifully! The songs you sang from your new CD," Feelings of Love" were great, & I loved your Shania Twain delivery of "Gonna Getcha Good." You are such a natural performer!
When you cried at your farewell address, I, too, cried because I can imagine all the time and hard work you put into this Celebration and it really showed. Plus I know you, like me, are a true JD devotee, and this event was a labor of love for you on John's behalf. M.R., New York
You did a wonderful job Christine with the JD Celebration. John would be pleased and I'm sure he is with all the good work you do. Your book, our conversations, and now the Celebration have helped me to see John for much more than just his music. You have shown me how important it is to express my opinions and stand up for what I know is right.
I want you to know that my Mother and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and on many levels. You have created a magnificent venue for a celebration of John's music and message, and I am so pleased I could come this yearMom has your book and will read it first, then I get to read it. And Mom decided that she wanted to take Chris Collins home with her (but his wife said "NO!")
You rest easy; you're a wonderful performer and an absolutely extraordinary human being to be able to pull all of this together
Thank you again,
I had a wonderful time...I will never forget it! I feel sad that I did not go to one of your John Denver Celebrations in all the past years, I have missed a lot! I have read about some JD (events)...that turned out with little or no respect for John and I did not want to get involved...however, this lovely Celebration that you hosted in Salida turned out to be lovely and arranged the best way one could arrange a Celebration....It was just wonderful! I know how hard it can be for you as a host--you have to make yourself available to everyone--pay the band--see everybody off and etc. You were just wonderful in doing so! ...I had a wonderful time being with everyone at the John Denver Celebration, and like you, I tried to talk to them all....Christine, again, I enjoyed being there 100 percent and I am looking forward to next October.
BK, Oklahoma (Cousin of John Denver)
Your letter in today's Mountain Mail expresses an outpouring of appreciation for all those who supported your efforts for our recent, wonderful John Denver Memorial Celebration in Salida.
My daughter and i feel so privileged to have been invited to attend this inspiring concert. We laughed, we wept, and we applauded every great performance until our hands hurt.
We were as impressed with the sincerity of the musicians' comments about John and his music and mission as we were by their outstanding performances.
We realize none of this could possibly have come about without your sincere admiration, commitment, and total dedication, for all of John's accomplishments--his music, his message and his support of so many worthy causes around the globe. We all left this concert with a far better appreciation for John and his legacy for the world.
You have been blessed with all the talents required for your chosen mission-and, above all, you show the passion which fuels your indominatable spirit.
Christine, we salute you!
And thank you, again, from both of us.
We both really enjoyed it and thought the singers were top notch! You must be exhausted, yet feeling good about bringing it all together once again.
We had excellent media coverage again this year. Manager Christine Smith appeared on several Colorado, as well as natuional & international radio shows, to discuss the event...and Colorado newspapers and radio stations covered the weekend events. As time permits, we will post copies of articles & radio clips on this site.
A RECENT ARTICLE:
The 5th annual John Denver Celebration was better than ever according to Manager Christine Smith, Something happened this year that was almost magical. The performers came together so perfectly in harmony both musically and as friends. Everyone was impressed.
Smith, who began the event five years ago, is beginning preliminary plans for next year already, Its hard to imagine, but since it is just one person putting this together, I have to start planning early since this is a labor of love I do in addition to working full-time.
The performers, Chris Collins of Texas, Keeper Koeeplinger of Wyoming, Jeffrey Pine of California, and Veronique Vanpelt and Smith of Colorado met for the first time Friday night for a special dinner at Country Bounty Restaurant. Joined by their close friends and family, Smith thinks that nights dinner followed by an impromptu jam in Collins motel room bonded everyone as friends and prepared them for the weekend of activities.
The harmony on stage at the audience loved so much was a result of the harmony we formed beforehand. We were all so happy to also provide free entertainment for the community each night over at Bongo Billys. So many Salidans who came to the night concerts told me that next year they will definitely get tickets to the entire celebration next time.
The recipient of the 2003 John Denver Memorial Peace Prize was Jeffrey Pine, who Smith says exemplifies the love of earth and humanity Denver dedicated his life to. John Denver had a significant impact on Pines life, showing him that he, too, had a voice he could use both in music and in activism, to fight for the things he believes in.
Jeff is not only a renowned singer/songwriter on the west coast, but he has been a life long environmentalist, and in the last 6 years has become a strong activist fighting recreational user fees that would according to the Sierra Club, both charge for basic access and allow for the development of commercial recreation on public lands. We were impressed with Jeffs vocal stance and civil disobedience in fighting what he believes is a dangerous policy spreading across this country. Jeff believes all of us have a right to enjoy our public lands, and that fees are an affront on our heritage and rights as Americans to have access to the lands that are ours. He is an outspoken activist who has appeared on national radio and in numerous newspapers. He speaks and works from the heart, so it was a pleasure to award him the John Denver Memorial Peace Prize for the hard work he is putting in for all of us. He, like John, is an example of what one man can do.
The weekends main event, held at St. Josephs Great Hall, was followed by a showing of rare film footage of John Denver over at The Senior Center, and then by a sing-along at Mt. Princeton Host Springs Lodge where Chris Collins showed his skill with the harmonica as well as guitar, and all the musicians played together, dividing and leading song stanzas as the audience sang along.
This year was indeed the best ever, and I am grateful to my outstanding performers, and to Salida for its incredible support. This event truly honors John as he deserves for his wonderful music, and his most needed message of unconditional love, and that each of us can make a positive difference if we make the conscious choice to do so. I am very happy.
Christine Smith, Manager of The Annual John Denver Celebration on cover of Weekend Magazine.
CHRIS COLLINS, singer/songwriter, began playing guitar at the age of seventeen. He found his musical home in the sounds of James Taylor, John Denver and Dan Fogleberg. In the summer of 2000, on a trip to the Canadian Rockies, he found himself inspired to write. He bought a guitar in a small Canadian town and by the end of that trip had written Alberta Skies (the title cut from his new cd) and Moraine Valley Waltz, and has been writing and singing since then. He was recognized as one of the top ten Regional Singer Songwriters at the 2002 Kerrville Folk Festival. Visit his website for performances, his cd and more:
"KEEPER" KOEPPLINGER has written over 100 songs and has performed at numerous benefits, coffee houses, parks, and events, and even entertained participants (of which he was one) of the 'Big Ride Across America" bicycling benefit for the American Lung Association by performing John's songs for them every night on the 6 1/2 week biking trip across the nation. He has one video release of live performances featuring many of his own fine compositions. He has always taken John's music with him throughout his travels through Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, Wyoming, Colorado and Alaska. Keeper says John has always been a mentor for him, "The message in both his music and lifestyle speak to me on many different levels. Life, love, my views on the planet, and the Zen of life itself. This is more than just music, but a lifestyle for me...I believe his music and message to be timeless, in that is aspires to a higher vision of man and his plight in the game of life."
VERONIQUE VAN PELT
VERONIQUE VAN PELT is a soulful singer with a voice communicating passion for the things she believes. She is a performer for numerous events and special occasions and has starred in productions of A Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, and A Magic Hood among many others. "It is really an inexhaustable source of joy for me to sing a song that someone I respect wrote or even one that I wrote. It's a spiritual thing...A voice, like all tools of expression, is a way to communicate a message--like a soapbox or a sign. I believe that what you think--what you really believe in--always comes out through your voice." Veronique is not only a powerful singer, her strength of character is also evidenced in her devotion in working for the welfare of animals through the DreamPower Animal Rescue, as well as her ecological/environmental and peace activism. "I know that thanks to John's message, people have done wonderful things. His music is so beautiful that I imagine people can't help but do good from it."
JEFF PINE, a renowned singer/songwriter, accompanys himself fluidly on six or twelve string acoustic guitar; he is also a devoted environmentalist and public lands activist, as well as being a fine artist often depicting the natural world. John Denver was more than just a singer to him, In April of 1975, my father took me to see him in concert. I was sixteen, in junior high, painfully shy and introverted. That night John Denver gave to me a priceless and lifelong giftmy voice and the confidence to use it, he says, adding that he feels Denver was responsible for so much of the move to protect the environment, and that it was Denver's example which inspired him to become a naturalist and activist. Jeff travels and performs full-time, and has performed numerous concerts (opening for Willie Nelson at one event) and benefits nationwide. Visit his website for performances, his cd, and more:
CHRISTINE SMITH is a singer, freelance writer, and an environmental/social justice activist. She is Manager of The Annual JD Celebration, LLC., and president/Founder of the nationwide charity Dreams of Freedom, Inc. which brings John Denver's music, videos, interactive newsletter and humanitarian items to inmates across the country. She is author of the internationally popular book, A Mountain In The Wind-An Exploration of the Spirituality of John Denver. Her musical reportoire includes John Denver, as well as folk and country music, and she performs at Colorado venues and festivals. Her first cd will be released in 2003.
The following essay by Christine Smith was published in the Celebration program:
I am happy you have joined us in this the 5th Annual John Denver Celebration. This weekend we will remember a man whose life is an example for us all, for John truly walked his talk. He lived the life he sang of.
If his songs have touched your life, whether in the celebration of life: the beauty of the natural world, the joy of love, the preciousness of children; or through the pain of loss: ending of relationships, death, the destruction of our planet; you know there is power in his music. It is that power -- those messages -- that have brought you here today.
Since writing the tributes and my book, A Mountain In The Wind -- An Exploration of the Spirituality of John Denver, I have received thousands of letters and emails from persons worldwide whose lives were touched by Johns songs...parents who lost children to accidents or illness, spouses who lost their mate, those who were suicidal due to emotional or physical trauma, and others--all with the common story sharing with me how Johns music gave them encouragement. Others have spoken of the inspiration his music brought which helped them to make choices to follow their heart whether in changing careers, moving, or getting them involved in environmental or humanitarian work. And, still, others have shared with me how his songs have helped them through numerous events over many years...how his music was reflected through the stages and experiences of their lives.
John sang of life...of love...of Spirit.
He was far more than a singer/songwriter. He was a communicator of the most important spiritual truth from which all his altruistic humanitarian and environmental work stemmed: Unconditional love. A love for all which lives. A love which views all as ones brothers and sisters. A love which empathizes with all who suffer. A love which despairs at the destroying of our Mother Earth. A love which appreciates the innocence of children. A love which finds happiness in the beauty of a flower. A love which longs to freely give all it can.
Like John, who lived the values he sang of, those who say they appreciate his music only truly do so to the degree they endeavor to implement the lessons found there.
Johns music, if your heart is receptive, brings introspection. You look within yourself, into your heart, and know whether you are living in the way you would like to. It is not enough to listen to beautiful lyrics of love, making a difference in the world, of regarding all--without exception-- as the family of man--your brothers and sisters, of fighting injustice, fighting greed and its horrible results...No. To hear and merely give lip service to these ideas is fruitless...it is hypocritical. Those who truly appreciate John listen with their hearts...and they learn...and they try to implement those values, ideas and principles into their life daily.
Johns hope was that his life would be a catalyst to inspire and motivate others to do what they can do to make a difference for good in this world. You must not be apathetic. You must not feel that your efforts are in vain. People often asked John "What can I do? The problems are so great." To which John always said that what matters is doing what you can right where you are at. Never doubt the difference love brings to any situation--whether its in personal relationships, relating to strangers, involvement in political matters that affect peoples lives and the environment, etc.--every area of your life and your lifes impact on this Earth is determined by your choice to love or not.
"Love is the answer, love is the way," John sings in Wandering Soul. And love requires courage. Courage to speak your mind--to stand up for what you believe and make it known--to work for the things you say you believe.
The past five years have brought many new life experiences resulting from my dedication to continuing Johns legacy - some joyful, others painful. Through them all, I have sought to learn, to grow, to gain wisdomto examine myself to determine what I might have done differently to avoid the pains of betrayaland to see where my choices brought immense joy to others and myself.
I have learned that true friendship takes time. I have learned that peoples words are cheap only time will tell if their words reflect their heart values. I have learned, most especially, that not everyone who says they appreciate John and his music, really doesor that the values they claim to share with him are in their heart. I have learned I have had a weakness to trust and believe anybody who said they cared for Johns music, and now that naiveté on my part is gone, and I have destroyed those illusions which formerly led me to give of my time, my money and my endorsement to those who sought only to feed their egos by using Johns name. In times of deep discouragement after such betrayals of my trust, I learned one of the most important lessons of all -- that despite the pain, it is worth it.
Its worth it because the truth of the beautiful man John was should be shared. The truth of the beautiful spirit he isand his enduring message of unconditional loveis important to be known. Its worth it because there are brothers and sisters who love Johns music and message, and who seek to live the things they learned from him in their daily livesand if I, through my writings, my book, my interviews and this Celebration, can elucidate how they can implement those lessons in their livesit is worth it.
And it is my hope that this weekend will strengthen your resolve to make a positive difference in this world. That Johns example and the powerful message of unconditional love found in his songs inspires and motivates you to endeavor to bring love to every situation in life you encounter...that his music becomes more than just "pretty songs" to you, that its message enters your heart and that you use your mind to implement it.