Country Roads or Rocky Mountain High?
Now is your chance to hear those John Denver classics and many more, performed live and staying true to their original arrangements.
Geek SOS Productions is presenting Rocky Mountain High: Celebrating the Music of John Denver at Sagebrush Theatre on Sunday, May 28.
“I think it’s important to keep John’s music legacy alive, especially today,” show producer Rick Worrall said. “This concert series is a true celebration of his music and the incredible legacy of songs he left us.”
Worrall is a Canadian recording artist who, along with brother Steve Worrall and Grammy and Emmy award-winning conductor and arranger Lee Holdridge, started performing the concert series in 2018.
“My brother and I cut our teeth on John Denver and other folk artists like Cat Stevens and James Taylor,” Worrall said.
“His voice was so pure and honest and his lyrics so poignant. In 1975, I saw him perform with a full symphony at the CNE in Toronto. He was at the height of his career and, as a kid, it left such an impression on me.”
Worrall said he was inspired to create this kind of show after doing a fill-in performance for an Elton John celebration with a symphony in Kelowna.
“I really enjoyed it and I couldn’t stop thinking about doing the same thing with John Denver’s music.
After a Google search for Lee Holdridge, I reached out to him with my idea. He was John’s arranger/conductor and loved the idea,” Worrall said.
“So, we worked together, painstakingly a little at a time, ‘rescuing’ John’s entire library of songs from Lee’s handwritten conductor scores.”
Unlike other tributes trying to emulate Denver’s look and voice, this production focuses on his incredible legacy of songs.
“My voice is similar in character to John’s, but I’m not impersonating him. There was only one John Denver,” Worrall said.
“Instead, we give the audience an opportunity to let go and simply enjoy the music and Lee Holdridge’s arrangements. It’s important to note that Lee is a legend himself — he continues working in Hollywood, writing movie scores and developing operas, and often quips he’s still working for John.”
For this tour, each show features the Worrall brothers, accompanied by eight core players and a small ensemble of players from various symphonies from across B.C.
“It truly amazes me how John’s music transcends time,” Worrall said. “Back in the ’70s, there was no TikTok or YouTube, but he was still known around the world and was a No. 1 artist three years in a row. During our recent Christmas tour, after our show in Edmonton, a young boy about 11 years old came up to me all starry-eyed and said, ‘I just love John Denver!’ Now that’s what it’s all about.”
Denver lived in Colorado for much of his life and, in 1974, he was named poet laureate of the state. Denver died on Oct. 12, 1997, when his home-built airplane crashed in Monterey Bay in California.
As well as being a world-renowned artist, Denver was an environmentalist and philanthropist.
To honour that part of his legacy, a portion of the proceeds from Rocky Mountain High: Celebrating the Music of John Denver will go to HOPE International, a faith-based non-profit organization that operates in 16 underserved countries, helping people access clean water and food security, among other endeavours.
For tickets to the show, go to www.rockymountainhighconcert.com/concerts.