The music of John Denver is timeless. Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon are the #1 tribute to John Denver. They play CrossroadsKC at Grinder’s on September 2nd. Guitarist and vocalist Chris recently discussed how he became passionate about music, his viewpoint on tribute bands and what inspires him about John Denver.
What is your earliest musical memory?
I don’t have a memory per say, but my mom told me I loved music from the time I could open my eyes. When I was little I used to call it moogitz.
What do you remember most about your first time onstage?
I only knew 6 songs and I was asked to play a wedding reception. It was good thing they largely ignored me.
What first got you interested in the music of John Denver?
Simply lyrics that I could relate to.
What inspires you the most about John Denver?
The fact that he took his stardom and tried to use it to help humanity and nature. He was a pretty cool guy.
How do you approach his songs to put a your own spin on them?
I sing his songs with my voice and try never to imitate his sound. We do the songs with a lot of musical integrity, but not note for note. The band I play with is pretty amazing.
What’s your favorite John Denver song to play live?
Unfair question! It depends totally on the mood of the audience. To me, they are all favorites.
What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about tribute acts?
I can’t speak for other tribute acts. I’ve seen some good ones and some really bad ones. I don’t like imitation. It doesn’t flatter the the tribute guy or the artist being paid tribute to. I can tell you that when people come to see us, I frequently hear people say things like one fella who said, “I came with my wife and I thought this was going to be corny, but you guys blew me a way. You all are all such good musicians.”
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Play everywhere and hone your skills. The audience loves good music, but they expect to be entertained too. If there is one thing that sets our show apart form other shows, it’s that we work hard to connect to and entertain the audience. Our humor is original, but in a style similar to John Denver’s. An artist has to experiment and find what works. The only way to do that is to get out there and never give up on an audience.