It was in November of 2011 that I got to meet a music legend. This particular person never played guitar on stage, and as far as I know never sang into a microphone. He was, however, responsible for the promotion of hundreds, if not thousands, of concerts over the span of several decades. Barry Fey was an icon of the live concert industry. He left an indelible mark on the world of music, and this is especially true here in Colorado. September of 2017 marks 50 years since Barry Fey began his career and changed the history of rock 'n' roll forever.
I met Barry Fey at Twist & Shout Records during the launch for his new book, Backstage Past. Anyone into the history of rock 'n' roll will love this book. While I read his memoirs, it became apparent to me that Denver had much more rock 'n'roll history than what I was aware of. I began to seek out the venues where he built his career.
MAMMOTH GARDENS (FILLMORE AUDITORIUM)
In 1969, Barry Fey unknowingly booked one of the biggest bands for their first show on the North American continent. Vanilla Fudge was playing a show at The Mammoth Gardens (which is now the Fillmore Auditorium on Colfax). The headliner asked Barry Fey to book a new band from England named Led Zeppelin. Barry Fey had already sold out the show and didn't need another band on the bill. But when Vanilla Fudge asked if they could pay Led Zeppelin from their own payment, Barry agreed to allow them to open the show. Of course, we all know the history of how they rose to become one of rocks greatest bands.
Fillmore Auditorium (wikipedia)
Mammoth Gardens (setlist.fm)
Mammoth Gardens (Denver Public Library)
Fillmore Auditorium (LiveNation)
RAINBOW MUSIC HALL (WALGREEN'S)
On Evans at Monaco was the Rainbow Music Hall. This venue hosted some mjaor performers during it's time. It was open from 1979 until 1988, and during that time it saw a huge list of major stars perform on its stage. Barry Fey joked that there are now less drugs being dispensed there since it has become a Walgreens (pharmacy). The building of course is long gone, but the Walgreen's near that corner is the locations where all the magic happened.
Rainbow Music Hall (Denver Public Library)
Rainbow Music Hall (setlist.fm)
Kim Allen Denver Photo Archives
Westword remembers the opening of the Rainbow Music Hall
RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE
Barry Fey put on some major shows at Red Rocks. The iconic one that comes to mind is U2's film Under a Blood Red Sky, which was recorded in 1983 (released in 1984). There was also a period where rock concerts were not allowed at Red Rocks due to an incident at a Jethro Tull show back in 1971. It was Barry Fey sued the city of Denver in 1975 and won the case. Rock concerts resumed in 1975, and the next summer in '76, he began his Summer of the Stars concert series. Red Rocks has always been a world-class venue, and Barry Fey's legacy is very much wrapped-up in that history.
THE FAMILY DOG (PT'S SHOWCLUB)
At 1601 East Evans is the infamous PT's Showclub, which used to be the well-known venue The Family Dog. This venue had a short run - only two years (1967-1968). But some major acts performed there in that time. The first show that The Doors ever played outside of California was at the Family Dog. Janis Joplin, Blue Cheer, Jefferson Airplane, Van Morrison, are just some of the other artists who performed there. Like his comments about Rainbow Music Hall and the Walgreens that stands in its place, Barry joked that there is less nudity at PT's Showclub than there was when it was The Family Dog. There is apparently a documentary being made, titled "The Tale of the Dog."
EBBETS FIELD (1020 15th St.)
In downtown Denver, Barry had a smaller club, called Ebbets Field, named after The Brooklyn Dodgers' home field in Brooklyn. It held about 230 people, so it was a very intimate venue. Many great acts performed there, such as: Ry Cooder, Dr. John, Peter Frampton, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Marshall Tucker Band, John Prine, and many others. The location now has residential and commercial properties.
PETER TOSH & FISH-HEAD SOUP
When I met Barry at his book-signing in November 2011, I got to ask him if he booked shows with any of the iconic reggae performers such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, etc. He said that in 1978, Peter Tosh was was opening these large stadium shows for The Rolling Stones. When the tour arrived in Denver, it was Barry's responsibility to attend to Peter's requests. Barry said that Peter demanded to have "Fish-Head Soup," which is a common meal in Jamaica, but not-so-much in Denver. So Barry ended up riding all over Denver in a car with Peter Tosh seeking out somewhere that had Fish-Head Soup.
In conclusion, this blog post only hits a few of the highlights from Barry Fey's career, and it definitely doesn't get into the details. His legacy lives on in so many ways, it is difficult to quantify. But the spirit of his desire to make great concerts happens definitely lives on in Feyline Entertainment. The best way to understand his life and career is to read his autobiography. I won't try and take away from it by telling too many stories from it, because there are some amazing ones in that book. It is still available on his website, The Rockfather.
R.I.P. Barry Fey (1938 - 2013)
The Dust Stompers brought their brand of Americana fusion to the Black Mountain Music Festival & Family Reunion. Their show was nothing short of spectacular. They played their own original songs punctuated with a cover here and there. The Dust Stompers really got the crowd going at BMFR. Their finale was one for the record books with a medley that included the famed 'Prince Ali' from Aladdin.
DUST STOMPERS 09/09/2017 @ ARCHIVE.ORG
The Pickin' Pear rolled back through Colorado on their tour. They performed a set of great songs on the patio at Cervantes - such a great outdoor venue in the summer! Leon and Tia delivered 45 minutes packed with energy. This duo has a lot of miles under their belts. They are headed towards a show in Illinois tonight. I am excited for their journey and success, and I always look forward to when they will make a stop in Colorado again. You can keep up to date with their music and tourdates on their website, facebook, and instagram.
A friend and I went to Cathedral Spires along the North Fork of the South Platte river. There are a lot of cool rock formations, and a LOT of lizards! This trail has some ridiculous elevation gain.
Down the road a bit, you can see the old South Platte Hotel. It is owned by Denver Water, and it looks like they might try to restore the structure in the near future.
I took the drive up Chalk Creek Canyon to St. Elmo ghost town. Then took the drive up to the ghost town of Hancock and the ruins of the Allie Belle mine. Along the way, there is a narrow gauge bridge at Pomeroy Gulch. The aspens have started changing up in the high country, and there are still plenty of mushrooms to be found.
ST. ELMO GHOST TOWN
ROAD TO HANCOCK
POMEROY GULCH NARROW GAUGE BRIDGE
ALLIE BELLE MINE RUINS
CHALK CREEK / POMEROY MOUNTAIN
HANOCK MINING CAMP
THE ROAD BACK TO ST. ELMO
I went for a hike this weekend up at Mayflower Gulch near Copper Ski Resort. At the end of the trail is the Gold Crest Mine. The trail has several historical structures complete with weathered wood and rusted metal. There were plenty of mushrooms along the trail at the lower elevations, and lots of wildflowers at the higher elevations.
MAYFLOWER GULCH TRAIL
GOLD CREST MINE
THE HIKE BACK DOWN
I took a hike up to Silver Dollar Lake on Guanella Pass. There were plenty of wildflowers and mushrooms along the way. The weather cut the hike short, but I am very happy with the landscape that I got to see today. Here are some of the photos.
TRAIL TO SILVER DOLLAR LAKE
On Sunday night, Kurt Vatland performed at Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple. His original songs were gritty, real, heartfelt, and passionate. He has been writing more songs recently, which he refers to as Mountain Swamp Music. Don't miss your chance to see & hear him perform live around Denver. Check out his facebook page.
I took the hike up to Devil's Head Outlook, which is a very popular Colorado trail. About 40,000 people visit the Lookout station each year. The trail is about 1.5 miles to the top with an elevation gain of almost 1,000 feet. Here are some links if you are interested in checking out Devils Head: Alltrails / US Forest Service / Day Hikes Near Denver / Wikipedia
DEVIL'S HEAD TRAIL
DEVIL'S HEAD LOOKOUT
I eventually reached the top of the mountain. The Forest Ranger and his wife live in a house at the base of the rock. The final ascent in the hike are the 143-steps on the metal stairs that lead to the Outlook. Inside the station is Forest Ranger Bill Ellis, and at 85 years young, he is the steward of the surrounding forest (80 miles in any direction). He has worked there for over thirty years, and during that time has spotted 78 fires. His notes adorn the insides of the shack as a testament to his time and service. He uses the Osborne Fire-Finder (a giant compass) to triangulate where fires are located.
After thanking him for his willingness to answer my questions, I headed back down the metal steps. The hike down was enjoyable and didn't take long at all. I'm looking forward to the next time I return.
TORNADO BLOW DOWN (2015)
At the beginning of the trail, there is a section of trees that was blown down by an EF1 tornado in 2015. The signs advise to stay on the trail and not to explore in this area specifically as it is unstable.
As you go up the trail, there are benches along the way to stop and take a rest. There were quite a few mushrooms along the side of the path. I even found some Amanita Mascaria (Fly Agaric), the quintessential Smurf mushroom.
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
At one point in my hike, I stopped because I heard a noise. It was a woodpecker on a nearby tree. I was able to get one decent photo of him, and after reading online, I believe this is an American Three-Toed Woodpecker.
My random thoughts & ideas