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John Denver cover band takes State Theatre down memory lane

Reviewed By Mark Marino | Collegian Staff Writer Nov 11, 2013


Chris Collins and the Boulder Canyon Band play at the State Theatre on Saturday night.


Cover bands seem to be a pretty common thing in State College, but the trick is developing a unique show and style that represents the artist while brushing their music with original style — one band this weekend did just this.


The most well-known John Denver tribute band in the nation Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon delivered a performance both fun and interactive at the State Theatre this past Saturday evening.



Prior to the show, the audience sat in their seats anxiously awaiting the band and discussing their favorite Denver songs with those around them.


There were no students in sight at the show and mostly an older crowd filled the room. Some skeptically asked me if I even liked John Denver.


I am not a country fan or familiar with much of Denver’s work for that matter, but I must say, from a musical perspective, this show peaked my interest.


I was happily impressed with two things in particular: the harmonies and frontman Chris Collins’ stage presence.

The guitar harmonies as well as vocal stuck a chord in me. These guys are truly good musicians. That talent can be applied to some original material, should they create any in the future.


Collins’ ability to transition between songs with a bit of historical context about Denver was clever and provided a bit of insight into who Denver was for someone like me who had no clue.


Collins accurately represented Denver musically and in appearance as the band took the stage to play in front of a lit up sunshine background that changed with each song.

Collins really dressed the part, rocking a 70s haircut, light blue denim and Beatle boots.

“[Collins] had really good stage presence,” State College resident Peter Wandell said.

The band used a multitude of instruments including guitars, synths, fiddle and a software-based percussion instrument known as the Zendrum.


It’s always great to see musicians on stage that have a happy personality no matter what genre of music they are playing.


Collins had a smile on his face the entire night, even when he forgot the words to “Love is Everywhere,” but invited fans to help him out by singing along and the packed State Theatre responded and joined in.


Before each song, Collins would provide a bit of background on the origin of the piece they were about to play.


“John [Denver] was pretty gifted — songs would just come to him,” he said before the band went into playing “On the Road.”


Collins was a very interactive front man and talked with the audience throughout the show. Collins told the crowd about the time that he drove to play a song at a funeral that ended before he got there, but played anyway while the two ditch-diggers in the cemetery sang along with him.

David Lewis, of Bellefonte, and Wandell said they enjoyed the “award-winning show.”

“The band portrayed John and his music very well,” Lewis said.


Before breaking for intermission, the band played a cover of Grateful Dead’s “Me and My Uncle” followed by Denver’s hit, “Calypso.”


For some, the concert brought back memories of the days the audience first discovered Denver’s music.


State College resident Timothy Bertram said he grew up on Denver’s music because his siblings would listen to it when they were young.


“[Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon] don’t try to be imitators, they stay true to the music and I hear that,” Bertram said.



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