June 05, 2013 6:22 pm • By Naomi Creason, The Sentinel
CARLISLE — Hearing from another interested musician is nothing new for Lindsey Burda.
Ever since she was 15 singing at North Hanover Grille, the New Bloomfield woman has become a regular at various open mic nights at her second home in Carlisle.
Ordinarily the offer to pair up for a song or meet doesn’t come into fruition — which is why she was surprised at a serious offer from Chris Collins, the front man for the John Denver tribute band Chris Collins and the Boulder Canyon Band.
“I was at the Courthouse Commons and I arrived late so I didn’t hear him sing,” Burda said. “I just got up and sang — I actually sang ‘Leaving, on a Jet Plane’ by John Denver. He came up to me afterward and complimented me. He said he was from Texas and asked if I wanted to join.” Burda, having a full-time job in the area, couldn’t travel too far with the band, which plays concerts all over the country. However, just a few weeks after that offer, she was already singing with the band for the gigs around Pennsylvania. “I have never gotten a chance like this — not to this magnitude,” Burda said. “I’m just very happy and excited.” Burda will perform locally with the band at its first concert at the Carlisle Theatre on Friday.
Collins said Burda fits right into their performance given the duets John Denver performed with female artists. “John Denver sang with Olivia Newton-John and Emmylou Harris and a number of other female artists,” Collins said. “Lindsey doesn’t mimic them, but she emulates that feeling.”
Collins, who looks and sounds like the late Denver, said those similarities haven’t always played to his advantage. “I was a singer-songwriter doing my music at folk festivals, and with the way I sound and look everyone always said I look and sound like John Denver,” he said, adding that it wasn’t what he wanted to do as a writer of original music. Eventually, one of his acquaintances said if Collins ever wanted to do a John Denver tribute show, he’d book him.Collins said he initially didn’t want to do it, but “the more I thought about it, the more I realized I did like John Denver’s music a lot. I said yes, and 300 people showed up at an 80-person bar. They had to borrow chairs from a neighboring restaurant for the show.”
That was 10 years ago when Collins saw the pull Denver had on people, and after shows here and there, he joined with the Boulder Canyon Band to be a professional tribute band to Denver. “The average audience we see is 500 to 1,000 people, and we do about 50 to 100 shows a year — that’s not bad,” Collins said. “I’m just amazed at who shows up to hear the music. You have people showing up in their 80s and 90s, but also people in their 20s and 30s and even some young kids. It bridges the gap for people.” Collins said he thinks some of that is due to the fact that Denver’s music can’t be slotted into a particular genre. “It’s almost a genre unto itself,” he said. “It never really fit in when it was popular. It wasn’t pop and it wasn’t folk.”
What it did, though, was stick with many people. Denver had many hits, including “Rocky Mountain High,” “Leaving, on a Jet Plane,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The tribute concert includes many of those hits, as well as some of Collins favorites — “Poems, Prayers and Promises” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”
Even though it’s been 15 years since Denver was killed when his experimental aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean, it isn’t a surprise to either Collins or Burda that his music still draws people nationwide.
“A lot of people still really appreciate his music,” Collins said.
The two singers and the Boulder Canyon Band will perform at the Carlisle Theatre Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students with ID and can be purchased at the box office at 40 W. High St., Carlisle, or by calling 258-0666. For more information about the Carlisle show, go to www.carlisletheatre.org.
For those who miss Collins and the band on Friday, they will be back in Central Pennsylvania with a special Rocky Mountain Christmas show — a Christmas tribute with John Denver music — on Dec. 6 at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg