August 13, 2017
Greenwood Village, CO USA
Review by Barbara Germany
Photos by Barbara Germany
Colorado Music Hall of Fame
Colorado Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony honoring Caribou Ranch, Joe Walsh and Barnstorm, and Dan Fogelberg
The first honoree was the famous Caribou Ranch, created and managed by James William Guercio. Opened in 1971 it was a state of the art analog recording studio in the middle of nowhere, near Nederland, Colorado. A combination of the easy going, stress free environment and the uniquely altered acoustics due to the 8,600' altitude drew famous recording artists to its' doors. Some of the most notable artists to have recorded there were Elton John, Michael Jackson, Joe Walsh, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Chicago, the Beach Boys, Stevie Nicks, Earth Wind & Fire, and U2. There were many others. Sadly the studio closed down in 1985 after a fire damaged the recording studio. Over the years the Caribou Ranch was involved in creating 18 Grammy's, 45 Top 10 albums, 20 No. 1 Billboard hits, and more than $100 million in record sales.
Performing songs recorded at the Caribou Ranch were:
Chris Daniel and the Kings - "I've Always Been Crazy" (Waylon Jennings)
Richie Furay - "I Still Have Dreams "
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - "An American Dream"
Amy Grant - "Love Will Find a Way"
John Oates - "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (Elton John)
Big Head Todd & The Monsters - "Shining Star" (Earth, Wind and Fire)
Lumineers - "Give a Little Bit" (Supertramp)
Michael Martin Murphy - "Wildfire"
Chicago and the Beach Boys sent greetings and congratulations via video.
Next, Joe Walsh presented the Colorado Music Hall of Fame Award of Excellence to producer and technical engineer Bill Szymczyk. As Walsh presented Bill Szymczyk his award he proclaimed that Bill is the George Martin of America and that he (Walsh) would probably be a working in a gas station somewhere if it weren’t for Szymczyk.
Szymczyk is credited with bringing the first artists to the Caribou Ranch experience, and produced the first album completed there - Joe Walsh's Barnstorm. Other artists produced by Szymczyk throughout the years include The Who, BB King, REO Speedwagon, Michael Stanley, J. Geils Band, Edgar Winter Group, Carole King, Rick Derringer, Bob Seger, Elvin Bishop, and scores of famous musicians. Perhaps the most notable albums he produced were the Eagles' "Hotel California", and Bob Seger's "Against the Wind".
Swapping roles Bill Szymczyk then presented Barnstorm with their award. He spoke about the time he got together with Walsh at the local bar, the Great Divide, to discuss Walsh leaving the James Gang and starting his own band, working in the Colorado Mountains. They recruited drummer Joe Vitale from Ted Nugent's band, the Amboy Dukes, and bassist Kenny Passerelli from a children's television show in Canada. That is how magic was assembled. The group discovered the as yet unfinished Caribou Ranch studio, but Jim Guerico was going away to make a movie, so it wouldn't be complete for several months. They convinced him to set up a bare bones studio with a soundboard, a few other machines and some gear so while Guerico was gone, they could begin on their record.
Szymczyk then continued: "That started one of the most magical times in my life. We had the entire place to ourselves; there was nobody else around. We would pack our lunches and drive up in the morning, until late at night. There was no bathroom, so we peed in the horse stalls on the ground floor. These three musicians clicked together in an instant, bouncing ideas off each other. There was no clock so we took our time, experimenting with everything - sounds, instruments, song structure, you name it. If anything broke we would fix it. And after three or four months we had an album, Barnstorm. I have produced 100's of albums in my life but of all those albums on many days, and in many ways, Barnstorm is my favorite album I have ever produced."
After the award presentation Barnstorm performed, their first time performing together in 44 years. They opened with "Here We Go" which segued into a blistering version of "Turn to Stone". They paused just long enough for Walsh to introduce the next song as the national anthem of Colorado – "Rocky Mountain Way". The assembled crowd of 18,000 were all on their feet, singing along.
Then came the tribute to Dan Fogelberg. Although he spent time in many places Nashville, Los Angeles, and Maine, it was during his years in Colorado that some many of his most recognizable songs, a mix of rock, pop, country and sometimes bluegrass. Fogelberg had homes in both Nederland and Pagosa Springs, high up in the mountains and away from the distractions of city life. His first number one hit "Part of the Plan" came from the Joe Walsh produced album Souvenirs. Although we lost Fogelberg at a young 58 years, you can see from the night's set list, he wrote many songs that will live on forever. His wife, Jean, accepted the award in his place.
Fool's Gold (Dan's long time back up band) - "Old Tennessee"
Richie Furay - "Don't Lose Heart"
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Richie Furay - "Run for the Roses"
Train (by video) - "Same Auld Lang Syne "
Jimmyswim - “Nether Lands”
Vince Gill and Amy Grant - "Longer"
Zac Brown Band (by video)- "Leader of the Band"
Fools Gold - "Part of the Plan"
Garth Brooks - "Phoenix"
All - “There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler”
This presentation was filmed for a PBS to be aired toward the end of this year.