February 10, 2023

Judy Collins played The Sheridan Opera House

American Folk icon Judy Collins played a lively and intimate set at the historic Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, Colorado.

As one of the rising sensations from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s, Judy Collins has been a part of so many major musical milestones. On Thursday evening, she took the time to tell elaborate stories about the songs she covers as well as incredible first-hand accounts about those who wrote them. Opening with a lovely version of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," she set the tone for the evening with her angelic voice that sounds just as amazing now as it did on record nearly sixty years earlier. She made jokes about Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and then told us about her upbringing in Colorado which gave her more chance encounters following her time in New York. Her cover of "Masters of War" was followed by a tale of meeting a young Arlo Guthrie who opened for her at the age of thirteen and how their friendship had blossomed for nearly sixty years. This led to a story about a guy named Robert inviting her up to a house party in Woodstock and after she woke up from a night of partying, she wandered down the stairs to hear Bob Dylan writing "Mr. Tamborine Man" which she then proceeded to play and lead us all through an enchanted singalong. Her off the cuff remarks and overall nonchalant vibe was equally impressive as it was hilarious. To hear her tell such unbelievable stories never grew old and only seemed to become more astounding as the night went on. After moving past her affairs with Bobby D, she mentioned more things about growing up in Colorado and inviting a fellow musician to spend time with her family for a few weeks to ride horses near the mountains. This young man shortly thereafter changed his name to John Denver (wildly, her own brother is Denver John). She followed this with a medley of his hits including "Rocky Mountain High," "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and a euphoric "Country Roads" which once again had the room singing along with pure joy. Switching to piano from acoustic guitar showed even more dexterity from the artist and again proved her long-lasting power as one of the most definitive voices and musicians of her era. Sounding just as jubilant and full of life as ever, her presence seemed purely magical with each song and story somehow adding more dazzle to her already shimmering aura. She ended the night by telling a story of a time in LA when her friend told her about a new singer he'd met at a Blood, Sweat, and Tears concert. The young woman was into the drummer but was convinced to leave without him and went home to write a song that they felt needed to be immediately shared with Judy. When she answered the phone at 3 AM it was to hear a young Joni Mitchell play her "Both Sides Now" which Collins then recorded and helped set the tone for the late '60s and '70s Laurel Canyon heyday. Hearing her play it live was beyond special and really made the impact of the night feel monumental. To see such a legend in small and intimate theatre in a remote mountain town feels like a story in and of itself and being able to witness it was something beyond compare and one that no one in the room will soon forget. 

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