If your friends try to convince you that driving twelve hours from mid-Missouri to Colorado to attend a concert is a bad idea, then you need new friends.

Travis Naughton

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, is a one-of-a-kind, open-air music venue framed by a pair of three hundred-foot tall sandstone formations called Ship Rock and Creation Rock. The amphitheatre’s configuration provides audiences with a breathtaking acoustic and visual experience that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

If your friends try to convince you that driving twelve hours from mid-Missouri to Colorado to attend a Blues Traveler/Leftover Salmon/Jackie Greene concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on the Fourth of July is a bad idea, then they were never your friends in the first place.

Perched 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rocks offers a bird’s-eye view of the greater Denver metropolitan area, and on a typical evening, the city lights twinkling in the background would be a perfectly lovely sight to behold. But on July 4th, 2019, the city and its suburbs kicked things up a notch by treating concert-goers to the most amazing and awe-inspiring fireworks display I have ever seen.

Denver and its surrounding communities are populated by over 2.8 million human beings who clearly love pyrotechnics. From my seat at Red Rocks, I could see thousands upon thousands of fireworks exploding from one end of the horizon to the other as private individuals and various municipalities fired salvo after salvo into the sky. The mesmerizing phenomenon continued, without letup, for hours, and my friends and I caught ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief several times throughout the evening.

The visuals were stunning, but the music was even better. Blues Traveler is a fantastic band, one I’ve seen in the past at Columbia’s Roots ‘N’ Blues music festival; but as the headliner on the Fourth of July at the most appealing venue in the country, the group pulled out all the stops.

Have you ever heard a mind-blowing, hour-long cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” played by a blues/rock band? Have you ever heard a harmonica player emulate Jimi Hendrix’s guitar version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Have you ever left a concert with tears in your eyes after hearing a band finish their set with a hauntingly beautiful rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”? Have you ever enjoyed the greatest concert experience of your life and then thought to yourself, how will I ever top that?

While topping the experience at Red Rocks may prove to be impossible, Ziggy Marley gave it a solid try at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre in the Poudre River Canyon near Bellvue, Colorado the very next evening. Take it from me, happiness is scoring free tickets for reggae at the Mish.

If your friends try to convince you that walking at night along a narrow, pitch-black mountain road with a roaring whitewater river churning beside you in the darkness to attend a concert is a bad idea, then they’re probably right. But you should go anyway—with my friends. To have a chance to see Bob Marley’s legendary music performed by his talented son in the ethereal mist of the Poudre River Canyon is a rare opportunity that is too good to pass up.

Blues Traveler at Red Rocks on July 4: too good to pass up. Ziggy at the Mish the next day: too good to pass up. A chance to spend a few fun-filled days with some dear, old friends: too good to pass up. Driving 800 miles in twelve hours to get back home before bedtime so you can share stories with your spouse and children after a few days apart: too good to pass up.

Music, road trips, friends, and family: too good to pass up.