Ted Vigil: A John Denver Tribute

Maybe it was the down vest, the hiking boots, the granny glasses, or the blonde bowl cut. Or maybe it was all those things plus simply being in the '70s that somehow allowed John Denver to become a star. (Hey, it was the era of Bud Cort, Michael J. Pollard, Gary Burghoff, and Robbie Rist—the latter who played Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch, remember?) One day Denver appeared magically appeared in your childhood TV room, crooning a song about a faraway mystical place with snow-capped mountains and azure blue skies. Colorado! For a certain kind of shut-in, D&D-playing, awkward youth, with teeth still in braces, bad skin, and oversized plastic eyeglass frames suddenly being reconsidered, John Denver was a new kind of attainable ideal. Maybe your future boyfriend, whose name you wrote obsessively on your Pee-Chee folders; maybe the inspiration to take up guitar lessons in junior high (to show girls your sensitive side)—he wasn't a hippie or a jock or a stoner, but some kind of wholesome avatar from simpler times. While your parents argued upstairs about Nixon and the Vietnam War, while your older sister was getting pregnant and your older brother getting high, you could just turn up the volume on The Mike Douglas Show and sing along to the words. It was almost like being away from that place, like being older, like being in Colorado. Now, just to be clear, Denver (1943-1997) is still dead. But tribute singer and look-alike Ted Vigil continues his mile-high minstrel tradition, right down to the granny glasses—which might just be due for a fashion revival. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., 2011

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