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KAFM TUNED IN: The formula for a magical live show

What does music want from you? Music wants to be heard. It wants to vibrate in your bones, to resonate with your state of mind. Music wants to be one with your emotions. The best way to experience an emotional connection with music is to experience it live, in the moment. Ask any musician, and he or she will tell you that there can be magic when playing music, when everything feels perfect and out of their control, as if the music is creating and performing itself.

More often than not, that magic happens as a result of an audience on the same wavelength, participating in the creation by reflecting the energy back to the musicians, making a two-way communication. I don’t know what the perfect ratio of musicians to audience is, but the magic does seem to happen more frequently with a larger crowd. Not too big, somewhere between 10 and 10,000. Maybe this is why a festival crowd of 3,000-5,000 sparks so much magic — large enough to reflect waves of emotion back to the stage, small enough that the audience can feel like a tribe, all there for the same purpose.

Add another ingredient in this formula — the setting — and pure magic unfolds. Colorado is like another planet for artists who have never performed here. Few places on earth have such stunning scenery. Just the journey to a venue in the mountains can inspire and leave performers and audience alike, breathless, literally! Of course, the lack of available oxygen may contribute, but most Colorado venues have a supply of medical oxygen standing by just off stage.



The Rocky Mountain High is real, and as natural as can be. And it can inspire magic. Piling on the inspiration, Colorado has legendary venues that bring out the best in performers. When a musician steps out onto the stage at Red Rocks or Telluride Town Park, and is momentarily rendered speechless by the view from the stage, the usual platitudes of “Hello, insert name of city! We’re really glad to be here in …” are replaced by, “Oh my God! This place is AMAZING! Give me a moment to take this all in!” When that happens, you know you are sharing something special. And you are sharing it with some of the most welcoming, enthusiastic music lovers in the country.

Perhaps because we are a demographically young state, Colorado crowds seem to be more likely to get up and dance, to cheer and shout, and beam positive vibrations back to the performers than audiences in other states. That’s a formula for magic. There is no better place to witness this than at an outdoor music festival. Kicking up dust under a bluebird sky with a few thousand like-minded friends is an experience you won’t soon forget. Add good beer on tap nearby, stunning scenery, inspired performers and you’ve got a Colorado outdoor music festival, in other words … magic. Keep Tuned In with more information on music, festivals and community events at kafmradio.org or at gjfreepress.com.



Karl Prager aka “Uncle Karl” is a volunteer programmer on KAFM Community Radio. When he’s not traveling the world or attending music festivals, you can catch Uncle Karl’s “Yellow Dog Show” every other Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at 88.1.


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