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Ted Vigil talks 'Rocky Mountain High: A John Denver Tribute'

Rocky Mountain High: A John Denver Tribute
Photo courtesy of The Marcus Center

Singer/songwriter Ted Vigil looks and sounds a great deal like legendary musician John Denver, and yet in "Rocky Mountain High: A John Denver Tribute", he pays tribute to the memory of Denver while not impersonating him. Wednesday evening, April 9, Vigil took the time to share his experience getting involved in paying tribute to John Denver. "Rocky Mountain High: A John Denver Tribute" runs at the Milwaukee's Marcus Center Vogel Hall April 25-27.

Vigil got involved with the John Denver tribute while singing in a contest in Nevada. He grew up playing drums and went to compete as a rock and pop singer but, after a few suggestions, he sang a John Denver song and participated in the country category to win first place out of thousands of singers. A few of John Denver's friends saw Vigil and recommended he be a part of a John Denver tribute. Vigil recalls this saying,

When he saw me he said, 'It's just really crazy how much you look like [John Denver]. People really miss him and his music. You should think about doing a tribute show.'

From there Vigil learned how to play guitar and Denver's songs, and he even went so far as to visit Aspen during John Denver Week as preparation.

I wanted to see where he lived and what his inspiration was for all of his songs and also to meet his fans.

Another great influence in working on the John Denver tribute was meeting and working with Steve Weisberg, who toured with John Denver in the 70's. As Vigil says,

Meeting Steve a few years ago really helped me to connect with John and his music and his fans.... it's fun to work with Steve and learn more about John both on and off the stage.

According to Vigil, Steve brings more than music to the stage- he also brings comedy. Vigil says that what sets this show apart from other tributes is that it's a variety show. Ted is not an impersonator, but a singer/songwriter, and he even contributes his original songs that are either about John Denver or in honor of his musical style.

I play a couple of my songs on the show which are in the same vein as John's music. I believe in the same things in terms of conservation and taking care of our planet so I've written a song about that and also a tribute song about John.... there's not a lot of people doing this particular kind of show. We approach it as more of a fun show filled with nostalgia.

Fans can certainly feel nostalgic listening to the classic songs, but John Denver was an accomplished musician with hundreds of songs that people may not be aware of but will come to light in this tribute. Vigil commented on Denver's timeless music saying,

I think the music is very honest and heartfelt and his lyrics are about real life experiences and the songs tell stories. I think that's why it's so relateable and timeless. We're all human- we all have the same need for love and affection and interaction with other people and I think a lot of these songs are about that…about the human experience.

Ted Vigil will lead "Rocky Mountain High: A John Denver Tribute" with Steve Weisberg at the Marcus Center April 25-27. Tickets are available online or by calling 414-273-7206.