A Tribute to John Denver
Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon have toured the country together delighting audiences with their talent, warmth and humor. Collins and some of the original artists of Boulder Canyon originally met in Aspen, Colorado at the largest annual celebration of John Denver’s life and music. Since that first initial meeting, Collins and Boulder Canyon have gone on to tour from coast to coast to pay tribute to the music of John Denver. Although you may detect some similarities in voice and appearance, Chris Collins brings amazing energy to the stage as an award-winning singer, songwriter and entertainer. The fantastic talents of Boulder Canyon consists of Kevin Delmolino on bass, Paul Swanton on lead guitar, Mark Nelson on percussion, Alexander Mitchell on mandolin/fiddle, Bill Powell on keyboards, and guest band members Robbie Saunders on pedal steel, mandolin, dobro, Joel Tolley on bass and Nigel Newton on keyboards. The band has been playing to much acclaim from audiences in theaters from coast to coast, including breaking a theater record for the largest audience ever to attend an event. Collins and Boulder Canyon are not an impersonation act, but seek to honor John Denver’s legacy with fresh energy and musical integrity.
(guitar, banjo, lead vocals)
Born in the little town Wind Lake, Chris grew up in the rolling hills and hardwood forests of southern Wisconsin. He didn’t find his musical outlet until he picked up the guitar at the age of 17. It seldom left his side. It opened the doors for him that had previously seemed locked. It brought new friends and a way to express himself beyond his natural shyness.
He soon found himself playing regular shows at Milwaukee area clubs while attending the University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Soon his music took him on the road and away from the classroom. In 2001, Chris recorded his first album, Alberta Skies and was nominated for Producer of the Year and Album of the Year. It seemed the path was laid to an original music career.
It was the exposure from his original music that led to the chance meeting with his current band members. A path that he could not have anticipated. He soon found himself producing large shows at major theaters. John Denver’s music has provided him with an opportunity to play for audiences that he only dreamed of.
Chris recently was quoted as saying, “I frequently hear fans tell me what a gift I am to them. But the truth is, that the audience is a much greater gift to me, and we so appreciate their support.”
(bass guitar, vocals)
Kevin originated from the hills of western Massachusetts. Born into a musical family, he soon began singing and playing bass guitar in local bands. In the early 80’s he founded the pop rock band Strut where he penned several songs making the charts.
In the early 90’s, Kevin moved to Maryland with his wife when he decided to leave professional music for a new career as a commercial pilot. He continued to be heavily involved with music, making himself available as not only a player and arranger, but also as a mentor for young musicians. He has been a fixture in the music scene all around the Mid-Atlantic region and continues to be when not traveling with Boulder Canyon.
In 2002, Kevin was visiting Aspen when he had a fateful meeting. While playing guitar at an impromptu jam session, an instant connection with two other players took place. They continued to play until the wee hours of the morning, and by the end, knew that they would be doing more. Those two players were Chris Collins and Paul Swanton.
With his natural ability to hear arrangements and his past experience in the music business, he soon became the band director and arranger for Boulder Canyon. His steady bass playing and naturally high voice are just what the band needs. He covers the top and bottom.
(lead guitar, vocals)
Paul, formerly of Massachusetts, is now one of Colorado’s newest residents. One of the most sought after guitarists, Paul is well known for his hot guitar picking and quite personality. He has spent the better part of the last 35 years perfecting all of the guitar licks in the John Denver canon and has invested several years in completing a personal solo performer John Denver songbook.
Paul’s guitar work is the foundation for the sound of Boulder Canyon. His playing brings the audience to a familiar place with licks and riffs that bring the music of John Denver to life. Steve Weisberg, the lead guitarist from John’s band from the 70’s and 80’s, said of Paul, “He knows the songs better than I do.” However, he has his own recognizable style that weaves perfectly within the context of the music.
The band frequently jokes that whenever John needed a refresher course on his own songs, he would go see Paul. His easy going manner and attention to detail makes Paul the perfect lead guitar player for Boulder Canyon.
(fiddle, mandolin, vocals)
Alexander was born in New York City. He spent most of his childhood in the beautiful hills of New Jersey and loves to spend time in the pine mountains of Upstate New York. He is a Berklee graduate and a multi-instrumentalist who plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar and has a distinguished Americana voice.
Alexander started playing fiddle in 1978 after hearing bluegrass music. Since then he has been cultivating such diverse styles as Appalachian, bluegrass, Klezmer, traditional roots dance music, ballroom, hot swing, and jazz.
Now living outside of Frederick, Maryland, he teaches music when not traveling. He toured nationally with the Missouri Repertory Theatre performing Woody Gutherie’s American Song. He also appeared in and recorded music for the soundtrack of the Ted Turner movie Gettysburg, along with numerous other stage and theatrical productions.
Alexander has performed at the Millennium Stage, the Kennedy Center, Lisner Auditorium for the “Revels,” the Birchmere, and other prestigious theaters across the country.
Bill Powell, a native of Frederick, Maryland, began his piano studies at the age of seven. He continued his musical education at Hood College in Frederick, and then at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, where he earned a Masters Degree in Music in 2004 and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance in 2012. “Dr. Bill” is currently the director of music and organist at Glade United Church of Christ in Walkersville, Maryland, the traditional choir director and organist at St. Timothy’s Roman Catholic Church in Walkersville, and the assistant organist at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick.
Bill is an adjunct instructor of piano at Hood College, teaches private piano lessons, and has given organ recitals in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Schifferstadt, Germany. He has performed several major classical works with choral groups, including Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Requiem, Purcell’s Te Deum Laudamus, and Mozart’s Requiem, among others. While he is deeply immersed in classical and church music, his role as the pianist/keyboardist for Boulder Canyon provides him with a unique opportunity to improvise and experiment with unique musical styles. As the son of an Angus farmer, the music of John Denver also reconnects him to the music of his youth. Bill now lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland with his wife and family.
(drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals)
Mark was born in New York, grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, and now resides in the Frederick, Maryland area. Mark was punished by his band teacher in high school and made to play tympani drums during “Concert Season” because he found out he had perfect pitch. While his vocals are impeccable, it’s his 40 plus years of percussion that makes him the band’s heartbeat.
Mark has toured nationally with the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, Brickyard Road, and plays locally in Frederick when not touring with Boulder Canyon. Mark is also a talented audio engineer, working in his home studio when time allows. Along with his musical talents, Mark is also a fire fighter.
There is one question Mark is always asked at our shows, “What is that instrument you play?” Though Mark is a world class drummer, he chooses to play the Zendrum, a modern, software-based percussion instrument. It’s an odd triangular shaped gadget with touch sensitive triggers on it. To put it in “layman’s terms,” it’s a fancy keyboard. It sounds as good as live drums but has much greater versatility, allowing him to play a keyboard at the same time.
Guest Band Member
(pedal steel, mandolin, banjo, dobro, bass)
Guest Band Member
Joel was born in West Virgina, but was relocated to Texas at a very early age. He took an interest in guitar in his preteen years, but shortly thereafter, purchased a bass in order to play in a local band. As it would turn out, although he still regularly plays guitar, bass immediately became his first love, and he made it his field of study in college.
He has since, and still continues to, tour nationally and internationally with major label recording artists as well as local and independent artists in all genres of music. Joel loves all styles of music and prides himself in his dedication to musical versatility, creativity and leadership. Thus, it is not surprising that he incurs the responsibility and title of music director in the vast majority of the projects he is involved with.
Joel was first invited to play with Boulder Canyon in January, 2017 and continues to make select appearances with band across the nation. He currently resides in the Dallas area where he teaches and plays music full time, both locally and abroad.