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John Denver Bringing ‘Wildlife’ Into Park

First, Bob Dylan in Riverfront Park and now, John Denver.

Maybe Denver can’t equal the hipness quotient of Dylan, but Mr. Deutschendorf (Denver’s real name) definitely has had a more hummable string of hit songs. Denver had a remarkable stretch of folkstyle hits in the 1970s, and has been a familiar name ever since as both a performer and as a proponent of environmental and social causes.

He’ll combine both those roles in his concert at Riverfront Park.

It is billed as “The Wildlife Concert,” and it should be similar, if not identical, to “The Wildlife Concert” broadcast in June on the Arts & Entertainment channel. Denver’s new two-CD set of the same name has also just hit the record stores.

Which means concertgoers can count on hearing almost every one of those hit songs: “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “I’m Sorry,” “Back Home Again,” and “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” That latter song, in the televised concert, has been transformed into a dreamy New Age meditation. Jim Horn provides jazzy saxophone fills.

On the broadcast, Denver also sang “Annie’s Song,” the touching pledge of eternal love that he wrote for his wife Annie in 1974. He divorced her in 1983, and he admitted to once showing up at her house wielding a chainsaw, but he still sings the song. Oh well.

The concert also features a number of songs keyed to environmental and wildlife themes. The outdoors have always figured prominently in Denver’s music, in songs like “The Eagle and the Hawk,” and “Calypso.” In the Wildlife Concert, those themes are even more pronounced.

There will be no opening act. Denver will be accompanied by a full combo. In the televised concert there were seven people on stage, and at one point, a string quartet was brought in.

The rules for concertgoers are identical to those at the Dylan concert: No coolers allowed, no bottles or cans and no lawn chairs, except for the low-slung beach chairs. Food and drink will be available at the site. Gates will open at 6 p.m.

There should be plenty of good spaces available for blankets - the crowd should be somewhere around 3,000, or a little more than half of the attendance for the Dylan concert.

The Dylan concert was the first big concert in many years at Riverfront Park. The concert promoters and Riverfront Park staff agreed that it was a promising start. There were no big problems, and they said they learned a few things to make the sequel run even more smoothly.

In addition, the Riverfront Park folks are making it easier for John Denver concertgoers to make a day of it on Sunday. People with John Denver tickets can get a Riverfront Park Day Pass for only $5, about half the regular price. Just go to the Riverfront Park ticket booth and show your John Denver tickets.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: John Denver Location and time: Riverfront Park, Sunday, 8 p.m. (gates open at 6 p.m.) Tickets: $25, $10 for children under 13

This sidebar appeared with the story: John Denver Location and time: Riverfront Park, Sunday, 8 p.m. (gates open at 6 p.m.) Tickets: $25, $10 for children under 13