Prescott Opry pays tribute to John Denver at Elks Theatre Sept. 18

Thanks to the Prescott Opry, local music fans don’t need to live in the Rocky Mountains to get a “Rocky Mountain High” experience come Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Elks Theatre & Performing Arts Center.

The Prescott Opry is making a brief detour in its traditional country music tribute bands for the 3 p.m. concert that will be a bow to the talents of the late John Denver, a singer/songwriter killed in an airplane crash in 1997 who was best known for such hits as “Rocky Mountain High,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane,” “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and “Sunshine on my Shoulders,” the theme song for a television movie in 1973.

The 90-minute tribute performer will be William Florian, a former member of The New Christy Minstrels whose then-band leader convinced the young singer/songwriter to change his identity from Henry John Deutschendorf to something more easily printed on venue marquees. The choice was John Denver, a selection rooted in his love for his home state of Colorado where he lived much of his life.

Florian is known as a tribute artist who “weaves stories, songs and humor as he honors the life and achievements of this legendary minstrel,” said an event news release. Audiences can be assured that they will sing along to Denver’s well-known tunes that made him a musical icon.

John Denver was named the state of Colorado’s Poet Laureate in 1974. His song, “Rocky Mountain High,” is now a state anthem.

In Denver’s adult life that ended tragically at age 53, he recorded and released some 300 songs with total sales of over $33 million. He is considered one of the “most beloved entertainers of his era,” according to a musical biography. Beyond music, Denver also starred in some television and movies, most famously the 1977 movie “Oh, God!” with the late actor George Burns.

Accolades for Florian’s tribute concerts praise his ability to stir his guests, his showmanship and “world-class talent” that gives honor to the music and artist he celebrates.

“William Florian was a perfect combination of musician and storyteller, blending wonderful music with humor and memoir,” wrote Lauren Wolk of the Cultural Art Center of Cape Cod and South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and Placerville, California.

In the Prescott show, the Opry organizers assure this concert will be a trip down memory lane that honors an artist whose music still resonates with those who likely cannot resist singing along to the familiar refrains.

“William is an exceptional performer. He is not only a gifted and very professional musician, but a delightful comedian, as well. His stage presence and personality are stellar - he reaches out and grabs the audience from the very get go and keeps them involved and entertained right through his final number,” according to a review by the Elks Club in Placerville, California.

Tickets are $23, $27 and $35 depending on seating. Call the box office for tickets at 928-777-1370 or online at www.PrescottElksTheater.com

By Nanci Hutson. Follow her on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2041, or 928-642-6809