Colorado Avenue to close between 24th and 27th streets May 6 for Jefferson Airplane/Starship concert
“If you remember the '60s, you weren't there,” the saying goes, but there's a part of that decade Old Colorado City merchant Charlie Cagiao clearly remembers. That
was a Jefferson Airplane concert at the rickety old World Arena next to the Broadmoor.
“Back then they were a real mystical band,” he said, “forerunners of the music today.”
Cagiao, who had a rock music career of his own (even meeting Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner along the way) is leading the effort to bring the Airplane/now Jefferson Starship back to his hometown. That effort, sponsored by the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, will culminate Saturday, May 6 when the band headlines a free outdoor concert on a closed-off Colorado Avenue. The first of three warm-up bands will start at noon, with the Jefferson Starship (in its 40th anniversary “Family Galactic Reunion”) scheduled to take the stage at 5:30 and play a three-hour set.
Bands will set up a short distance east of 27th Street, facing east down Colorado Avenue.
From 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., the streets will be closed off between 24th and 27th streets. A beer garden will be on the avenue, near the intersection of 25th Street. There will also be food vendors, and most Old Colorado City shops are expected to be open.
People driving to the event are encouraged to park at Coronado High and use the free shuttles (see story, this page).
Although the only remaining member of the famed 1960s-'80s Airplane and Jefferson Starship bands (at least at this time) is Paul Kantner, the band includes respected musicians who have played with the Starship or other nationally known bands for many years. These are bass player David Freiberg, co-founder of the '60s band Quicksilver Messenger Service; Chris Smith on keyboards; guitarist Slick Aguilar; drummer Donny Baldwin; lead singer Diana Mangano; and back-up vocalist Linda Imperial (Freiberg's wife).
Baldwin, a late replacement for the '06 tour's usual drummer Prairie Prince, drummed for the Jefferson Starship as far back as the 1980s. Other original Airplane- Starship members - mainly Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and co-founder Marty Balin - have continued to play with the band off and on, but are not with this tour. Balin was part of the 2005 tour and intended to join this year, but had a family issue, Kantner said in his interview with the Pioneer. Grace Slick, the lead singer through most of the Airplane-Starship era, retired from performing about 15 years ago.
Kantner also said that two other '60s rockers - Country Joe McDonald (founder of Country Joe and the Fish) and Tom Constanen (original Grateful Dead pianist) - will play solo subsets during the Starship's set and may also jam with the main band.
The Jefferson Starship played 40 dates in the United States and several foreign countries last year; Colorado Springs is one of about 25 shows booked this spring and summer.
The May 6 warm-up bands, all of them local, are as follows:
To say Cagiao is pumped about the concert would be no exaggeration. “If I was selling tickets for this, it would be $30 to $50 a person,” he noted. But he wanted it to be free because that was the only way to have the concert in Old Colorado City and use it as a showcase for the historic shopping district.
To make it affordable for OCCA, Cagiao was able to line up key sponsorships with Budweiser and Coca-Cola, by which they provide a certain amount of free product to OCCA (which it can sell to attendees) in exchange for having their name used in concert promotions.
“This is great for Old Colorado City,” Cagiao said. He added that it's his understanding the event is “making history” as the first location in Colorado history to “close down a street and have a national act for free.”
A special kick for him is the slice of personal notoriety the event is bringing him and his pizza business in Old Colorado City. This came out when the Pioneer asked him how local residents felt about having a major concert in their midst - especially after various recent complaints regarding illegal parking and other problems during Territory Days.
“Most of the people in the neighborhood are liking it,” Cagiao said “It's entertainment for them, that's the story we're getting.” He even thinks it's been helping his business. “Families are bringing their kids,” he said proudly. “They want them to meet the person who brought Jefferson Starship to Old Colorado City.”
Westside Pioneer article