When the Denver Area Business Association (DABA) began looking at ways to spice up its annual fireworks show, organizers turned to bringing in musical acts.
Just a few years later, the DABA Fireworks Spectacular has become as well known for the quality of its musicians as in the quantity of its fireworks show.
This year’s DABA Fireworks Spectacular will be held on June 25 at East Lincoln High School’s David Clark Stadium. Gates open at 4 p.m., with the first of five scheduled music acts beginning around 5 p.m. The fireworks show will begin at 9:30 p.m.
The 16th-annual Fireworks Spectacular will be headlined by Shenandoah, an award-winning country group that has produced nine albums and 13 No. 1 hits on Billboard Magazine’s Top 100 charts.
The addition of the musical acts to what was once an early Fourth of July celebration came three years ago, according to DABA committee member Ronnie Caldwell.
“They did a really good with it over the years, and it had grown,” Caldwell said. “But they wanted to bring in more people to visit the booths. They had good attendance, but they wanted to have bigger attendance.
“So Tim Orrell (DABA president) and Rhonda (Caldwell, DABA secretary and Ronnie’s wife) asked me what it’d take for me to get involved, and I asked to handle the musical acts.”
In 2014, DABA brought in up-and-coming singer-songwriter Chris Janson – who recently earned three Association of Country Music Award nominations – as the headline act. Last year, the headliner was two-time Country Music Association Awards winner Lorrie Morgan.
As the quality of the acts has grown, so has attendance at the DABA Fireworks Spectacular – according to Caldwell, the event drew nearly 15,000 people last year, and organizers expect more than that this year.
“We brought in the national acts, and the attendance shot up,” Caldwell said. “Before, it was about 5-6,000 people. … It produced an immediate impact.
“It didn’t so much surprise me more so as I was grateful for it. We had hoped that by bringing in the national acts, we’d have a good turnout.”
In addition to Shenandoah, also scheduled to perform at the 2016 DABA Fireworks Spectacular are:
▪ Logan Brill, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., is a singer and songwriter who has produced two albums – Walking Wires and Shut Eye – and has opened for such star acts as Dwight Yoakam, Blues Traveler, the Band Perry, Steve Earle and the late Merle Haggard. She is on a nationwide tour.
▪ Camryn Wilson, a 17-year-old native of Lincolnton, is a rising senior at North Lincoln High School. The singer and songwriter has performed across the state, and is working on her first extended-play album.
▪ Morgan Lee, a 13-year-old native of Newton in Catawba County, just completed eighth grade at Mill Creek Middle School. She has been performing since age 7.
“It should be really good,” said Caldwell, who co-owns Innovative Pest Management in Denver. “The music’s going to be awesome. I’ve been working on this music lineup since September.”
But the main act at this year’s DABA Fireworks Spectacular is Shenandoah, named the Academy of Country’s Music’s Vocal Group of the Year in 1991, and both a Grammy and Country Music Association awards winner in 1995 for a collaboration with Alison Krauss.
The group is comprised of two original members, drummer Mike McGuire and lead vocalist Marty Raybon; longtime keyboardist Stan Munsey, and new members Paul Sanders on bass and Jamie Michael on lead guitar.
Of course, there’s also the fireworks – Caldwell said East Coast Pyrotechnics, one of the nation’s largest fireworks show producers, will handle this year’s show.
“They’re the same people that does (the fireworks show) in downtown Charlotte,” Caldwell said. “It’s going to be a ground-shaker type of show, just awesome.
“Our community loves the fireworks anyway, (the musical acts are) just something extra that brings people in earlier. This should be a great time. It just makes you feel good when you see all the people, everybody’s happy and having a great time.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer: BKiserCLTObs@gmail.com.