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Music festival celebrates Elton John

Everyone knows Elton John. He remains one of the most identifiable people both visually and auditorily in popular culture, a man behind some of the now most iconic songs in rock ’n’ roll and a household name for baby boomers all the way to Generation X’ers and beyond.

Dropping his name can conjure up an image of the man dressed in something flashy just as easily as making you hear “Daniel” on repeat in your head. John dressed in a Dodgers baseball uniform. John dressed as 18th century royalty. Or John dressed in a pimp getup, performing everything from piano banging rock ’n’ roll to anthemic ballads.

He’s recognized, respected and holds one of the most significant musical catalogs documented in the last half-century. That catalog will be celebrated by the music and visually stimulating stage persona at Music in the Mountains’ Pops Passport Night at Sky Ute Casino Resort, with Remember When Rock Was Young – The Elton John Tribute featuring Craig A. Meyer as Sir Elton John.

Meyer, a former child actor and someone who has been in the entertainment business his whole life, never wanted to play the tribute game, as it’s what he refers to as the “elephant graveyard for entertainment.” Yet it was at a benefit event in Meyer’s hometown of Atlanta 13 years ago where he sat at a piano and crushed a couple John tunes, resulting in roaring approval and kickstarting this stage of his career.

If you go

What: Music in the Mountains presents Craig Meyer performing Remember When Rock Was Young: The Elton John Tribute, for the Pops Passport Fundraiser

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Sky Ute Casino Resort, 14324 Highway 172, Ignacio.

Tickets:

More information: Visit www.musicinthemountains.com or call 385-6820.

His fondness for Sir Elton, however, pre-dates that first performance. Anyone paying attention to pop culture and pop music since 1970 likely has a memory of hearing John on the radio, as cuts like “Bennie and the Jets” or “Rocketman” were in regular FM rotation. Through radio play alone, his music is engrained in our culture; for Meyer it was the radio, his sister spinning records and the cut “The Bitch is Back.”

“It’s hard not to be an Elton John fan. I grew up on his music, and as a child born in the ’60s who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, his music was never not there. It just always has been. I knew his music on the radio, and then in 1974 was when the ‘Caribou’ album came out,” Meyer said. “I remember her dropping the needle down on the record and hearing that little bit of crackle, and hearing that guitar riff, and I was electrified. That solidified Elton for me.”

Saturday’s show will be Meyer solo as John, digging into that piano-driven canon and the closet full of costumes; at that moment he’s no longer Craig A. Meyer, he is Sir Elton John.

“I’ve crafted my show as a theatrical piece, from the moment I step out on the stage I am Elton,” he said. “I interact as Elton, I speak as Elton, everything is Elton.”

With the real John on what seems to be a nonstop farewell tour, it’s shows like this that let fans come as close to they can to the real thing. It’s also recognition to the art John has contributed to the world, as his songs have moved far beyond the rock ’n’ roll canon and are part of our musical memories.

The pleasure is all Meyer’s.

“The level of cultural literacy that someone like Elton has, and how far he’s reached and how far and wide around the world he’s reached. It’s phenomenal,” Meyer said. “I love the fact that I get to be an illusionist and create a plausible diversion for me to get to sing these great songs, and really bring that to so many audiences.”