Show celebrating US folk legend

Chris Bannister
Chris Bannister

A WIGAN-born musician will bring his show celebrating the life of one of America’s most popular folk musicians to his hometown for the first time.

Chris Bannister, who is originally from Pemberton, will perform his show The Music of John Denver at Wigan Parish Church on January 30.

The evening promises to have the authentic stamp of the songs of American folk legend Denver, as Chris has performed alongside the iconic US folk musician’s lead guitarist Steve Weisberg.

Chris has performed in Denver’s home town of Aspen in Colorado three times and was first invited there as a guest of Steve, who played on seven of the musician’s platinum-selling albums.

The pair became close friends and when Steve sadly died in spring 2014 after battling lymphoma Chris was amazed to find he had left him his guitar in his will.

Chris has also released four albums of his own original material since creating debut Only Human in 1992, and has had his singing style likened to that of Denver throughout his career.

He decided to put together acoustic show The Music of John Denver in 2010 but was determined to steer well away from the tribute act tag, instead performing the music as himself and interspersing the songs with discussion about Denver’s life, writing and his work as an environmentalist.

Chris, 50, said: “Someone recommended the venue to me and I remember the parish church from when I was kid and thought it would be great to play there.

“I’ve always been struck by the purity of John Denver’s voice and his songs, and it stayed with me through years of playing rock and blues.

“I’ve been to Aspen a few times and I’ve been taken to heart and become part of the community there. Everyone goes there in October every year to celebrate his life.

“Playing a concert with Steve was an amazing experience and I was really honoured when he left me his guitar. It’s a beautiful instrument from 1937 and it’s quite fragile, though I’ve been playing it quite a bit over Christmas and I will probably bring it to the Wigan show.“

First coming to notice on the US folk scene of the late 1960s, Denver achieved greatest success as a solo artist in the 1970s with a string of hits mixing acoustic music, folk and country and western such as Take Me Home, Country Roads, Annie’s Song, Rocky Mountain High and Sunshine on My Shoulders.

Chris’s show The Music of John Denver is on January 30. Seat reservations are £10, available by ringing Sarah McKenzie on 07973 802637.