Denver’s Dose of Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews was the final act of an environmentally themed concert at the Red Rocks Ampitheater, nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.

After a series of speeches from the likes of Robert Kennedy Jr., Bill McDonough, Van Jones, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Sen. Ken Salazar and Bill McDonough, Matthews made only veiled references to Barack Obama, even before this crowd of thousands of delegates, party regulars and activists.

“I hope this is a great week you all have here, down the hill there,” Matthews told the the filled ampitheater. “I am honored to be part of it.”

He played a cover of Paul Simon’s “American Tune”  — once a protest theme —  and instead launched into standards such as “Crazy,” an acoustic “Crush” and, in a slightly satirical tone, a few words of “Rocky Mountain High.” He was joined onstage by fellow guitarist Tim Reynolds.

Fellow Virginia resident Tim Kaine introduced Matthews, noting the death last week of their band’s saxophonist, Le Roi Moore.

The event, dubbed “Green Rocks at Red Rocks,” pitched environmental awareness, but it otherwise was unabashedly pro-Obama, with Kennedy offering a stirring defense of his candidacy and recalling a trip abroad with his father in the 1960s in which crowds swarmed RFK because “they were starved for our leadership” after a tradition of American goodwill.

“After seven years of the most arrogant and incompetent leadership, those reservoirs were drained dry,” Kennedy said.

Somehow I think this will be the first of many such comparisons.

Kaine got one of the bigger chuckles of the evening when he opened with, “Raise your hand if you know how many homes you own.”

Also performing were Sheryl Crow and Sugarland.

Laurie David, who helped spearhead the event, also addressed the crowd. When I talked to her last week, I asked her whether she had any concerns about Obama’s shift to favor some limited amount of offshore drilling.

“I would be open to a compromise if they did 15 other things with equal passion and vigor,” David says.

Offshore oil drilling “is an old solution for this problem. I am not in favor of it, no. I tell you what I would let them do. I would let them drill in my backyard if they came up with a huge conservation program for America. And a huge efficency program. And raised fuel economy standards the way they should be raised. And did solar power initiatives. If they did that with the vigor that they do offshore drilling, it would be O.K. But they are not. Offshore drilling is not the answer, it is not going to get us anything.”

But what of polls that show a majority of the public favors offshore drilling?

“The public is favor of some action and this is all they are being fed at some moment. It is short sighted, short term. I think people know better than to think this is the solution.”

“The fact that this is what John McCain is suggesting — more offshore drilling and more nuclear power plants? I don’t think so. Not even close. Not even in the ballpark of what we need.”

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