GALLERY: EBBETS FIELD 1973-1977
Photography by Bob Ferbrache
Back in the 1970s, Denver was still regarded as a Rocky Mountain “cowtown,” a blip on the national music radar screen that didn’t reap the consideration of most Americans. Ebbets Field, the town’s premiere concert venue of the decade, helped change all that.
Located downtown on the ground floor of the 40-story Brooks Tower building near 15th and Curtis streets, Ebbets Field could only stuff 238 patrons into its bleacher-style seating space. Ick-orange-and-brown shag carpeting covered the floor, the walls and the ceiling.
Still, Ebbets was a stopping point for a long list of entertainers who would become the biggest names in music, including Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Jackson Browne, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel and Dan Fogelberg. Every genre—rock, blues, folk, country, jazz, folk and comedy—found a home at Ebbets Field during its four-year run. Practically any evening was a concert engagement.
Music lovers in the Front Range and beyond grew up in—and loved—the whole Ebbets Field vibe. Crews arrived in Denver and checked into the aging Oxford Hotel. Artists gave out between-show interviews in the lushly decrepit dressing room. The stage was located where the bar was, making it the lowest focal point of the room—so as the spotlights went up, all that an act saw was a jury of bodiless bobbing heads. ListenUp, the local audio/video retailer, professionally recorded hundreds of shows for either simulcast on free-form radio stations, such as KFML-FM and KBPI-FM, or re-broadcast.
Bob Ferbrache hung out at Ebbets after school and eventually got employed as a gofer. “I sold sandwiches there—it was just ‘whatever’ to hang out and see free shows,” he explains. “The Mahavishnu Orchestra was only a five-piece band, but John McLaughlin was literally standing in a two-foot square engulfed in keyboards and drums and what have you. There was always broken glass around—and when Lynyrd Skynyrd played there, Ronnie Van Zant was in his bare feet.”
To showcase the Ebbets Field legacy, Ferbrache has released a sampler of his photography to the Colorado Music Experience. This photo gallery reflects the variety of musical styles that graced the tiny Ebbets stage.