Dave Matthews, Gov. Tim Kaine Kick Off Convention Week

(DENVER) He may not have been the "rock star" that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine had hoped to introduce in Colorado this week, but the former VP prospect embraced his role as the warm-up act for Dave Matthews at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre a few miles up the road from Invesco Field tonight.

Matthews, whom Kaine introduced as a "great Virginian," took the stage along with guitar virtuoso Tim Reynolds to culminate the long night of music and political activism, which was billed as "Green Sunday At Red Rocks"—the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee's concert designed to tout Denver's environmental record.

Before introducing Matthews and Reynolds, Kaine fired up the crowd of invited guests by singing the praises of Barack Obama. Kaine also couldn't help but take a dig at Obama's Republican rival John McCain.

"Raise your hand if you know how many houses you own!" he shouted, drawing laughter from the nearly 10,000 people in the crowd. "Raise your hand if your staff has to get back to me on that one."

Other musical acts included Sheryl Crow and the country music band Sugarland, and guests speakers included environmental activist Laurie David, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Sen. Ken Salazar, who sported an impressively large cowboy hat.

If there's a better outdoor music venue in the world than Red Rocks, I'd like to know about it. Located just a few miles from Denver, the amphitheatre is carved right into the craggy natural environment. The sun setting over the landscape elicited countless "wow's" from the concert attendees. It's not hard to imagine why this place was chosen to host an event promoting environmentalism. You can't tell from the pictures I took below, but the acoustics are perfect, as well.

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Though Gov. Kaine had the crowd cheering, the fieriest speaker of the night was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The high-point of the environmental activist's speech was when Kennedy, Jr. recalled taking a trip to Europe with his father during the mid-1960s, just a few years before RFK was assassinated. Kennedy remembered the trip as a time when another politician from the United States was a symbol of hope.

"I saw as a little boy in the faces of those vast crowds of hundreds of thousands of people the hope for leadership for the United States of America," Kennedy said, his voice cracking with emotion, "not to just do good things for our country but to do great things for all of humanity."

Sheryl Crow was the musician on the bill who delivered the most overtly political message, singing about the Bush administration, Hurricane Katrina, and even dedicating her hit song "Strong Enough" to Obama and Joe Biden.

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Dave Matthews apologized to the crowd at the start of his set, since his famously raspy voice had become scratchy.

"I had a tough week," he explained. The Dave Matthews Band's longtime saxophone player LeRoi Moore died on Tuesday. Although Matthews didn't hit every note, his set was the biggest hit of the night, and many in the crowd sang along with him.

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All in all, the event went on without a hitch. There was, however, at least one man in (well, above) the area who wasn't impressed by the festivities. Before the concert began, a small plane circled the amphitheatre with the following message written on the banner trailing the engine: "Obama For Rock Star. McCain For President."
  • Scott Conroy On Twitter»

    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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