DENVER - Several thousand members of the military and their families, first responders, veterans and other guests welcomed the holiday Saturday night in a rousing, country-western music way.

The Gazette-sponsored AEG Live Rocky Mountains Volunteer Jam had the audience singing, dancing and waving their flags at Fiddler's Green in Greenwood Village, south of Denver.

Black Hawk, with 20 years of familiar crowd pleasers, had the partying folks warmed up for The Outlaws and fiddlin' legend Charlie Daniels.

Daniels had a message of patriotic pride and religious faith to share, along with his rocking country sounds.

Colorado National Guard, Army troops, the Air Force and Marines relaxed on the green lawn at the amphitheater, alongside people in T-shirts from fire and police departments. All were being thanked.

Camera phones flashed back and forth from country stars to military heroes as pounding Southern rock bass did its thing to start the summer concert season in style.

Of the 16,000 tickets for the concert, nearly 13,000 were to be given away to troops, Red Cross volunteers, police officers and firefighters. Crowd estimates were not available Saturday.