By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff
Local music lovers this Friday will once again get the chance to watch, listen to and dance to a sampling of Western Slope bands on the stage at the Fourth Street Plaza, as well as to music performed at several downtown bars and establishments — all timed to coincide with the First Friday celebration for July.
The 17th Annual Mt. Sopris Music Fest, put together by well-known Carbondale impresario Steve Standiford of Steve’s Guitars fame, starts at 5 p.m. with the Lookout Mountain Showdown, which KDNK music director Luke Nestler in April called “a promising new string band from Glenwood Springs.”
That will be followed by efforts from The Davenports at 6 p.m., Sleep Justice at 7 and Whiskey Stomp at 8, according to the poster describing the event.
At the same time, or a little later, depending on the venue, bands will break forth from the Marble Distilling Company, at the east end of Main Street, which will have Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons, whom Standiford called “a main-stage Mountain Fair band” from previous years; Bicycle Annie at the Carbondale Beer Works, next to the Carbondale Post Office, from 9 p.m. until closing time; and Lord Nelson at The Black Nugget, corner of 4th and Main, again from 9 p.m. to closing.
Other offerings on Friday will include a block party at the Carbondale Clay Center (opposite from the Marble Distilling Co. on Main Street) and yet another band — Pearl & Wood — comprising a drummer, a cellist and a combination banjo and fiddle player, at the recently opened beer tasting salon known as Batch, next door to the 4th Street Plaza, according to Standiford.
Finally, not to be outdone, the Phat Thai restaurant, another Main Street venue, will feature the work of disc jockey Alex E., playing his signature blend of hop-hop, funk and soul from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“That’s probably the late night option,” mused Standiford. “I don’t think even the Nugget stays open that late.”
Standiford said this is a continuing metamorphosis of his music festival concept, which began as The Mountain Music Fair some 17 years ago, when he and an ad hoc group called the Steve Kinney Surf Band performed surf music on a flatbed truck trailer loaned for the occasion by contractor Steve Kinney, augmented by music from Big Daddy Lee and his band.
“The original intent was to have a return to the days when the Mountain Fair (Carbondale’s regionally famous summer festival) was only local musicians,” Standiford recalled.
The festival morphed into a Lobster Fest for a while, partly sponsored by the Town of Carbondale, but several years ago the town withdrew its involvement and Standiford shifted back to the local music as the central theme, “no vendors, no food, just the music.
“We kept true to the original spirit of the Mountain Music Fest, kind of a community service gig for anyone who wanted to play for those wages,” which he described as, “zero.”
He added that “for nearly all of those years it also was a fundraiser for local nonprofits,” chief among them being KDNK, Carbondale’s community access FM station.
Although the poster lists a number of sponsors, Standiford conceded, “a lot of those are just honorary sponsorships,” although one, Peppino’s Pizza, has long provided free pies for the musicians, while others donate to help defray costs.
Chuckling in recollection, Standiford said that the first fest was in 2002, the same year that the Coal Seam Fire scorched homes and hillsides in the Glenwood Springs area and at one point appeared to be posed to burn a path all the way to Carbondale.
“Glenwood’s burning, and we’re putting on live music,” he said with amazement in his voice, noting that it is an odd coincidence that this year, too, has seen fires start up in the western part of Garfield County as the Mt. Sopris Music Fest is about to get underway.