For the Mountain Sun’s “Funky Good Times” anniversary show, co-owner Tim McMurray must put together a band of talented musicians who may never have played together.
“[I] cherry-pick people from well-established bands who are good at their instrument and put them in an environment that’s a little different to what they’re used to,” McMurray says.
The band has different members every year; this year, the band has seven members total. Stalwarts George Porter Jr. (bass player from
The Funky Meters) and Kyle Hollingsworth (keyboardist for The String Cheese Incident), who have been in all 11 iterations of the band to date, will this year be joined by Adam Smirnoff (guitarist for Lettuce), John Staton (drummer for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), Art Edmaiston (saxophone player for Mofro), Dennis Marion (trumpet player for Mofro) and Kim Dawson (a vocalist from The Motet).
The concert is a celebration of the Mountain Sun’s 20th anniversary, and it kicks off at the Boulder Theater on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. The concert also rolls out the pub’s beloved Stout Month, when most of the Mountain Sun pubs’ taps turn to the dark side with many beers you can’t see through.
As in previous years, all of the proceeds of the event go towards the volunteer-run, local public radio station KGNU.
“I’m a huge proponent of public radio, I think it’s one of the last channels for a lot of free speech,” McMurray says.
Nikki Kayser, KGNU’s membership director, is grateful for the Mountain Sun’s generosity through the years.
“This is something that happens between us each year, it’s really amazing [that] Mountain Sun pulls it off and does most of the grunt work, and we do most of the publicity,” she says.
When it comes to choosing the members of the band, McMurray always starts off with his base of Hollingsworth and Porter, but the rest of the band could be anyone. A slightly newer member on her way to becoming a regular is Dawson, who is returning for the second time.
Dawson initially met McMurray several years ago at a happy hour after a Motet gig. She says playing at the Mountain Sun is more of an organized jam session than an organized gig.
“It’s going to be like one big family up there,” she says, later noting, “You just [check] your ego at the door, and make good music, and beautiful things happen from that.”
She mentioned that it’s not that hard for all of the different musicians to come together and play, because “music is a universal language, and we all communicate through music.”
The well-thought-out, organized jam session brings a breath of fresh air as everyone just focuses on the music.
“It’s such a great energy in the room, and that’s what makes it the most fun,” Dawson says, recalling last year’s show. “There [was] such great energy on stage and in the crowd, you’ll be surprised by how good of a time it is.”
The extensive wealth of knowledge that all of the band players have amazed her, but one musician in particular, Porter, stood out.
“I know a lot of music, but I’ve got nothing on George,” Dawson says of the bassist. “You’ll just call out a tune and he’ll say he worked on the original of it back in the day.”
Dawson said that when they were practicing before the concert last year, a guitarist asked George if he had heard of a song by Dr. John, and George replied, “Please, I played on that.”
When asked about his extensive knowledge of music, Porter talked about how important it is to listen to other people’s music when you’re a musician.
“If your knowledge of music is good, it allows you to listen to what’s going on around you, then it’s going to be well played out,” he says. “If your knowledge of music is bad, and you only listen to what you do, it’s not going to be a good night.”