Mountain sun keeps shining on

Brewpub throws 16th charity birthday bash

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Tobin Voggesser
String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth

Boulder’s award-winning Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery will celebrate 16 years of hoppy good times in a huge anniversary bash with The Pearl Street All-Stars, a lineup featuring high-caliber performers from the worlds of soul, funk, rock and fusion. This one-time-only collaboration brings together legendary New Orleans bass player George Porter Jr., String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth, guitarist Eric McFadden from George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars, Dirty Dozen Brass Band drummer Terrence Higgins and saxophonist Jay Rodriguez from Groove Collective. The Oct. 24 event, at the Boulder Theater, will benefit community radio KGNU (88.5 FM/1390 AM). The opening act for the festivities is Brooklyn’s Pimps of Joytime, an up-and-coming funk-groove band that has been developing a fan base here from its prior shows in Boulder.

The Pearl Street All-Stars have become an annual fixture at each October’s birthday bash, this being Porter’s sixth year as part of the band. The musicians basically gather together for the first time on the day before the show, each contributing a handful of tunes, and rehearse just enough to get up on stage the following night to shake the Boulder Theater with improvisational thunder.

“It’s not just another gig for me,” Porter asserts with an easy laugh. He’s done Pearl Street All-Stars shows with Hollingsworth
several times before, and he says that he has loved working with
Hollingsworth ever since they first met, playing with the Mickey Hart
Band. This time, most of the performers have never previously worked
with each other, which should make for a sonic adventure of musical
discovery and invention.

“I’m definitely looking forward to having a good time,” Porter says, and you can almost hear him smiling over the phone.

Beginning
nearly five decades ago, Porter, started out playing with seminal New
Orleans artists like Allen Toussaint, Earl King, Lee Dorsey, and the
Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas. By the mid ’60s, Porter joined
the Meters, considered by many to be the ultimate fusion of rock, funk
and R&B, and he gained recognition as one of the scene’s top bass
players. Over the years he has played shows and sessions with artists
as diverse as Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, David Byrne, Patti
LaBelle, Robbie Robertson and Tori Amos, and on and on. His online
discography is literally nine pages long, singlespaced.

While he still plays a regular weekly gig
in hometown New Orleans, Porter also notes the dramatic changes that
have taken place since Katrina. While he has noticed quite a few sons
of famous fathers returning to New Orleans, too many old timers have
disappeared. “We’ve lost a lot of good people left and right. Some
areas are still hurting real bad and will probably never come back. For
the most part, the original music that used to come out of the Ninth
Ward [devastated by the hurricane]… a lot of those musicians are gone.”

More than just a musical detour, the yearly trip to Boulder
for the All-Star collaboration reflects Porter’s current musical
interests these days, as he brings that epic bottom end to his latest
project, Porter Batiste Stoltz.

“It’s
the ultimate jam band,” Porter explains. “This band slaps people in the
face until they see how good the stuff is!” It’s the spontaneity of
improvisation that he looks forward to bringing to Boulder each year, and by now, he feels that the Mountain Sun family is like his family.

“They’ve taken very good care of me up there,” he says.

The
Mountain Sun first opened its doors on Pearl Street in October 1993,
inspired by Oregon’s pub and microbrew scene. It was meant to be a
gathering place, as their website states, “designed to feel like your
living room, where the community can come to eat affordable, fresh pub
grub and drink finely crafted ales, where folks play [board games] or
debate politics or listen to free weekly concerts.” There will never be
TVs displaying sporting events, or other distractions from the people
connection, because “we want our guests to meet and discuss the world
in which we live, or simply to play Scrabble.”

Apparently,
they had the right idea from the start. The place quickly established
itself as an institution in downtown Boulder, winning all sorts of
awards for its excellent brews along the way. Nine years later, when it
became clear that one Mountain Sun was not enough, they opened the
Southern Sun in south Boulder in September 2002. Even two Suns were not
enough, and the newest establishment, the Vine Street Pub, has been
garnering its own collection of loyal customers in downtown Denver for
the past year and a half.

Mountain
Sun’s head brewer, Brian Hutchinson, was crowned Alpha King at this
year’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the first Colorado brewer
to ever take the title, in competition with 70 other
“hoppier-thanaverage” beers. This accolade is the latest in a list that
includes six previous GABF gold medals and various other medals across
the globe, as well as consistently being voted the best in Boulder.

But
the people behind Mountain Sun also see their mission as extending
beyond their pubs and potable products, which is one reason that, once
again, they´ll donate the proceeds from the 16th anniversary party to
KGNU, as they have in previous years. So far, they have given some
$25,000 to this volunteer-driven, community radio station, which has
served the Front Range since 1978.

Doors
open at 8 p.m. and $3 pints of Mountain Sun brews will be available at
the event to help enliven what promises to be a funky, fantastic
celebration. As George Porter Jr. declares, “We’re gonna have some fun.”

On the Bill:
The Pearl Street All-Stars play the Boulder Theater on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Doors at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030.