If you go
What: Mountain Sun's Colorado Kind Festival
When: 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Planet Bluegrass, 500 W Main St., Lyons
More info: bluegrass.com/mountainsun25
The Motet plays two sets
The Mountain Sun All-Stars (featuring members of String Cheese and special guests)
The String Cheese Incident plays two sets
Yonder Mountain String Band plays 2 sets
The Drunken Hearts
Summer may be over, but one highly-anticipated music fest is sure to keep the blues at bay. Colorado Kind Festival is just the post Labor-Day buzz Boulder County craves, as this weekend in Lyons there will be a rotating selection of local brews on tap and a roster of local artists taking the stage.
To celebrate 25 years in business, Boulder-born Mountain Sun Brewing teamed up with Planet Bluegrass to deliver a two-day music festival featuring The Motet, The String Cheese Incident (SCI), Yonder Mountain String Band and The Drunken Hearts today and Saturday.
"Both the Mountain Sun and SCI are celebrating our 25th anniversaries this year," said String Cheese Incident bassist Keith Moseley. "We have been friends with them since the beginning and have literally grown up together. It feels great to celebrate such a milestone with them."
From a modest pub on Pearl Street to now operating five locations, Mountain Sun is truly a regional icon — one that didn't intend to necessarily spawn into the notable brand it is today. The tapestry-laden establishments, decked out with the intricate chalk art of Bryce Widom, have become so much more than places to simply sip a pint with a friend. A staple of the Front Range, these eateries continue to be platforms for up-and-coming musicians to share their sound and for team members to thrive within a company that feels more like a diverse music-loving family than an assemblage of co-workers.
"We never set out to build an empire, because we didn't want to lose any of the soul in the process," said Mountain Sun co-owner Kevin Daly. "Whatever was going to happen was going to happen organically. We've grown over the years, mainly out of a want to find places to put our great people."
From offering health benefits to food and bev industry workers to ensuring salaries matched the demands of the local housing market, Daly's main priority has always been one fueled by the desire to provide his staff members with abundance and opportunity.
Framed show posters of Phish and Grateful Dead runs, vintage board games and drapings of Devil's Ivy have become synonymous with Mountain Sun's ambiance, one that proves to be a way more free-spirited living room than a restaurant. An adoration for musicians, specifically those of the jam-band variety, has always been at the core of this purveyor of craft beer and good eats.
"It's rare to get these three bands together on the same stage," said managing partner of Mountain Sun Pubs and Breweries Paul Nashak, reflecting on the upcoming musical trifecta of The Motet, SCI and YMSB.
"I look forward to seeing all of our friends and family dancing out on that field," added Daly.
That field holds a special place in the heart of the brewery that has strong ties to the now legendary Lyons venue.
"Mountain Sun and Planet Bluegrass have essentially grown up together," said Craig Ferguson, president and founder of Planet Bluegrass. "In the early years, our offices were just upstairs from the Mountain Sun Pub on Pearl Street. And, we've both grown up with the bands playing the festival. All of us have grown and prospered and we have much to celebrate together."
Bigger, better, longer
While past Mountain Sun anniversary bashes have been held at Boulder Theater, this is the first time the celebration will stretch over two-days at a venue that continues to play host to Folks Fest and RockyGrass. Set on twenty acres, bordered by the banks of the St. Vrain River, Planet Bluegrass Ranch provides attendees with a unique live music experience.
"Mountain Sun and Planet Bluegrass became friends almost immediately when the first Mountain Sun opened next door to us on Pearl Street in the early '90s," said vice president and co-founder of Planet Bluegrass Steve Szymanski. "Our companies have created thriving communities around what we do best: great beer, food and music. String Cheese Incident first played at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in 1997 in our original 120-seat Wildflower Theater that collapsed a few months later after a heavy snowstorm. I remember a fun time that night with lots of dancing in the aisles."
A Friday happy hour and a Saturday all-you-can-eat-and-drink pancake jazz brunch, courtesy of Snooze, are among the extras being offered at Colorado Kind.
"Many festivals feature one line of beers for a host of reasons; because Mountain Sun is so versed in the world of craft beer, it's been easier for them to include so many beers," said Ferguson. "It also represents the craft beer ethic of inclusiveness rather than competitiveness and we're very glad to be involved."
Avery collaborated with Mountain Sun to craft Tracery Juicy Pale Lager — a brew set to make its debut at The Colorado Kind Festival.
In addition to plenty of live music and beverages, the land will be filled with vendors contributing their own brand of artistry whether in the form of culinary bites or bohemian swag.
Bradford McDevitt will be slinging his Super Heady Tacos that have become a staple on the festival circuit — satisfying crowds at Bonnaroo, Coachella, Sonic Bloom and Arise.
"There will be a whole lot of funk going down, so we are making sure we can match that," said owner of hippie retailer Heady Bauer, Nicholas Chalabiani, aka "Pinner Bot," who will set up shop at Colorado Kind. "Especially when life can sometimes get grey, now is a chance for people to come together and be vibrant with each other — from their clothes to their souls."
Beer seems to taste a little bit better when enjoyed near a rushing riverbed. Live music sounds more captivating while played on a stage hugged by cliffs. One of Boulder County's best friends is turning a quarter of a century old.
"I'm looking forward to talking about the old days," said Ferguson. "The day Michael Travis first came into my office pitching String Cheese for Telluride; Billy Nershi and Liza on stage to the largest audience ever in Telluride; seeing Yonder first in the bar at Oskar Blues which began a string of 20-straight Telluride appearances. There are so many memories. We've all had a pretty big part to play in the evolution of the Colorado music scene. But, we all know we're just a bunch of lucky folks."
Kalene McCort: 303-473-1107, firstname.lastname@example.org.