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Music festival finding its niche

Locations: News Published

By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

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It started with a borrowed Aspen Earthmoving flatbed truck at Fourth and Main, and a handful of local musicians on a summer Saturday in 2001.

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The next year the Mountain Music Fair expanded to two days to accommodate more players who wanted to get involved.

A year or two later, the lobsters crawled in and the event was renamed the Music and Lobster fest.

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When the Carbondale Recreation Department decided to spare the tasty crustaceans and discontinue the community lobster feast, organizer Steve Standiford renamed the event the Mount Sopris Music Festival and went full steam ahead.

Standiford said that for a couple of years after the lobsters, the festival included Brown’s Amusement Rides in the parking lot at Fourth and Main Street.

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Today, 12 years after musicians climbed on the Aspen Earthmoving flatbed truck and tried not to fall off, the Mount Sopris Music Festival has settled into a two-day groove that includes free music on the main stage at the Fourth Street plaza on Friday and Saturday, workshops and performances at Steve’s Guitars on both days, plus ancillary shows at various other bars and venues around town.

When asked if the festival has found a permanent home during last full weekend in June (like Mountain Fair’s claim on the last full weekend in July), he paused for second then said, “Probably so.”

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This year’s lineup includes at least 25 local bands and musical acts at the main stage and at Steve’s, plus at least three or four more at the Black Nugget, Village Smithy, White House pizza, the Blend (on Thursday with an open mic), Dos Gringos (on Sunday with a bluegrass jam) and Mi Casita (on Friday and Saturday if you count late night disco).

“The intent, from the start, was to have a music festival where only local musicians would be featured,” Standiford told The Sopris Sun as he worked on final details, such as sending out the third draft of the final schedule. “Right from the start we had dozens of talented players who wanted to come downtown and make some excellent, original music … And they all volunteered their musical services for this community celebration of live music made by their friends and neighbors.”

Through the years, the festival has also raised more than $50,000 for non-profits such as the CRMS Pre-School, Green Sprouts and KDNK. “We continue that component this year by having KDNK as a major sponsor and the manager of the beverage garden, to make this a fund-raiser for the station,” Standiford said.

Some of the bands, such as the Conglomerate, were put together just for the festival. The band is comprised of Carter Colia (from Vision Quest) on drums, Marc Bruell (Electric Lemon) on electric guitar, Josh Darling on keyboards and Harris Jackson on sax (both from Vision Quest) and Ashton Taufer on electric bass (All the Pretty Horses). “They will play some very cool funk and jazz, which should get the plaza rocking,” Standiford continued.

For more information on the 12th annual Mount Sopris Music Festival, go to, check out the posters around town, or ask anyone you see who is toting around a guitar case.

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