CARBONDALE — Mountain Fair weekend means Willie Nelson’s daughter is coming to town.
And she’s not alone.
Paula Nelson, daughter of Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Willie Nelson, and her band headline on opening night of the 42nd annual Carbondale Mountain Fair at 7 p.m. Friday, July 27, at Sopris Park. The powerhouse vocalist and Houston native — who has been playing music since the age of 7 — brings a blues and country twang to the annual Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities (CCAH) fundraising event.
“We try to bring diverse genres to the fair, and we were looking for some country blues to start the weekend off right,” said Amy Kimberly, CCAH executive director and Mountain Fair organizer. “Paula just seemed like a really good choice.”
The longstanding, popular Roaring Fork Valley party starts today with new local trio The Sixty-Sevens at 5 p.m. Frontman Josh Phillips, who has played with local bands such as 12 Barflies, Big Swifty, Zec, and Fire In The Asylum, joins drummer Steve Cook and bassist Frank Botti, known from his guitar work with Sector 7G and The Starlettes. Phillips’ acoustic partner Ananda Banc, of Carbondale, will bring her sultry harmonies to the Gazebo Stage.
“Local is always a priority for us. We always intersperse local music into the fair,” Kimberly said. “We like to feature a local musician on opening night and Josh [Phillips] hasn’t yet done that. He has played with a lot of bands in the area, and it just seems like it’s his year and his time.”
Kimberly said Mountain Fair serves as a stage for artists of all types, whether they are musicians, singer/songwriters, visual artists or dancers.
“The way the fair works is everyone who participates in it brings their own creativity into it,” she said. “We just harness it.”
Along with decorating the Gazebo Stage or joining in an impromptu jam session at the Jam Tent, locals can join in the Mountain Fair creative process by competing in the annual singer/songwriter competition. The first round starts at 5 p.m. at the Jam Tent in Sopris Park. Kimberly said the talent showcase, headed up by Carbondale singer/songwriter Shanti Gruber of The Tippetts fame, is an example of how Carbondale comes together to support the arts.
“I see so many smiling faces at Mountain Fair, and it just gives me faith in the world at large,” Kimberly said. “Maybe you had an issue with someone before you come to the fair, but then you come there and before you know it, you’re dancing together, eating pie together, or chopping wood together. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Kimberly said she is looking forward to Sunday’s kickoff at 11 a.m. with Native American gospel performers the Azteca Dancers, Yellow House Hoop Dancers, and Ute chief Roland McCook & Friends. McCook is great-great-grandson of Chief Ouray. Expect spirited dance by the Aztecs dance troupe, the Yellow House Hoop Dancers with champion Tyrese Jensen, Alfred Wall, Ute drummer and dancers.
“The Aztec Dancers, with their beautiful colors, will be drumming and dancing,” she said. “The hoop dancers will blow you away with their talent. You cannot miss that.”
For those who might not be able to make every live music performance, KDNK Community Access Radio, will broadcast many of the acts and contests throughout the weekend. Station manager Steve Skinner said to expect the music to be as crystal clear as if listeners are dancing barefoot by the stage.
“We will broadcast the fair for the very first time using high-fidelity fiber-optic connection,” he said. “That’s pretty cool. Should sound the best ever. It should sound like you have a seat in front of the sound booth, but you can control the volume.”
The weekend’s main stage music also includes Josh Rogan at 6:30 p.m. Friday; Lipbone Redding, The Mile Markers, The Shook Twins, Rowdy Shadehouse and Paa Kow’s By All Means Band on Saturday; and Earthbeat Choir, Velma and the Heart Tones, Cody Jeferys, The Cambodian Space Project, La Sonora Dinamitas, and Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds on Sunday.
“Sister Sparrow played last year’s Sunday Summer of Music, and they really wanted to come again, so we’re happy to have them back,” Kimberly said. “And I’m really excited for La Sonora Dinamitas on Sunday at 5. We really wanted to integrate the cultures that are prominent in our valley. Club Rotario helped me find these guys, and they will be really great.
“I’m also really stoked for Paa Kow’s By All Means Band on Saturday. It’s African music that is going to spark the happy-smiling-faces kind of dancing we love.”