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Published: 2016/12/02
by Dean Budnick

Kyle Hollingsworth Gets Hoppy

This Saturday, December 3rd, at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Kyle Hollingsworth will host his third annual Hoppy Holidays event. The action starts from 5:00-7:30 with tastings from over 30 craft breweries, followed by performances from the Kyle Hollingsworth Band and JJ Grey & Mofro. Hoppy Holidays, which also serves as a Benefit for Conscious Alliance, also will offer a musical debut: Bill Nershi & Kyle Hollingsworth Duet. On Thursday afternoon, just moments before walking into area radio station KBCO for a performance, Hollingsworth offered some thoughts on Hoppy Holidays, the latest in brewing trends and the forthcoming album from the String Cheese Incident as well as some very special inspiration from Dewey Cox to duet.

How did Hoppy Holidays come about and what can people could expect from the event?

Hoppy Holidays is a celebration of the craft brew industry and the music industry. It came about three years ago at the Fillmore here in Denver. They had an opening in December, so my friend Brian [Heisler] and I threw together Hoppy Holidays. That first one went really well with the Infamous Stringdusters and of course my passion for beer. I was able to connect the dots and bring together a good collection of breweries. I think the first year we had sixteen or so. This year we have over thirty.

We always find a headlining band and I do the in-betweener sets. Last year was Anders Osborne and this year is JJ Grey [& Mofro]. Then we were looking for an opening band and I called Billy. I had been watching Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story where he performs that song “Let’s Duet,” which is kind of a play on words with “do it” and “duet,” so I thought, “That’s it, Billy and I need to duet on stage in front of everybody!” [Laughs]

So I called him up and said, “I’m watching Walk Hard, do you want to duet at the Fillmore?” And he said, “Yes, let’s duet.” We’re not even called a duo on the flyers, it says Billy and Kyle Duet at the Fillmore.

We had rehearsal yesterday and it was a little scary at first, but we finally figured out what will and will not work in that setting. It’s gonna be a lot of fun this year, I’m really excited. A lot of work, but it’s going to be a blast.

Have you previously performed with Billy as a two-piece?

No, never before. It was a brainstorm for me and Billy said, “What the heck.” Billy does a lot of solo acoustic things. I kind of do that but not too much, so it actually gives me a little bit of a crutch having Billy up there with me.

At first we were saying we should get really complicated and learn a bunch of Frank Zappa songs, but then I thought about playing all those basslines with my left hand. [Laughs] So we decided to go with some more familiar material and throw in some fun covers. We’re going to do a new take on some String Cheese stuff and bring in some new songs.

I saw a photo of yourself and members of the band chopping wood at Billy’s house. Is that a tradition where you go help him out?

Wouldn’t that be awesome? It should be. No, we all went up there because he hurt his arm or something, and he needed some help with the cutting of the wood. So we had this huge family String Cheese event, it was really great. Our merch guy showed up, our road manager showed up, a lot of friends in the community and everybody was cutting wood. It was good times.

Of course, musicians with sharp implements…

That was the thing, we had to be careful.

In terms of Hoppy Holidays, how does it work between the beer tastings and the music?

We do a beer festival early on. We have tastings from about 5:00 to about 7:30. During that time Billy and I are going to do some playing. I think our duet set is during that time. The first hour to two hours is mainly to drink with some music, and then we jump into the rest of the music later into the evening.

Are there any particular beers or breweries that you’re particularly psyched to have with you this year?

I have a beer out with the Ska Brewing Company called Modus Mandarina. I made it with them over a year ago and it turned out to be such a hit that they actually canned it. So that’ll be out there.

My new favorite I think is Bootstrap, they’re out of Niwot. It’s a little more in the Belgian style, a little bit more sour. My tastes are changing! I’m a huge IPA head but I’ve been kind of branching out a little bit—going a little funky, as they would say, because the yeast brings out the funk.

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