SCI Memories: Boulder

Hey Hey, so I am closing out this run at Boulder Theater tonight, and I wanted to dig in a bit and reflect on some of my early SCI memories from this great venue.

I think it was here, where I first played music with String Cheese. I remember seeing them at the Fox earlier that year and being impressed. In fact, I was blown away by the “kid” on acoustic guitar. Not only by his playing, but also by the tone of his instrument. I had never heard an acoustic guitar sound so present and “real.” So later that year, when my band Durt was asked to open for them at the Boulder Theater, we all loved the idea.

I had been jamming with Kang and other local musicians (including Dave Watts) for a while, so we were familiar with each other’s playing. Durt was mainly a rock outfit and I was probably only carrying my Roland D-50 keyboard at that time. The sounds in this board were, to say the least, very ‘80s. So when the SCI boys asked me to sit in that night, I was super pumped, but a bit hesitant as to how my sounds would fit their vibe. I have no idea what I played. Probably “Bigger Isn’t Better “ and “Jellyfish.” Those were the first ones I learned.  And I’m not sure how it came across, but I must have passed the audition because they asked me to hop on tour for a few more shows.

The String Cheese Incident – early press photo – outside The Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO

Since then, we have played almost every venue in the area from the Fox to Fillmore, but the Boulder Theater is one of the classic venues. And haunted or not, we always had a fun time playing here. This town has a great history of supporting live music and it seems to be a vortex for musical creativity. So many bands have gone on from here to become nationally known. There must be something in the water. And as for String Cheese, it was always nice to come back to Boulder after a long tour. It’s nice to come home.

Boulder has been my home now since 1993 and I have loved every year. It seems this area has been a hot bed for great music over the decades. String cheese is just one of the many bands that has been born from the creative forces in this area.

West Coast Memories: Chico

My main memory of Chico is the HEAT. Man it seemed like every time SCI played here it was insanely hot. I guess it must have always been summer when we passed through. I do remember playing a show with our friend Dar Williams here at some strange, long barn thing. Dar was totally cool and her keyboard player rocked. I dug what they were doing. Before the show I think we all snuck away to some watering holes along a river and soaked for a long while.

The String Cheese Incident – The Senator Theater – 07.17.04

And there was one super hot night at the Senator Theater where we played “Oye Como Va,” the Santana tune, a rare play for us. It’s funny because on some of these tours each band member would make the setlist for the night and, as I look back at these shows, I wonder who made the each list. You can kinda can tell by openers and closers and overall flow in the set. It can be a tough to make the list. Especially with five other opinions flying round.

So this is the show closer for my West Coast run with JBB. It has been so much fun. They are great guys and they sound killer. I can’t believe it’s over. But we will hook up with them again at the Boulder Theater in couple weeks.

Come on out tonight and try some Hop Bam Ale at Sierra Nevada. It’s going to be a great tour closer with beer and music and I imagine the temperature will be less of an issue this time around with Sierra Nevada on board.

West Coast Memories: Lake Tahoe

Tahoe was always the stop into or our of California tours. We played a few small clubs in those early years. The first one I played was Humpty’s. When we first played there, I was so new to the group that I did not know all the songs. So I would sit out for a few each night. I forgot which tunes, probably “Black Clouds” or bluegrass ones like that. But that was cool with me because I was able to hang out, get a beer, and meet fans. In fact, it was at these shows that I meet a lot of early California cheese fans.

The String Cheese Incident – Caesar’s Tahoe – Lake Tahoe – 07.19.04

We played a daytime show outside with Leftover Salmon one summer. I remember picking Mark Vann’s brain about how to emulate a banjo roll on the keyboard. It was a trip to figure out how to finger all those notes on the piano. And honestly, I never quite got it. But it was always a good time hanging with the Salmon guys.

So many winter stops for skiing and summer stops for mountain biking. I love this area. Looking forward to getting outside again when we are there.

West Coast Memories: San Francisco

Ahh San Francisco…wow. This was one of the first stops I had on my virgin tours with the SCI gang. After a huge drive from Telluride in “Jean Claude Band Van” (the first of Cheese vehicles), we stayed right on the Bay at a friend’s condo. I woke up to a gorgeous view of boats and water. In Fact, it was that morning, when Kang and I were out on a Boston wailer trolling around , that he popped the question, “would you consider joining us full time?” I loved the idea, but was a bit booked up with other projects. What was I thinking! But eventually I cleared my schedule (like for the next 25 years).

The String Cheese Incident – Fillmore – San Francisco 1998 (photo by Scott Chernis).

I think it was on that run that we hit Great American Music Hall. It was an amazing venue with its gold leaf balconies and classic ambiance. Then later we played the Fillmore. I remember kind of flipping out to see the “Jerry” room in the backstage area at The Warfield. So much great music had come through these places. It was an honor to be on those stages. The Bay Area was always receptive to SCI. And it will be awesome to be back in this room again, like coming home.

West Coast Memories: Santa Cruz

Heading to Santa Cruz tonight. SCI played Palookaville and The Catalyst in those early days. I remember wandering the streets checking out the music stores and markets. One time while we were there a small earthquake hit. We were all sleeping in Bussy, in a random parking lot as usual, and the bus started to sway. I awoke to a jostled band and spilled water bottles, but no worse for the wear.

I have a vague recollection of us playing a gig in a garage with Keller somewhere in town. I think it belonged to a friend of ours, Frank. In fact I think he did all the great woodwork on the inside of Bussy. That must have been an early rendition of the Keller and SCI collaborations. I’ll have to go check out those tapes. Looking forward to getting back there I love this city.

West Coast Memories: LA

LA was a hard market to break into. The first few times, we played a club called The Troubadour. Cool vibey spot with lots of great history, but the crowd, many years ago, was not impressed with our improvisational style. We got more than a few blank stares. It was hard to get it going when the crowd was not into it.

But all that has changed and now we have a great connection with the fans there. The Hulaween 2002 show was off the hook. It was our “Academummy Awards” that year. We did a “Dead Rock Stars”-themed show. Each band member sang a song from one of the many deceased rock stars in history. I sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. I remember searching for the perfect mustard-colored cardigan sweater and trying to get the wig to fit just right. It was fun to try to emulate Kurt’s mumbled lyrics, and standing at the front of stage like all the cool guitar guys was awesome. Overall, as far as theme shows go this was one of our better forays.







But the highlight for me was talking about psychedelics with Rod Roddy, from The Price Is Right, back stage. Sounds like he lived a long and adventurous life. Long live Roddy!

I’m ready to rock LA again. Hope to see ya there.


West Coast Memories: San Diego

Heading to San Diego tonight. KHB is playing the Belly Up. SCI performed there the year that I joined (1997). Man, that was a whirlwind year. I just looked back at all the dates and there seemed to be no downtime at all. We were serious road dogs back then.

We had just come from a long run starting in Gainseville, FL, through New Orleans, Houston, Santa Fe and Flagstaff. So I have scattered memories of that gig, but I do remember walking randomly on the railroad tracks looking for a laundromat (I probably never found one). Also, that night, I met a keyboard player that I had admired from my Baltimore days. He played with a band called New Potato Caboose. They were a great group that fell into the early “jam band” genre. The keyboard player would do this killer percussion jam on his Hammond B3 with the drummers – very inspiring.

SCI has come back many times since then though. I recall a great show at the RIMAC Arena in 2002. I’ve heard that the “San Jose” from that show was pretty slamming. We also played with RatDog in 2006 at the park. That whole run with them was so much fun. I had a blast talking and jamming with all the guys. Plus I got to dance my ass off watching their set every night. I am psyched to in SoCal. again and looking forward to another great night of music.