Sometimes, it can be quite fun to look up what shows have happened in the past, reliving various moments in your favorite bands’ earliest days. I recently came upon The String Cheese Incident’s gem of a performance on December 15th, 1997, when the band played The Roosevelt in Ketchum, ID.
Diving into this show from nearly 20 years ago, the band opened their show with a cover of the Latin-flavored David Grisman song “Chili Dawg,” a tune that SCI has only played five times in the new millennium. “Chili Dawg” led into a foot-stomping cover of The Stanley Brothers‘ “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” before they made their way into the Sonny Rollins jazz classic “Pent Up House.” Yeah, basically, after three songs you knew this was going to be a solid listen front to back.
This show was chock full of covers, and good ones at that. SCI had just released their debut album, Born on the Wrong Planet, just a few months earlier, so the covers flowed forth freely at this juncture in the band’s career. But what they did was showcase the various influences that each member of the band had. A cover of Santana‘s “Moonflower” is a sound the band carries with them to this very day.
But then the gentlemen of Cheese did throw in an original song like Planet‘s opening tune “Black Clouds,” and you can hear that very unique originality with roots embedded in the bluegrass genre, yet skillful songwriting that elevated SCI to another category unto themselves. Add in an “100 Year Flood,” which would end up on the band’s sophomore studio album, 1998’s Round the Wheel, and you’re witnessing a band hitting its stride in that very moment.
Another unique aspect of the group is that you have four players that are all capable of taking lead on vocals, with Billy Nershi, Keith Moseley, Kyle Hollingsworth, and then Michael Kang, as heard on the island-tinged “When Will I.” An impressive “Round the Wheel > Johnny Cash” ended the second set properly. The Nershi-penned “Elvis’ Wild Ride” made an encore appearance, but unfortunately, due to recording issues, never made it to this audio. However, despite that, this is a show that most certainly deserves listening to.
Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | The Roosevelt | Ketchum, ID | 12/15/97
Set I: Chili Dawg > How Mountain Girls Can Love, Pent Up House, Good Times Around The Bend, The Road Home, Moonflower*, Got What He Wanted > Black Clouds
Set II: John Hardy, 100 Year Flood > Ramblin’ Man, California Rain, When Will I > Feelin’ Alright Jam > Blue Bossa, Round The Wheel > Johnny Cash
Encore: Elvis’ Wild Ride#
# Due to an issue, Elvis’ Wild Ride was not recorded.
[Audio: Michiel Oudendijk]
[Originally published 12/15/18]