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The String Cheese Incident

Back: Jason Hann, Michael Travis, Bill Nershi, Keith Moseley
Front: Kyle Hollingsworth, Michael Kang
Background information
Origin Boulder, Colorado, United States
Genres Progressive bluegrass, country, neo-psychedelia, jam band
Years active 1993 – 2007, 2009
Labels SCI Fidelity
Bill Nershi
Michael Kang
Michael Travis
Keith Moseley
Kyle Hollingsworth
Jason Hann (2006 - 2007)

The String Cheese Incident (abbreviated SCI), is a jam band from Crested Butte and Telluride, Colorado formed in 1993. The band is composed of Michael Kang (acoustic/electric mandolin, electric guitar, and violin), Michael Travis (drums and percussion), Bill Nershi (acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar, and electric slide guitar), Kyle Hollingsworth (piano, organ, Rhodes, and accordion), and Keith Moseley (bass guitar), and, in 2006, Jason Hann, an auxiliary percussionist.

Their music is strongly influenced by bluegrass sounds, as well as forays into rock, calypso, country, funk, jazz, Latin, reggae, and occasional psychedelia. SCI has been described as a democratic ensemble rather than a band, since all of the members contribute their own original compositions to the group's burgeoning library and share vocal duties on a number of cover versions as well as their own songs. If a de facto leader had to be named, such a title would probably fall upon Nershi, who is responsible for the bulk of the group's original song library. According to the band's website [1] "After summer 2007, Billy Nershi is leaving The String Cheese Incident to pursue other musical projects." The band reunited in summer 2009 to play the Rothbury Music Festival, and, according to Michael Travis, plan to play more concerts in summer and fall 2010.[1]

The source of the band's name has not been officially disclosed to the public.




Early years: 1996-2001

After a few years of playing local ski resorts and private functions, the band agreed that it was time to get serious with regard to their music, and formed the independent record label SCI Fidelity, on which they released their first album, Born on the Wrong Planet. At this point in their careers, the band displayed the motivation to play strong, melody-driven music that allowed room for live expansion and improvisation. Instrumentals and covers constituted half of the album, allowing much room to display musical virtuosity and even a little in the way of lyrical chops. Many time-tested fan favorites that were spawned from this disc are still in the band's regular live rotation, including "Black Clouds," "Land's End," "Texas," and "Jellyfish."

Less than a year later, SCI released a compilation of ten songs, including "Land's End," on their self-titled live album A String Cheese Incident, which chronicles a single concert from the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado and adds pianist Hollingsworth to the ensemble (he was not in the band during the recording of Born on the Wrong Planet). Despite spanning only one disc and containing only ten tracks, the album clocks in at 72 minutes even (thus, with an average track length of 7:12, displaying their propensity for extended jams), and is widely considered the best CD for new converts to listen to in order to become acquainted to the band's live sound.

'Round the Wheel, released in 1998, refined the band's sound and displayed a marked increase in both musical and lyrical maturity, and added Paul McCandless as a guest player on soprano and tenor saxophone and Tony Furtado on Banjo, but did not earn them quite the level of notoriety that they would achieve in the next millennium. From 1998 through 2001 SCI toured the country extensively and steadily, playing over 500 "Incidents" in hundreds of cities.

In 2001, with the help of guest producer and Los Lobos member Steve Berlin, they released their third studio effort, Outside Inside. This album marked a shift from the band's traditional bluegrass leanings to a more standard rock sound, thus making it the most accessible album to a mainstream audience to that point. The band did not completely abandon its bluegrass roots, however, sneaking in the short three-minute track "Up the Canyon" at the end of the disc, which has become one of many live favorites along with "Rollover," "Close Your Eyes," and others.


On August 6, 2003, the band's own ticketing agency, SCI Ticketing, filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster for violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. After spending years fine-tuning SCI Ticketing's customer service and software, and rising the entertainment ranks to play large venues, the band wasn't about to settle for only selling 8% of their tickets, as existing contracts between Ticketmaster and nearly every major venue in the United States stipulated. Like Pearl Jam, a band which unsuccessfully tried to convince the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation of Ticketmaster in the mid-90's, SCI Ticketing felt that Ticketmaster's service charges were too high and that it had monopolized the concert ticketing industry, using its immense market power to prevent competition for the sale of concert tickets.[2]

SCI eventually settled the lawsuit.[3] In August 2004, SCI Ticketing announced that it was rebranding itself as Baseline Ticketing, and continues to compete in the ticketing industry today.[4]

In October 2003, SCI released their fourth studio album, Untying the Not. UtN is indeed a strong deviation from their previous rock and bluegrass sounds and shows heavy influence from guest producer Martin "Youth" Glover, formerly of the band the Killing Joke. Untying the Not is much darker than the band's previous lighthearted studio releases, full of minor keys and introspection on topics such as death, which are evident in the tracks "Elijah" and "Sirens." It also shows significant evidence of the band's recent habit of introducing techno and trance elements into the mix, such as on the track entitled "Valley of the Jig", which is a fusion of techno and bluegrass stylings.

In the summer of 2004, the band was invited to tour with the Lollapalooza caravan by Jane's Addiction bandleader Perry Farrell, and would have received the distinction of being the first jam band to travel on the Lollapalooza bill. However, due to poor ticket sales and lack of enthusiasm, the festival was canceled and their summer tour was re-routed.


In June 2005, the band released their fifth studio album, titled One Step Closer, containing thirteen original tracks with guest songwriting collaborations. In 2005, the band also welcomed percussionist Jason Hann. The album was produced by Malcom Burn at a studio in Boulder, Colorado, where the band is based. One Step Closer was a return to the more roots-based music of earlier String Cheese Incident fare, while still retaining some of the pop sensibility of previous studio albums.

Through Madison House Inc., the company that manages and books SCI, the band organized 'Big Summer Classic', a 2005 traveling festival tour across the United States. Seven-person ensemble New Monsoon opened the festival's shows, which included acts such as Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Keller Williams. The band played in medium-size outdoor venues, such as minor-league baseball parks.

In 2005 the band returned to their roots: playing shows at the base of ski resorts, summer festivals, smaller venues, and touring throughout the U.S. Band members announced to their fans that the band would take a break from touring in early 2006. They recommenced in the summer of the same year to play several co-headlining shows with Bob Weir's Ratdog including a sold-out two-night run at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado and a set at the 10,000 Lakes Music Festival in Minnesota with well-known acoustic artist Keller Williams.

During sets played with Keller Williams, they referred to themselves as the Keller Williams Incident. The band played at the annual Vegoose festival during the 2006 Halloween weekend. On November 3, 2006, it was announced on the band's website that after summer 2007, Billy Nershi would leave The String Cheese Incident to pursue other musical projects.


The band has announced a few shows for 2007, including their annual Winter Carnival (sans 2006), which stops in Denver and Vail Colorado, and an appearance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival as well as the 10,000 Lakes Festival. The band will conclude their reign among the jamband leadership circuit and ride out into the sunset with a series of shows at their favorite places (New York, San Francisco, Oregon) culminating with a last blowout at Red Rocks Amphitheatre during August 9-12.

The band had re-recorded their song "Close Your Eyes" in Simlish, the native language of The Sims to be in the 5th Expansion Pack - Seasons.


All members were present at the Rothbury Festival performing with their respective solo projects. The Kyle Hollingsworth Band and EOTO performed on Thursday, Panjea with Michael Kang and Keller Williams featuring Keith Moseley performed on Friday, and the Emmitt-Nershi Band performed on Saturday. Rumors were circulating among the festival-goers that String Cheese Incident would reunite and perform on Saturday night ... The rumored set wasn't performed.


March 16, 2009 it was announced that the String Cheese Incident would reunite for the second annual Rothbury Music Festival held in Rothbury, Michigan. This was to be their only show of 2009.[5]

The band played an unannounced, invitation-only, "soundcheck" show at the Ogden Theater in Denver on June 24.[6]

In October 2009, Michael Travis told the Colorado Daily newspaper in Boulder, Colo.: "We are going to be playing some shows next summer and fall. We're not sure about the dates, but we're definitely going to be playing. We're excited to put all we can into this incredible meeting of music, hearts and minds. It's going to be exciting to reunite for those shows."[1]

Friends of Cheesus (FOC)

Like many jam bands that tour the country extensively, The String Cheese Incident has a large and loyal following. Some of the band's fans travel in caravans from show to show and see one concert after another.

Friends of Cheesus, as such fans have come to be known, are generally sort of "hippie" in their use of psychedelic drugs, flamboyant dress and freestyle dancing; however, the String Cheese Incident has attracted a wide range of fans due to their eclectic style and increasing experimentation with electronic style. Many of the band's fans also enjoy the music and live experience of Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band, moe., Umphreys McGee, Sound Tribe Sector 9.

Stage productions and effects

As the band's popularity grew, so did the stage show and spectacle elements of many of their live shows. An organization called Peak Experience Productions was hired to add various eye and mind psychedelia, and audience participatory activities, to larger "Incidents" such as New Year's Eve and Halloween (dubbed "Hulaween" due to the band's early connection to the modern hooping movement). Themed events such as "Full Moon Dream Dance, Evolution", "Dancing Around the Wheel of Time", a "Subway Ride Through New York City", and a "Time Traveler's Ball" are some examples.

During the 2000s the band also established an annual summer event at Horning's Hideout in Oregon, bringing Peak Experience out into the woods to add to the circular energy and rapport between the band and its audience. At the same time, as the band's popularity grew, so did the sizes of the crowds coming to see them; SCI headlined festivals such as Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, and began playing in some larger venues to accommodate their growing fanbase.

SCI released live three-CD sets of all 19 shows that they played in April 2002 on their spring tour. In this regard, they are believed to have taken a cue from Phish's Live Phish series and stepped up the formula a notch by releasing every show instead of just select concerts. Not stopping with the spring tour, SCI has released nearly every song from every concert from every tour through the present, barring those where technical difficulties or contractual guest artist complications are involved. Christening the series On the Road, the shows are released on the SCI Fidelity label for fans who do not have the time or means to engage in active tape trading.

Side projects

Michael Travis founded the acoustic trio, Zuvuya, with Jamie Janover and Xander Greene in 2001 and started the trance music band Zilla during 2003.

Bill Nershi and his wife Jillian started a bluegrass/acoustic band called Honkytonk Homeslice, which has toured across the US, especially in the West, and is scheduled to tour with Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon, Billed as The Emmitt-Nershi Band.

Kyle Hollingsworth plays with various side projects around Colorado including his own band, Kyle Hollingsworth, that plays SCI songs Kyle has written over the years as well as some of his other original pieces. His band features members of the Boulder-based group, The Motet.

Michael Kang plays occasionally with Pangaea (African rooted band), and spends much of his off time travelling the world.

Jason Hann and Michael Travis recently started a live looping project called EOTO. One time throughout their 2008 tour they were joined by Kyle Hollingsworth and Michael Kang making it everyone from SCI except Bill Nershi and Keith Moseley.

Keith Moseley is currently touring with Keller Williams in Keller's newly formed band: Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe (formerly the WMDs). He also performed with Keller as part of Grateful Grass, a project performing bluegrass covers of songs by The Grateful Dead and releasing a live album in support of the Rex Foundation.[7]




  • Pura Vida (2001, VHS)
  • Evolution (2001, VHS & DVD)
  • Bonnaroo Live (2002, DVD)
  • Waiting For the Snow to Fall (2003, DVD)
  • Live at the Fillmore Auditorium, Denver: March 23, 2002 (2003, two-disc DVD)
  • The Big Compromise (2005 bonus DVD, the making of "One Step Closer," 30 minute preview)
  • Live from Austin, Texas (2006, DVD)

Other contributions

  • 107.1 KGSR Radio Austin - Broadcasts Vol.10 (2002) - "Up the Canyon"


  1. ^ a b Colorado Daily. "String Cheese Incident reunion: Colorado jam band plans more concerts in 2010". Retrieved 2009-10-28.  
  2. ^ Forbes. "String Cheese Incident takes Ticketmaster to court". Retrieved 2003-08-06.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ <
  5. ^ String Cheese Incident to reunite for Rothbury,,, 2009.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Keller Williams album for REX charity,, May 7, 2008, Retrieved May 7, 2008.

External links


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