@ the Aladdin Theater 7/27-28/01
String Cheese Incident
Magic Of This Place
by Don Brown Sr.
The Jazz Internet
Las Vegas Jazz n' Blues
Boulder Blues Site
The String Cheese Incidence brought their high energy bluegrass-styled jamband to Las Vegas for the very first time. Playing to a crowd of about 5,000 cheese heads at the Aladdin Theater SCI took their jams to a new level.
These five multi-talented musicians - Kyle Hollingsworth keyboards & accordion, Michael Kang mandolin & violin, Bill Nershi acoustic guitar, and Michael Travis percussion - have been relentlessly touring the country building a strong and faithful fan base. Opening night in Vegas was peppered with only a few first timers, and the second night even less. Fans would usually attend both shows in fear of missing something special.
Their opening set included many instrumental jams that most cheese heads knew. These live jams reveal the true talent of this band. There are no weak links here. All members of SCI sing, and only Michael Travis didn't take a turn this time around. They played "Joyful Sound" from their newest, and best studio, cd Outside Inside, and "Bar Stool" from Carnival '99. SCI delivered a first set that showed them at the top of their game.
Set two was filled with surprises starting with a cover of K.C. & The Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight" with help from Karl Denson and one other member of Tiny Universe. SCI kept jamming and thrilling the crowd with other gems like Peter Gabriel's "Shaking The Tree." The biggest surprise of all came at show's end when guitarist Bill Nershi came out dressed as Elvis to do "Viva Las Vegas." This brought the house down and made you want to see them again the next night.
The second night seemed to be even more crowded than the first. SCI featured "Mrs. Brown's Teahouse" and "100 Year Flood." "Searching" brought the set to a close. Starting off the next set was a wonderful take on the Bob Dylan classic "Tom Thumb's Blues." One doesn't usually think of Dylan songs as jam songs, but in the hands of musicians as capable as the String Cheese Incident it was great.
"Magic Of This Place" was the last number before Scott Nichols, a James Brown impersonator, and Karl Denson joined SCI for a two song jam of "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and "I Got It." This concluded SCI's very first trip to Las Vegas. It was a wild weekend that showed SCI at its best - and definitely in contention for the jam band crown. They certaintly added to the "magic" that is Vegas. Let's hope they make Las Vegas a permanent tour stop.
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe opened for String Cheese Incident. On the first night they played a 1:40 minute set. Most opening acts don't get that much time. But KDTU isn't most acts. Their funky jazz and soul jams on songs like "Groove On" and "Good For You/Good For Me" highlighted the set. Night two was a little shorter, but just as good. "Elephants Are Big As Hell" and Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made Of Sand" were two of the evening's best numbers.
Members of KDTU consist of: Karl Denson saxophone, Andy Cleaves trumpet, Brian Jordon guitar, David Veith keyboards, Eric Bolivar drums, and Mike Dillon percussion.
That Saturday nite of the second show fans filed out of the theater tired and happy. After 10 hours of KDTU and SCI some went back to their 9 to 5 lives, others went on to follow the Cheese to their next city.
jambandNotes: The Sunday after the concerts the author and friends met up with guitarist Bill Nershi at The Pink Taco inside The Hard Rock. Bill was happy with the shows and at the turnout - they may make Las Vegas a yearly stop. He said SCI just taped Austin City Limits to be broadcast in November, and that the New Years shows will be in San Francisco.
Photograph of the String Cheese Incident courtesy of the official SCI website at www.stringcheeseincident.com.
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