Scene & Heard

String Cheese Weekend has a ‘Ripple’ effect

Bill Nershi of String Cheese Incident lets his fingers do the talking as the band – celebrating its 25th anniversary – lights up Cuthbert Amphitheater for three nights in a row. String Cheese is known for playing a diverse mix of covers – and they certainly did that in its Eugene run last weekend. See page 26 for the full review. BRADLEY COOK/THE CHRONICLE

EUGENE – The music world had said goodbye to Robert Hunter less than a week earlier. So it wasn’t a matter of if – but when – The String Cheese Incident would pay homage to the legendary Grateful Dead lyricist during their just-completed three-night run at the Cuthbert Amphitheater.
That moment happened on the second night, Saturday, Sept. 28. After teasing the crowd in the second set with ”Catfish John” – a song popularized by the Jerry Garcia Band – String Cheese ended the evening with one of Hunter’s most iconic songs, ”Ripple.”
Now celebrating their 25th year, String Cheese has accumulated enough of their own music to play several nights in a row without ever repeating a song. But the band is known for always breaking out an eclectic mix of covers – and they stuck with that M.O. during their Eugene run.
Friday’s opening show featured Billy Preston’s ”Will It Go ‘Round In Circles,” Supertramp’s ”Breakfast In America” and Bob Marley’s ”Bend Down Low.” Sunday’s final day brought us Hank Williams’ ”Mind Your Own Business” and Paul Simon’s ”Under African Skies.”
But Saturday had to be the best night of the year for jam-band aficionados. After the String Cheese show, many fans darted off to Whirled Pies to catch the Jerry Garcia Birthday Band. With former Ratdog keyboardist Mookie Siegel sitting in, the Portland-based band rocked a packed house from 10 p.m. to 2:20 a.m.
No group in rock history has spawned more cover bands than the Grateful Dead – the two most famous being Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based ensemble, and Dark Star Orchestra, a Chicago band.
But the Jerry Garcia Birthday Band is generally pegged as the Pacific Northwest’s premier Dead cover band. JGBB visits Eugene regularly, and will be back at Whirled Pies on Dec. 21.
As virtually any longtime fan of the Grateful Dead can tell you, going to a show – whether it’s Dead & Company (featuring John Mayer and all the surviving members of the Grateful Dead) or a good cover band – is unlike any other concert experience.
There’s a feeling of family and community, as though everyone in the place shares a secret, special bond. At Whirled Pies on Saturday night, you could feel the love as the band honored Hunter with several of his timeless classics, like ”Box of Rain,” ”Brown-Eyed Women” and ”Cumberland Blues.” And, of course, the scene got a little chaotic after all the String Cheese fans arrived, with everyone dancing their tails off.
”Best Feeling” and ”Joyful Sound” are two of SCI’s more popular original songs that fans got to hear. Those two tunes also describe what kind of weekend it was for jam-band fans.



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