String Cheese Incident’s Roots Run Deep Tour at The Pageant – 12/7/2011
Words and Pictures by Bradley Darby

The String Cheese Incident has been doing their thing for almost 20 years (with a break here or there) in the jam community, blending Colorado progressive bluegrass with psychedelic rock, funk, and jam music. They have accumulated quite a large following of loyal fans which makes it difficult to get tickets to many shows, especially when the show in question is one of the more intimate venues on the tour consisting of 14 shows in 16 days, and only 2 cities in the Midwest. This particular show at The Pageant was part of the Roots Run Deep Tour and actually sold out in something like 23 minutes. On Wednesday night, I was finally given the chance to experience a Cheese show and I must say…. I finally get it.

I was meeting people at the show, and they had already claimed our spot, so upon arrival around 730 I spent a few moments wandering around the small lot scene that was forming on the side of the building. There were people selling veggie burritos and beers, handmade limited String Cheese pins and posters, and all kinds of other goodies. The lines to get in were very long, you could tell no one wanted to miss a note of the show scheduled to start at 815pm. As I got in the door and was gently caressed by the kind security guard, I already saw one person being escorted out by another security guard. It was then time to post up with my friends off to the Moseley side.

The show started just about 8:20 as most of the capacity crowd had flowed in. String Cheese has consisted of the same lineup since its inception in 1993, with percussionist Jason Hann being added to the mix in 2006. The rest of the band is comprised of main songwriter and guitarist Billy Nershi, drummer Michael Travis, bassist Keith Moseley, Michael Kang on the electric mandolin/fiddle, and Kyle Hollingsworth on the keys/organ.

They wrapped the first set with “‘Round the Wheel” which had yet to be played this tour. The lighting rig was pretty stellar, featuring a LED screen with crazy visualizations being projected and mostly ominous lighting. It was tough to find a time throughout the entire evening where the whole crowd wasn’t dancing along with the music. Its no question that String Cheese fans know how to enjoy the show, and no shock as to why many go to multiple shows on tour. Some even brought signs requesting certain songs, while some just brought glowsticks and pineapples. The first set also featured “Indian Creek”, a rarity bluegrass jam and one of my favorite SCI songs.

Billy Nershi danced from side to side while strumming the guitar and taking vocal duties on many songs. He addressed the crowd at one point and told us that they had considered ending the tour out East but decided to come out to the Midwest for a few days (the tour ended with three shows in Chicago immediately following this show) Nershi also asked the crowd “whats with the pineapples?” As a few fans held up pineapples they have brought….. no more information was obtained involving the pineapple sadly.

During the 2nd set, as the band was in the middle of an absolute rocking cover of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire”, the power went out. We’re not talking just the stage, we’re talking entire venue. And later discovered it was the entire block. For a few moments a crew worked on the stage and almost had it fixed when it went out again. At this point, the band acted fast and came out with percussion instruments and began to do a drums jam at the front of the stage for like fifteen minutes while the crowd held up lighters and the crew got the power going again. It was a great improvisation by one of the better improv bands outs there and they ensured their loyal fan base stayed entertained while the issue was resolved.

After the power was restored, the band took their places again to finish the set and Billy Nershi asked “where were we?” At that point they went right back into “Ring of Fire” as they had never been interrupted. We received extended versions of “Eye Know Why” and “Restless Wind” before they left the stage to a frenzied crowd. Before playing the encore, Billy told us they had something special in store, they then finished it off with a fifteen minute “Texas” from their debut album, Born on the Wrong Planet from 1997.

Set 1:

  • ‘Round The Wheel
  • Missin’ Me >
  • Indian Creek
  • Cottonmouth
  • Rain
  • Freedom Jazz Dance
  • On The Road >
  • ‘Round The Wheel


Set 2:

  • Come As You Are
  • 100 Year Flood >
  • Hotel Window
  • Ring Of Fire (power outage) >
  • Drums >
  • Ring Of Fire
  • Eye Know Why >
  • Restless Wind
  • E: Texas
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