Cheese, tea and nectar |

Cheese, tea and nectar

Ian CroppVail CO, Colorado
C. Taylor Crothers/Special to the Daily String Cheese Indicent will be playing two shows at Vail's Dobson Arena, Monday and Tuesday.

VAIL – Get ready for a taste of the new cheese. When the String Cheese Incident rolls into town Monday and Tuesday, there will be the usual main course of SCI tunes. But SCI fans will also get a glimpse into the future when the band members will likely move in their own directions at the end of the summer and spend more time on side projects.On Monday night after the SCI show, Honkeytonk Homeslice – SCI leadman Bill Nershi’s bluegrass and acoustic band – will be jammin at Samana. Then after Tuesday’s show, Zilla – SCI drummer Michael Travis’ trance band – will be rocking at 8150.And for those with a voracious appetite, there’s some pretty big appetizers that could stand alone to start out both nights.Monday, Tea Leaf Green, who seems to make a second home in Colorado, will be opening for SCI with its rock ‘n’ jam style. Also, Bassnectar, the DJ whose tracks combine all things under the sun into energy, will follow up his floor bouncing Monday night at 8150 to open for SCI Tuesday.

From their formation in 1993, for the first few years together, the Boulder-based SCI made their rounds in Colorado, hitting up ski resorts. As the jam scene began to take off, so did SCI, with its bluegrass influence. By 1998, when the band released its third album “Round the Wheel,” SCI was putting on tons of shows throughout the entire country.While SCI continued to tour, it put out a fifth album, “Outside Inside,” with a bit more of a rock feel, and again took a different turn with it’s next release “Untying the Not.” Along the way, however, SCI started releasing live shows, which helped boost its popularity among the jam scene and mainstream.With the most recent album, “One Step Closer,” SCI moved back to where they started musically, and geographically. That, coupled with Phish’s breakup, boosted SCI to an even higher level.

After a three-year break from Vail, SCI will be back for what had been a yearly double set at Dobson Arena. This year’s Winter Carnival in Winter Park features only five shows, all in Colorado.Following SCI’s set in Vail, the band will take a break before Bonnaroo in mid-June, and then likely close things out in August at Red Rocks. Nershi, who has been the leader of SCI, will be leaving at the end of the summer to work on his side projects. While SCI’s future is still in flux, there is the possibility the Red Rocks show will be the swan song. But much like Phish, there’s always the chance of a revival. “I think generally, in this day and age, there’s no reason why you can’t have a side project that takes off,” said Trevor Garrod of Tea Leaf Green. “You can go tour, and then go back and tour with (the group). I like side projects and like to see people try different things and expand themselves.”

They rocked 8150 in February, and while Dobson may not have a bouncing floor, Tea Leaf Green isn’t too concerned. After all, TLG, a band that likes to rock and happens to jam, tours all year and lives for the live show.”To perform in front of people and make music and make people dance – it’s a very transcendental experience,” Garrod said.The band is known for improvisation, which should come as no surprise considering Garrod talks about the other members’ as being some of his major influences.”I’m influenced by actual musicians I’ve play with,” said Garrod, who plays the piano and writes most of the bands’ songs.One unique aspect of TLG is how they are able to work in a piano and guitar seamlessly.”I wonder about the piano’s place in rock music,” Garrod said “It’s not as easily defined … I can get a little lost sometimes. But that’s what makes it interesting … It’s a tricky thing having a guitar and piano play together in a rock and roll format. It forces you to listen to each other.”While playing in Vail is nothing new for TLG, opening for SCI is a bit of a change.”I see doing these opening slots as a mass advertisement,” Garrod said. “When you see previews for other movies, that’s what our opening slot it.”Sweet as bassBassnectar never thought he’d be a DJ. In high school, Lorin Ashton was in a death metal band, because he loved “raw, churning powerful music.” A few years later, Ashton was into the all-night dance scene. It’s quite telling that Ashton graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a major of his own design, that incorporated music, education and social change. The ingenuity that Ashton possessed from early on helped him fall into the scene and become Bassnectar.”I don’t consider myself a DJ as much as an artist, an artistic expressionist or volunteer,” Ashton said. “I channel energy and think a lot about facilitating peoples’ experience and sharing music.”Ashton treats each show completely different, and adapts not only to the crowd, but his physical surroundings. Recently at a string of shows, Ashton went from casting a soundscape when he played from atop a two-story enclosed area, to mix his favorite trip-hop the next evening in a forest setting with the sun coming up.On his newest album, “Underground Communication,” Ashton addresses the issue of net neutrality.”I wanted to pick the most important cause I could and throw all my weight behind it,” Ashton said.For both his shows, Ashton hopes to keep provide what he’s given during his seemingly endless touring schedule.”I think people appreciate authenticity in art and expression in all cases – that’s what I’m committed to,” he said.

Staff Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at (970) 748-2935 or

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