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The String Cheese Incident: A Triumphant Return to Montana

first_imgGolden hills rolled gently behind the stage. In the opposite direction, an expansive range of mountainous peaks sprawled in a breathtaking panorama. The legendary big sky of Montana extended into infinity – a phenomenon one must witness to realize how the state truly lives up to its title. In the center of all this splendor, an intimate audience glowed with jubilation, welcoming The String Cheese Incident back to Missoula for the first time in fourteen years. Throughout their two nights in a lush field behind the Big Sky Brewing Company, the band made it very clear how pleased they were in returning to Montana. Hailing from Crested Butte, Colorado, they always have conveyed a heightened sense of comfort when playing mountain towns. The relaxed atmosphere set the tone for a pair of shows revealing The String Cheese Incident at the apex of its powers. Timing often proves to be an overriding factor in life’s finest moments and such was the case for me in making a triumphant return to the realm of the Cheese. From 1997 – 2002, I was head-over-heels for this band and saw them as many times as possible. The passion began to fade and Cheese shows no longer ranked on my priority scale. Over the past two years, I’ve heard friends rant and rave about how well the band is playing. Occasional listening didn’t seem to back this up and my skepticism persisted. It took an alignment of the stars, circumstances and a bit of subtle nudging to magnetize me to Missoula.The majority of my doubt didn’t lie so much with the band’s musical prowess, but more so the selection of new material they’ve been focusing on. Perhaps receiving the subconscious memo that a retro focus was just what the doctor ordered, the band dropped jaws midway through the first set with a shocking bust out. On the shelf since 2007, “Bigger Isn’t Better” adopted a fresh identity as a piece of slow-burning, bluesy reggae psychedelia. The lyrics could not have been more apropos considering the sparsely-attended concert and the simplistic spirit of Montana. Patience is a virtue with this band as they never rushed any of the songs, allowing their potential to fully blossom.The old school momentum continued in the second set when the band used “Rhythm of the Road” as a springboard for dynamic exploration. This 18-minute version soared on the wings of a sinister melodic theme spearheaded by Michael Kang’s mandolin wizardry. Bill Nershi’s newfound (at least to me) propensity for playing electric hollow body or Telecaster is an exciting addition to the band’s arsenal. Both Kang and Nershi’s manipulation of tones creates layers of intrigue within any given song. The kinetic energy collided in the set-closing climax, “Roll Over.” This song’s glorious intro continues to offer one of the most euphoric moments across the jam band landscape.If the first night in Missoula was great, then the second has to be considered an instant classic. From start to finish, the show oozed with swagger, continuity and creativity. The band vocalized its exuberance in having spent the day on the nearby Clark Fork River. Their state of bliss was infectious, permeating every aspect of their performance. “Little Hands” galloped onto the scene like a beloved, old friend. The lyrics carried extra poignancy and weight delivered in these timeless surroundings.He’s been with them for awhile now, but Jason Hann is still the new guy. His addition was a stroke of genius, as Michael Travis is left to channel the full scope of his rhythmic mastery into pacing the Jaguar as it roars around the track. His ninja-like agility and field of vision guide him to put the pedal to the metal at just the right time. Hann is enraptured with his many toys (his expertise on the talking drum is worthy of universal renown), applying tribal nuances which do more than just complement the whole. He is an entity of his own, repeatedly standing out with both his playing and rainbow unicorn smile.String Cheese covers a vast range of styles, all of which they make their own. They were founded on bluegrass and still draw from that well. However, it’s the jazzy, tropical, Cheesy twist on this discipline which is even more compelling. Following a seamless, riveting transition from “Little Hands,” “Indian Creek” was a definitive example of how “on” the band is right now. The synchronicity of all their moving parts is remarkable. This spritely, instrumental journey encapsulated so much of what makes anyone love them. But it wasn’t just oldies paying dividends. New material like bassist Keith Moseley’s bouncy “Sweet Spot” and Kang’s “Believe” fit gracefully into the repertoire.Funk aficionados were gleefully satiated after a relentless ride through “Pack It Up.” The Herbie Hancock-esque instrumental saw Moseley bully his way through the mix, gurgling like a river rapid while an animated Hollingsworth explored his whole bag of tricks. Moseley continued his tear in the second set, belting out The Beatles deep cut, “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.” Coming out of left field and starting on a dime, the Abbey Road track ended up being the improvisational centerpiece of both nights.String Cheese jamming is defined by intricate, yet organic calculation. There is no meandering. They know each other so intuitively, they are the definition of symbiosis. Blazing new trails under the big sky, this transcended any casual assessment of spontaneous sonic creation. The magic continued with a march through the inevitable “Rivertrance” which, when presented in open air, is utterly massive, primal and spiritual. Combined with the sacred geometrical projections on the screen, this can be perceived as aural therapy. Speaking volumes to the band’s feelings about their fresh crop of compositions, they culminated the masterpiece of a set with Kang’s hauntingly seductive, rhythmically complex ode to his wife – “Beautiful.” He has achieved a maturity and precision in his vocal delivery which sounds better than ever.I don’t know if it’s always like this; it’s hard to imagine how that would be possible. But for these couple days in Montana, we bore witness to a band plugged in to a powerful source of inspiration. A band devoid of ego and totally in tune with each other. Six men who emanate a sense of reverence with their past and contentment with the present. A group which honors where it comes from and relishes where it’s going. Most importantly perhaps, over 20 years in to a roller coaster of a career, having as much fun as ever.last_img read more

John Terry’s England retirement ‘disappointed’ coach Roy Hodgson

first_imgEngland manager Roy Hodgson says he is “disappointed” to learn of John Terry’s international retirement but “reluctantly” accepts his decision.Centre-half Terry played in all four of England’s matches at Euro 2012 and featured in the World Cup qualifying win over Moldova this month. But he claims his place in the England team is now “untenable” following the Football Association’s decision to “pursue charges” against him despite being cleared in court of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.“I am of course disappointed to lose a player of John’s international experience and exceptional ability,” said Hodgson.“I have enjoyed a good relationship with John during my time as England manager and I reluctantly accept his decision.“He had the courtesy to call me prior to announcing his retirement.” In a statement, the FA added: “Following his announcement that he is retiring from the England team, the FA would like to thank John Terry for all of his efforts with the national team over the past decade. During his 78 appearances, John has always given his full commitment to the team.”Terry retired from international football on Sunday, on the eve of a FA hearing into allegations that he used “abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour” towards QPR defender Ferdinand in a Premier League game 11 months ago.The 31-year-old Chelsea centre-half had already been cleared at a high-profile court case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, but the FA decided to hold its own inquiry. Terry’s last appearance for England came on 7 September, when he played in a 5-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Moldova.He had already been stripped of the England team captaincy as a result of the charges but played in every England game at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. Hodgson also asserted as recently as a month ago that he intended to include Terry in future England squads.last_img read more

Fabio Fognini Says Andy Murray Just Like Him ‘Because He Complains’

first_imgShanghai: Fabio Fognini said on Thursday that Andy Murray and himself are alike because they both like to complain, after their match at the Shanghai Masters descended into acrimony.Bad blood boiled on Tuesday when the Italian defeated the Briton in three bitter sets, during which Murray told Fognini to “shut up”. Afterwards, the former number one accused 12th-ranked Fognini of shouting while he played a critical point.The 32-year-old Fognini attempted to play down the row.”What do I have to say? I have to say something?” Fognini replied, asked by AFP what he made of Murray’s accusations.”I don’t have to defend myself. The past is the past, I have known him since we are 14.”For me they stay on court, and that’s it… I’ve nothing to say.” Pushed if was aggrieved to have been told to “shut up” by a fuming Murray, Fognini said: “I don’t (wasn’t) upset, I’m not.”He has his character, I have mine, and that’s it.” Fognini, who defeated Russia’s Karen Khachanov to reach the last eight in Shanghai on Thursday, queried the need to make peace with three-time Grand Slam champion Murray.”Peace? I told you, we know each other really well,” said Fognini.”Inside the court we are almost the same because most of the time I’m complaining and he’s complaining.”But that’s part of our job, so I’ve nothing to say.” Reports suggested that Fognini and Murray, who clashed at the net towards the end of their tetchy match, followed the row on afterwards.”We talked normally,” said the Italian.Fognini put on another colourful display to reach the Shanghai quarter-finals. The Italian had several prickly exchanges with the chair umpire and the crowd in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Khachanov.Fognini collapsed in fits of laughter at the net after one umpiring decision and then had an animated exchange with the official in Italian.He next plays Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, the in-form world number four and US Open finalist.”I think it’s the worst player that I can play at the moment because he changed completely in the summer,” Fognini said.”Of course he was great also before, but he made unbelievable changes during the US swing and he’s dangerous, he’s really dangerous. Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time. andy murrayFabio FogniniShanghai Mastersshut up First Published: October 10, 2019, 6:19 PM ISTlast_img read more