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774: Presidents of the United States of America
773: Keith
767: Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute
764: Kaiser Chiefs
760: Tim and Puma Mimi
759: Ice Cube
758: Vinyl Soul
757: Bajofondo
755: The Troubadours
752: Spiritualized at Summer Sonic
749: Cajun Dance Party
744: Heat and Noise
739: The Checks
737: Blue King Brown
735: Asian Dub Foundation
734: Scouting For Girls
732: Buzzcocks
730: Old Man River
728: The Kills
726: KT Tunstall
725: Jason Collett
722: Brotherís Sisterís Daughter
720: Sufjan Stevens
716: Gossip
714: The Go! Team
713: Cafť Tacvba
711: Celtic Woman
709: Jack PeŮate
706: Soulive
703: Animal Collective
703: Reverend and The Makers
702: Battles
700: Dinosaur Jr
696: The Polyphonic Spree
695: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
692: Golden Age of Rock
691: One Fine Day
688: Rhombus
687: Corneille
685: The Cinematic Orchestra
683: 747s
680: Pete Murray
679: Mice Parade
678: Enter Shikari
676: The View
674: !!!
671: Donavon Frankenreiter
670: Herbie Hancock
669: Krystal Meyers
668: The Roots
666: Lily Allen
664: Two for Christmas
663: The Datsuns
661: Peaches
660: Tapes ín Tapes
658: Mystery Jets
656: Shayne Ward
654: The Beat
653: Eumir Deodato
652: Mt. Fuji Calling
650: Juno Reactor
649: Yo La Tengo
648: Hyde Park Music Festival
647: Juana Molina
646: Sierra Leoneís Refugee All Stars
645: Tool
644: Juan Formell y Los Van Van
643: The Benevento-Russo Duo
641: TV On The Radio
639: Summer Music Festival Guide 2006
638: ESG
636: Editors
634: Greenroom
632: Ben Harper
630: Matmos
627: Arctic Monkeys
626: Erykah Badu
624: Cake
622: Bent Left
620: Mogwai
618: Deerhoof
617: The Album Leaf
616: Tristan Prettyman
614-615: 10, 9, 8....
613: Madonna
612: John Tropea and Incognito
610: Boy
608: Underworld
607: Niyaz
606: The Beautiful Girls
605: Miho Hatori
604: Doves
600: Bang Gang
598: Feist
596: Fantomas
595: Hyde Park Music Festival
593: Little Barrie
591: Juliette Lewis
589: James Chance & The Contortions
588: Carnival: Vice Bongo 1st Anniversary Party
585: Stereophonics
583: Little Joe Washington
581: Caetano Veloso
579: Maximo Park
578: Moe
577: Death From Above 1979
576: Destiny’s Child
575: Megadeth
574: Bandstand
572: Ozomatli
570: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
568: Prefuse 73
566: Pat Metheny
565: Rachel Yamagata
564: The Shins
563: The Music
561-562: Metropolis music survey 2004
559: Blues Explosion
557: The Libertines
555: G. Love
554: Dropkick Murphys
553: Kasabian
552: Fertile Ground
551: Recliner
550: Jah Shaka
548: Faithless
547: Tokyo Rotation
546: Yokosuka Reggae Super Bash
545: The Roots
544: True People's Celebration
543: Trans Europe Fes
542: Matthew Sweet
541: Heaven Artists
540: Manolito y su Trabuco
539: Rabble rouser
537: The Offspring
535: Janet Kay with Omar and Thriller U
533: Critters Buggin’
532: Cyndi Lauper
531: Cat Power
530: Standing in the shadows
528: Missy Elliott
527: Stereolab
526: Organic Groove
525: Questions of the day
523: Tough Cookie
521: Conversion
520: Iggy's inner artist
519: Control freak chic
518: Down to the Wire
517: Incubus
516: Kraftwerk
515: Black Eyed Peas
514: Pretenders
513: Sonicmania
511: Suburban funk boys
509/10: Incognito
508: Celtic Xmas 2003
507: Limp Bizkit
506: Robert Randolph and the Family Band
505: Out on a limb
503: Electraglide
501: Super Furry Animals
499: Geezer's groove
498: Ashanti
497: Syn city
496: Slacker rock rules!
495: Television
494: Lou Reed
493: Joao Gilberto
492: The Used
491: Gypsy Summer 2003
490: The Lucksmiths
489: Maxi Priest & Shaggy
488: Chuck Berry
487: Summer Sonic
486: The redheaded stepchild makes good
485: Positive punk mom
484: Duran Duran
483: Unapologetically acoustic
482: Break and Remake
481: Ron Sexmith
480: Folk Implosion
479: The Brand New Heavies
478: The Blood Brothers
477: Eminem
476: The Kills
475: Jackson Browne
474: N.E.R.D.
473: Shred a tabloid, make music
472: Garage Redux
471: Bringing the jams east
470: Asian Dub Foundation
469: Badly Drawn Boy
468: Massive Attack
467: Teenage Fanclub
466: The All Wave Grrls
465: J. Mascis + the Fog
464: Catching up with Sonic Youth
463: Deep Forest
462: Magic Rockout
461: Jurassic 5
460: Snuff
459: Queens of the Stone Age
457/8: On the phone: The Jeevas
456: K-Ci & JoJo and The Roots
455: Sleater-Kinney
454: Beast Feast
453: Contrasts in young UK rock
452: Tahiti 80
451: Pink
450: The Artist (no longer) formerly known as..
449: Paul McCartney Previewed
447: Jamiroquai
446: On the phone: Taxiride
445: Bad Religion
444: Jennifer Love Hewitt
443: Camp in Asagiri Jam
442: The Cinematic Orchestra
441: On the phone: Moby
440: True People's Celebration
439: Roots Revival
438: The politics of sampling
437: Summer Sonic sampler
436: The Jazz Mandolin Project
435: Indie icons
434: Cato Salsa Experience
433: Get's Bossa Nova 2002
432: Janet Kay with Omar
431: Kottonmouth Kings
430: Bowes & Morley
429: Christina Milian
428: Elvis Costello
427: Space Kelly
426: Diana Krall
425: Jay-Z
424: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
423: The Brian Setzer Orchestra
422: Weezer
421: The Music
420: Lenny Kravitz
419: Speech
418: Tool
417: Green Day
416: Chuck Berry & James Brown
415: Ozomatli
414: Britney Spears
413: Music Mary J. Blige
412: Incubus
411: The Chemical Brothers
410: David Byrne
409: The Prodigy
408: Roger Walters
407: Ozzy Osbourne
406: Lisa Loeb
405: Aerosmith
404: Garbage
403: Sloan
402: Jamiriquoi
401: Park Tower Blues Festival
400: Mercury Rev
399: Bjork
398: The Isley Brothers
397: Janet Jackson
396: Ian Brown
395: Tortoise Orchestra
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel
392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana

by Dan Grunebaum

Bringing the jams east

Bill Nershi of the String Cheese Incident tells Metropolis what the term “jam band” really means.

Left to right: Bill Nershi, Kyle Hollingsworth, Michael Kang, Keith Moseley and Michael Travis

“The first day, we hiked to the top of Mt Naeba—that was a great way to break into Japan,” recalls guitarist Bill Nershi of jam band the String Cheese Incident. It’s probably safe to say that not too many bands appearing at last year’s Fuji Rock Festival followed them to the top of the precipitous mountain, but for a bunch of Colorado guys whose band grew out of an aprËs ski act, it seemed appropriate.

As the String Cheese Incident gear up for their first solo tour of Japan, I’ve located them at The Plant studio in Sausalito near San Francisco, where Nershi is putting the finishing touches on a guitar solo for a new album due out this summer. “It’s been great going into the redwoods and going to the beach when we have time,” Nershi says, explaining why they chose the studio, which was also where Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumors and Santana Supernatural. With their decidedly countrified sound and laid-back airs, String Cheese Incident are the antithesis of the urban rock, hip-hop and electronica acts that make up the bulk of the foreign talent touring Japan. But in the country’s budding jam-band scene, they have found a welcoming audience.

String Cheese got their start on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where they played for the aprËs ski crowd at bars in resorts like Telluride. “It was the kind of thing where we were playing to support ourselves and avoid getting a real job,” recalls Nershi in a statement that might resonate with Japan’s generation of rootless furita. “It really was kind of organic in the way it got going.

We started playing more and more, and the response took us by surprise to the point where we started saying, ‘Man, this is fun, people are digging us, maybe we should practice!’”

The band, which consists of mandolinist/violinist Michael Kang, bassist Keith Moseley, pianist Kyle Hollingsworth and percussionist Michael Travis in addition to Nershi, decided to relocate to Boulder, Colorado, where they felt the band would be better positioned. Their self-described “sacrilegious mix of bluegrass, calypso, salsa, Afro-pop, funk, rock and jazz” quickly built a following, and they were soon doing upwards of 170 live dates a year.

The quintet debuted with the competent Born on the Wrong Planet in 1997, but like any good jam band, the essence of the String Cheese Incident experience is in their live shows. To impart the atmosphere of their gigs out to a wider audience, the band established their own record label, Sci Fidelity, and began to release a series of CDs documenting each concert. Among them is a recording of last year’s Fuji Rock performance, which nicely captures the fluid improvisation and unprepackaged vibe of a String Cheese Incident show.

“We’ve been recording all our shows for a long time on multi-track, and when we mix those down we have a better-quality sounding selection,” says Nershi, comparing the discs to the recordings produced by “tapers” whose forest of microphones is a fixture of concerts by jam bands.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t hang out in tape-trading circles, and I think that this gives them a chance to say, ‘Oh I really like these shows, I want to pick up these CDs so I can remember the show, whether it was my birthday, the night I lost my virginity, or whatever the case may be.”

Despite the revenue lost in CD sales, and perhaps because like most jam bands, the String Cheese Incident probably make the bulk of their money from live shows, the band still strongly encourage tape-trading. “It’s an online thing now,” explains Nershi, “and it’s good. Those are the people that originally helped to spread the word about the band, and they were the ones who first got the music out there.”

Having been to a few Grateful Dead concerts myself back in the day, I ask Nershi to define this amorphous term, “jam band,” used to describe acts that follow in the footsteps of those legendary San Francisco psychedelic warriors led by the late Jerry Garcia. Rather than sounding like the Grateful Dead (which String Cheese Incident nonetheless often do), he says it’s more about bands that cater to fans that want to see multiple shows, and offer a different show every night.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily the style of music, because a lot of bands that have different styles of music are clumped into the jam-band category. It’s more about bands that are willing to improvise a lot onstage, and offer different song selections each night, so people can go to different shows and not feel like they’re getting the same shows spewed out each night.”

But doesn’t it really boil down to an excuse to take acid? “Oh nooo, never!” responds Nershi with more than a slight hint of sarcasm. “No,” he gets serious. “We have people who trip, we have people who don’t; we have people who drink; we have people who don’t.

“You know, a lot of times the shows are vacation time for people, and since I’m the one providing the entertainment, I find that people who come to the shows like to party. It’s similar to an old Dead show, except maybe they were partying a little harder.”

The success of events like last year’s improvisational True People’s Celebration has demonstrated that Japan now has a real market for jam bands, which seem to appeal to ravers looking to move beyond waving their hands around in front of a DJ, as much as to old-school hippies. With shaggy, tie-dyed folk of all types in abundance around Tokyo, the String Cheese Incident should be in for a warm welcome.

String Cheese Incident play Shibuya AX on April 12-13. See listings for details.

credit: Smash