Monday, July 17, 2006


From Boston Globe:

Ratdog and String Cheese find a groove together
By Linda Laban, Globe Correspondent July 17, 2006

MANSFIELD -- The fuzzy, feel-good jam-band jamboree that was this summer's Ratdog and String Cheese Incident co-headline tour -- jovially dubbed the ``CheeseDog" tour -- arrived at the Tweeter Center on Saturday for its final date. Throughout the nationwide tour the two bands had switched off playing the final spot each night , with the opener performing one set and that night's headliner performing two.

Saturday saw Bob Weir's sextet Ratdog in the end zone. But the Tweeter Center show held a bonus: This was the only show on the tour in which both bands played two sets, turning in more than four hours of music. String Cheese added a nice twist to the proceedings by performing its first set acoustically and with a distinct Americana country tone.

There was various intermingling of musicians in each set as Ratdoggers joined String Cheese and vice versa. Any appearance by Grateful Dead cofounder Weir roused the audience, while String Cheese showings during Weir's dusky rock 'n' roll and blues sets were barely noticed. CheeseDog? For the fans, it was all hot 'Dog.

Yet String Cheese's initial late afternoon acoustic hootenanny was more interesting. The band began with a folky classic-rock turn on stoner standard ``Panama Red" (written by Wayland native and progressive bluegrass artist Peter Rowan). But the Colorado six-piece soon moved on to explore Western swing, gospel bluegrass, jazz, and boogie woogie.

While skillfully encompassing these styles, String Cheese isn't distinguished in any of them. The rock set blurred their characteristics further, creating a middling musical amalgam with a rote rock formula: shifting gears up from a smooth mellow groove and then, lo!, taking it back down again.

Along with Ratdog guitarist Mark Karan, Weir joined String Cheese for a sleepy run through the Grateful Dead's ``Turn on Your Love Light." The crowd went nuts. Yet there were four guitarists onstage, with no one exploring much beyond the groove. It's all about the jam, man.


“One More Saturday Night” for RatDog and the String Cheese Incident

After a few weeks on the road, the String Cheese Incident and RatDog wrapped up their joint summer tour Saturday at Mansfield, MA’s Tweeter Center. As an end of tour treat, both bands performed two sets, frequently collaborating throughout the evening as well. During String Cheese Incident’s first set, Bob Weir emerged for both “K.C. Moan” and “Dark Hollow.” RatDog guitarist Mark Karan later emerged for “Sweet Melinda” and “Turn on Your Lovelight,” with Weir performing on the later number.

Collaborations continued during RatDog’s tour closing performance. First, Michael Kang joined RatDog during its first set for “Dark Star” and “She Says.” Next, Kang returned during RatDog’s second set with Bill Nershi for “Silvio,” “Tequila,” and “West L.A. Fadeaway" (Kyle Hollingsworth also joined on the final selection). The entire String Cheese Incident then emerged for “Iko Iko.” Shortly after, RatDog’s set unfolded into a loose jam, with Kang helping the group close out its set with on point versions of “Dark Star” and “Sugar Magnolia.” Kang, Nershi and Hollingsworth also appeared during RatDog’s encore, enhancing “Ripple” and, with the aid of percussionist Jason Hann, an appropriate tour closing rendition of “One More Saturday Night.”

RatDog and String Cheese Incident’s performances at Radio City Music Hall Thursday and Friday were also peppered with collaborations. Of particular note, Weir and most of RatDog joined string Cheese Incident for “I Know You Rider” Friday. The Persuasions, a gospel vocal group who has toured with RatDog and recorded Dead covers, joined RatDog for “The Liberty” and an a capalla version of “Black Muddy River.” Infamous conservative spokesperson, and recently outed Deadhead, Ann Coulter could also be seen dancing side stage at Radio City Thursday night.


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