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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2001/11/04
by Pete Broadbent

String Cheese Incident, Billy & Liza- Washington & Lee University – Student Activities Pavilion, Lexington, VA – 11/3

I’ve traveled as far south as Louisiana and as far west as California to see the Cheese before, so having them play in my own backyard was a special treat. Lexington Virginia is a small town well under10,000 people even when both colleges are in session- so 2,500 Cheesers are hard not to notice.

My ten house guests and I arrived an hour before Billy and Liza were to take the stage, and there was a full on lot scene that I never would have expected- Barney Fife and his boys are always taking names around town. But, to my surprise, there everyone was vending, dancing, hanging out, and jamming with the Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop.

We went inside the “venue”- it’s a tin shed with a concrete floor- and got set up. Heads outnumbered college kids at least 3 to 1, and everyone was getting along- no hassling by either group. Billy and Liza took the stage to a respectful, quiet crowd. She has a great voice, and a great stage presence- she could easily be a star on the jam circuit in her own right. Most of the Cheese took turns playing with Billy and Liza, and while the songs started out nice and folksy, some serious jamming began to develop. All in all a wonderful warm-up for the night.

String Cheese came on stage to a packed crowd, and opened up with Close Your Eyes notable for its Beautiful harmonies. There was some real energy in the shed, and people were getting down. The old standard High on a Mountaintop got all the bluegrass fans going, and the energy level rose. The set closed with a fantastic combo of Turn this Around>Jam>Well You Needn’t Jam>the Joker. Joker was a great choice, with the crowd singing along. By the time it was over, it seemed that most everyone needed to head outside for the half hour set break where it was refreshing and cold.

The second set opened with a solid version of Search. Then, following a few moments of delay, the band moved into an exploratory version of Keller Williams’ Best Feeling, and didn’t stop again until the set was over. Highlights included the jam after Best Feeling- one of the prettiest pieces of music I can ever remember hearing- and a hard rock intro into Outside Inside. The single best piece, though, was Blue Bossa and the jam into it. I haven’t danced like that in…well, I can’t remember. I am so sore today it hurts to type. Driving beats, excellent keyboard techno effects: just plain body shaking music.

After a brief pause, String Cheese came out for the encore of Black Clouds. A fine song, well-played, with an interesting intro.

With the show was over it was back to the lots, back to our homes, back to my town with only 10,000 people. Still, things sure were a lot more interesting around here and plenty more lively, if only for a few hours.

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