A&E » Arts

Not so Cheesey



WHO: The String Cheese Incident

WHERE: Whistler Conference Centre

WHEN: March 17 & 18

"Are you getting any snow up there?"

Ah, spoken like a true ski bum. The first thing out of bassist Keith Moseley’s mouth when he calls from California.

For anyone not familiar with the band The String Cheese Incident, you may be surprised to know the quintet started out very much like the Pete and Chads of Whistler. Crested Butte was home to these powder hounds, where they found themselves drawing regular crowds to the local watering holes after being together for just a few months.

"We enjoyed some success early on," says Moseley. "We started playing the ski hill circuit and after just about six months we were able to get the opening spot at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. That was a big confidence boost for us.

"Shortly after that we made a commitment that we really wanted to try and make a living doing this and make the band our career. We were all pushing 30 when the band started, so we were a little older. We had all worked a lot of different jobs by that point. Once the band got started, it just felt like we were on to something good."

Who could have predicted that just seven years later, The String Cheese Incident would find itself being compared to the likes of The Grateful Dead and Phish? String Cheese’s style really doesn’t resemble either of the aforementioned, but what they do have in common is an obsessively loyal fan base that ranges from 18 year olds all the way up to their grandparents.

"We’ve played over 1,100 gigs, so we’ve definitely put some time in on the road to work up that fan base.

"The difference between us and some of the other jam bands is our diversity. We cover everything from bluegrass to acid jazz to world beat and straight ahead rock ’n’ roll. And because of that, our fan base is wide and diverse as well… We have people coming with their kids and it’s pretty cool. I enjoy that."

And the fans have taken to following the band to the corners of the globe. So much so, in fact, that the band actually formed its own travel agency to book tickets, airfare and accommodation for fans wishing to travel to shows in other cities and countries.

Like the travel agency, it seems a large part of String Cheese’s success has to do with a keen business sense. Moseley says he’s not really sure where that smart business sense came from for guys with degrees in environmental resource management.