There are times and places in one’s life that simply pass without memory, with the blink of an eye, they are gone, lost to some other dimension—but there are some that last with us forever. They stay in our mind until our dying day and never leave. There are also things that are just serendipitous, meant to be, destined. When I found Fans.com, after discussing the same concept with friends at a Widespread Panic Red Rocks show, my life changed. I began to write more and post my reviews from concerts that I had just tucked away, never even meaning to use them. I slowly gathered a few followers and, to my surprise, people liked my stuff. When I posted about The String Cheese Incident, I was just posting my thoughts on a song and show that I had seen previously. I honestly never even knew there was a contest. When I won the meet and greet I was overwhelmed, surprised and nervous. I quickly worked out plans to take a bus to NYC to meet the guys and see one of the best shows of my life.
After a long bus ride up north, I arrived in Brooklyn for the day and hung out in Prospect Park, watching and listening to a large drum circle and grabbing some food at a convenient local event called the Smorgasbord. It was extremely hot that day, one of the hottest of the summer, but I cooled off, walking through the shaded park, taking in Brooklyn.
I had been to NYC before, but never this part of town. I enjoyed the local flavorings but I felt like I was far away from the NYC I was used to and the lack of skyline was particularly different. I will never be able to get used to the garbage in the city, the complete and utter filth that is humanity’s decadence. The subway reeks of urine and stale excrement. It is what it is. The lady yelling on the subway, shaking and writhing, speaking an unknown language even she herself couldn't decipher is par for the course and the norm for those around me. To me this is a bizarre and strange ritualistic event that all New Yorkers must bear witness to. I couldn't find a seat because a homeless vagrant lay across three seats on the subway. On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted to sit there afterwards anyway. So is the nature of humans. The homeless man’s crusty fedora fell to the floor and as a natural reaction, I went to grab it and return it to his sleeping head, but then I was reminded of the crustiness of the object and removed my hand immediately: As I felt pain and suffering for this man, I too felt the urge to be disgusted by him. I felt the same way about the city. This is human nature, and traversing this paved substratum always brings it out in me. My days are usually spent in the quiet mountains of Virginia, where the only homeless people are the ones too drunk to do anything with themselves and most of them choose to be locked up in the county jail just for the meal and bed.
I walked from Prospect Park onward to Kings Theatre, arriving early and congregating with a few others who had gathered. We talked for hours about many things. There were many different opinions and topics, broad and vague, from north to south. Line-waiting is a tradition for humans, especially in the city. One must wait in lines for everything: from transportation to a morning’s cup of coffee. Life is a constant forming of lines; a perpetual state of waiting. This line, however, I didn't mind waiting for—I was about to meet one of my favorite live acts of all time.
I was pleasantly greeted at the door by the employees of the Kings Theatre and barely searched, even with my backpack filled to the zipper with books and paper for writing. I got my show poster at the merch-booth and then walked into the venue, which took my breath away with its gorgeous and ornate craftsmanship. This theatre was at a higher echelon from the ones I was used to. The history of the venue itself could be seen through the works of art surrounding the entire building.
I received the call I was waiting for and was escorted by Dan, a big fellow with a nervous smile but a genuine and eager attitude. I smiled—somewhat contemptuously—at the security guards as I passed between them. I was in the big leagues now. Behind the stage was even more spectacular than I expected: I felt like a child being shown where all the magic really happens—a behind-the-scenes look at my favorite television show or something of the like. I became increasingly nervous as I walked further into the cavernous underbelly of the King’s Theatre. The VIP area lay just ahead but it felt like miles and miles of black tunnel. A new person greeted us; he seemed important but I can't recall his name. He commented on my All Good Music Festival shirt and told me the basic ground rules for meeting the band who was just in the other room. “Here goes nothing,” I thought as I rehearsed what I was going to say and how I would say it. I barely understood some of the things the guy was telling me until he was like, “Are you ready to meet the guys?!"
A minute later, I was entering a room—just me and The String Cheese Incident. I shook all their hands with my sweaty palms and introduced myself as best I could. I could tell they were just as nervous to meet me as I was them but their genuine and sincere attitude quickly calmed me down; I felt relaxed enough to respond to Keith Moseley’s question of "So, how did you win this contest or whatever it was?"
I responded as simply as I could and told them about my research with their song “Bollymunster" and a review for Philly.
The String Cheese Incident at Electric Factory on Nov 7 2014
November 7th, 2014 at Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA
The String Cheese Incident
Post by JamBandPurist - One of my favorite SCI songs is "Bollymunster" This song enc...
They all looked at me, perplexed, until Nershi asked me in his pleasant gnome-like voice: "Well hey fellow, how did you know about ‘The Star of Munster’?
I responded: "I just listen to all kinds of music, folk, Irish, bag-pipe whatever. As well as Indian and world music.”
Nershi: "Well, I learned ‘Star of Munster’ and showed it to Hann here and he said that would sound good with a Bollywood-type sound." I looked at Jason Hann and he nodded in confirmation. It was a dream come true. I have always been enamored with song meanings and the stories behind them. This was direct conformation from the band of my theory about “Bollymunster.” This was the fruition of hard work and research, and it was immensely rewarding to find out the truth.
Kyle: "So, what song do you want us to play for you?"
Me: "I don't even know guys, just play whatever you’re feeling and I'll just watch."
I was taken aback by the question and couldn't think of a song in my head beside “Bollymunster,” which they had just played the night before. In the end, I got a blisteringly-cool performance of “Hobo Song.” The coolest thing about this private performance was that Kyle missed a few notes and they all stopped and corrected him! It was like witnessing the band at work, constantly learning and growing. Michael Travis—who was quietly playing drums because none of them were amped up—would make a loud smash on the cymbal once in a while, just to remind us that he was there, a huge Cheshire Cat grin across his face. As a guitarist, it was the hardest thing for me not to just get up and grab Kang’s guitar and strum with them, but I restrained myself, tapping to the rhythm and singing along when I got the nerve.
When the song ended, I simply stated: “I will never forget this for as long as I live. That was amazing.” Then I told them this story. https://fans.com/posts/9562 They all looked at me funny for a moment, and then burst into laughter and patted me on the back. I said my goodbyes and they surrounded me for a group photo. They signed my poster and I left feeling as giddy as a school child. I was elated—the experience will be burned into my memory forever. I cannot adequately express my gratitude and thanks to all involved.
I walked back out into the crowd and found a good seat near some awesome people. I couldn’t help myself from showing off a little bit. I had seen the set-list taped to the floor in the rehearsal area and knew exactly what they were going to be playing. While I didn’t ruin it all for the surrounding concert goers, there were a few secrets I had to let out. Such is the privilege of a VIP.
I can say without a doubt that this was the best SCI performance I have ever seen. All VIP experience aside, the show was chaotic and epic. With covers of The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin, all the Rock & Roll basics were covered. Even the encore performance of “Hobo Song” was cool to see because I had just witnessed a stripped-down and raw version backstage.
The people spilled out into the streets and began their walks or rides home. I walked to the nearest subway, absorbing the sounds of Brooklyn, fascinated by the city life—but just for the night. I got on a bus and rode home to Virginia and worked at 8 AM the next morning. I had a lot to think about. My life had just changed. Now, how would I make use of it?
R. A. Fadley (JamBandPurist)
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.