Some bands have a distinct talent for capturing a moment — honing the ability to blend together a fury of a personalities that are being released from the boundaries of the song, building up into something greater than ones self. After being on the road together for 20 years now, The String Cheese Incident has captured many such moments, sung many songs, and have crossed musical paths few to none have taken before. As they prepare to play this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival the excitement elates for the group as their passion for the city, its people, and the great memories they’ve shared here come together for another round of good times in the Big Easy.
Its been many years since the group has played in New Orleans and bassist Keith Moseley says the band is more enthusiastic than ever to play. “It’s been a while since we’ve been there,” Moseley says. “We’re really looking forward to getting back and soakin’ up some of that vibe,” he explains of Fest time in New Orleans. The String Cheese Incident has long become a staple in the “jam” festival circuit, and are accustomed to headlining big stages. Still, Moseley explains that to play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a larger experience unto its own. “It’s a huge honor and one of the premiere long running music festivals in the country,” he says.
Another reason for this may be that the connection between the band members and New Orleans is one that runs deep for the group. Moseley describes how early on in their career they were able to play shows in the Crescent City, which allowed them to immerse themselves in the culture and music. “The New Orleans music scene, vibe, style and culture have always been a big influence for us,” says the bassist. “Having gigs in New Orleans early on and being able to soak up alot of that culture and a lot of that music was big for us, and had a lot to do with us continuing to hone our sound,” he further explains. The band certainly utilizes the art of improvisation as well as guest collaborations, which partly came from experiencing these things in New Orleans music. As Moseley puts it “It’s a city that is thriving musically and it continues to be an inspiration every time we show up there.”
One memory in particular that has come to stick out to Moseley as being one of those many inspirational moments happened one night after a late night show at Tipitina’s. He said it had to have happened ten to twelve years ago during a past Jazz Fest. “We did a late night Tipitina’s set and played until sunrise and then we went out on the street after the club closed and played out on the street,” he tells the story. “Our fans continued to hang out and dance and hoola hoop on the street. I remember seeing people going to work in the morning as we were still playing out there,” he continues, “You don’t forget those.”
As for this year, the group plans on “soaking up as much as we can in the limited time that we’re there,” as Keith Moseley puts it. “It’s always a thrill to be down there in New Orleans, we really consider it a hugely inspiring scene,” he says. However, this year is also special because it is the band’s 20th anniversary year, something they say has them performing at the top of their game. “It feels like we’re firing on all cylinders,” the band’s bassist happily exclaims.
Fest attendees are to sure see some new material as The String Cheese Incident comes out with their latest studio album, Song in My Head, on April 29. Keeping true to the collaborative New Orleans style the band hails so much, Moseley also says that “We already put some feelers out for some friends to see if they can join us for our main stage set,” he says.
The String Cheese Incident plans to utilize all the lessons they have learned from their experiences in New Orleans, capturing yet another moment in all it purity and goodness at this year’s Jazz Festival.