Billy Strings Joins The String Cheese Incident At Red Rocks
Billy Strings replaced Phil Lesh who dropped out of the concert that also featured Andy Hall after testing positive for COVID-19.
The String Cheese Incident brought a three-night stand at Red Rocks to a close on Sunday with help from guitarist Billy Strings and The Infamous Stringdusters dobroist Andy Hall. Strings stepped in for Phil Lesh after the Grateful Dead bassist tested positive for COVID-19 and sat in with SCI for most of a three-set concert that ended the band’s run at the amphitheater outside Denver and included a set of Grateful Dead classics.
After the band took the stage, Keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth noted that with the early start on Sunday they would use the opening song as their soundcheck. “We have a three set show for you tonight, so we hope you’re strapped in for a wild ride,” added Bill Nershi The guitarist told fans the evening would start with an acoustic set and that the band do their best to honor Phil and the Grateful Dead throughout the course of the night. Cheese went on to launch yesterday’s concert with just their fourth “Lester Had A Coconut” since 2017.
When The String Cheese Incident announced Phil was out for Sunday’s concert, they mentioned the show would go on with a “really good friend.” Nershi introduced Billy Strings to roars from the audience following “Lester Had A Coconut.” Strings emerged with acoustic guitar in hand and dueted with Nershi on the Dolly Parton-popularized “Those Memories Of You.” The evening’s first SCI debut gave way to a take on Vassar Clements’ “Lonesome Fiddle Blues” and the traditional “Have A Feast Here Tonight” before Billy led the band through his own “Dust In A Baggie.”
Andy Hall came out for Cheese’s first “Dust In A Baggie” and along with Strings stayed out for the remainder of the acoustic first set. The String Cheese Incident, Andy Hall and Billy Strings worked through the traditional “Remington Ride” and Hollingsworth’s “Missin’ Me.” The latter bled into Peter Rowan’s Old And In The Way classic “Panama Red” ahead of a set-closing “How Mountain Girls Can Love.”
Sunday’s second set was devoted to songs from the Grateful Dead’s live repertoire. Bassist Keith Moseley explained he had prepared to play guitar and sing for the set before Phil pulled out. “Apparently I get to sing songs AND play bass, so we’ll give it our best shot here,” Moseley told the crowd. Keith and Michael Kang shared vocals on the SCI debut “Jack Straw” to get the tribute underway. Next came Cheese’s first “Cold Rain And Snow” since New Year’s Eve 2013.
Billy Strings returned to the stage with his electric guitar for “Brown-Eyed Women” and the rest of the Dead Set. Hall made his lone appearance of the Dead Set on the ensuing “Peggy-O.” The Billy Strings Incident was on full display for the hour-long, seamless run of “Estimated Prophet,” “Eyes Of The World,” “The Other One” and “Shakedown Street” that brought the frame to a close. “Peggy-O” and “The Other One” were SCI debuts. “Brown-Eyed Women” was played one other time by the band on July 23, 2017, while “Estimated” was last performed on March 10, 2001. “Eyes Of The World” had been shelved since January 27, 2019 and Sunday was Cheese’s first “Shakedown Street” since November 11, 2014.
The String Cheese Incident went it alone to launch the third set with “Can’t Wait Another Day.” Billy Strings then came back for “Black Clouds,” a Cheese original the guitarist has played often with his own band. A lengthy “Rivertrance” spanned over 18 minutes next and was jammed into SCI’s debut “Paranoid” cover. Strings and the sextet’s take on the Black Sabbath classic sung by Billy led into a set-closing “Texas.”
Billy Strings and Andy Hall both took the stage with The String Cheese Incident for the evening’s “Bertha” encore. SCI last played the Hunter/Garcia gem on December 29, 2013. Stream an audience recording of last night’s show taped by Michael Frasca below:
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Watch pro-shot video via Relix featuring the start of each set:
See fan-shot video featuring Billy Strings jamming with SCI below:
Setlist (via Friends Of Cheese)
Set One: Lester Had a Coconut, Those Memories of You , Lonesome Fiddle Blues , Have A Feast Here Tonight , Dust In a Baggie [1,2], Remington Ride [1,2], Missin’ Me [1,2] > Panama Red [1,2], How Mountain Girls Can Love [1,2]
Set Two: Jack Straw, Cold Rain and Snow, Brown Eyed Women , Peggy-O [1,2], Estimated Prophet  > Eyes of the World  > The Other One  > Shakedown Street 
Set Three: Can’t Wait Another Day, Black Clouds , Rivertrance  > Paranoid  > Texas 
Encore: Bertha [1, 2]
-  with Billy Strings
-  with Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters)