Merl Saunders amazes (and a little opener called String Cheese)
So I moved to New York in October, 1996 and started work at The New York Times on Monday October 14. The job was nice, but the main reason I had moved to New York in the first place was to spend more time with my friends and see more music. And the place to see great music in New York back then was The Wetlands.
So it's fair to say that I went a bit crazy my first few months in the city and went to the Wetlands a LOT that fall and winter (who needs more than 4 hours of sleep before work anyway?). This show, however, didn't even pose a sleep problem because it was the Saturday of my very first weekend in New York City as a 23-year-old.
The draw was Merl Saunders and his Rainforest Band. Merl had obviously built a huge following based on his work with Jerry Garcia so being able to see him in a club setting for the first time was a huge treat. The whole black-hippie angle was also just so refreshing for me after a couple years in Boston!
I'm not going to lie and say that the opening act made a huge impression on me. (I think my buddies and I spent most of the opener in the basement, ahem.) But I do remember scoffing at the weird name: The String Cheese Incident? What the hell is that?
Turns out it was SCI's first show at The Wetlands and whoever picked them to open for Merl Saunders had a good ear.