I was blown away this morning when I was doing my daily search of Phish videos on YouTube and came across a series of mind-blowing videos uploaded (and shot by?) Lawrence Blumenstein in which the cameraman shadows legendary drummer Buddy Miles as he meets and then performs with Phish at Madison Square Garden on October 22, 1996. All in all there are six clips of differing lengths that any Phish fan is going to absolutely love featuring unbelievable backstage footage.
In the first part we see Phish’s manager at the time, John Paluska, rapping with Buddy Miles about Trey’s love of Hendrix and how Buddy came to work with Jimi while in the background you can hear Phish playing It’s Ice for the MSG faithful. In the second part we see Buddy heading towards the stage and then talking with the band during the setbreak and discussing the song selection. For the third part, we see Jon Fishman talk about how much meeting with Miles means to him and we see Buddy pitching Trey on a hip-hop version of All Along The Watchtower.
Part Four brings us into Phish’s backstage practice room where Buddy is teaching Phish and Merl his version of Watchtower. This is the real gem of the series as we get an intimate look at Phish jamming with their heroes and the Watchtower they lay down backstage is almost better than the one they delivered on stage. Then, Part Five puts us right on the tip of the stage for an interesting view of the performance itself that differs greatly from the clip that was unearthed back in December. Finally, as if these videos weren’t incredible enough, Part Six takes us backstage for a heartfelt discussion between Buddy Miles and Trey and Mike. I’ll tell you, in the six years I’ve been doing this I’ve come across some amazing gems people have shared on YouTube, but these videos right here might take the cake. Enough from me, clear out about a half an hour and check out this video playlist…
When fans talk about past Phish runs at Madison Square Garden, the one that gets the least attention was a two-night stand in 1996. Unlike every other Phish MSG Run, these shows didn’t take place in December. The quartet visited the “World’s Most Famous Arena” just a week into a fall tour that wound up taking a while to heat up. After three and a half uneventful sets at the Garden, Phish finally broke through at the end of the second set on October 22nd with an amazing version of Weekapaug Groove that fans dubbed “Freakapaug” thanks to the circus dancers who enveloped the stage as Trey delivered an awe-inspiring solo. When the group returned for the encore, they weren’t alone.
Trey Anastasio took to the mic at the start of the encore to welcome two legendary musicians: drummer Buddy Miles (Band of Gypsys, Santana) and keyboardist Merl Saunders (Jerry Garcia, Rainforest Band). Page McConnell moved to organ leaving Saunders to play his grand piano (though later they’d switch positions), while Jon Fishman gave his seat to Miles and headed over to Trey’s mini-kit. Always the effervescent showman, Miles urged the crowd to “give it up for Phish” before the ensemble began only the second, and to date the final, cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower in Phish history. Musically, it wasn’t the greatest Watchtower ever played, but for many in the audience, myself included, this would our only opportunity to not only hear Phish perform the tune but also to see Miles and Saunders play before their untimely deaths in 2008. With the energy in the room already off-the-charts following the Freakapaug, the audience exploded with screams of delight when the circus dancers came back out and Buddy led the group into a bit of Stairway To Heaven.
This evening a video of Watchtower surfaced on YouTube for the first time. We’ve been spoiled by expertly synced videos featuring taper audio, but unfortunately this clip suffers from poor audio. Yet this was a wild moment in Phish history and certainly worth watching…
I know we are a fews days late on this one, but we want to take a moment to remember the legacy of legendary drummer Buddy Miles – who passed away last week at the age of 60. Yet another legend, taken too soon.
While we may all have loved his work suppling the vocals on the California Raisins ads back in the ’80s, he’s best known as a member of Jimi Hendrix’s sadly short lived Band Of Gypsys. What better way to pay tribute to Buddy then watching him in action at the Fillmore East from New Year’s Eve 1969:
Their Fillmore run mark the band’s first live performances, which is pretty amazing considering the music culled from the January 1st shows and put out as Band Of Gypsys can arguably be considered one of the greatest live albums of all time.