Anticipation. Tension before the release. Two of the things that Phish has always been masters of. And with summertime looming, which will see Phish embark on the beginning of their 30th year as a band, expectations are running sky high – especially for this journalist and fan who can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. So, for this week’s column, I simply wanted to run down a short list of some things I would like to see happen throughout the rest of the year.
[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]
7.) Encores Galore
If you’ve seen one Bouncin’ >Tweeprise encore, you’ve seen them all. Encores, in my eyes, have always represented a final exclamation point on what has often sometimes been a landmark show. This year, I hope the band decides to bust the hinges off the “formula” and play some wild encores that represent not only the evening’s show, but magnificent accomplishments in that venue, city, state or moment in time. Think 12.30.97′s mayhem (still a top three or five show for me thanks to the “unforgettable” factor and my favorite AC/DC Bag of all-time), or 7.13.99′s Tuesday’s Gone encore, which I’ve been listening to a lot this week. The significance of 30 years in the Phish world cannot be understated. So fellas, let’s move past the often tacked on encores and make them count. Some of us are still listening, and not in a hurry to scurry out to the lot for a fatty veggie burrito.
Back on this date in 2000 Phish delivered a version of the song Ghost most-worthy of the overused “epic” descriptor at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Our pal Myke “LawnMemo” Menio, who wrote a blog called The Daily Ghost in which he analyzed every Ghost, had lots to say about the Radio City Ghost and he’s kindly allowed us to re-publish his essay…
Background (Set: 2 of 2 – Song: 5 of 6 – Show Gap: 5)
The first Ghost of the new millennium is one for the ages. It takes place in the last part of the second set. It is listed as a segue into Rock and Roll but this Ghost is it’s own beast. After archivist Kevin Shapiro released this Soundboard (SBD) during From the Archives 6/12/2009, he said “I don’t quite know what to say about that”. Sure hope I can come up with a few things.
Composed Section (0:00-4:32)
The first Ghost of 2000 greets us with the familiar loops from Trey that we all loved from the late ’90s. The loops last longer than usual, and almost die out completely as Mike and Fish enter. They enter extremely soft at first and you can tell something is going to be different with this Ghost from the beginning.
The slow, controlled pace, that dominates this Ghost is evident from the first minute. Even after a long layoff for the band, you can tell the confidence they have with this jam stalwart. At 2:13, you can hear Fishman mess up his vocals, and then at 2:25. A lot of times you will hear the band members laugh, not tonight. Fish messed up the vocals and wants to get to back to business. I promise you he does not mess up the beat during the jam.
Today marks Phish keyboardist Page McConnell’s 50th Birthday and we’ve been celebrating over at JamBase by presenting a list of our 15 Favorite Page-sung Phish One-Timers as well as by sharing the thoughts of jam scene keyboardists Marco Benevento, Matt McDonald, Jason Crosby and Joel Cummins about Page’s influence on their playing. I wanted to make sure HT got in on the act, so we’ll bend the rules on the “full show” part of our Full Show Friday column this week.
My favorite Page McConnell musical experience outside of Phish has to be the night both he and Trey Anastasio performed on three songs with the Allman Brothers Band as part of the group’s 40th Anniversary Run at the Beacon Theatre on March 12th, 2009. At the end of that evening’s first set Page and Trey emerged, along with guitar legend Buddy Guy, to perform Southbound with the Allmans. Then, to kickoff the second set, McConnell and Anastasio added their talents to otherworldly versions of I Know You Rider and In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.
The entire run was webcast via Butch Trucks’ Moogis service and clips of all three songs have surfaced on YouTube for our viewing enjoyment. Besides the performances themselves, check out the beginning of the Rider to overhear a sweet chat between McConnell and Gregg Allman.
Here’s Southbound, followed by I Know You Rider and In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed…
One of the many wonderful people I’ve met through running YEMblog is Drew Hitz, an accomplished tuba player who’s toured the world and literally written the book on the instrument. While he focuses on more classical pieces during his decade-plus long tenure as a tuba player in Boston Brass, he’s never hid his love for his favorite band – Phish.
Drew regularly tweets about Phish at his @drewphish account and yesterday shared news that gave us goosebumps. Hitz has been hired by the National Symphony Orchestra to play the Trey Anastasio symphonic gig on May 22nd at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. We’re so excited for Drew to get this dream gig and apparently he’s already started practicing. Watch a brief clip of Drew’s tuba-only version of the You Enjoy Myself jam…
Two organizations close to our hearts, Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation and the Mimi Fishman Foundation, have teamed to offer ticket & CD packages for every show Phish will play this summer. All proceeds from the auctions will go towards a charity/organization picked by WaterWheel in each city Phish will visit on their 2013 Summer Tour.
Last weekend I walked into my local Berkeley coffee shop and Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row was playing on the stereo. I turned to my friend and asked if he had any way of identifying what verse we were at – but neither of us could place how far into the song we were, or how likely it was the song would still be playing when we left. It was, in fact, still playing when we left. Later that night, I saw Wilco at The Greek Theatre open with One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend) – yet another song with numerous (albeit short) verses, and thus was born this week’s B List. Interestingly, both of those songs, and many listed below, share the characteristic of also not having a chorus.
Hurricane – Bob Dylan
There was a time in high school where I could recite all eleven verses from Dylan’s protest song for boxer and accused murdered Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. If I had time to dig through enough songs, we could probably make a B List of only Bob Dylan songs that have eight or more verses. In addition to the mention of Desolation Row in the intro, Tangled Up In Blue, Lily, Rosemary and The Jack of Hearts, the list goes on and on.
Last month we broke the news that Phish had a new live archival release in the works and today the band has officially announced Phish: Ventura. Due on June 18, Phish: Ventura features the band’s July 30th, 1997 and July 20th, 1998 performances from the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura, Calif.
The box set is available for pre-order from Dry Goods and those who purchase will receive a 10-track sampling of the band’s March 21st, 1993 show at Ventura Theatre called “BuenaVentura.”
Take a listen to the Bathtub Gin from 7/20/98 that’s part of Phish: Ventura:
And here’s Stash from the ’97 show…
Now check out Free from 7/30/97…
Read archivist Kevin Shapiro’s blurb about Phish: Ventura and check out tracklist…
Just over three years ago Phish was given the honor of inducting one of their biggest influences, Genesis, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on March 15, 2010. Phish front man Trey Anastasio gave the speech inducting Genesis into the Rock Hall, while the quartet performed Watcher of the Skies and No Reply At All.
Recently, an exceptional rip of both of Phish’s performances, Trey’s speech and Genesis’s acceptance surfaced on YouTube. We had fun revisiting Phish’s lone turn in the Rock Hall spotlight as of yet and we’re hopeful they will one day get the same honor they bestowed on Genesis as they’re officially eligible starting next year. Check out this outstanding footage from 2010…
For today’s installment of Full Show Friday we look back at long-lost supergroup Oysterhead. This trio featured Trey Anastasio of Phish on guitar, Primus bassist Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland of The Police pounding the skins. The group first came together at Superfly Productions’ urging in 2000 to play a show during that year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest in The Crescent City. Les, Trey and Stewart hit it off and reformed a year later to record what stands as their only studio album – The Grand Pecking Order. Oysterhead’s only tour took place towards the end of 2001 and for five years that was it.
The group reformed at Superfly’s urging to play Bonnaroo in 2006. Oysterhead’s entire set was webcast and a rip of that broadcast has been uploaded to YouTube for our viewing pleasure.
Set: Little Faces, Oz Is Ever Floating, Mr. Oysterhead, Army’s on Ecstacy, Radon Balloon, Rubberneck Lions – Shadow of a Man, Birthday Boys, Polka Dot Rose – Pseudo Suicide
Back on October 10th Phish fan Myke “LawnMemo” Menio started a project called The Daily Ghost in which he would listen to and the write about every version of Ghost Phish has played since its debut on June 13th, 1997. Recently, Menio completed his project after detailing all 112 Ghosts the quartet performed up until this past New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden.
Myke’s passion came through in each of his posts and we were impressed at how he methodically analyzed the Phish fan-favorite as he seemed to learn from each previous article. We asked LawnMemo to share some thoughts about what he learned, not only about the song but also from the process of listening to and writing about 112 Ghosts. He put together this list detailing 10 of those things.
1. Ghost is an incredible jam vehicle. The sheer amount of fantastic jams blew me away. There is a lot to take away from just about every version. When the song Ghost starts up during a show, chances are it is going to be memorable. My top 10 list has to be a top 12 because there are just too many outstanding versions.
Considering how many acts have played the New Orleans Jazz Fest numerous times, it’s always been disappointing that Phish hasn’t been asked back after their lone appearance at the Fairgrounds in 1996. Today, Phish keyboardist Page McConnell gave some insight into the reason as part of an interview with OffBeat Magazine.
[Photo by Parker Harrington]
McConnell, who kicks off a flurry of New Orleans appearances tonight at Republic with The Meter Men, explained the issue and espoused his desire to return to Jazz Fest…
“I know there was a problem with fans defecating and fornicating on the lawn. But then, who knows what band those people came to see? But I can see that we bring a particular flavor of fan and we bring enough of them that it can start to feel like something other than Jazz Fest, it can feel like a Phish concert. So we’d love to do it again, but I doubt we’re going to get invited.”
We know how protective Jazz Fest lovers are of the sacred institution, but we’d love to see Phish make their return to the event. New Orleans itself hasn’t hosted a Phish show since September 26, 1999. It’s not 1996 anymore, fans wouldn’t turn the Fairgrounds into a Sodom and Gomorrah.
On December 11, 2011 Phish bassist Mike Gordon brought his amazing five-piece solo band to The Egg in Albany, New York for a show audience members raved about in strong terms. Gordon has just offered an audio recording of the show up for release as a free MP3 download, pay FLAC and ALAC files and a limited-edition 3-CD set in deluxe packaging. You can purchase the 3-CD set through Dry Goods, while the downloads are available through LivePhish.com.
The CD sets are expected to ship on or around April 30th with deluxe packaging that includes a custom round tin with three discs tucked away inside a custom Egg cotton stash bag. In addition to every note Mike and his band played at The Egg, including a Dude of Life sit in on Suzy Greenberg, there’s a filler featuring three tracks from the group’s March 26th, 2011 show at Higher Ground.
Here’s the track listing and more details for Mike Gordon – The Egg…
The next archival release on CD from Phish looks to be a doozy as a listing for a compilation of two shows the quartet played at Ventura County Fairgrounds in 1997 and 1998 has surfaced on the always reliable Alternative Distribution Alliance website. Phish: Ventura is due on June 18th.
The two shows took place on July 30th, 1997 and July 20th, 1998 respectively and each have a slew of highlights. This audio-only release will provide official recordings for two shows of which excellent audience recordings have never surfaced due to in part to the wind at the venue. According to the tracklisting on the ADA site, soundchecks from both performances will be included in this set.
Jam stalwarts Phish visited Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio each of the past three summers, but the band played their first headlining show at the venue way back in 1995. This afternoon, with little fanfare, a page appeared on the LivePhish.com website offering an official recording of Phish’s Blossom debut in MP3, ALAC, FLAC and CD formats.
While there’s no track listing on the page and the photo appears much more recent, you are able to purchase the FLACs and ALACs of the show which then appears in your stash as “pre-ordered.” If you hover over the listing on the Catalog page you get a message that says “coming soon.”
The show is best known for the impressive Mike’s Song -> Contact > Weekapaug Groove segment from the second set that was included in the fourth installment of the band’s Live Bait series. There’s also the first Ginseng Sullivan in 58 shows, one of only five versions of Spock’s Brain they played in 1995 before shelving it until 2000 and a gorgeous If I Could. Unless the listing is some kind of mistake, this would be the first show from the Summer of 1995 Phish has released in its entirety.
Nineteen years ago today I experienced one of the most life changing events of my existence on this planet. On April 15, 1994, I went to the Beacon Theatre to see a quartet from Vermont. Little did I know that I’d spend the next 19 years following Phish to the ends of the earth, and wind up meeting nearly all of my best friends through a mutual love of this band.
Let’s first start with how I found the band. During the summer of 1993 I attended beautiful Camp Westmont in the hills of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Two of my Westmont bunkmates spent that whole summer turning me onto the Grateful Dead with little success. After a while they finally got sick of all their Dead CD’s and threw on Phish’s Lawn Boy. The minute Reba came on the boombox my interest was immediately piqued. I loved the quirky lyrics, crazy compositions and the intense guitar work of Trey Anastasio.
When I got home from camp I went out and bought myself a copy of Lawn Boy. I’ll never forget the moment I first pressed play and The Squirming Coil hit my ears. I remember the huge smile that spread across my face, as after many years of looking I finally found a band that hit every level of emotion in my soul.