Friday Mix Tape: Phamily Business

Today’s mix tape is a bittersweet one. My brother Marc passed away unexpectedly last week and turned the world temporarily upside down. I’m sure many of you can relate to having a brother or sister who made a profound impact on your musical tastes. Well, this couldn’t be more true in my case, yet our situation was a bit different. It wasn’t me, the older brother, leading the younger brother into new directions. Our music tastes were formed together. He showed me as much as I showed him, and it culminated with Phish solidifying our bond as musical peers. We shared some amazing memories because of the band.

The mix kicks off with one of our greatest triumphs and a stunt for which our mom will never forgive us. In the summer after my sophomore year of college and his sophomore year of high school, we told her we were running an errand to the sporting goods store. Instead, we drove 16 hours from Michigan to Lemonwheel and we didn’t come back for four days. I remember he called the Mike’s opener in the first set of the first day and we went bananas.

Another great time was Deer Creek ’99, where my friends and his friends mixed seamlessly despite our age differences, and we cemented some lifelong friendships. They also jammed happy birthday to Chris during Makisupa just a couple days before Marc’s birthday. More recently, we capped off the great run of southern shows in Alpharetta on the Fourth of July where we both got our first Harpua. He proclaimed that show the best he’d ever seen. Later that year, he visited NYC for the 2010 New Years run, where he proclaimed the Sand the “best ever.” He was a big “best ever” proclaimer in case you didn’t notice.

Our last show together occurred this past 4th of July at Jones Beach. We always had a running joke based on this video of a Sims dance party set to Moma Dance. Moma was definitely among his favorite Phish songs, and we had a blast mimicking the moves from that video (which I haven’t been able to find for years). Finally, the last text he sent me before he passed, in classic little brother fashion, was “I owe you ten bucks. I downloaded a show from your Live Phish account.” That was the second night of San Francisco run.

While Phish will never be the same without him, I’ll never forget all the great times. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” This one is for you, Marc.

Phamily Business by Ryan Dembinsky on Grooveshark

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19 thoughts on “Friday Mix Tape: Phamily Business

  1. Randy Ray Reply

    Ryan, I am very saddened and sorry to hear of your loss. You and your family are definitely in my thoughts.

  2. MightyIcculus Reply

    I can’t imagine how it would feel to lose a brother. All the best to you and your family. I’ll be sure to play this mix loud and proud for him.

  3. Ryan Riedy Reply

    Hey Ryan,

    Touching tribute, and great mix. I came to meet Marc in similar fashion: An older guy mixing with his younger brother and his friends, bonding over Phish and Phish shows. Marc was one of the sweetest, most unique people I ever met, and I’ll miss him dearly. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself, and be well.

    Ryan R.

  4. all Reply

    this brings tears to my eyes. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. my big sister is the reason I love Phish and have done countless shows together. I am sending love and positive energy from Long Island. xoxo

    • ali Reply

      p.s. the mix is beautiful and I will enjoy it in the sun.

  5. BillK Reply

    Freakin’ awesome, Ry.

    And, jeez, Marc. I could have just texted him my ticket code for SF2. Plus, if he were going to pay money (or use your money to pay…) for one of those shows, SF3 was the one ;)

    Anyway, gonna tear it up this weekend in Marc’s honor. Lots of us are. Certain of his trademark moves will be busted out of deep storage in tribute.

    Love you, buddy.


  6. Dave K Reply

    Great tribute, Ry, I relate big time.

  7. JG Reply

    Our condolences to you and your family.

    (thank you for sharing)

  8. Linda Ruppert Reply

    So sorry for the loss of your loved one…who was a very special friend to a friend of mine (Ryan Reidy)….love the music..quite a memorial to your brother! That $10.00 he owes you…will be the sweetest gift you ever gave and you will never forget….may your memories be long and wonderful and may Marc R.I.P. and listen to this awesome music forever!!!!

  9. Linda Ruppert Reply

    Riedy…sorry I misspelled this.

  10. Chad B. Reply

    We’re thinking of you Ryan. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Dani Reply

    Ry, thanks for sharing the music and memories. Love that Lemonwheel story!!
    You are in my thoughts each day. Sending big hugs from SF. Xo

  12. Quinn Riedy Reply


    Lovely tribute to Marc. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Your relationship with Marc, and joint discovery of Phish, reminds me so much of my brother Ryan and I. We’re years apart, but always got along & liked music. Somehow we ended up on the exact same page have been sharing great music and great friends like Marc ever since.

    Thanks for sharing those classic stories. I forgot you guys blasted out to Lemonwheel! I totally remember Marc telling us all about your guys’ sneaky adventure. There’s a chance it may have inspired my brother Ryan, Jeffy, Bolick and me to sneak off to Oswego the following summer in a similar fashion.

    We’ll miss him. Please holler if you need anything at all.

    Lots of love to you and yours,


  13. Sean Reply

    Love ya and will always miss ya Marc. Great work buddy. So many fond memories being able to share many Phish experiences with and Marc. It was a treat to get together with you both. And I will always cherish those excursions. Vegas ’03, Fenway ’09 – where Marc slapped fives with every single person who walked by with an emphatic “YES.” Or the both of you punching my shoulder when Harpua broke out in Atlanta, followed by Marc moshing to “Killing in the Name.” We never would’ve been that close had Marc not spent the entire first set drawing perfect identical wristbands to get into the pit. We thought he was an idiot for going to Walgreens and buying Markers before hand. Ha! Good times, great times. He will be missed.

  14. Matt Rouhan Reply


    I was crushed to hear of your loss. Sean, let me know and i sent much love and prayers to you and your family. I had a loss of my step brother and can some what relate, my brother introduced me to the beatles and the stones.

    It’s those wonderful moments and memories, speaking about them, putting on those songs(mixed tape), closing your eyes and feeling that very love that will never fade away. Through music and wonderful memories Marc’s spirit and legacy will always remain strong and true.

    Im sorry for your loss
    Matt Rouhan

  15. JimmyZ Reply

    Your post really struck a chord with me — I lost my older brother five years ago (also without warning). Like you and your bro, we had a strong bond that was deeply rooted in our shared love for music. I am in my early 40s and he schooled me on the fine art of the Grateful Dead (and so much more) from the get-go. Thanks to him, I was the 7 yr old with Stealie iron-on tee at summer camp, much to the delight of the teen counselors! And to this day, I will never forgive my mother for not allowing him to take me to what would have been my 1st Dead show in 1984 at Nassau Coliseum! But in the ensuing years, we did catch many a fine show together from The Frost to Compton Terrace to Miami and up and down the E. Coast — the music was the soundtrack to our lives, and we had great adventures. Our friendship and love for each other, of course, went way beyond music. But he was my conduit to that world during my most formative years. Even with 7 yrs btw us, we grew to become equals and shared the most memorable and meaningful experiences side-by-side. Life changing moments. I can not tell you how often I think of him to this day. The music we loved was equal parts blessing and curse after his death. The ultimate paradox of a spiritual healing force that brought great catharsis, but with it, too, the tortuous agony of recognizing that we will never rack up any more of those priceless moments when everything in the world was “just exactly perfect.” He is in my heart forever and I bring him with me whenever I am lucky enough to catch shows these days. Sorry to ramble on about me when this is really about you. But I feel for you and I know exactly what you are trying to make sense of right about now. Your post touched me and brought a smile to my face as well as tear to my eye. You guys were lucky to have had each other for the time you did and no one can take that away from you. Be well, my friend.

  16. Andrew Reply


    Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful piece of writing. My cousin died last year and although he was not a Phish fan, we shared an immense love for certain bands and especially for certain songs that we would play together, so I can relate in more ways than one. Remembering the musical memories you shared is a great way to find solace and truly cherish those moments, which can never be taken away from. So sorry for your loss.

    - Andrew

  17. Glenn Reply

    “it’s not the years in your life that matter, it’s the life in your years” – Abraham Lincoln
    Condolences to you and your family.

  18. DaveT Reply

    I was fortunate enough to have been friends with Marc while we were both living in Madison, WI. Learning of his passing certainly upset me and our mutual friends. Great tribute, Ryan. Thanks and our condolences to you and your family.

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