December 23, 2008

Phish, Others Banned from YouTube (updated video links)

Reports are that Phish videos, along with all videos from Warner Bros. artists, are being banned from YouTube because the record label and the video-sharing site, owned by Google, could not reach a content-sharing agreement. Here is the lowdown from the Wall Street Journal.

File this one under WTF???

Phish only released one "official" video, ever, which was Down with Disease.

So, we can't watch the official version of Down with Disease on YouTube anymore? Hold on ... give me one second to wipe the tears from my keyboard so I can continue.

There are, of course, thousands of other Phish videos on YouTube -- 5,280 to be exact, going by the number of search results I just got by typing Phish into the YouTube search engine. Not to mention Phish's YouTube channel, which is run by the band's own independent label JEMP Records, (stands for Jon, Ernest, Mike, Page, I believe) is still up and running.

My guess is that Warner Music Group Corp. leaked this information to the Wall Street Journal so that Phish-heads and fans of other Warner's artists, like Neil Young and Madonna, everywhere would be outraged and take out their wrath on Google by boycotting YouTube.

Fat chance.

In fact, here is a killer video of Divided Sky posted over at YouTube -- one of my favorite versions of all time. Additionally, here is a short, albeit awesome, clip of Phish peaking out on Harry Hood from the December 6, 1996 Las Vegas show -- the one where Les Claypool sat in, resulting in (in my opinion) Mike's playing improving ten-fold by the start of the U.S. leg of Summer Tour 2007, as well as his switch to Modulus basses, and is now an official release from the band. And just for kicks, here is a video on YouTube of the Phish memory of all Phish memories ... well, in my book at least ... Heavy Things from Big Cypress.

God, that was so much fun.

December 21, 2008

Sunday Night Football Plays Phish

I'm watching the New York Giants play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football. They did a short retrospective on Hall-of-Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh, who just passed away at 96 years old.

Anyway, the music accompanying the piece in the background was The In-Law Josie Wales.


John Madden was talking over Trey!!!

In fact, here is a video on You Tube that has the exact part of the song played on Sunday Night Football.

December 20, 2008

Phish Spring & Summer Tour Date Rumors

The rumor mill is going nuts about Phish's Summer Tour or Spring Tour plans. Near as I can tell it started out on the Phantasy Tour board in this thread.

There is also this post that supposedly has a complete tour date run posted. My opinion? It's horse shit because of the Madison Square Garden dates before the Hampton run. And Phish at the Hollywood Bowl? C'mon ...

It sure as hell is fun to think about it, though. (God, just the word Hampton is so magical, ain't it?)

(On a side note, here is a very interesting essay on Phish and their approach to reaching out to Phish-heads and keeping them connected. The essay criticizes Phish for not using the Internet to increase its interaction with fans, which cannot be more ironic considering Phish really was the first band to reap the benefits of the Internet in helping to spread the gospel.)

So far, word is the band will return to Red Rocks for the first time since Summer Tour 1996, when Phish-heads rioted, or were provoked by police depending on what version of the story you believe (I was there, and from what I remember it was a little of both), in downtown Morrison. It started when a Phish-head girl was hit by a car and the police did nothing about it. That I remember clearly.

I've also seen and heard word about dates at Shoreline, Alpine Valley, Deer Creek, Atlanta, Merriweather Post, The Gorge, and Walnut Creek. Oh, and of course The Bonnaroo. Basically, all of Phish's favorite and famous Summer Tour haunts. Saratoga Springs sure would be nice, site of the epic June 19, 2004 show. Because my son was born that August, SPAC ended up being my final Phish shows, although I thought I had one more in me at the time.

Anyway ...

The dates seem to center around July 29-August 2, although five nights at Red Rocks seems like quite the run for such a small venue, coupled with the past. Phish was banned from ever returning there, but word has it the band's management has been talking with local authorities, assuring them the Phish crowd will be older, wiser and more mature in 2008 than they were in 1996 (I remember to get inside the parking lot you had to have tickets plus your name on a list; they were turning cars away at the entrance to the lot). Plus, camping at the venue won't be part of the plans.

(Again, since this is not official news from it's still rumor at this point. And here is an excellent post, as well as another set of supposed tour dates that make more sense than those posted at the link above, from Mr. Minor explaining why all of the hubub is most likely nothing more than a true Phantasy Tour, but that the pattern of shows does make sense.)

Back in 1996 (1995 at Red Rocks was even more magical), those of us without tickets were simply pulling their cars over at the side of the road leading into Red Rocks, setting up in the large, mostly-grass field there. We did that and played frisbee for most of the afternoon with plans to hike the trail that leads to the hill overlooking Red Rocks from a distance. But upon arriving at the end of the trail there were police there turning everyone away.

Then, Phish is supposedly heading northwest to set up shop for a couple of nights at The Gorge Amphitheatre, which for my money is the best venue to see a show in the U.S., plus they allow camping with only about a mile walk to the show. There's also a little outpost there selling convenience store goods.

One thing you have to remember about going to see a show at The Gorge -- you need to bring plenty of your own ice. This cannot be over-stated. And make sure you do not dump the melted ice out of your cooler. It comes in handy late in the afternoon when temperatures hover around 100 degrees. You put the cooler on top of your car, open the spicket on the side and take a refreshing, cold-water shower.

Phish has no plans, as far as I can tell, to release any tour dates until after the new year. I would be surprised if they did a long tour at all, anything more than three weeks out at a time, once they re-unite. But, I've been wrong before, that's for sure.

Know what would be cool? A re-united Dead and Phish touring together, each playing full two-set shows or trading off opening and closing each night.

Stay tuned ...

December 17, 2008

Jon Fishman Supposedly Injured in Wind Turbine Accident

I originally said I thought this was true, but upon further review I am 100 percent positive this is a hoax. In any event, it's worth repeating for the comedic value alone.

The story appears on a website that looks like CNN but isn't. In fact, the pseudo CNN site has two reports for this story, which would not happen. Trust me, I've been a journalist for 15 years and the same story would not appear in two sections of the same news site or newspaper.

As the "story" goes, Fishman was injured while working on a wind turbine on his property in Vermont. Apparently, one of the blades came loose (what is it, built like a ceiling fan??), flew at him and in his attempt to get out of the way he tripped over a chord and tore some ligaments in his foot. From what Trey says he is lucky to be alive, but the quote sourced to Trey reads like it was made up. Fishman was hospitalized, but it's not clear for how long or if he is still admitted as a patient, as the "story" goes.

The "story" also says Phish's Hampton Coliseum shows scheduled for March 6th, 7th and 8th 2009 are being put on hold as it is going to take several months for his injury to heal, although nothing official is posted on the band's website.

C'mon. How stupid does the originator of this "Phish-tale" think we are?

The "article" also quotes Page McConnell talking about the band rehearsing, which is great news if any of this is true, but again I don't believe it for a minute.

News of this was posted at the Phish Coventry Blog back on December 1oth, and people were saying the writer of that Blog was making the story up. If it is true that means he out-scoooped every major news outlet in the U.S., which even more leads me to believe it's not true. Plus, why would three of the four members of Phish be quoted in the story? If this really happened the band would have issued a statement written by their PR person, or possibly even Shelly Culbertson herself.

Besides, the quote from Fishman saying "When I'm all healed up I'm hoping to power the Phish reunion with wind power," is utterly ridiculous. Like the Hampton Coliseum is going to build a wind turbine real quick and put it where? In the parking lot of the hotel across the street or the fence next to the freeway? Or, what, Fishman's going to load one on a truck, drive it down to Virginia and hoist it up himself? Give me a break.

I'll gladly retract my accusations here if this turns out to be true, but I am also willing to bet three tickets to the Hampton run, which I don't have, that it's 100 percent B.S.

One thing that is true, I believe, that whenever they finally play together again, the band is going to be tight -- I'm guessing closer to the middle 1990s Machine-Gun Trey days than the loose and often flubbed performances of songs toward the end. I am sure there will be major rehearsals leading up to Hampton and new material, possibly even an album like they did with Round Room, that comes out of it.

In some other news that is verifiable, Phish just released audio and video of the famous December 30, 1997 show, one of my favorites of all time as it demonstrates how the band was really starting to get comfortable with the funk. And toward the end Trey tells the audience they can go ahead and leave if they want, but the band is going to continue playing funk for a little while. Like anyone would actually split after such an announcement. This show is well worth purchasing, even if you already have an audience-recorded copy of it.

There is also a rumor going around, left here in the comments section of this Blog, that a DVD of the Clifford Ball is slated for release in early 2009. Now that would be cool.

November 20, 2008

Phish to Release Epic Roxy Theatre Run

Phish released all three nights of the famous Atlanta Roxy Theatre run from February 19 - 21, 1993.

The Roxy Theatre CDs will be the third complete run of shows released by the band into stores, the other two being Hampton Comes Alive, from the 1998 run, which got us all dancing blissfully in our living rooms back in 1999, and The Island Tour, also from 1998, which came out in 2005.

The 1993 Roxy Theatre shows will contain eight CDs and almost nine hours of music. So, if you plan to take a road trip 500 miles or more to visit relatives this Thanksgiving you're in luck -- this new Phish CD set will take you all the way there.

This show contains what many people have long considered to be the mother of all Rebas, dropping out of Wilson to kick off set two of the Saturday night show. This particular Reba has been discussed and debated over the years quite possibly more than any other version of any other Phish tune, and for good reason -- the jam reaches truly evangelical heights. It is everything you could possibly want to hear out of Phish, and even though I've had a copy of this show for about 13 years now I always manage to hear something new in this Reba on each listen.

These are the show notes as published in The Phish Companion (they are extensive from all three nights) for just the second set of Saturday's night show:

This show is noted for its legendary setlist, fun performances, and ridiculous musical teasing. This long version of Wilson included a Simpsons Signal and, towards the end, a freakish jam that included an Iron Man tease from Mike. Reba included a tease of the theme from Woody Woodpecker. Tweezer had a Low Rider jam and a "Straight from the Sewer" rap. Glide subsequently included Tweezer teases. This insane, loose Mike's Song featured minor lyric changes, three different Tweezer teases, two different Wilson teases, and other teases of Reba, Lizards and Stash. Mike teased the Esther "circus" theme in Hydrogen, which was bookended by The Vibration of Life. The Rock and Roll All Nite jam was for a fan dressed as Kiss' Gene Simmons, who the band brought on stage to sing the song's chorus. Terrapin featured band intros and lots of chatter from Fish, prompting a "hurry up" HYHU tease from Page. Fish also performed a lengthy vacuum solo during his tune. The HYHU outro segued nicely into Hood as Fish and Trey switched places. Neither Have Mercy (first since Halloween 1986, or 479 shows) nor My Mind's Got a Mind of its Own were played in their entirety. Walk Away was played for the first time since November 2, 1991 (157 shows).

Here are the complete setlists from all three nights. As was generally true back in these days, the setlists are epic, but really that was so common in the early 1990s because those were the only songs they had to play back then; all the songs from Rift were "new" at the time, and Down with Disease and Wolfman's Brother weren't even a gleam in Trey's eye yet:

Friday, Feb. 19
Set One: Loving Cup, Rift, Split Open and Melt, Fee -> Maze, Col. Forbin's Ascent -> Famous Mockingbird, Sparkle, My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart -> David Bowie
Set Two: Runaway Jim, It's Ice, Paul and Silas, You Enjoy Myself -> Ya Mar, Big Ball Jam, Lawn Boy, Funky Bitch, My Sweet One, HYHU -> Love You -> HYHU, Llama, Amazing Grace
Encore: AC/DC Bag

Saturday, Feb. 20
Set One: Golgi Apparatus, Foam, The Sloth, Possum -> Weigh, All Things Reconsidered, The Divided Sky, The Horse -> Silent in the Morning, Fluffhead, Cavern
Set Two: Wilson -> Reba, Tweezer -> Walk Away -> Tweezer -> Glide -> Mike's Song -> My Mind's got a Mind of its Own -> Mike's Song -> I Am Hydrogen -> Weekapaug Groove -> Have Mercy -> Weekapaug Groove -> Rock and Roll All Nite Jam -> Weekapaug Groove, Fast Enough for You -> Big Ball Jam -> HYHU -> Terrapin -> HYHU -> Harry Hood, Twee-prise
Encore: Sleeping Monkey

Sunday, Feb. 21
Set One: Suzy Greenberg, Buried Alive, Punch You in the Eye, Uncle Pen, Horn -> Chalkdust Torture, Esther -> Dinner and a Movie -> Bouncing Around the Room -> Run Like an Antelope
Set Two: Axilla, The Curtain -> Stash -> Manteca -> Stash -> The Lizards. Bathtub Gin -> HYHU -> Cracklin' Rosie -> HYHU, The Squirming Coil, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
Encore: Sweet Adeline, *Good Times Bad Times -> Paul and Silas -> Pig in a Pen
*bluegrass style

Notice there was a Henrietta appearance all three nights and, oddly enough, the only song repeated all three nights was Paul and Silas, a particular favorite of The Wagger that, after being one of the most frequently-played songs from its introduction on September 13, 1990 through December 30, 1993, inexplicably dropped from the song rotation forever on November 29, 1998 (the band's 1,003rd show). In fact, after that Dec. 30, 1993 appearance, Phish only performed the song (which Trey used to sing incorrectly as Hall and Halice until some Phish-head pointed out the correct lyrics to him one day) eight more times.

As was often the case in my touring career, I tended to miss an epic show by a night or two, and I missed this Reba by a couple of days. Well, I couldn't help it really. I had yet to move away for good from West Palm Beach, Florida at the time, save for the year I spent living in Hollywood, California studying music at the Musician's Institute, otherwise known as GIT. It was difficult at best to travel outside Florida to catch the Dead in Atlanta, let alone trying to catch Phish in the northeast, where they played more than anywhere back then.

My first Phish show would come four days after the Roxy Theatre run, when I saw the boys, front row center I might add (not a bad angle for my first Phishing excursion), at the Cameo Theatre on Miami Beach, which is now, unfortunately, The Crobar Nightclub.

Funny story about the Cameo show. As I said it was my first show. I'd been listening to Phish since first hearing them while pumping gas outside the Pine Knob Amphitheater near Detroit (now the DTE Energy Music Theater, I believe) while on Grateful Dead tour. The date was June 19, 1991, but it seems like it happened just last year.

I'd been seeing Phish bumper stickers with ever-increasing frequency since 1989, and finally asked the guy in the Volkswagon Bus next to me, who was proudly sporting the classic Phish rainbow logo on his back window, if he could play some while we filled our tanks. He agreed and although I had no idea what the name of the song was, it had an unforgettable introduction, which I would recall almost nine months later when I heard You Enjoy Myself again while camping, again on Dead tour, at Stone Mountain, Georgia for Spring Tour in Atlanta, March 1, March 2 and March 3, 1992.

I digress. Anyway, back at the Cameo Theatre show, we arrived early thinking there would be a parking lot scene, as I had been told by a friend who saw Phish a few times in upstate New York. ("They jump around on trampolines, man. It's crazy," I remember him telling me.) But this was Miami Beach; Phish's first time there, and still to this day the furthest point south they ever reached (the 2003 New Year's run was about a half-mile to the north, and maybe five or six miles to the west of the Cameo Theatre, which was at the southern tip of South Beach). My car was the only one in the parking lot, except for the band's bus and a white truck they carried their gear in. It was about 5pm or 5:30pm on a Thursday (people were just getting off work and had yet to arrive), and none of the four of us had eaten yet that day, so we decided to go across the street to the pizza place we always hit before Cameo shows. (I saw dozens of speed metal bands there in the late 1980s, including one stretch where I saw Megadeth, Anthrax, Overkill, Motorhead and Slayer -- the last three on one night -- over an 18-day stretch.)

So, we're standing in line and a couple of minutes later these two guys walk in behind us. They looked like hippies, so we struck up a conversation with them. When our slices were up, we grabbed them and made our way toward a seat at the window. The two guys who came in behind us sat down nearby, but kept to themselves. As we were leaving, I turned to them and asked if they were going to see Phish tonight. They looked at each other and the red-head smiled and said, "Yeah, we'll be there." Of course, a few hours later when they took the stage we felt like idiots when we realized we'd been talking to Trey and Fishman. In fact, when Trey took his position between Mike and Page and looked down into the crowd he spotted our group, pointed and laughed.

It would be 13 years before I would once again find myself talking to Trey with nobody else around to interrupt our conversation or shuffle him away. But that's another story for another Blog entry ... On that particular day at the Cameo Theatre, which was well before you could easily get your hands on Phish shows (on tape no less), I had no idea what had just transpired a couple of days earlier at The Roxy Theatre in Atlanta.

November 3, 2008

The Worst Phish Video Ever Made, The Bluegrass Sessions & Phish at the Salem Armory

Phish only made one video in their career, Down with Disease, directed by Mike Gordon. Trey Anastasio said that while they were making it he hated it.

Well, it doesn't really elicit hate, but it is pretty bad made by the one band we all love, which of course makes it all the more endearing.

From what I remember it only played on MTV a dozen or so times, maybe less, before it got yanked. This is discussed in one of the Phish books, but I can't remember which one.

The Bluegrass Sessions - a Phish Home Movie

Speaking of Phish videos, earlier this year I came across a home movie filmed by the Rev. Jeff Mosier, an original member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit and founder of Blueground Undergrass, when Phish brought him along on Fall Tour 1994 to coach them on playing bluegrass, and to help them learn a bunch of bluegrass songs.

This is old news to some of you, but worth pointing out to those who aren't familiar with the Bluegrass Sessions.

It's a documentary of sorts -- really a home movie in nine acts -- that begins with Phish's soundcheck on November 14 at Devos Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ends a week later on November 20 at the Dane County Exposition Center in Madison, Wisconsin with a killer version of If I Could.

The 1994 Fall Tour was a monster, and offers two shows for download from later on in the tour -- Nov. 30 in Olympia, Washington, and Dec. 1 in Salem, Oregon.

I was at that Salem show. It was during my second quarter of classes at at the University of Oregon.

Reflections on Phish at the Salem Armory, December 1994

About 10 friends from college all piled into my Honda Civic hatchback and my roommate's Volvo, which was about to become the touring vehicle of our college days but we didn't know that yet, and drove up to Salem from Eugene through a constant drizzle of rain.

We were running late and arrived at the Salem Armory, a tiny, tiny place, right at 7 p.m. The stated showtime on the ticket was 7 p.m., so we knew we had little time to spare. (Phish used to start pretty close to on time back then; at least the shows I attended until they came back from Europe during Summer 1997).

We quickly found a couple bags of shrooms and some nugs -- we ran out on the hour drive up with 10 people puffing. Rob and I split an eighth of shrooms on two slices of pizza, wolfed down the slices, walked inside and walked right down to the front of the stage. That's how it was on those days. There was always enough room on the floor in the Pacific Northwest, not back East at this point in Phish's career, to dance the night away wherever you wanted to stand.

I remember for some reason all of us were really into NICU at the time, and Phish broke it out during the mind-blowing second set, bringing big smiles all around. Making things even better, this was the only show any of us were able to catch thay fall because finals were just a couple of days away. My soon-to-be touring partner, Rob, was ecstatic to hear Peaches en Regalia to open set two. I was blown out by the whole Tweezer segment, which included Norwegian Wood and NICU, and a little while later they did a Harry Hood, one of the first times I'd ever heard it (this was before A Live One came out), and little did I know that version would stick with me for the rest of my life. And then Phish topped it off with a Sleeping Monkey > Tweeprise encore, and I know of more than one person in our group who walked away from that show hooked on Phish for life.

It really was that kind of show.

Anyway, here are the links to the Bluegrass Sessions with the Rev. Jeff Mosier. It's in nine parts, and each video is parked over at You Tube. You can always right click and "save as" on a PC to download it to your desktop and watch it later without having to use the You Tube inerface.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine

October 30, 2008

Page McConnell's Senior Thesis Surfaces on the Internet

Trey Anastasio wrote a 1987 senior thesis at Goddard College called "The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday," a nine-song suite telling the story of a retired, middle-aged Army colonel named Forbin who tries to thwart the evil King Wilson and steal the Helping Friendly Book, freeing the Lizards and restoring order to Gamehendge. But along the way ...

Did you know that Page McConnell, who also majored in music at Goddard and was a student there before Trey, Mike and Fishman (Page was given $50/person for recruiting the rest of the band to transfer from the University of Vermont), wrote his own senior thesis called "The Art of Improvisation."

This document is like a Holy Grail of Phish memorabilia, in some ways. Lucky for Phish-heads everywhere, Shelly Culbertson, who at one time was a household name among Phans, posted Page's senior thesis to back in 1992 with his consent, but it was eventually buried deep in the archives for years.

I think that those who had Internet connections and were already posting to back in the early 1990s knew at one time that "The Art of Improvisation" existed online. Unfortunately, time forgot about Page's thesis once Rosemary's Digest stopped publishing in 1997 and websites other than, like SugarMegs Audio at Terrabyte Station, started coming online, along with more and more resources devoted to Phish that grabbed our attention.

Luckily, some dude named Eric Christopher, according to a post at the, recently uncovered and dusted off Shelly's posting of Page's college thesis, and now I am happy to be able to share this with y'all.

Below is the complete original post made by Shelly Culbertson to in 1992, which includes the full text of "The Art of Improvisation."

Enjoy! And Happy Halloween.


The following is a copy of Page's senior study from Goddard College,
which he has kindly made available to readers of the net. Please
note that it was written almost five years ago.

If you have any comments or thoughts about the paper, please post
them (or mail them to me) -- I'm sure Page would love to hear them!



Submitted in partial fulfillment of
the requirements for the degree of
Bachelor of Arts at Goddard College

Page McConnell
December 19, 1987

At the age of four I began taking piano lessons. For the next
twelve years I studied with four different teachers. They
attempted to teach me to read music, a skill I never fully
developed. My dyslexic tendencies made the process very difficult
and a good ear made it easier for me to play by ear. In my early
years of lessons I had no problem playing the pieces that were
assigned to me as long as I had heard my piano teachers play them
for me. As the level of difficulty in the pieces I was playing
increased, I was forced to learn how to read. I struggled with the
process and didn't entirely enjoy it, though the ones that I did
learn stretched my technical abilities. The most difficult piece
that I learned was Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag."

During my ninth grade year I stopped taking piano lessons. It
was during this next stage of my playing that I began to really
enjoy playing. Obviously this was because I was playing for
myself, not for my piano teachers or parents. I spent much of the
next year listening to rock albums, playing what I heard, and
taking my improvisation more seriously. Often I was just
improvising the voicings to the songs that I was playing, but my
ability to do blues improvisation increased also. My first
introduction to the blues was a book I received in first grade
called Jazz and Blues for Beginners. This book introduced me to
blues progressions. These are progressions that alternate between
the I7 and the IV7 chord and generally end with a V7-IV7-I7
progression. Both rock and jazz find their roots in the blues, and
in fact rock has never really left. The majority of rock songs
written are a variation on the I7-IV7-V7 progression. Many do not
vary at all.

I suppose that my main motivating factor for practicing during
my high school years (other than the fact that I enjoyed it) was
that I had some opportunity to perform. These opportunities
generally arose at parties where there would be a piano and I would
play. I was at the time also involved with a jazz band. The group
was founded in fifth grade and I started playing with them in
seventh grade. By ninth grade we had a small repertoire of
jazz/pop tunes ranging from Herb Alpert's "Taste of Honey" to Van
Morrison's "Moondance" to Horace Silver's "Song for my Father." I
had begun to experiment with playing over chord changes, though I
didn't really understand what I was doing. I used my limited
knowledge of blues in these situations, but I usually didn't solo.
What I did understand and enjoy was learning how to communicate
with other musicians. The band was not extremely dedicated. We
practiced very little and had only a handful of gigs during the
years we played together. My soloing may have left a lot to be
desired but I did learn how to comp, to play behind someone else's

Around tenth grade I found a teacher who was going to teach me
"Jazz Improv." His name is Doug Frueler and he has some
interesting ideas concerning improvisation. He had developed a
theory that there weren't 7 modes as taught in Baroque theory, but
that there were 72 modes. At the time I wasn't familiar with modes
at all, and even now I'm not sure how he arrived at the number 72;
however I did learn some important lessons from him. I learned
that there is no right or wrong way to approach improvising and
that as long as you really put yourself into it, it can work. Doug
and his method are perfect examples of this. I also learned some
valuable tools through exercises that we did, primarily the tool of
economy. Doug would have me do exercises where I would have to
form melodies, or play over blues progressions using only three or
four notes. I found that this approach could work and that I
could create interesting melodies with only a few notes.

Economy is a trait that I try to keep prevalent in my
improvising today. Keeping a melody simple, particularly in the
beginning of a solo, gives the performer (as well as the other
musicians and the audience) something to grasp onto, a starting
point from which to travel. Economy is an element of jazz that is
often attributed to Count Basie. As a pianist and a band leader,
he grew out of the Fats Waller tradition. "Fats had the strongest
left hand in traditional jazz -- a left hand which could replace
not only a rhythm section but a whole band... Today, one can
sometimes hear in the piano solos Basie plays with his band that he
comes from Fats Waller. He plays a kind of "economized" Fats: an
ingeniously abstract structure of Waller music in which only the
cornerstones remain -- but they stand for everything else. Basie
became one of the most economical pianists in jazz history, and the
way he manages to create tension between often widely spaced notes
is incomparable." 1

Economy is a trait I admire in my influences. Bill Evans,
probably my most important jazz piano influence, plays an entirely
different style than Basie yet he incorporates economy:

"He has worked unceasingly to arrive at a clearer, less cluttered
jazz conception,, one with no false starts, no side issues, no
merely showy licks. The logic with which one phrase follows
another is impeccable. Though he sometimes uses locked-hands
chords or moving left-hand figures, a typical Evans solo consists
almost entirely of a single line in the right hand (occasionally
incorporating some thirds) supported by sustained voicings in the
left hand that have been almost brutally pared down until
all that remains is the naked skeleton of
jazz harmony."2

After my lessons with Doug, which lasted only a few months,
I went through a period of relative musical stagnation. I
practiced for my own enjoyment, but I wasn't playing with other
musicians on any kind of regular basis, and my opportunities for
performance were practically non-existent. For the next four years
(one year at home, one year at boarding school, and two years at
S.M.U. in Dallas) my practice schedule was very undisciplined
though I did try to play every couple of days. While at S.M.U., I
majored in music for one semester and learned a lot about a music
education at a traditional institution. There seemed to be two
goals in that educational system: one was to train people to
become concert musicians; the other was to teach the students that
weren't good enough to become concert musicians to be able to teach
the next generation exactly the same thing. At the time I didn't
see how their approach to music applied to my approach to music.
Much of the theory they taught I thought of as common sense. I did
learn modal theory, which proved useful in my early days with Phish
(the band I currently play with) when most of our jamming was done
over modal progression.

At the end of my S.M.U. career (just weeks before I started
Goddard) I took a course called "Imagination, Awareness and Ideas."
The course dealt with promoting creativity, left-right brain
exercises, alpha states, imagination, awareness and ideas. It is
the most important course I've ever taken. I learned how to (or
perhaps how not to) deal with creative blocks.

I took my newly learned insights and came to Goddard in the
Fall of '84. I finally felt that I was in a situation where my
education would be equated with what I was learning. Upon arriving
at Goddard I began to play the piano considerably more than I ever
had before, usually at least two hours a day. Within weeks I began
having musical experiences and feelings that I had never had
before. The feelings could either be described as detaching myself
from the conscious process of playing the piano, or totally
attaching myself, becoming one with the instrument. I became able
to hear music in my head and simultaneously be playing it. The
breakthrough was a result of my ear training, the attitude I had
developed in Imagination, Awareness and Ideas, and the discipline
of practicing every day. The process I am describing is similar to
a process described in Eugen Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery
when he tells of a swordsman that is learning to master his art:

"The pupil must develop a new sense or, more accurately, a new
alertness of all his senses, which will enable him to avoid
dangerous thrusts as though he could feel them coming. Once he
has mastered this art of evasion, he no longer needs to watch
undivided attention the movements of his opponents, or even of
several opponents at once. Rather, he sees and feels what is going
to happen, and at the sane moment he has already avoided its effect
without there being "A hair's breadth" between perceiving and
avoiding. This, then, is what counts: a lightening reaction which
has no further need of conscious observation. In this respect at
least the pupil makes himself independent of all conscious purpose,
and this is a great gain."3

This book has proven to be the most valuable piece of literature I
have ever read in terms of helping me helping me gain an
understanding of discipline and helping me define myself as an

I spent that first year (Fall '84, Spring '85) practicing,
recording with the school's 4-track, and playing in a number of
musical situations. I played with three bands., but the most
rewarding musical situation, and the only real musical
communication I experienced was with an acoustic guitar player
named Thomas McCommas. We would play regularly in the Haybarn,
acoustically, and the arrangement was very satisfying. The sounds
of our instruments blended very well and we played comfortably off
each other, having similar musical tastes. Most of the band
experiences that I had that year were not so positive. I couldn't
find anyone on my musical level to play with. I continued to
record the piano and was very pleased with the results.

In May of '85 -- at Springfest -- I was introduced to a band:
Phish. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a member. I moved
to Burlington and joined the band.

It has taken roughly two years for me to figure out what my
musical role is in the band. When I joined there were five of us:
two guitars; bass; drums; and keyboards. The music was extremely
busy and there wasn't much space for me to shape the sound. After
one year one of the guitar players left, and I began to grow into
my space and develop my style. It was during my fourth semester
that I began taking lessons with Lar Duggan a jazz pianist in

Lar has been the single most important person in helping me
develop my improvisation. A master of improvisation himself, he
doesn't suggest directions that he feels are important for me to
follow, rather he will guide me through any direction I choose.
When I began taking lessons with him I felt that the area most
lacking in my playing was my left hand and its interaction with my
right hand. In retrospect that probably wasn't my most lacking
attribute but Lar helped me find exercises that would develop
continuity between my two hands, and offered different approaches
to improvisation such as ones that focused on the left hand and let
the right hand comp behind it. From these exercises I learned many
things, namely that my left hand already led my right hand along
and that my left hand has a better sense of timing.

It wasn't until I began reading music again that I felt that
my right and left hands were working well together. Two pieces in
particular contributed to this feeling of unity: 1) a two-part
invention written by Trey Anastasio, the guitar player and composer
in Phish; 2) Bach's two-part invention #8 in F major. I began
learning Trey's piece the summer after I started lessons with Lar.
The piece was inspired by Bach's inventions and is about as
technically demanding. There is a great deal of imitation and
inversion between the right hand and the left hand. It took me
months to learn it, but once I did I noticed a feeling and an
attitude towards my hands that I hadn't felt before. My left hand
felt stronger and I had more confidence in it. It was performing
the same functions as my right hand. The next semester began at
Goddard, and I was back on campus studying classical piano with
Lois Harris. I started working on Bach's invention #8. I picked
the piece up fairly quickly and had it memorized within a few
weeks. This was partially due to the fact that Lois had helped me
finger the piece correctly. Once I had learned it I played it over
and over because it is so beautiful and so easy to play through, or
rather it is difficult for me not to play through the entire piece.
Once I play the first phrase, there is essentially no way to stop.
The piece moves so fluidly and logically that it is almost
impossible to keep myself from playing the whole piece once I play
the opening notes. I was putting so much energy into the piece
that I decided to drop my classical lessons because I thought that
they were detracting energy that I wanted to be devoting to jazz,
my primary focus. These two inventions have given me confidence
and ability I couldn't have gained any other way.

My playing of the Bach piece has continued to improve. This
semester I set out with an interest in composition. The best way
to learn about composition is by analyzing other compositions.
Bach's invention #8 seemed like a likely place to start since I was
already familiar with the piece and was curious to see how the
melody modulated. I did decide after much analysis that my
discipline this semester wouldn't be composition, but that my true
passion is improvisation. However, my analysis (which is included
in my senior study) has proved very useful to me. My performance
of the invention has improved immensely since this analysis. I
have learned from talking to Lar that this happens because when you
commit music to memory, the brain can remember and recall it, but
when music is analyzed the retention is much deeper and more solid.
A performer that has analyzed music knows and understands the
movement of the melody, where it is headed, and why it is headed
there. The result of my analysis can be heard in my performance of
this piece. Since I have a deeper understanding of the
intentions and movements of the music, my interpretation of the
piece has become much more in tune and responsive to the harmonic
and rhythmic movement of the piece. I still play this piece once
nearly every time I sit down at the piano.

My practice sessions at Goddard for the first few years that
I was here were rather undisciplined. I was disciplined in that I
was playing every day, but the sessions themselves were
unstructured. I would spend hours playing songs (mostly rock),
singing, and improvising over these songs. Most of these songs are
harmonically simple, in fact boring. This was the music I listened
to and the music I played, and I was satisfied with my practice
sessions because I knew that I could become a good rock piano
player that way. Once I started taking lessons with Lar and
listening to jazz, I was humbled. I have made an effort in the
past year and a half to listen to as much jazz as possible and as
little rock as possible. I have found that as one who plays by ear
the easiest way to learn is to listen. I have three major jazz
influences: Bill Evans; Duke Ellington; and Art Tatum. I have
listened to more Evans and Ellington than anything else. From Bill
Evans I have learned to try to play fluidly. I have studied his
solos "the logic with which one phrase follows another."4 I
appreciate him in the say way I find Bach's work logically
graceful. I have directly "copped riffs" from him and I have tried
to develop my own fluidity through relaxation, but I have a long
way to go. I know that I have a good ability to tap into someone
else's flow and comp behind them when they are soloing. My ability
to communicate with other musicians is, I feel, my most highly
developed jazz attribute. Listening to Duke Ellington's band has
also been a great influence, primarily in two ways. First, by
listening to the members of his band, particularly the horn
players, I have gotten a feel for swing. Those guys know how to
swing. They could make their instruments talk, and I found what
they had to say interesting harmonically as well as rhythmically.
I have tried to incorporate the swing feel into my playing, and I
feel that just within the past three gigs that I have any kind of
consistent feel for it. The second way that Duke Ellington has
influenced me is through his (and Billy Strayhorn's) compositions.
My analysis of music moved from classical into jazz as my interest
in composition moved to an interest in improvisation. My analyses
of "Mood Indigo", "Take the A Train" and "Sophisticated Lady" were
not so much structural as they were analyses of how one might play
over them. In particular I studied what scales could be used and
how certain notes in the melodies determined these scales. These
analyses have been integral in my growing ability to play over
changes. The third influence I mentioned was Art Tatum. He has
opened me up to a truly pianistic approach to jazz. I envy his
long runs and his perfectly executed trills, but unless I study
more classical music, I won't really be able to incorporate his
style into my playing.

Back to my practice sessions -- I realized that I couldn't
achieve the status of jazz piano player going along practicing with
the attitude of a rock musician. The rock music that I had been
playing and improvising over was almost all modal or strictly
blues. This made improvising fairly easy as long as I was playing
in the right mode or the proper blues scale. In jazz, it is the
melody not the mode that determines what can and can't be played.
The melody determines the chords of the tune, and these chords
(with the melody inherent) are what the improviser uses to direct
his solo. Modal jamming is a small aspect of jazz improvisation,
but only a fraction of what jazz is. The ability to play over jazz
changes requires a deeper understanding of music and a much more
spiritual approach to improvising than in rock music. One needs to
discipline himself and practice, learn the music and when it comes
time to play leave all preconceptions behind. The object is to
play what one hears at the moment, and any preconceptions about
what is going to be played will have a tendency to detract from the
life of the solo. A good way to achieve this is to sing along
while you improvise. This is a tool which Lar introduced me to, a
tool which I have since heard many jazz greats (including Art
Tatum) do on albums. By singing, even if it isn't audible or isn't
exactly the melody you're playing, you open up yourself to any
internal melodies, and these can be sources of inspiration.

It wasn't until this semester that I began to take on a much
more serious attitude towards practicing. This has been due
largely to my reading of Zen in the Art of Archery. My primary
source of discipline this semester has been working out of C.L.
Hanon's The Virtuoso Pianist, a book designed "for the acquirement
of agility, independence, strength, and perfect evenness in the
fingers, as well as suppleness of the wrist."5 These Hanon
exercises have helped me with all these areas. I began doing these
exercises daily and working with the metronome. After I had worked
through the first twenty exercises in the book I began to speed up
the metronome as recommended. I was having problems with muscle
cramping and a general tightness in my body. I went to Lar for
advice, and he helped me position my body and hands so that they
were in a much more natural position. He suggested that I focus my
attention on relaxing instead of trying to hit every note, or
focusing on the metronome. He said that I should constantly be
checking my wrists and elbows to be sure they aren't tight. He
mentioned that playing with a metronome can sometimes lead a
musician to start playing like a metronome, which sounds lifeless
and inhibits one's ability to swing. Concerning the tightness I
was feeling all over, he thought it might be from improper
breathing. He suggested that I try screaming a phrase over and
over while playing the Hanon exercises. This approach seems rather
unorthodox, but it got results. By concentrating on my voice and
lungs, not only did my breathing regulate itself, and by body
loosen up, but I played the exercises with more conviction,
emphasizing each note.

The importance of proper breathing did not just apply to these
exercises but turned out to be the most important aspect of feeling
comfortable while improvising. I learned this through Lar and I
learned this through Zen in the Art of Archery. In this passage
the master is describing what is necessary for the artist to let go
of himself for the sake of the art, in this case an arch with
" ... Thus between these two states of bodily relaxedness on the
one hand and spiritual freedom on the other there is a difference
level which cannot be overcome by breath-control alone, but only by
withdrawing from all attachments whatsoever, by becoming utterly
egoless: so that the soul, sunk within itself, stands in the
plentitude of its nameless origin.
The demand that the door of the senses be not closed is not met
by turning energetically away from the sensible world, but rather
by a readiness to yield without resistance. In order that this
actionless activity may be accomplished instinctively, the soul
needs an inner hold, and it wins by concentrating on breathing ...
The more one concentrates on breathing, the more the external
stimuli fade into the background."6

I am fortunate enough to be in a band that gigs regularly, and
this has given me many opportunities to practice my relaxation
techniques. While playing in front of people, if I feel myself
tightening up, or am not feeling inspired (especially during
solos) I concentrate on breathing and everything usually falls
into place.

About the same time I began to understand relaxation, I began
playing jazz regularly with a sax, drum, and bass player. We
primarily play jazz standards though more recently we've gotten
into originals written by our sax man (my advisor) Karl Boyle. I
have used these sessions not only to improve my playing but to
gauge my improvement as a jazz musician. As the semester went on
I began to be able to play these tunes with much looser feel, and
even felt comfortable improvising over songs that I had never seen
or heard before such as Karl's originals.

My proper breathing, my playing out, my listening to jazz and
my discipline have given me a new confidence. I know that even
though I have a long way to go that I am a good jazz player. This
confidence has helped me approach improvising with fewer
preconceptions about where the music is going to go. I don't have
to worry because I know that my improvisations will lead me to a
good place musically, and if they don't I have the confidence that
I will be able to get myself out of any awkward musical situations,
and in fact use these situations to create tension.

At this point (the end of the semester) I took my skills to a
recording studio where I would learn even more about my playing.
We (Phish) went to Boston to record a three song demo. The
experience of working in a recording studio is different from any
I'd ever had before. The energy level was high though it was much
different than playing in front of people. We laid down the
initial tracks. I didn't feel very comfortable with the playing at
the time, and in fact I didn't think it was very good. However,
upon listening to it a few times I found that much of what I'd
played was interesting. I'd learned another lesson: even if I'm
not moved by what I play, it doesn't mean that it's not good. As
a musician I need to become as good as I can, and believe that what
I'm playing is good, even if I'm not have an amazing musical
experience. Hearing the work I did in the studio has given me even
more confidence.


1. Berendt, Joachim E., The Jazz Book, p. 223, Westport,
Connecticut., Lawrence Hill & Co., 1975.

2. Aikin, Jim, "Bill Evans".. Contemporary Keyboard, Vol 6,
No. 6., p. 45, June 1980.

3. Herrigel, Eugen, Zen in the Art of Archery, p, 82, New
York, Vintage Books, 1953.

4. Aikin., p. 45.

5. Hanon, C.L., The Virtuoso Pianist, New York, G. Schirmer,

6. Herrigel, p. 38.

October 29, 2008

Sen. John McCain Is a Liar and Here is Proof

I've been trying to ignore the presidential race and all things political here at The Wagger, where I generally report news and information related to the band Phish and nothing else (although this Blog did not start out that way), but there is something going on today I simply cannot ignore. It disgusts me and needs to be uncovered for what it is -- a desperate attempt by a desperate man willing to do anything to become President of the United States.

So, here comes political rant No. 1 for the 2008 presidential campaign. Please excuse this interruption to The Wagger's regularly scheduled program.

Sarah Palin is leading a charge today, helped along by none other than a report from the far-right-leaning FOX News, for Sen. John McCain, saying that a Los Angeles Times article that came out six months ago reported that Sen. Barack Obama was at a dinner in 2003 where a professor, originally from Syria, called Israel the perpetrator of terrorism in that part of the world. Palin then said, "It's not known how Sen. Obama responded to that remark."

Palin was talking about a guy named Rashid Khalidi, who from 1976 to 1982 was reportedly a director of the official Palestinian press agency, WAFA, while in exile from Beirut. Khalidi often spoke to reporters on behalf of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, according to the LA Times article Palin is referring to.

The LA Times article says, and I quote: "His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been 'consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases . . . . It's for that reason that I'm hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid's dinner table,' but around 'this entire world.'"

The article also says "a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, 'then you will never see a day of peace.' One speaker likened 'Zionist settlers on the West Bank' to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been 'blinded by ideology.' Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground."

So, Palin blatantly lied because right there is Obama's response to the statement, which was not even made by the man Palin claimed to have originally said it.

The LA Times article goes on to quote Hussein Ibish, a federal employee and senior fellow for the American Task Force on Palestine, saying "I am confident that Barack Obama is more sympathetic to the position of ending the occupation than either of the other candidates, Ibish said, referring to the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that began after the 1967 war. 'More than his rivals for the White House,' Ibish said, 'Obama sees a 'moral imperative' in resolving the conflict and is most likely to apply pressure to both sides to make concessions.'"

That is a direct response to Obama's position from one of the main guys with the U.S. whose job is to deal with the 2,000-year-old conflict in Israel.

Also, McCain said on TV today that Bill Ayers, the so-called Chicago terrorist and the guy who served on the same board as Obama several years ago, was also known to have been at the same dinner. Nowhere in the article is Bill Ayers' name even mentioned. Apparently, the LA Times has a tape of the event but will not release it saying it violates a source agreement. McCain says that tape is important because it shows Obama in the presence of Ayers at that dinner, again which occurred in 2003. So what if Ayers was there? A lot of prominent Chicagoans were there. It's not like Obama was holding hands with Ayers.

Additionally, McCain's press spokesman, Michael Goldfarb, said today in a written statement, "Khalidi was a frequent dinner guest at the Obama's home and at his farewell dinner in 2003 Obama joined the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers in giving testimonials on Khalidi's role in the community. The election is one week away, and it's unfortunate that the press so obviously favors Barack Obama that (our) campaign must publicly request that the Los Angeles Times do its job -- make information public."

What the article actually says is, "While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi and his wife lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood near the Obamas. The families became friends and dinner companions." It does not say he was a frequent guest in Obama's home; in fact, in the second paragraph the LA Times article says Obama often ate dinner at their house.

Furthermore, the article says, "Obama has called himself a 'stalwart' supporter of the Jewish state and its security needs. He believes in an eventual two-state solution in which Jewish and Palestinian nations exist in peace, which is consistent with current U.S. policy."

The article is freely available to the public, although McCain's campaign claims otherwise; you, I and anyone else in the world with an Internet connection can read it by clicking here. So, McCain's spokesman is also lying about the availability of the LA Times piece, just like Palin said.

This whole thing is such a concocted scheme of B.S. it's almost impossible to believe that McCain and Palin think that no one will check their claims. If I'm checking their assertions you can believe CNN and other news organizations are checking them as well.

So, the assertion McCain, Palin and their campaign is making is that Obama is down on Israel, supports the views of the PLO (which has become a two-bit player in Middle Eastern politics, especially since Arafat died followed by the rise of Hezbollah). Furthermore, they are trying to say Obama has sympathetic leanings to terrorists and cannot be trusted as President of the United States to keep the peace in the Middle East, and in fact could eventually be responsible for the complete dismantling of Israel and the Jewish state.

This is utterly and completely shameful and disgusting. I no longer can view McCain as a capable leader on any level, or even as a decent person. Spreading lies and disinformation like this, which I believe I have completely dispelled in this e-mail through easily available sources, are a crass abuse of power and a cheap attempt to win election to the White House. How could we ever trust a man running for the most powerful office in the world who blatantly takes printed words, and twists and distorts and spins them for his own pathetic, egocentric needs, well beyond the normal spin associated with politicians? How could we ever present someone like this to the world as the best choice to lead Western civilization and a role model for societies everywhere? Why, when things like this continue coming from the McCain/Palin ticket, do intelligent people continue to overlook such actions and say to themselves, "This is OK to do because it could help elect McCain, whom I would rather see in the Oval Office than Obama?"

And why doesn't someone from GOP leadership step up and say enough is enough? Run against Obama. Point out weaknesses in his policies where they exist. That's best for every voter -- every sentient being -- in the country.

This entire scenario makes me feel ashamed to have ever wanted to elect McCain back in 2000, and for still believing in him as a good person, a true American who stands for truth and good in all things, as recently as this morning.

What do you think all of this? I mean, if The Wagger can uncover all of these lies using a desktop computer with a cable Internet connection and no special access to any database that is not available to the general public, so could anyone else.

I believe this situation really exposes how desperate McCain has become, and the GOP because no one is calling for McCain/Palin to stop with the ridiculous lies. And if people actually believe McCain's assertions -- FOX News ran with this story and printed it as truth, so many Americans do/will -- then I think the widely-held truth, especially in Europe, that Americans are generally uninformed and idiotic has come to pass.

And now, we will return to our regularly scheduled program of reporting all things Phish.

October 26, 2008

Trey Anastasio Band Richmond Setlist

Set One: Push On ‘Til The Day, Sand, Ooh Child, Tube Top Flop > Cayman Review, Drifting, Backwards Down The Number Line, Money Love and Change

Set Two: Sweet Dreams Melinda, Mr. Completely, Gotta Jibboo, Sitting In Limbo*, Alaska, Shine, Water in the Sky@, Strange Design@**, Sample In A Jar@,

E: Burlap Sack and Pumps, First Tube

* - Last Played 05/14/2005 [119 Shows]
** - Last Played 11/08/2005 [97 Shows]
@ - Solo Acoustic

The last time I saw Trey in Richmond was the first show he did following Coventry. I was in the front row at the Landmark Theatre and he played Sitting in Limbo, one of my favorite Jerry Band songs of all time. Nice.

That marks the end of the tour. Hold your breath. Something big is in the works.

October 24, 2008

Trey Anastasio Philly Setlist

Set One: Cayman Review, Last Tube, Drifting, *Gotta Jibboo, Alaska, Ooh Child, Money Love and Change

Set Two: Backwards Down The Number Line, Sand, Tuesday, Spin, Greyhound Rising, Push On ‘Til The Day

Encore: Moesha

*Crowd chanted "Let’s Go Phillies" before start of song.

Next up, final show of the tour at The National in Richmond, Virginia, my old stomping grounds. This show is SOLD OUT.

October 23, 2008

Trey Anastasio Orpheum Theatre Setlist & Fishman Benevento Dates

Set One: Push On 'Til The Day, Heavy Things, Dark and Down, Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Drifting, Tube Top Flop, Mr. Completely, Shine

Set Two: Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Sand, Let Me Lie, Backwards Down The Number Line, The Way I Feel, Gotta Jibboo, Sample In A Jar*, Wilson*, Bathtub Gin*

Encore: Tuesday, First Tube

Show Notes: *Trey solo acoustic

Next up, tonight, October 24 at Philadelphia's Electric Factory, home base for the Disco Biscuits. Trey blows through town on a night off for the World Series, which of course the Philadelphia Phillies are played against the Tampa Bay Rays. Trey is a hardcore Flyers fan, I wonder if he likes the Phillies too.

By the way, Jon Fishman has been tapped to play four shows with Marco Benevento. Any of you who caught the GRAB Band shows during Summer 2006 will remember how tapped into things Marco is. Fishman added to this bill makes this tour a must see for all live music fans. Seriously.

Here are the dates:

Marco Benevento Trio featuring Reed Mathis & Jon Fishman
November 7 / Real Art Ways / Hartford, CT
November 8 / Drom / New York, NY (w/ Nathan Moore & Mike Gamble)
November 9 / Mexicali Live / Teaneck, NJ (new show)
November 10 / FlynnSpace / Burlington, VT (w/ Nathan Moore)

October 21, 2008

Trey Anastasio Band Lupo's Setlist

First of all, sign the petition to get Hampton simulcast in theaters, like Phish did in the past with Brooklyn and Coventry.

Now for the Lupos setlist: (Photo courtesy of Musical Stew Daily)

Set One: Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown > Last Tube, Tube Top Flop, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Cayman Review, Ooh Child, Alaska, Backwards Down The Number Line, Gone, Sand

Set Two: Push On 'Til The Day, Gotta Jibboo, Drifting, Simple Twist Up Dave, Water In The Sky*, Brian and Robert*, Back On The Train*, A Case Of Ice and Snow, Tuesday

Encore: First Tube**

Show Notes: *Trey solo acoustic; **with Scott Muraski (Guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Bill Kreutzman (drums)

Up next: The Orpheum Theatre in Boston, Mass., Thursday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. This show is SOLD OUT.

Question: Does anyone know why Trey is now calling the song Tube Top Flop rather than Tube Top Wobble?

On a side note, I found this interesting article on Phish and the Jewish influence on the band.

As for the hottest topic of the year, is anyone out there willing to pay the exhorbitant amount of money the scalpers want for tickets to next year's Hampton run? The highest I've seen so far is $6,500 for two tickets to the March 6 show.

Please, do not buy tickets from scalpers, no matter how tempting it may be. And in case it's been so long since you thought about it, remember that scalpers print fake tickets that look like the real McCoy but are not. An easy way to tell is to burn one of the corners of the ticket. Real tickets burn normally. Fake tickets bubble up.

If you're still hunting, and don't plan to stop, like me, best of luck. Hopefully I'll see you there. I am going to Hampton regardless. I at least have to be at ground zero.

Why? Besides the obvious, here are some ZZYZX stats, by way of the Mockingbird Foundation, on previous Hampton runs.

And by the way, the Hidden Track Blog over at Glide Magazine has a thread going on about a guy who got Hampton tickets over the phone. I too was taking the phone route, which has never failed me. In late 2002, I landed tickets to all three nights of the Hampton run for the post-hiatus shows. Here is what happened to me last weekend, as I originally posted at Hidden Track:

I ... got on the phone about 9:30 a.m. — 6:30 a.m. in Oregon where I live — and managed to keep myself in the system for half an hour by asking the automated Ticketbastard “Bot” to keep repeating the information it just told me. Right at 10 a.m. (7 a.m.) I said yes to two, three-night ticket packages. Then, the system asked me for my billing information. I entered it but the system told me it was an invalid number. I tried it again with the same result. Mind you, this is a debit card I’ve had for months, used it online and offline with no problems whatsoever. Anyway, I entered the information a third time, and when the system said it was an invalid number it then hung up on me.

I had two tickets to each night in my hand and lost them because of an f’ing computer!!!

Come to find out on Monday, my bank put a freeze on my card, saying they thought it was stolen because someone was trying to buy tickets to a concert in another state where my card had never been used. So, the bank denied the transaction, saying they were looking out for my best interests.

Needless to say, Monday afternoon I closed my account and opened a new one at another bank.

God, they were in my hands!!!!!


October 20, 2008

Trey Anastasio Band Higher Ground Setlist

Set One: Gotta Jibboo, Peggy, Dark and Down, Push On Til The Day, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Sand

Set Two: Burlap Sack and Pumps, Money Love and Change, Last Tube, Let Me Lie, Drifting, Alive Again, Tube Top Flop, Windora Bug > Ruby Waves, Moesha, Dragonfly

Encore: A Case Of Ice And Snow, First Tube

Next up, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008 at Lupos in Providence, Rhode Island. Check here for tickets.

October 19, 2008

Trey Anastasio Band Palace Theatre Setlist

Got this up a little late, sorry about that.

Set One: Sand, Drifting, Peggy, Cayman Review, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Shine, Dark and Down, Push On Til The Day

Set Two: Valentine, Alaska, Simple Twist Up Dave, Let Me Lie, Gotta Jibboo, The Way I Feel, Brian and Robert*, Back On The Train* > Farmhouse*, Bathtub Gin*

Encore: Bug

Show Notes: *Trey solo acoustic

Next up, the Higher Ground Ballroom in Burlington, Vt. tonight, Sunday, October 19, 2008. This show is a benefit for the Seven Below Arts Initiative. Tonight's show is SOLD OUT.

October 18, 2008

Shut Out of Phish Hampton Tickets

I got shut out of all three shows!

Did you get tickets?

I know a dozen or so people who got shut out. I actually was in the phone system and given the option to buy two tickets for each night and it would not accept my debit card, saying it was an invalid number, but it's a brand new card I've used online and at a cash registers plenty of times already.

This reminds me of the Radio City Music Hall fiasco several years back, when scalper technology booted everyone offline.

Have you checked prices on eBay? They are out of control. I encourage everyone reading this, no matter how tempting it is, to not buy tickets on eBay. Hopefully, we'll get some relief once they announce more dates, 200,000 more tickets are in circulation and demand for Hampton is way down.

October 17, 2008

Trey Anastasio Band Chevrolet Theatre Setlist

Any complaints here? I think not. Nice to see Water in the Sky and Case of Ice and Snow.

Set One: Drifting, Tuesday, Sand, Peggy, Dark and Down, Money Love and Change, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Push On 'Til the Day

Set Two: Light, Gotta Jibboo, Alaska, Shine, Windora Bug, Burlap Sack and Pumps, A Case of Ice and Snow, Dragonfly

Encore: Water in the Sky*, Waste*, Sample in a Jar*, First Tube

Next up, the Palace Theatre in Albany, New York. You can score tickets for tonight's show by clicking here.

By the way, if you're like me, and plan on throwing everything you have into getting tickets to see Phish in Hampton, Va., here are the phone numbers to call: 757.671.8100, 757.872.8100 or 804.262.8100. And of course, everyone's favorite nemesis, Ticketbastard.

October 16, 2008

Trey Anastasio Roseland Ballroom Setlist

Here is a great blow-by-blow account of the show, including a complete intrusion by Sen. John McCain! Seriously.

Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB
October 16, 2008
Roseland Ballroom
New York, NY

I: Sand, Cayman Review, Let Me Lie, Gotta Jibboo, Dragonfly, First Tube

II: Alaska, Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Valentine, Drifting, Brian and Robert*, Chalkdust Torture*, The Way I Feel, Spin

E: Heavy Things, Burlap Sack and Pumps

* Solo acoustic

Next up, the Chevrolet Theatre in Wallingford, Conn. at 7:30 p.m. Friday night, October 17. Tickets are still available.

Trey Anastasio Band Tour Starts Today

Trey Tour starts tonight at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, site of the VH1 special and last-minute performance from May 2000. Hopefully, Big Red will be back to machine gun status and rip our heads off with some oldies and goodies.

In other Phish news, mail order (excuse me, online ticket requests) for Phish's Hampton Coliseum shows in March 2009 is over. You'll have to duke it out at Ticketbastard with scalpers who have technology to boot everyone offline and off the phone when tickets go on sale to the general public Saturday, October 18 at 10 a.m. EST.

If you're really a glutton for punishment you can try to get tickets the old 20th Century method -- by telephone!
(757)671.8100, (757)872.8100 or (804)262.8100

Of course, Phish says they plan to announce additional 2009 tour dates sometime in the near future. Everyone say a little prayer for me that they will at least come to Portland, Oregon and play Portland Meadows (site of LivePhish 17, my ex-wife's first show, and at the time my personal acid test to see if we had a future together; she was hooked for life during the wind-up in Guyute -- leaned over and said to me, "How many days in a row are we going to see them?" The answer: two more at The Gorge -- July 16 & 17, 1998) or at least the Rose Quarter if not to Oregon then to The Gorge, which is only about five hours away as the crow flies from my adopted hometown of Bend, Oregon.

Please ignore any Republican ads Google is throwing on my site. They are not welcome and I'm trying to fix the problem. Don't click on them.

Here is a good article on Phish and the possible resurgence of the Jamband scene over at Yahoo!

You have seen the video splash page posted to Phish's website, haven't you?

What else is going on ... Oh, of course! If you haven't heard Trey's new masterpiece, Time Turns Elastic performed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee with Orchestra Nashville, you can download it here.

Even better, here is video footage of Divided Sky from rehearsal that afternoon.

The entire performance, as reported by Andy Gadiel (the creator of Jambase and my primary source of Phish news and information for years) unfolded like this:

Set One: XL (Scearce), Divided Sky (Anastasio, arr. by Don Hart)*, Concertino (Hart)**Orient and Occident (Part), Le Tombeau de Couperin (Ravel)
Set Two: Time Turns Elastic^ (Anastasio/Hart)
Encore: Let Me Lie**^ (Anastasio, arr. by Don Hart)
*Trey on electric guitar
** Trey on acoustic guitar
^ Trey on electric guitar and vocals

Check out Trey's performance from the Newport Folk Festival, which is now streaming at

And of course, Phish @ The Roxy in Atlanta is out. Read about it here.

October 3, 2008

Phish Setlist from October 3, 1995 in Seattle

Since Phish announced its triumphant return, I've decided to randomly start posting past setlists here as a way to generate some good 'ol Phishy memories, and to keep up the excitement.

So, I'm going to start with one of the top five shows I ever saw. I wanted to add some of my memories from this stellar show -- the same day OJ was acquitted -- but I've been writing (working) all day and have to get off the computer. I'll try to post them in the morning when I have fresh fingers and flowing thoughts, but I usually it hard to return to a post:

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 1995
Seattle Center Arena, Seattle, WA
Opening Act: Baby Gramps

Set One: Maze, Guelah Papyrus, Foam, Fast Enough for You, I'm Blue I'm Lonesome, Free, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday Reprise, Sample in a Jar, You Enjoy Myself

Set Two: Timber Ho!, It's Ice, Sparkle, Harry Hood, Billy Breathes, Faht, Sweet Adeline, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil
Encore: Rocky Top
Show Notes: Faht was played for the first time since June 19, 1994 (99 shows).

Notice there are no transitions between songs? That screwed us up that night ...

October 1, 2008

Phish Reunites for Hampton Run

Well, it finally happened. If you're like me and the first thing you do in the morning is check your e-mail, you had a nice surprise, thanks to the Phish home office in Burlington, Vermont. (By the way, check out this nice little video splash page they put up. Anyone have an idea where the spacey jam comes from?)

Yes, Jon Fishman, Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell finally put their collective heads together and decided to resurrect what is arguably the greatest rock'n'roll band of all time, Phish.

The boys announced this morning, one day after Trey's 44nd birthday (I wonder if it was decided officially yesterday, giving Trey one of the best birthday presents of all time in the process), that Phish will reuinite March 6, 7 and 8, 2009 at the The Mothership, otherwise known as the Hampton Coliseum, for a run of shows that costs $49.50 per ticket.

I'm a little disappointed ticket prices jumped so much, but not surprised either. And it figures this would happen. In 2000, my ex-wife and I moved from Oregon to Raleigh, North Carolina to be on the East Coast so we could catch more shows. We had just spent five days in the Everglades at Big Cypress and were excited at the prospect of seeing Phish more than three times a year, which was about how often you got to see them if you lived in the Pacific Northwest and had a career to manage.

Ten months later, Phish goes on hiatus. Then, they get back together and all seems well. Huh-uh. About a year-and-a-half later, coming off of a terrible Las Vegas run (listen for yourself), Trey posts "The Letter of Doom." So, they split up "for good," my ex and I get divorced 20 months later, she moves back to Oregon with our then one-and-a-half-year-old son, I follow a year later (couldn't stand being away from my boy), and now we find ourselves living up the street from each other in Bend, Oregon.

We're still great friends. In fact, we just drove to Portland together -- about a six-hour, round-tripper -- to see Mike and his band play on August 23, my 37th birthday. Then, Phish announced they are getting back together and once again I find myself on the wrong coast with gas and airline ticket prices through the roof

Is it karma? Have I really been that bad in my life to deserve this torture? Eyee! Somebody help me!

I'm going to do everything I possibly can to make it to Hampton, even if it means sleeping in the back of some strangers bus, or in the parking lot of the hotels across the street from the coliseum.

Anyone have any ideas how I can pull his off when I am already barely getting by month to month? Please post comments with ideas. Any idea is welcome.

What Does "The Wagger" Mean Anyway?

Wagger is a term used by print journalists to describe a writer. Not sure why, but writers for newspapers have been nicknamed Waggers long before I ever started working as a print journalist, which was in 1994 (I can't believe it's been that long).

An old editor of mine named Ted Natt, whom I worked for at the now-defunct Sandhills Business Times (too bad 'cause it was a great newspaper), had the e-mail address anoldwag@ ...

When I originally launched The Wagger I intended to include original news stories, but it hasn't worked out that way. Hopefully sometime in the near future that will change and I'll start publishing original feature stories about Phish on this Blog. Keep your fingers crossed.

Here are the more homogenized definitions of Wagger from the dictionary ...

11 results for: wag move from side to side, forward and backward, or up and down, esp. rapidly and repeatedly: a dog wagging its tail. move (the tongue), as in idle or indiscreet chatter. shake (a finger) at someone, as in reproach. move or nod (the head).
–verb (used without object) be moved from side to side or one way and the other, esp. rapidly and repeatedly, as the head or the tail. move constantly, esp. in idle or indiscreet chatter: Her behavior caused local tongues to wag. get along; travel; proceed: Let the world wag how it will. totter or sway.
9.British Slang. to play truant; play hooky.
10.the act of wagging: a friendly wag of the tail.
11.a person given to droll, roguish, or mischievous humor; wit.

[Origin: 1175–1225; ME waggen <>vaga to sway, or vagga cradle]

wagger, noun

September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Trey Anastasio

Trey Anastasio celebrates his 44th birthday today. I can't believe that he was only 28 years old the first time I saw Phish (and I was 22). Wow. Seems like a lifetime ago, yet at the same time it seems like only a month-or-so ago that I saw Phish for the first time at the Cameo Theatre in Miami Beach, Thursday, Feb. 25, 1993. I first listened to Phish in 1991 and it took two years before they came down to my part of the world.

The setlist from my first show is pretty amazing, really:

Set One: Buried Alive > Poor Heart, Cavern, Maze, Col. Forbin's Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Rift, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, I Didn't Know, David Bowie
Set Two: Suzy Greenberg > It's Ice, Sparkle > Wilson > You Enjoy Myself, Uncle Pen, Big Ball Jam > Fast Enough for You, HYHU > If I Only Had a Brain > HYHU, Golgi Apparatus > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
Encore: Amazing Grace, Good Times, Bad Times

Show Notes: Bowie included a tease of the theme from Jeopardy! Wilson included a Random Note Signal. This version of Forbin's including a surfing narration and a tease of the Gilligan's Island theme song. Brain featured Mimi Fishman on vacuum.

Happy Birthday Trey! Stay out of trouble!

September 7, 2008

Phish Briefly Reunites at Brad Sands' Wedding

Just minutes ago, Relix Magazine reported that last night all four members of Phish performed Suzy Greenberg, Julius and Waste at the wedding reception of Phish's long-time Road Manager Brad Sands.

The private ceremony took place in New York City on Saturday night. The time stamp with the story on the Relix website says September 7, 2008 at 11 p.m., so they must have played within a couple of hours of that time.

A video clip of Phish playing at the reception already surfaced on YouTube, and although the quality is below poor it is possible to make out Trey Anastasio's distinguishable sway -- the way he rocks back-and-forth from heel-to-toe while standing and playing the guitar. I had doubts about the authenticity of this clip at first, but upon further review, right at the end you can make out the familiar strains of Julius. Judge for yourself by clicking here.

UPDATE: A second, clear clip from Julius has surfaced in the last few minutes. It's official folks. Don't believe the haters on all the message boards. See for yourself right here.

The photo here I grabbed from the HiddenTrack blog -- nice clear shot of Page McConnell, but Jon Fishman's "pose" in the background almost made me fall out of my seat laughing. What a nut!

The Relix article goes on to say, "The stealth reunion caps off four months of rumors that began when all four members of Phish appeared onstage together at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Police Drummer Stewart Copeland also sat in with Sands’ wedding band on The Police’s Can’t Stand Losing You and The MetersFire on the Bayou. Sands served as The Police’s road manager throughout the group’s recent, high-profile reunion tour. "

Ladies and gentlemen: we have ripples in the water!!! Catch your breath before you freak out. Here at The Wagger, I had to re-write the first sentence three times because my fingers were outpaced by my thoughts a good two-to-one.

I think it's safe to say that Phish OK'd the announcement on, based on the time of the posting and the details of how Phish's "reunion" unfolded.

One interesting note is that Mike Gordon is playing the last gig of his long awaited solo tour tonight, Sept. 7, at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. He did not have a show scheduled for Sept. 6, so on the surface it appears that when Mike originally booked his summer tour he did so with plans to be at Brad's wedding; wedding dates are, of course, normally picked months in advance of the actual ceremony.

With this in mind, please take a moment to answer The Wagger's latest survey question below: