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Published: 2013/12/02

Birds of a Feather: Artists Reflect on Phish

Today marks 30 years since Phish took the stage at the University of Vermont’s Harris-Millis Cafeteria—their first ever public performance. The band (at the time consisting of Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman and original guitarist Jeff Holdsworth) played two sets of covers, including renditions of tunes by The Hollies, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, The Who and The Doors, as well as the classic Grateful Dead combo “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain.” Phish have come a long a way since then, earning the respect and admiration of countless fans over the past three decades. A lot of those fans have been fellow musicians, ranging from their jamband contemporaries to artists of an entirely different flavor. Many artists have reflected on the Vermont Quartet during interviews with Relix and Jambands.com over the years, and we’ve compiled some of those thoughts here today.

John Popper (Blues Traveler)

By far my favorite Phish memory is when we all participated in a H.O.R.D.E scam during the end of the tour jam in Richmond, VA in 93. A year before on H.O.R.D.E, I had jumped on their trampolines and, as a joke, it collapsed. But everyone thought it was serious and said, “Oh, don’t worry John trampolines break for some people.” I was like, “No, it was a gag,” but nobody believed me. So the next year I happened to be in a wheelchair and we brought one of those 14 ft trampolines onstage. We got a life-sized dummy of me in another wheelchair, dressed the same way I was, and dangled it from the stage above where Phish, Widespread, and some of the Flecktones were all jamming. Then they dropped the dummy on the trampoline and, of course, it breaks, but I am off stage on a wireless microphone going, “I’m all right, I’m OK.” People were calling for weeks going, “Is John OK?” It was the only time I ever saw Trey really impressed with a gag we did. They were always so far ahead of us on that front.

Col. Bruce Hampton

We were down south in ‘89 it was the first, second, or third gig we had played with them. There must have been 100 people there between the two bands or something. Gordon was jumping on the trampoline and he missed and went flying off, but he never quit playing. I said, “that shows everything to me.” He was so focused on playing it didn’t matter if he splattered all over the ground. Personally, I don’t get on trampolines past age 12.

Chris Barron (Spin Doctors)

John Popper and I actually grew up in Princeton with Trey and I vaguely remember playing hockey against him, but we never met. But, finally, on the H.O.R.D.E tour we got everyone together, Phish, Blues Traveler, the Spin Doctors, and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. At the end of the tour’s first leg, we got everyone on stage with Blues Traveler. I remember meeting Trey backstage. They had a dog out on the road with them and I remember thinking, “Now that’s cool.” They also had a funny word for people who complimented them: “Guysers.” They’d say, “You guy’s are so great.”

Jamie Shields (The New Deal)

My favorite Phish show is 11/20/92 Palace Theater, Albany, NY because it was my first. I had been listening to their music for about a year but hadn’t had a chance to see them up to that point. Everything I had thought about them (which was all good) went out the window, to be replaced by exponentially greater superlatives. They were everything I wanted in a band at that time. They were everything I wanted in a band at that time. To me they sounded like progressive rock meets John Mclaughlin and I just happened to be a big prog rock and John Mclaughlin fan. I proceeded to see another 40 shows or so up to about 1994. They had a major impact on my musical life. It became clear to me that if they could do what they were doing and affect that many people, then you could be successful making music that you WANTED to make, and not necessarily have to make music you feel you SHOULD be making.

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Comments

There are 31 comments associated with this post

Frank December 2, 2013, 13:20:50

Jeff Holdswoth WAS A GUITARIST! Jesus Christ

Honey Potter December 2, 2013, 13:29:52

What became of Jeff Holdsworth?.

Bonnie December 2, 2013, 13:37:26

To Ted Nugent. Your descrption of Jerry Garcia is describing your pathetic self. There is a reason why at this point in time you are reduced to playing dive bars.You suck!.

Peachy December 2, 2013, 14:32:04

Jambands.com just threw a serious meatball for anyone who is annoyed by Ted Nugent. Please folks, make me laugh!

the highway terror December 2, 2013, 14:59:52

what the hell, Nugent hasn’t had a hit in 30 +years he has to get everyones attention somehow …...

Shockadow December 2, 2013, 15:11:15

Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?

Shockadow December 2, 2013, 15:13:42

Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?

Dino December 2, 2013, 15:20:02

“Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?” These qoutes were taken over the years and I believe this was after the breakup between 2004-2009.

frankytanky December 2, 2013, 15:22:01

“Many artists have given Relix and Jambands.com their two cents on the Vermont quartet over the years, and we’ve compiled many of those thoughts here today. “

Greatfuldunn December 2, 2013, 15:30:31

“Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?”
The Coventry shows in August of ’04 were supposed to be the end of their run. Of course, they have obviously reunited since then. And thank God they didn’t go out on that show! What a muddy mess that was!

Jay December 2, 2013, 16:11:03

I once saw Ted Nugent sit in with Lynyrd Skynyrd from the front row. I am not exactly Carlos Santana when it comes to guitar playing but even I can play Sweet Home Alabama. Sure enough they bring out the Motor City Asshat to join them on one of rock and roll’s most famous anthems. After the first verse the guitar player gives Ted the nod to solo. Within 5 seconds every person in the audience that was not utterly inebriated on sour mash, and even some that were realized that old Ted was soloing in the wrong key. It sounded like someone was taking the cat’s temperature with a curling iron. Ted Nugent criticizing Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing holds about as much weight as a desert Bedouin criticizing the Red Wings power play. Long Live The Phish!

smile December 2, 2013, 16:16:50

ted nugent …child molester

Ron Grady December 2, 2013, 23:59:18

Haha Ted Nugent knows as much about guitar playing as he does about politics fucking idiot!

ZamMan December 3, 2013, 07:02:53

F Ted Nugent. . The last time I saw hin he was playing a water park in Hot Springs, Arkansas and he sucked ass

jerry blows December 3, 2013, 10:00:32

Jerry noodled on the guitar and was a mindless drug addict.

MotorCity December 3, 2013, 14:34:35

The Nuge is still shooting flaming arrows across the stage and Jerry is no more than dust…

Enigmatic Recluse December 3, 2013, 22:20:28

Good to hear from folks around the country that Teddy the Nudge is reduced to playing crap gigs. Here un Detroit he can still get suckers out to the big amphitheater every summer. Teddy may be a sack of shit, but Jerry did coast for two-thirds of his career because he was dumb enough to get hooked on smack.

Goldenblue December 4, 2013, 08:38:42

Janbands.com ought to be ashamed of themselves for even printing such garbage from the mouth of someone who has zero credibility in the jamband world. Hey Relix or Jambands.com where would you even be without Jerry and the Deadheads? NOWHERE so why did you choose to even print what he said in an article about Phish? I think this will be one bookmark that I will delete.

From Europe December 5, 2013, 04:15:00

Finally, someone said the truth: Garcia wasn’t a great musician. Compare him to the great r’r guitarist Jimmy Page Townshend Hendrix Blackmore Clapton ec
Garcia and the Grateful Dead create a sociological attitude around the concerts but musically they were nothing special.

Colonel Angus December 5, 2013, 14:02:14

Love these features! Keep them coming.

Col. Lingus December 5, 2013, 16:26:12

Ted Nugent must have mistook his catalog for Jerry Garcia. I’d be willing to bet Jerry spent more time practicing in one year than Ted has his whole life. It certainly shows when you compare their guitar prowess, or lack thereof in Ted’s case.

Col. Lingus December 5, 2013, 16:28:45

Hey From Europe…...you are obviously not a musician

Fred December 6, 2013, 10:37:49

“Jerry noodled on the guitar and was a mindless drug addict.” ^ Jer did noodle and was a drug addict. But, “mindless”? have you even listened to him speak for as little as 30 seconds? One of the most articulate, knowledgeable, interesting minds anywhere, then and now.

Relevant December 6, 2013, 17:19:06

From Europe: During one of the stops on the Plant/Page tour in either 88 or 89, a reporter asked Page how it felt to be the “world’s greatest living guitar player”. Page’s answer: “I wouldn’t know. You should aks Garcia.”.

Hippietrip December 6, 2013, 17:19:11

Like my balls Nugent!

dk70 December 7, 2013, 10:36:12

I would love to see how Ted Nugent could solo over the chord changes on Missippi Half Step, Music Never Stopped or even Deal, for that matter. His wanker pentatonic Foghat wanna-be riffs would fall flat after two measures.

finalvinyl60 December 7, 2013, 12:44:42

Ted’s entitled to his opinion, but what I don’t understand about people of his ilk is why is he so angry and mean spirited. Jerry’s music is celebrated by countless numbers of tribute bands and some of the finest symphony orchestras in this country. The only one playing Ted Nugent’s music, is well, Ted Nugent. A hundred years from now people will still be listiening to and playing Jerry’s music. Nugent’s music dies with him.

From Europe December 7, 2013, 14:11:59

It’s not important if you use a penthatonic or mixolydian or arabic or some difficult and strange scales: I personally consider the solo from Since I’ve been loving you (led zeppelin 3) the most expressive solo in r’n‘r history. It’s your theoretic approach. For example, Jimmy Page create this increadible and intricate songs with open chords (listen the rain song).
Just my opinion: Phil Lesh was the only great musician in the Grateful Dead.

Nick December 7, 2013, 15:53:32

Fuck You Ted Nugent!! If u really said that, that is… I mean, WTF do u know about playing guitar anyhow

kye December 7, 2013, 20:11:22

guys/gals Ted is a Douche he said that like 10 years ago too he is a child raping fool who has about 3 decent guitar rifts. he coulda never have written songs that Jer bear did so F him he is now worth the time. He has one city DETROIT! Now there is a city to be proud of. Bankrupt and taking pensions while Jerry lives on even brighter today When TED dies know one will care except for his lil girl of a wife and the NRA.. HEy but he liked on phish lol #clueless

Carlos December 9, 2013, 13:54:56

So who is the bigger douche bag? John Popper or Ted Nugent?
POPPPPPPPPERRRRR!!!! FUCK THAT RIGHT WING ASSHOLE

dk70 December 10, 2013, 18:27:29

Jimmy Page is a Rock God, master studio album producer, genius riff meister and songwriter. To compare him to “The Nuge” is well, ya know…..PS..“Since I’ve Been Loving You is Diatonic Minor. Jerry in his prime was arguably the best singer songwriter lead player on Earth 1970-1978.

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