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Published: 2015/06/30

Playing In the Band: A Comprehensive Look at Trey Anastasio’s Time with the Dead

Photo by John Patrick Gatta

Though Fare Thee Well marks Trey Anastasio’s first full shows with the “core four” surviving members of the Grateful Dead, the Phish guitarist actually has a rich history performing with various offshoots of the iconic group. Trey attended somewhere between 10 and 20 Grateful Dead shows during his formative years and Phish regularly covered the Dead and other classic rock bands from their inception in 1983 through 1986. Phish eventually dropped Grateful Dead covers from their repertoire in order to carve their own identity, but over the years the two iconic jambands have crossed paths on numerous occasions. Here’s a look at Trey’s long, strange trip from the tiny Burlington, VT bar Hunt’s to Chicago’s massive Soldier Field.

4/1/1986, Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

At least according to the circulating shows documented on Phish.net, Phish stopped performing the Dead’s music for 12 years after this gig at Hunt’s, where Phish regularly played from 1985-1987. The short lived five-piece version of Phish offer their only take on the classic segue from “Help on the Way” and “Slipknot!” during this April Fool’s show.

8/9/1998, Virginia Beach Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA

Phish mark the 3rd anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing by debuting “Terrapin Station” during their encore. This show takes place during a summer run unofficially known as the Jukebox Tour, during which Phish quickly learned and introduced covers of songs by Van Halen, Smashing Pumpkins, Talking Heads, Marvin Gaye, Beastie Boys, Steve Earle and many others.

2/15/1999, Higher Ground, Winooski, VT

During his first official “solo” show, Trey prepares for his upcoming run with Phil Lesh by dropping a cover of “Row Jimmy.” The intimate show also introduces Trey’s classic trio with Tony Markellis and Russ Lawton.

4/12/1999, Club Front, San Rafael, CA

Trey and Page McConnell join Phil Lesh & Friends for a private rehearsal performance that featured a mix of Grateful Dead staples as well as Phish originals “Ghost,” “Taste,” “Waste” and “Prince Caspian.”

4/15-17/1999, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

The true olive branch. For his first major shows after receiving a liver transplant, Phil puts together an early, all-star version of Phil & Friends boasting Trey, Page, Steve Kimock and John Molo. In addition to several pockets of deep improvisation, the shows notably include the seldom played early Dead jam vehicle “Viola Lee Blues” and Phil’s first take on “Alligator” since Pipgen’s passing. Other curveballs include Phish’s “Down with Disease,” “Wolfman’s Brother” and “Chalkdust Torture” as well as a then-rare appearance by Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux. Though Phil had used the Friends moniker as early as 1994, and had already played a handful of formal Phil & Friends shows since early 1998, these three nights truly kick off the modern era of his solo career.

9/17/1999, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA

Phil becomes the first member of the Grateful Dead to join Phish onstage when he sits in on “You Enjoy Myself,” “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Cold Rain and Snow” and a version of “Viola Lee Blues” that also features Warren Haynes. He also joins Trey and Mike Gordon on a trampoline.

10/06/2000, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA

Just over a year after welcoming Phil to the stage, Phish bring out Bob Weir for “El Paso,” “Chalk Dust Torture” and “West L.A. Fadeaway” during their encore. This is the penultimate show before the Vermont Quartet’s first hiatus.

11/29/2000, The Bushnell, Hartford, CT

Trey jams with Bobby and Nicholas Payton during a discussion and performance billed as The Power of Music.

10/2/2002, Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY

Trey joins Bob Weir & RatDog during their loose, two-stage jam at the end of the 2002 Jammy Awards. The ensemble, which includes Mike, John Popper, Robert Randolph, Warren Haynes, Matt Abts, Al Schnier, DJ Logic and many others, offers extended versions of “Gloria” and “Turn On Your Love Light.” The night also marks the first time that Fare Thee Well promoter, and Relix publisher, Pete Shapiro pairs Trey with a member of the Dead.

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