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Published: 2011/02/25
by Sam Davis

A Look at Phish and the Grateful Dead’s Philly Past

Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux along with Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro participated in a discussion moderated by Music Industry Professor Toby Seay at the Stein Auditorium on the campus of Drexel University in Philadelphia yesterday. Also, on Wednesday, the two archivists took part in a three-hour long podcast that featured musical selections from previous Phish and Dead performances in Philadelphia (and nearby Camden, NJ). The pair described the taping methods used for each selection and how the process has evolved over the course of band’s respective careers.

On Wednesday’s podcast, Shapiro went first and discussed a number of hand-chosen selections taken from Phish’s archives including the famous “Wilson” into “Chalkdust Torture” from July 10th, 1999 (LivePhish 8). The Phish archivist described how the recording process has gone from a two-track system to a new remote recording station run through Pro-Tools since the band’s reunion in 2009. Shapiro nodded to former Phish sound engineer Paul Languedoc’s ability to mix and master the two track recordings, adding “Paul was the master of two-track.” The Phish archival selections were as follows:

Wilson > CDT (1999/07/10) [from Paul Languedoc’s master DAT]

Bathtub Gin (2009/11/24)

Timber > I Didn’t Know (2010/06/24)

Harry Hood (2003/07/31)

Secret Smile (2003/07/30)

Seay then turned to David Lemieux, who gave a detailed account of the Dead’s in-house taping methods throughout the band’s history. Taking a number of choice musical selections from past Dead performances at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Lemieux discussed the context of each selection while also explaining the recording method used for each. He described the band’s attitude toward listening to its own live recordings, and how that process also changed over the years.

“Most of the dead listened back to their shows. They had a hotel room set up and any band member who wanted could go back and listen to that night’s concerts. That’s how they improved—that’s how they were constantly moving forward. By the 80’s they were confident in what they were doing and listened much less.”

Lemieux’s selections from the Dead archives were as follows:

Music Never Stops (1978/05/13) [recorded by Betty Cantor]

Bird Song (1972/09/21) [Dick’s Picks 36, recorded by Bear Owsley]

Down in the Bottom > I Ain’t Superstitious, Althea (1985/04/08)

Playin’ in the Band (1977/04/22)

Scarlet Begonias (1974/08/04)

Truckin’ (1972/09/21)

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