(Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Leave Phish Behind)
When asked about my favorite music, people who know me are likely to identify two groups: The Grateful Dead and Phish. They’d be half right. Not that anyone should feel remiss for the mistake; my kids would probably offer the same response. The truth is that I have fallen out of love with Phish.
In the 90′s my musical world exploded into full life with The Grateful Dead. A few years later, I saw my first Phish show. Those two became the largest contacts on my radar and so life went for quite some time. Yes, I listened to tons of other stuff. I worked in a record store and amassed a hefty collection of music ranging from Louis Armstrong to ZZ Top. But Phish and The Grateful Dead continued to pull me back and dominate my listening and concert attentions.
The Grateful Dead ended and still I’d play their albums and live shows endlessly. Phish remained on the road and I saw them as often as life would allow and still I wanted to see them even more frequently. I collected tapes (remember tapes?) and CDs of their shows and they too stayed near the top of my playlists even during their hiatus and after their eventual ‘break-up’.
Phish used to jam. As a serious fan, I loved most of their material, including that which does not incorporate jamming, but it was the jamming and wild unpredictability that held my attention with Phish. When Phish came back in 2009, I was as excited as any fan (this blog is my testimony) and I went to the Hampton reunion shows and many more that year. The shows were fun. I had an amazing time reconnecting with old friends and sharing the shows with newer friends as well. But the music was not the highlight.
Last year, I found that listening to new Phish had become a chore. What had been a pleasurable obsession became an annoyance and, at times, I felt guilt about that annoyance. Guilt? Here was one of my so-called favorite bands, returned from rock & roll oblivion, and I couldn’t really enjoy what they were doing. Was it me? Had I changed that much? Had they? (more…)
Another day with nothing written, nothing read. I think, sometimes, that my mind has possibly withered and withdrawn to the pint that basic day-to-day functions are all I can muster. Where is my motivation? Where is my ambition?
An excuse that I’ve painted for myself is that I’ve specialized this blog so much that it’s too far off topic for me to just write creatively. It feels like everything should be music related but mummify is not solely music related and, seriously, how many blogs should a guy have to run? So I’m breaking the arbitrary rules and pushing the envelope of my own blog so that it might include my own rants and ramblings. I hope it doesn’t drive too many readers away. I value the attentions of both of you.
Here it is two days before Halloween and I’m not prepared. Phish is about to do their thing in Atlantic City and I’ve made my peace with missing this entire tour. Missing Halloween is easier as I have kids to take out on Sunday; I’ve not seen a Halloween show in memory. I even flew home early from Vegoose in 2005. (Totally worth it, by the way.)
Also on the weekend agenda is a pair of Halloween parties and I have no costume. Not since I was a kid have I felt particularly excited or inspired to dress up for Halloween. I’m not a judgmental prick who thinks it childish or whatever, I just don’t have any internal motivation to assemble a costume. Recent years’ costumes can be credited entirely to my lovely and patient wife. I know I’ve tested that patience with my ambivalence but I cannot drive myself to even conceive a disguise much less assemble it. I do enjoy the parties and other people’s costumes. That stuff is a blast.
Anyway, that is looming heavily over me at this point. Basically 24 hours to get it together. We’ll see if it happens.
As for tonight, I’m trying to get out and tape the local Grateful Dead cover band, The Brokedown Boys. They do some fun, acoustic, Dead with a steel guitar holding down much of the leads. It promises to be a pretty good time. If the tape comes out nicely, I’ll see if I can’t get a bit of it up here soon.
Which reminds me that I promised to post some of the Keller Williams Electronic Experiment show up here. That tape came out nicely (last I checked.) I just haven’t had the time + motivation to finish off the transfer. Very soon that will get done along with Gayngs and more.
Last thing. Recently, I was tuned on to a band called Junip. Their current album is entitled “Fields” and it is really great. Don’t sleep on that. Also, I’m looking forward to a show in a couple weeks that promises to destroys faces; Tame Impala with Stardeath And White Dwarfs. Should be a heavy dose of psyche to get the minds right for the impending holidaze.
Two weeks ago, en route to the Telluride Phish shows a friend of mine and many in the Phish community Shawn (aka whyweigh, aka liquidgoggles) was in a terrible car accident that has left him with a broken neck, pelvis and hand. No one else was seriously hurt but shawn is in a Denver hospital far from his home near Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, this is not Shawn’s first brush with serious medicinal issues, back in 2003 he was diagnosed with Relapsing Polychondritis, a condition that he continues to deal with today, and which is probably at least partly responsible for the severity of his injuries sustained in this crash, due to brittle bones caused by side-effects of high doses of prednisone.
I’ve met Shawn at some shows and have known him for years now. He’s as nice a person as you’d hope to meet and very generous to the community. Several times last year I featured his photographs here on rowjimmy.com (and we’re doing so again today) and now I’m hoping that I can use this site to spread the word.
Two of the online communities that Shawn frequents have come together to raise funds to assist Shawn with expenses as well as to supply him with internet access as his laptop was destroyed in the crash and, due to his injuries, he is mostly stuck in bed. As a joint effort between members at phishposters.com and week4paug.net, a series of Phish-related posters (more than one Pollock!) have been donated to be auctioned for Shawn’s benefit. More posters should be going up later this week, so keep checking back. All funds from these sales will be going to Shawn.
If you aren’t into collecting Phish posters but would like to pitch in, head over to paypal and send what you can to whyweighfundraiser AT gmail.com. And, even if you can’t help out with a few bucks, please, spread the word.
Today’s Jerry Week entry is not coming to me too easily. So I thought I’d just write a little about my history as a Deadhead.
I probably started listening to the Grateful Dead in the mid-eighties just as I began listening to other groups from the 60′s and mostly rejecting the pop music of the day. Something about the music of the era spoke to me and I filled my twelve-year-old brain with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bod Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, The Who and, The Grateful Dead. I think it was late in eighth grade when my friend’s dad gave him two cds for his birthday: Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced and Big Brother & The Holding Company – Cheap Thrills. I immediately taped those and began to digest their contents.
With my radio tuned to classic rock and tapes playing as much of the stuff as I could copy from friends or from the radio, I was enveloping myself in the music of the past and loving it. I dubbed copies of American Beauty and Skeletons In The Closet and wore them out. But I soon had all of the albums and, having moved, I made new friends who actually had seen the Grateful Dead. One gave me my first live tape (1981-05-05 Glens Falls, NY) and, that Spring, they invited me to join them for the shows at the Cap Center. My parents denied me those shows just as they had denied me all concerts at that point.
Summer of 1991 approached and, with it, another tour. Then that fateful day of June 14th arrived and my life changed forever.
(Read about it here.)
Anybody who really gets it will tell you that The Grateful Dead were more than just a rock band. And they weren’t just a lifestyle choice, either. They were troubadours bearing a message more complex than peace and love. Theirs was of higher thought and interconnectedness; groupthink and grasping after the elusive “it”. Jerry Garcia, although he casually rejected the mantle of leadership, bore that weight and guided us into places no other music has uncovered.
Have a listen to some of that RFK ’91 show: