Following Coventry, I continued listening to Phish for a while, but eventually decided to branch out a bit. My concert attendance had decreased in general. I started listening to moe. a bit more and some newer music, including Ryan Adams. I kept going back to Phish every now and then, but it was few and far between. As I had a lot more time on my hands and found myself single and living in a city where I didn’t know a whole lot of people other than those I worked with or who worked for me, I started meeting some people on Craigslist. Eventually, I met the woman who would eventually become my wife. She, unfortunately, was not a fan of Phish, but that wasn’t a problem.
We had gone to a moe. show together in Worcester. We had a good time, but the sound sucked. And honestly, after listening to many recordings of moe. shows, they need a better sound guy. They sound muffled in all the recordings, and they sounded muffled at the show itself. It didn’t help that we were near a bunch of people who talked throughout the entire show, but the sound was still horrible. The Palladium is not a very large venue. It’s about the size of the current Lupo’s in Providence. I have seen bands at Lupo’s and the sound was not a problem. The was the first and only time I have seen moe. Don’t get me wrong, I love their music. I just haven’t gone to see them again (though if they come to Providence, as they should, I’ll be there).
Trey started up another band, 70 Volt Parade, with some of the members of the old 10 piece TAB. This band was more of a rock band. Susan and I went to see them in Boston one summer with Matisyahu opening for them. I really enjoyed Matisyahu, but Trey just wasn’t that good. In fact, his 10 piece band was much better. Sure, the show had its high points, but overall, it wasn’t anything special. I had gone to the show very hopeful, but left wanting more. He released his album Shine, which was full of catchy pop songs, but wasn’t musically interesting.
Phil Lesh and Friends came through Providence to play two nights at Lupo’s. I went to one of them and finally got the music that I needed. The band was solid. The show was fun and musically awesome. While they gave it a folksy/country sound, it was just what I needed. Phil Lesh and Friends was like the anti-Trey. Phil had put all his drug and alcohol problems behind him and concentrated on his family, his friends, and his music. They were just plain awesome and very tight.
I had seen Trey on two other occasions. The first was opening for Tom Petty on his 30th anniversary tour. He was with 70 Volt Parade. Again, he was good, but his set was nothing special. I love Tom Petty as well, and had seen him on another occasion (which may have been during the hiatus with Bob Dylan opening). This Petty show wasn’t as fun. It seemed to be more about the show than his music. The worst part of the show was when he brought out Stevie Nicks, whom I despise. I enjoy Fleetwood Mac, but I can’t stand her. At the previous show, Petty made it a lot of fun. This one lacked the fun. The one high point was when they “went back to their roots” and played some British blues rock. That part of the show was great.
The other time I saw Trey was opening for Phil Lesh and Friends. The only difference was that this time there were two openers. First was the Benevento Russo Duo followed by the addition of Trey and Mike. This show was interesting. Trey was pushed by the solid playing of the others, but you could tell something was still “off” about him. Phil and Friends were awesome as usual, though Susan wasn’t overly impressed (she just doesn’t like jamming).
I had also started listening to The Breakfast a bit more. I grew up with guitarist Tim Palmieri. I had a lot of fun at the shows I attended. I haven’t seen them in a few years, but they’re definitely worth checking out. I’m hoping now that the Century Lounge has re-opened in Providence they’ll come back here instead of just going to South County.
Time went on and Trey had released some more solo albums. Page and Mike both released solo albums as well, which were extremely solid and well received. In fact, those two albums are far better than anything Trey did without Phish. Everything came to a head when Trey was arrested in New York for drug possession. More hatred and rumors started flying around the message boards. I decided to just step away from it all and ignore it. I didn’t really care. It was Trey’s personal issues to deal with on his own.
Sometime after his arrest he started doing some interviews saying how he wanted nothing more than to play the old Phish tunes again. He was booked for a solo acoustic gig at the Newport Folk Festival last summer. I was lucky enough to go. Obviously, he was a highlight for me. He played a bunch of Phish tunes and some of his solo work to a crowd that stayed through the rain to watch him. People were chanting to “Wilson” and singing the lines to “Bathtub Gin”. Everyone had a great time and Trey seemed super excited to be back. He looked healthy and happy. Other worthwhile performances were the Cowboy Junkies, Willy Mason, the Black Crowes, Jakob Dylan, and the American Babies. Trey also brought back his original solo band, dubbed Classic TAB, and went on a small tour. I was lucky enough to catch him in Providence. The band was on fire from start to finish. It was very obvious that Trey was back and clean. They ripped through some solo Trey songs, some new songs, and a bunch of Phish tunes. For the encore, they were joined on stage by Scott Murawski of Max Creek, Bill Kreutzman of the Dead, and Oteil Burbridge of the Aquarian Rescue Unit and more recently the Allman Bros. They all tore it up for a packed crowd. Trey was definitely back and on top of his game once again. He was clean and sober and, more importantly, healthy and happy.
Rumblings of Phish’s return were getting louder and louder over the next couple months when they announced by video that they were reuniting for three shows at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia. Everyone was ecstatic, though there were still many naysayers, particularly those who still held a grudge from Coventry.
The next post in this series will cover the reunion at Hampton and the summer tour. I have not decided if I should wait until the first leg of the tour has ended towards the end of the month or if I will write it after Great Woods.