Vibrating With Love, Light & Phish – The Baker’s Dozen Revisited

The Love is in The Journey, and the Juice Was Worth the Squeeze

Screenshot via LivePhish – 8/6/17 – Glaze
by Russell S. Glowatz

It all began with a chance encounter with Sam Cutler at the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead show on July 21, 2017. An epic weekend was sprawled out before me, beginning with JRAD, before catapulting head first into The Baker’s Dozen on night two – strawberry donut night. Sam was extremely gracious – we discussed his part in Long Strange Trip, and he took a moment to take a photograph. I was enamored by the meeting, and thought it to be a good omen setting out upon my musical journey. Little did I know that only a few days later, Sam would head to a Phish show as well, proceeding to sodomize our favorite band in a scathing Facebook review. 

The encounter and subsequent “eff you” he laid out in glorious fashion on the internet, highlights the intricate web that’s often weaved when seeing Phish. That photo of us was first a point of pride, yet quickly became a moment of chagrin before swiftly transcending into the hilarious heirloom it currently remains. It’s a mix of kismet and karma, with a dash of humor, and the joke is always on us! Over the course of The Baker’s Dozen, Phish enthralled us with what they do best – a fusion of supreme song, epic jams, and harmonious humor running the gamut from donut themes, to transcendent “Lawn Boy” improvisation. As a clan we pick up on the synchronicity and jocularity, throw it back in the bands face, only for them to flip it back on us. 

Is This Still Lawn Boy? via Etsy.com
Via LivePhish webcast – Intermission – 8/4/17 – Lemon

Recently laid off, setting out upon the world of donuts was going to be a frugal affair by necessity. Budget and logistics permitting, I would be lucky to attend two of these shows – maybe three if the donut-shaped universe was on my side. Little did I know that when all was said and done, I’d have the pleasure to experience seven glorious Baker’s Dozen performances in person, with a few more on the couch to boot – and through all of this, I still had a few bucks in the bank at the end of session. It was the most pleasant surprise, and served as a stupendous silver lining atop of my newfound unemployment.

Perched at my seat in the riser section for night two, my first foray into a world that runs on dunkin’, a Phan walked by and handed me a fresh pack of pocket tissues – He said “You’re gonna need these bro – You’re gonna cry tonight!” While tears never materialized (until “On The Road Again” of course) , I certainly cried “Joy” on the inside, and this portable pack of tissues came in handy for the entirety of the run. Every night I carried those tissues in my pocket, and nearly every night they were used by myself or a Phan in need nearby. And when the mid-run Baker’s Dozen wook flu hit me like a bat out of hell, the tissues were there to soothe my soul. Thank you tissue man, not only for gifting me extremely handy show gear, but for reminding me that with the right attitude, you will always get what you need when you need it, if you give what you can when you can.  

Via LivePhish webcast – Intermission – 8/4/17 – Lemon

The law of attraction on steroids is often what many experience at shows and festivals, and this small yet relevant tissue saga serves to highlight that phenomenon. Little karmic anomalies dotted my whole run at YEMSG, from buying a bar stool ticket by accident on Jam night (turned out to be the best mistake ever!) to getting a miracle ticket on Powder night. That miracle ticket led me to taking in a show with one of my oldest friends – we haven’t been at Phish together since Jones Beach on the reunion tour, so it was a special moment to say the least – we partied like it was 2009. Showing up on Maple night with the expectation of a Jerry song (since it was his 75th birthday) – and getting a Drums & Space nod mid “46 Days” – plus a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” encore instead – reminded me to never have expectations at a Phish show. When I showed up with zero expectations the next night to Holes, I was rewarded with one of the greatest shows of my lifetime. With positivity and a heightened karmic awareness, synchronicity is boundless – and as a collective we achieved something otherworldly at The Baker’s Dozen – not everyone in the building felt it – yet most did – Lift off!

Holes – 7/2/17

When it comes down to it, we all know it’s more than just a show, just a run, or just a festival – this is a community, our community, a lifestyle we choose to live and love. The Baker’s Dozen embodied the goodness that the Phish community offers in the most magnificent way. We laughed, we danced, we cried, we sang. We were stupefied, awestruck, amazed, and blazed. We made new phriends, met up with old compatriots, and ran into folks we never thought we’d see again. We tried new things, like Section 119 Spicy Chicken Sandwiches, or “Strawberry Letter 23” – And we basked in the familiarity of old things, like a favorite Phish t-shirt, Trey’s spaced guitar face, and the Meatstick Dance. This was more than a residency of shows – this was a fleeting love affair with a band beyond description and its eclectic followers. The feeling will certainly be revisited at shows in the future, yet it will be different by then – a different time, a different space, a different energy. 

If one could bottle the dynamism of The Baker’s Dozen and distribute it far and wide, it wouldn’t be The Baker’s Dozen anymore. Just like everyone that experienced The Great Went, Big Cypress, Lemonwheel, or IT, this run slipped through our fingers as quickly as it arrived – and that’s the beauty of it! For a meteoric moment in time we experienced a flash in a pan, so bright, so beautiful, so full of boundless love, we’ll take memories of it with us through the rest of our existence. Now it lives in our photographs, videos, the soundboards, and our collective consciousness for eternity. This was a redefining run for Phish – and for me – an array of events that has catapulted my life and creative sensibilities in a new direction. All these weeks later, with a New Year’s extravaganza on the horizon, I’m still buzzing, as I’m sure are many of you.  

Photo Credit – René HuemerPhish From The Road

Love, light, and good vibrations to you all. To the countless new phriends I made at The Dozen, until we meet again – see you for another Garden New Year’s in a few months. Our trip is short to YEMSG reprise – Seventeen in Seventeen! “When you bait the hook with your heart, the [Phish] will always bite.” 

Photo Credit – René HuemerPhish From The Road
Hoodboy is What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by N13

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A Rant on Rage Sticks – aka Festival Totems 

 

Source: Pinterest
by Russell S. Glowatz

This past weekend Pretty Lights put on an episodic festival in New Hampshire. In between sets, crew members were sent out to move a totem wielding fan from the front of the stage to the side, so lighting folks could do their job without an unobstructed view. Soon after, Pretty Lights’ lighting designer, LazerShark, worked up an anti-totem image to plaster on the screen at the back the stage. LazerShark was simply poking fun – His later post about the incident metes that out.

According to Live For Live Music, after the incident LazerShark commented: “Just to be clear since some people think it’s their right to be an inconsiderate douche. Your right to “self-expression” has not been banned at our shows. We simply just want both our crew and our audience to be able to enjoy the show how they intended. We could have simply confiscated this stupid jellyfish [totem] but instead we decided to have a little fun and prove a very simple point. Stand to the side dummies. Or I’m coming to your job with a giant sign that says fuck you and you can explain to your boss why some guy is interfering with your work.” 

Source: Live For Live Music

I’m going to take LazerShark’s sentiment to the next level. Ban those fucking rage rods altogether. There’s a thousand ways to express yourself at a festival without getting up in people’s faces. You can sing, dance, wear crazy clothing, go nude, paint your face, wear no makeup at all, carry around a super heady backpack with all your pins and swag on it, hand out cards to everyone with your favorite inspirational quote, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. These totems are the epitome of getting up in others’ spaces – If you rock one, your selfishness outweighs your self-expression tenfold.  

Ban those completely inconsiderate “I’m the center of the universe” poles. Friends don’t let friends bring cock sizing rods to festivals. If you have a friend or relative putting together one of these silly spikes, stop them immediately. Break that thing in half! They’ll be pissed at you in the present, but will thank you down the line. Imagine an episode of Intervention, except the only drug your loved one is high on this time is their own ego. 

“But wait, I need my totem to find my friends!” If you seriously need one of these oversized sceptres to find your friends at a fest (in 2017!!!) you should be banned from the grounds, as you’re clearly a danger to others and yourself. If American soldiers could find their comrades in the jungles of Vietnam with a compass and the stars, why can’t you find your buddies in a crowd at a festival – when literally everyone is a walking GPS these days? Oh, you say you left your phone in your car? Cool, then make a meeting spot where you can all gather at a specific time! It’s really simple shit we’re talking about here.  Being considerate of staff and your fellow festival goers, I would presume is paramount for most people attending such events. The rage stick violates these central tenets. If one walks around a fest with such an unwieldy staff, you’re breaking the Golden Rule without even knowing it.  

Sure, festivals are the last Wild West – A place to break free from the confines of meager existence to celebrate life to the fullest. But are rage sticks really necessary to rage life to the fullest?! Hell no! Party, get schwilly (do people still say schwilly?), get down, get dirty, and express yourself to your heart’s desire, just leave your beanstalk at home (or at least your campsite). It’s simple. And if you’re seriously having issues giving up your Napoleon Complex pole, therapy might be a good outlet. End rant.  

 

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Phish Just Dropped The Sweetest New Years Gag – Shana Tovah!

by Russell S. Glowatz

L’shana Tovah Tikateyvu! Phish does what they do best, and played a silly awesome joke on us with the announcement of New Year’s Run 2017 on the eve of the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah and 5778 will start off with a bang thanks to Phish. As half the band falls squarely in the Jewish camp, the nuance of announcing the run on this date may fly over some Phans heads, but not this Hebrew fella here. While I never thought it possible, my love for this band just jumped up a notch. Was this a coincidence? Maybe. Was it a planned, yet subtle joke? Likely. These guys rock the gags almost as well as their instruments – And it looks like we might get that 2017 Avenu Malkenu after all!

While this was the worst kept secret in the Phishaverse since the very end of The Baker’s Dozen, it’s now official and feels oh so sweet. Seventeen shows in 2017 is happening – Even Billy Joel can’t compete with a record run like this. When Phish is all said and done, they will have played 56 shows at Madison Square Garden, since their debut at the World’s Most Famous Arena on December 30, 1994.  

For the 2017 New Year’s extravaganza, we are graced with a perfect show weekend, as New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday – And a Thursday to Sunday News Year’s Run falls in that magic sweet spot. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the only word that comes to mind as thoughts turn towards New Year’s in every way imaginable. Into The Garden we go again for another Phish pageant of perfection! 

Down to the details – The lottery pre-sale is already underway via Phish Tickets, and ends on Monday October 2, at 10 a.m. EST. Public on-sale for all the shows are scheduled for Friday October 6, at 12 p.m. EST. A limited number of 4-day passes are available. The rest of the brass tacks are available via the above link. Much luck to all on their quest for golden tickets!

Apples & honey, challah french toast, and Phish…ohhh myyyyy! Love and light to all of you in the New Year!

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Why Do Phish Phans Hate Twiddle? In their own words… 

When a Gut Reaction Strikes a Fit of Passion

by Russell S. Glowatz

Lately it occurs to me that a large, or at least excessively vocal sector of Phans hates the up and coming jam act known as Twiddle. The phenomenon confounds me, yet is born out time and time again on Facebook, Twitter, PT, Phish.net, etcetera. Sometimes the chatter is so loud and inundating that these Phish groups should consider a name change. Twiddle Gripers 2017, or Friendly Twiddle Bitchers are names that ring right when peak Twiddle bellyaching is reached.  

“Hate” is a strong word, yet it’s the one most frequently confronted when talking Twiddle with Phans. Since most of these conversations are had on the interweb, a medium that often appeals to our lowest common inclinations, I considered that Phans might have a more nuanced and toned down take on the subject in person. As I set out to discuss all things Twiddle with Phans, live at The Baker’s Dozen this past summer, I had no sense how wrong I’d be proven.  

In his or her natural habitat, the Phan’s hatred for Twiddle is immensely exacerbated. The Phish heads I met outside Madison Square Garden were extremely passionate, did not mince words, and were sometimes intimidating. Apparently for the most ardent of the Twiddle hating Phans, even bringing up the jam band’s name at a Phish show will harsh their vibe – I learned this the hard way.  

When I first arrived at Penn Station on Powder night, I encountered a Phan named Eggz looking for a ticket with his finger held high by the escalators. When I mentioned that I was interviewing Phans before the show, his eyes lit up with interest and excitement. He introduced himself, mentioned that he had to get to all nights of The Baker’s Dozen so he could complete what he called his “baker’s hundozen” (his 113th show would fall on the last night of the run), and he meticulously made certain that I understood “Eggz” was spelled with a “Z.”  

After some small talk I asked if he was into Twiddle. The previously mellow, and somewhat excitable Eggz, quickly morphed into a defensive posture. “Twiddle? Twiddle, brah?! Love my dick relentlessly! Twiddle this and get the fuck outta here!” He abruptly shuffled away, yelling “who’s got my miracle or good deal?!” 

A little bit flustered by my first encounter, I left Penn Station and perched myself under the Darin Shock mural in the main entrance to MSG. Shaking the Eggz experience off, I quickly approached my next subject. Davey Donuts was an English major at SUNY Oneonta, spending the summer before his last year in college on Phish tour. His non-Phan friends gave him his nickname after he profusely and only talked about The Baker’s Dozen since its announcement.

I asked him what he thought of Twiddle. His face immediately transformed from an expression of chill to complete and utter disgust. He bellowed “Twiddle blows! Typical, white, college kid, super cheese, middle class, trust fund baby band.” When I suggested that he essentially described half of Phish’s audience, including himself, he fake lunged at me, scoffed, and scurried away.  

Graphic Credit: twiddlesoundsliketurds.info

Completely verklempt at this point, turning and churning the thoughts in my head, I set my sights on the Pennsy where I could take a load off, take the edge off, and regroup. I struck up a conversation with Katy, whose online handle is Starchild Kind Kat.

When I apprehensively touched upon the elephant in the room, she remarked that she “tried listening to Twiddle once. [She] couldn’t even get through the whole song, Jamflowdude or something? They sounded so derivative. They just plain ripped off Phish, and thought we wouldn’t notice?! Losers!” When I suggested that many would consider imitation a great form of flattery, she said “fuck that,” and walked away with her friends. While scattering, I heard her say to her buddies that “I hope they play a Jerry song tonight!” 

I wasn’t feeling the nuance, I wasn’t feeling the love. As I walked outside, a cool breeze made me think about the situation – At this point I decided to bag this whole endeavor, go inside, get a spicy chicken sandwich, and enjoy the show. After going through security, and double timing it to section 119 before the half off promotion ended, I found an empty table to eat my sandwich in peace. Soon a Phan asked if they could share the spot with me. When I obliged and went to introduce myself, I almost choked on my chicken upon seeing his t-shirt. The shirt had a Phish emblem on it with Twiddle written in the middle. Blown away, I asked my new friend Matty if we could rap about this Twiddle hating Phan phenomenon.  

A fan of both Twiddle and Phish, Matty was down to dish. As a former psychology major at UC Berkeley, he already came up with a few interpersonal theories on the subject. Matty stated “There’s a large sector of Phans that have been teased for years by their Grateful Dead loving counterparts, so now they need a little cousin to pick on – Enter Twiddle.” His second hypothesis centered around the notion that “many Phans see Twiddle as a legitimate threat to Phish’s legacy, and in turn hate them without giving them a real shot. This is purely a mechanism to secure Phish’s survival as The Beatles of the current jam band scene.”  

Pleasantly surprised by Matty’s articulate and well thought through responses, he hit me with one last thought. “Maybe Phans aren’t willing to give Twiddle a real shot because they can’t look passed their nonsensical name. Maybe when folks are so enamored by one band, it becomes hard to open their minds to newer music.” When my eyes wandered sideways pondering Matty’s words, I caught Sam Cutler walking by, powdered donut clenched in one hand, ticket in the other, looking for his seat.  

Soon after, Sam Cutler would go down in inPHamy for his hilariously close-minded rant about his experience catching four Phish songs live. Often I see shades of his rant in Phan conversations about Twiddle. The donut does not fall far from the bakery, and no one really gives a crap about what bands one doesn’t like – Different strokes for different folks. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve had these same conversations with Deadheads about Phish. A pattern is forming.  

This has been (mostly) satire brought to you by Stand For Jam. The sentiment is real – The quotes were inspired by real comments – The interviews did not happen – I did not see Sam Cutler on Powder night, yet ran into him a few days prior at JRAD…and I got my Sec 119 Spicy Chicken Sandwich on Holes night!

 

Copyright © 2017 Stand For Jam™️

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The Brother’s Tapes – Brokedown Palace – Grateful Dead – 10/31/70 – SUNY at Stony Brook – Cassette Tape Video

Photo Credit - imgur: whenthattrainrollsby

Grateful Dead played two shows in the University Gymnasium on the SUNY Stony Brook campus on Halloween 1970. This version of “Brokedown Palace” is from the early show.

A little over two years earlier, in May of 1968, Grateful Dead made their first appearance at “Stoner Brook,” known at the time to be the stonedest campus in the East. The 1968 show was the Grateful Dead’s second ever in the East, and served to be their first paying East Coast gig.

This is Series #2 of the Brother’s Tapes. These tapes were procured from my brother’s cassette tape collection, which was curated on the taper circuit and beyond during the nineties.

There’s something about the sound on these tapes that’s special all their own – warts and all – the crackle, the hiss, the occasional skip (watch out for 2:45 on this tape!). These tapes give you something a digital version never can.

They almost ended up in the trash – And for years they had no purpose – Until now…

 

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Meet Meatstick Girl – An Exclusive Q&A with the Latest Webcast Legend


On the last night of the Dick’s Run and the end of the epic 2017 summer tour, Phish graciously offered us a free webcast so everyone that desired could share in the groove. During Meatstick, I was taking a couple of screenshots, as I sometimes do to create silly content down the line (weird but true). While I was intently focused on catching Trey in the midst of the glory that is the Meatstick Dance, another bright soul popped upon the screen like sunshine after stormy weather. I caught the above photo of this Phan, and quickly worked up a meme in her honor. Since then, she has been collectively dubbed #MeatstickGirl by Phans across Phish nation, as she added a bit of extra glitter to an otherwise energetic rendition of the tune. She has been honored far and wide across the interweb these past days, and deserves every bit of recognition.

Meatstick Girl was the highlight of couch tour for many that evening – Dazzling us with her spot-on execution of the dance, and her euphoric arm pump and freestyle moves, as Trey ripped into a stupendous solo after the choreographed caper was over. She reminded us that at a show we’re all players in the band, as the music plays us. Yet this is far from the first time an enraptured entity from the crowd has gained notoriety through a Phish webcast. As the term “webcast famous” is entering the lexicon of more and more Phans, Meatstick Girl will no doubt go down in the upper echelon of the webcast hall of fame. From the tuned in Nicholas Peter Orr, dubbed #Hoodboy, to the ethereal Nathan Tobey, knighted #StashGuy, and lest not forget the happiest man at The Baker’s Dozen (don’t have a name for this delighted dude), christened #CaspianGuy. All these folks are falling prey to the whims of the webcast gods, and their lives as Phans have been irrevocably altered, certainly in some ways, after their dance with simulcast serendipity.

Is this a good thing, bad thing, or does it fall somewhere in between? Luckily for us, Meatstick Girl has arisen out of the woodwork, and affably accepted a Stand For Jam invitation to participate in a good old-fashioned Question & Answer session. Initially I provided her with ten questions, certainly covering her newfound notoriety, but also encouraging her to dive deep on other issues concerning all things Phish. Then I came up with one last question, turning this epic Q&A all the way up to eleven.

 The full complete Meatstick Girl - Fast forward to 2:26 for the part that made her webcast famous! Thanks to Joel Mazur & Mike Gregory for helping to curate this video!

Introducing (drum roll)………….Heather Craig! Heather wanted to take her time with these questions, felt empowered by the platform, and simply did not want to phone it in. Upon receiving her answers, she commented that “these questions struck many chords with [her] and [her] internal relationship with this magnificent music” – The spirit with which she attacked these queries and her articulately animated answers m̶e̶a̶t̶ mete that out…

Stand For Jam (SFJ): How does if feel to be webcast famous? Did you have any sense the camera was trained on you at that moment?

Heather Craig (HC): I had no idea the camera was on me, but when you’re down there, you always know there’s a possibility of being seen. I think that’s one of the great things Phish gives us all – the ability to be truly ourselves even when presented with the possibility of being observed by hundreds of thousands, whether it’s on the webcast or in the thick of the crowd. What we’re talking about is one of the most terrifying feelings – putting your freest self out into the world without any sort of reassurance of being accepted, but I feel that as long as you’re accepting of yourself, you’re open for whatever the moment asks of you. There’s this internal rhetorical question constantly being asked when I’m at shows: Can you let go of everything that’s holding you back and simply be with us right here for this small moment in time?

SFJ: With Hoodboy, Stash Guy, Caspian Guy, and now you, Meatstick Girl, how do you feel about Phans picking up on these webcast moments, making memes and making folks Phish famous? Is this an invasion of privacy? Where do you think the line should be drawn or if there should be a line at all?

HC: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”

I feel if happiness comes from making these memes, I’m all about it! Once the moment was over, it became etched in time and unchangeable. It’s no longer who I am – it’s who I was, a past moment. I personally don’t feel that it is an invasion of privacy. If I were a more reserved person who still wanted to be close to the source within the first 5 rows of the stage, I feel actions could be taken to ensure you don’t end up on the screen. One way could be to walk up before the show starts and introduce yourself to the staff and ask them nicely to not record you, or you could always wear a hat or get silly and rock a handmade mask to cover your face. If you don’t mind being further from the stage, then usually you can have a more private experience.

SFJ: How many Meatsticks have you experienced live? When was your first Meatstick? What does it take to master the Meatstick, as you have done? What’s your secret?

HC: I’ve experienced Meatstick live 9 times (9 times? 9 times.) *Bueller, Bueller* 😛 My first one was at Dick’s 8/31/12, when they spelled Fuck Your Face, an unbelievable show to recall! Whew! Anyway, I was shown the dance by a friend but never practiced it before going to the show. I remember standing in the crowd, around Page Side soundboard area, and I was singing along and a guy next to me says, “Nice! You know the Japanese lyrics, but do you know the dance?!” I think he then tried to teach me, but suffice to say, we both needed practice. Fast forward through a few years of taking out the Meatstick to Grand Prairie 10/25/16 where I followed Mike’s choreography, and from that moment the Meatstick dance became a movement my body would know how to recreate. I’m a student who has a great teacher. The secret to many things is silliness, and surrender truly is the trick. Phish has given me that insight, and I try to hold on (but never too tight) to that intention every time I walk away from one of their shows. So lighten up, and bury the Meatstick! 🙂

SFJ: In that moment, what were you thinking, if anything at all? Phish obviously brings you immense joy – What is it about this band and community that takes you to that point of euphoria?

HC: What I’m concentrating on at Phish shows is connectivity – less of a single thought and more of an emptying of mind, expectation, restraint, and turning my attention to everything I can soak up out of every little moment. Becoming a sponge or empty vessel – I let the music course through me, allowing it to undo any tensions I have mentally, physically, or emotionally. They’re my connection to source, a connection to my Self. Each passing year we all undergo trauma to the mind, body, and soul – kinks that need to be worked out through our own preferred method, and Phish is my way of release. The community of Phans is, of course, a beautiful support system as well that feeds my flame. I’ve gone to many shows alone and have felt completely at home, safe, and loved in a crowd of strangers. To then dance with them for 3 hours forms a bond that is hard to match elsewhere. Then to have all these people you’ve met and befriended across the nation, it’s like starting a fire from tinder pieces.

Alpine 2015, Night Two, Lot. The Harry Ladies (They really wanted a Harry Hood that night, and in their excited state kept saying "Haaaaarryyyy, Haaaarrrryyy!" in Heather's ear)

SFJ: When, where, and how did your love affair with Phish start?

HC: A friend gave me a copy of Island Tour ’98 and said with a smile, “To get you hooked.” Not thinking much of it, I gave it a listen on my way to work. 4/2/98 Stash 13:22 made my eyes water and ears fall in love. The contrast of the chaos to the bliss was too easy for me to relate to. I didn’t want to leave my car. I didn’t want to go in to work, and I like my job! I wanted to sit there and listen to them for another moment…and another…and another… I was enchanted. After that, I listened to everything I could get my hands on – live and recorded – and started attending shows as often as possible. “Was it for this my life I sought?” 💓

SFJ: As a community, I’d say we’re nine parts love & light, and one-part stuff that’s troubling. Whether from the nitrous scene, to tarpers, GA etiquette, or the rising awareness of female Phan harassment, as a Phan yourself, is there any particular trend that concerns you in the Phishaverse today? Any ideas on how to rectify the issue(s), if there’s any issue(s) at all?

HC: This is an unfolding view of what happens when people are set free. It’s difficult to find the balance when people have different moral codes within that freedom. Without paying close attention, greed, overindulgence, and disrespect of all kinds seeps its way in through unseen cracks and decides to stick around for a while beleaguering equilibrium. What each of us can do to rectify these happenings is to observe the choices we each make and ask our freest selves within us if this is the environment we are truly wanting to foster. In regards to sexual harassment at shows, when it involves another person’s safety and comfort, being courageous and speaking up when we see disrespectful behavior around us is a huge step we can take and a responsibility we all have. We can’t force a change, all we can do is lead by example towards a more healthy, loving, and wholesome community.

SFJ: What’s your favorite thing about Phish?

HC: My favorite thing about Phish is how they bring hundreds of thousands of people together for a live experience and how they concentrate our attention for extended periods of time. For many of us, they are a form of meditation to guide us to our individual interpretation of freedom and happiness, so we can take that freedom and happiness and spread it around when we leave the shows. We take them and their lessons with us, that is an absolutely incredible accomplishment! It’s how minds are opened, it’s how change becomes workable.

SFJ: If you could ask one band member one question, who and what would it be?

HC: Trey, may I live in your pocket?

Seriously though, the band has been answering many of my unspoken questions since I began to pay attention – most of the questions came in forms I wouldn’t know how to pose succinctly or verbally, but I feel there’s already a healthy conversation that happens between artist and audience/audience member.

Heather at Dick's '16 - Swingin' Dick's - rocking super appropriate head gear! - Photo Credit: Michael Howard

SFJ: Request time: Name a song you’ve been chasing, but have never gotten?

HC: Bye Bye Foot or Shafty. There are so many I haven’t caught yet that I would love to hear live, but I know each one comes in its own time and place and if you go around expecting and wishing, you may miss many magical moments being gifted to you right then.

SFJ: If you could sum up this whole Meatstick Girl experience in three words and/or a phrase, what would they be?

HC:

Three words: “Shocks my brain!”

Phrase: After Meatstick, you chop wood and carry water.

SFJ: Any causes or charities close to your heart that you’d like to give a shout out?

HC:

🐠

So other than the happenstance of being caught on camera, what makes Meatstick Girl and her webcast cohorts so unique? I believe we see ourselves in these isolated moments, and in turn make these folks Phish famous to celebrate US! For those that get it, we have all been enraptured in the frenzied excitement of a Meatstick Girl moment, or worn the face of stupefied awe while a song was peaking, just like Hood Boy. Heather framed it best when she quoted The Beatles verse above – “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Trey told us “The Walrus was Jimmy,” yet perhaps he was really saying the Walrus is us all!

Before she was Meatstick Girl - Heather in all her glory soaking in the beauty that is TAB at Red Rocks - 5/31/17 - Photo Credit: Miles Chrisinger

Thank you to Heather Craig, aka Meatstick Girl, for wholeheartedly throwing yourself into this Q&A! You’ve not only awed us with your dancing, but now your prose.

Answers by Heather Craig, 
Questions & Paragraphs by Russell S. Glowatz

 

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It Ain’t Love & Light All The Time: Making GA Better At Phish

by Russell S. Glowatz

Some people don’t think there is a problem. Other people believe it’s a small problem. Then there’s the folks that are sure the whole thing is blown out of proportion. Then there are the cats that just don’t care. GA issues, Phamily. This writer believes they are real, and has heard enough firsthand accounts from people on Facebook, in personal discussion, and has seen enough to know something’s awry. Maybe things have been the way they are for a long time, or throughout the entire history of Phish shows with general admission sections. Yet lately, as the chatter increases to such immense levels, it might get to the point where those in charge have no choice but to change it up.

Recently I wrote an article, Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dicks – It’s Only a Symptom, about entitlement and privilege in GA. I feel like I made a lot of good points, some people say bad points, yet needless to say through publishing that piece I’ve come to learn how provocative the subject remains with passion abound on all sides. One thing I failed to do in that previous piece was to provide any solutions. Now I got one. Before I dive in, I don’t pertain to be any expert on the workings of crowd control at concerts. I’m just a Phan like you that has an idea that could alleviate some (some being the opportune word) of the issues surrounding privilege and congestion in GA.

Firstly, rail riders will be pissed at my idea, and maybe me too, merely for presenting my opinion. Secondly, I cannot please everyone with what I say and I know that going in (still gonna say it though). Lastly, many have mentioned that the only true solution to the woes in GA is to go fully back to assigned seating on the floor. I believe there’s another solution that could mitigate many issues while saving our precious GA space to boot. Whether or not this is a viable solution, my hope is to stir constructive discussion on the topic. Maybe one of you has a major answer sitting on the tip of your tongue. Maybe by voicing it in a positive and nuanced way, someone that can do something about it will hear you.

So my idea is simple: Create a separate “pit” section at the front of GA (say roughly 10 rows-ish back). When all GA ticket holders enter the show, some will be randomly awarded special bracelets for the pit. One bracelet type will be for the first set, and another for the second. The pit will be cleared at set break to allow set two bracelet holders a chance to get up front. Adding to that, the tarp and blanket ban should stay in effect.

I wholeheartedly see this as a way to diffuse much of the craziness happening towards the front of GA, and also completely disband this kind of privileged group at the front of the stage. To the rail riders, I understand you put in the time and wait long hours, and under the current regime, you deserve your spaces. You work for them! Yet it just seems so stale when the people upfront contend to more or less know everyone that’s usually up there. It seems, even self admittedly, that the crowd more or less stays similar through entire tours (or entire legs of tours). Then there’s the other crowd of people who think it’s okay to push all the way up to the front when that area is already occupied. This Pit concept would alleviate the issues and pressure coming from both sides of the coin.

I think it’s high time to try something new! Too many negative reports coming from the front of GA. With the aforementioned idea (or one similar to it) we also will not lose GA to assigned seating, yet might just ameliorate the issue. #My2Cents

UPDATE: I’ve been alerted to a similar idea that’s already in play at Bruce Springsteen shows…and it’s been working!

You can find a link to the Boss’ Pit/GA policy here.

Thanks to Jason Goldstein & Paul Copoulos for pointing this out!

© Stand For Jam, 2017.

 

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Preview: David Bryan & Friends – The Best Kept Secret In Deadhead Land – American Beauty NYC – 9/7/2017

by Russell S. Glowatz

There are countless Grateful Dead cover bands across these great United States taking their own spin on the GD canon, yet when it comes to David Bryan & Friends, the phrase “cover band” is a dirty term. Surely, they play Grateful Dead songs, but replication is nary the objective. They are a Re-creation Band, taking these timeless tunes, and transforming them into their otherworldly own.

What JRAD is to a face melting, brain busting, interpretation of the Grateful Dead canon, David Bryan & Friends is the soothing soulful mellow opposing side of that same coin. Not to say you won’t get your groove on at a David Bryan show, for you no doubt will (bring your dancing shoes!). But painstaking attention to arrangement, and vocal virtuosity sets them widely apart from your dime a dozen GD tribute act.

Specifically, shining centerstage is the angelic voice of the troupe’s namesake. David’s vocals are soul shattering and will tug at your heartstrings as you join the band on their melodious migration through the Grateful Dead songbook. He is joined by a hand selected ensemble of impeccable vocalists (male & female) and distinguished musicians that are tried and true in their own right.

Kenny Brooks (Ratdog) on saxophone with David Bryan & Friends

One particular player of note is Kenny Brooks, longtime saxophonist of Bob Weir’s Ratdog. Another is the badass bassist Chris Crosby (Danke Baby), and as brother of The Terrapin Family Band keyman, Jason Crosby, all things Grateful Dead runs through this guy’s veins. It’s truly a GD family affair in this ensemble. Long Island’s own guitar virtuoso, Steve Urban (Fields Of Dreams), is also in company, adding his own special style to the mix. And as a super special fill-in, Bill Bonacci (Stella Blue’s Band) will be shredding the strings on lead guitar. Dave was not fooling around when putting together this crew, and attendance at his upcoming American Beauty NYC shindig is essentially mandatory for any self-respecting Deadhead, or true-blue music lover.

In only a few short days, you too can experience the musical mysticism of a live David Bryan & Friends show. They will lay it all out on the stage at American Beauty on this Thursday, September 7th (Doors @ 8pm). If you find yourself within a 50-mile radius of the New York Metropolitan Area, you’d frankly be a fool not to check these masters of melody out. I can guarantee with wholehearted confidence that this will merely be your first foray into David’s world, as his alluring illuminations of Grateful Dead song will leave your soul screaming for more.

You will find the venue itself to be enticing in its own right, beguiling to jam band minded folks with its acoustics and aesthetics. A plethora of craft beer is on tap to boot, appealing to every personal penchant under the sun. Yet if insanity is abounding, and the music nor brews are doing it for you, all the free pizza your tummy could desire is on hand too. Thursday night’s scene provides something for everyone, and at the reasonable fifteen-dollar price of entry (comparable to a pack of smokes in Manhattan), you’re “bound to cover just a little more ground,” and get your monies worth and then some.

This band is a jewel in the rough, a diamond yet to be mined. For the few in the know, they keep coming back for more, yet now it’s your time to get in on this right stuff. Head to American Beauty on Thursday, and share in the groove with David Bryan & Friends. As I personally vouch for the versatile virtue of this crew of exemplary players, feel free to track me down and rough me up if I’ve mislead you in anyway.

PS- Please listen to one or all of these videos below (lineups vary), and you will see what I’m talking about…when you’re done, click on the Facebook event link below, RSVP, and find all the pertinent details…

© Stand For Jam, 2017.

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Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dick’s – It’s Only a Symptom

by Russell S. Glowatz

Last night Phish made their long-awaited return to Dick’s Sporting Goods park for their 7th annual showcase in the storied Rocky Mountain venue, and while the scene was generally vibrant, some bad juju was simmering just below the surface. During set break, and in clear view of all those watching the LivePhish webcast, a fairly ferocious fight broke out at the front of the floor. While the details are hairy, one thing is abundantly clear; this type of behavior has no place at a Phish show and simply serves to threaten the good-natured, good-vibed,  general goodness that our scene regularly manifests.

Speculation is rampant on the interweb, yet no one but those directly involved, and in the immediate periphery, truly knows what went down. Did a dude hit too hard on someone else’s girl? Was an accidental spill of a beer on someone’s heady threads the impetus for this knock down? The consensus says no, and that this tussle had everything to do with someone getting in another’s claimed space. 

Straight up, at a general admission show, no one has claimed space. That’s simply the nature of general admission. Sure, you can lock down a spot, perhaps hold it down with a small towel or blanket, for a friend or two, while waiting for the festivities to begin. Happily, Phish management has quashed the tarping fiasco prevalent at the outset of summer tour by banning tarps altogether (Tarps are banned at Dick’s, right?!). Yet still, up front at these shows, a general essence of anxiety and entitlement remains when it comes to space.

The words “entitlement” and “Phish” should never be used in the same sentence. Ever. But here we are. There is a growing sense of privilege in placement in general admission environments, and the smell of douchebaggery is wafting widely over the whole scene. If you enter early into a show to lock down one of those coveted upfront spots, all the power to ya! Yet if you walk away for a piss break, a beer run, or whatever else, there’s no guarantee that spot will be waiting upon return. Usually in such circumstances, folks in the area (maybe your friends!) will remember you, and make way to welcome you back into the fold. Yet if that’s not possible, use your words, not your fists to rectify the problem. And the option always exists to find another spot too; sometimes a change in view, mid-show, is just what the doctor ordered.

If you were on hippie time prior to your arrival on the floor, and the front is already packed to the rafters, you are not entitled to smash your way through the crowd. Getting up in phans faces in order to find a better vantage point is the epitome of disrespect, a disrespect for the time those folks kept their asses planted for sometimes upwards of an hour before show time. There’s so many freewheeling, dance friendly, sound solid, spots towards the back and the wings; find one of those and be grateful you’re on the floor for the greatest show on earth. Since no one is entitled in general admission, you might even find an opportunity to better position yourself for set two.

A message to the rail riders: I watched you closely during The Bakers Dozen, and you kids throw down like Chinatown on Mao Tse Tung’s birthday. I’m super impressed with your exuberance and vigor, yet I’m a little unsure of how that whole process works. Is there some type of bracelet system where you wait online all night to get dibs on first entry? You folks obviously commit a massive amount of time and energy to lock down those golden spots. I respect the dedication. Do you wear diapers to get through that epic wait? Not since Moses hurriedly led the Exodus out of Egypt have folks committed to such a tumultuous trial for a face melting payoff! Is the rail truly the land of milk and honey?! I’ve never had the pleasure myself, and odds are it’ll never happen as the number line keeps ticking forward, but it’d be phantastic to have that opportunity, just once.

However, I digress…Lately, there’s a sourness spreading around about your sub-scene as well. Stories are abound that folks pay squatters to wait in the rail line all day, while the ultimate rail rider goes about other pre-show business. That sounds a bit Machiavellian to me, and the preferred philosopher of mobsters (truth!) really has no place at a Phish show. If your aim is early entry, you damn well sit in the trenches with your fellow Phans, and that way the juice will be that much tastier as you personally took the time to squeeze. The ends should never justify the means at a Phish show. How you go about achieving your goals is as karmically as important as whether Trey is in spitting distance once the show begins.

As a fan base, it seems high time we have a scene wide discussion about general admission etiquette going forward. While the tarper memes and joke cracking is hilarious, I’m beginning to think it’s exacerbating the situation at hand. By and large, Phans do it right. We use our words, tact, common sense, and apply a mutual respect towards each other that usually leaves the scene as harmonious as ever. Yet with Phish playing less shows than they used to, and the fan base simultaneously expanding, a recipe for disaster is formulating, and it might just manifest a gumbo of catastrophe on the horizon. Stoking a respectful and mindful conversation about these issues might very well lead to some steam being released from the pressure valve. And I know the band is peripherally aware of Phan discussions on the net as well, so perhaps they’ll come up with some mindful solutions too.

Generally, it comes down to common sense, a mutual respect with our fellow Phans, communication with words, not just body language, and the golden rule. Do unto others, as you wish them to do unto you…or something like that. You get the gist. That Jesus cat dropped some timeless bombs of wisdom.

So, this frenetic fight caught on LivePhish last night was merely a symptom of a larger problem. A dilemma we can easily deal with as a conscientious community of committed Phans. The question we should all be asking ourselves is, do we want to be like Bassnectar fans? Do we want the reputation of resorting to sheer disrespect and violence to lock down our spot next to the band? Do we want the Phish scene to devolve into the chaos of the latter days of the Grateful Dead? Me thinks not. The Phan community is of equal importance in this guy’s eyes to the band itself. You are who makes this scene so serene, magnificent, and marvelous, while Phish provides the celestial soundtrack. It’s “so stupendous, living in this tube!”

 

© Stand For Jam, 2017.
 
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🤔 fighting at Phish!? I don’t like this.. #phish #phishdicks

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