Vermont's best-kept secret edges up to fame
From TIME magazine October 19, 1998
If any trace of the idealisitic spirit that fueled the hippie music scene of the 1960's has survived into the skeptical 90's, one
place to look for it might be southern Vermont, a region that has produced millionaire ice-cream philanthropists Ben and
Jerry, a socilaist mayor, and most interesting, the rock band Phish. Launched by guitarist Trey Anastasio and three buddies
in a University of Vermont dorm room in 1983, Phish has built a hugely successful career as an underground band around
the quaint notion that music can be used for buliding a sense of community, not just making money. As corny as it sounds,
it is exactly the idea that paid off so handsomely for the Grateful Dead.
With eight albums under it's belt and a ninth, the fine Story of the Ghost (Elektra), coming out later this month, Phish
seems on the verge of breaking into the mainstream. Phish's musical essence resides more in its live shows than its discs.
The band's concerts are known for their peacful vibes and grand scale (one show drew 135,000) as well as for marathon,
free floating jams that range across rock, jazz, blues, and whatever inspiration the moment brings. Songs gather into easy
crescendos that encourage audience self-discovery, rather than catharsis. For Ghost the band culled the best of a dozen new
jams, trimming and rerecording them in the studio. Songs like Birds of a Feather have the spark of spontaneity without
self-indulgence. Should Phish or its fans fear the mainstream? Never vows Anastasio: "It's too late for commercial success
to ruin us."
Andy's Phish Page