Phish – ’94 Bluegrass Sessions
Yesterday, we highlighted some of the best moments from the fall of ’94. After giving it some more thought, I feel that the period deserves further attention.
In the fall of ’94, after exploring acoustic music throughout year, Phish brought Rev. Jeff Mosier on board to help them develop their bluegrass chops. Sitting in with the band on their tour bus and on stage, both the band and the Reverend seem to be having a hell of a time. These interactions between the band and Jeff were captured on film, and later became freely-traded amongst fans as the ’94 Bluegrass Sessions. Showing the band progress through the rhythmic difficulties of bluegrass music, the videos provide a rare look at the band in an intimate, revealing way. Listening to the shows from ’94 and watching these videos alongside makes things interesting, as you see the band rehearsing the songs they would eventually bring on stage.
I revisit these videos quite often as they provide such an intimate look at the band in their element. Having fun with new music, experimenting with new sounds, and clearly loving the joy that bluegrass brings, this music is Phish at their best. Also included are some non-bluegrass clips from the incredible fall ’94 tour. To date, this is perhaps the closest look at the band and the Phish crew behind the scenes.
Rev. Jeff Mosier said the following about the videos:
“After 11 years I pull out this video and look back in awe at the bravery and spirit of these four guys called “Phish”. I taped the sessions so they could watch it back as part of our lessons and so I could learn some of their tunes as well. I met them in 89 during my days with ARU. The video was shot to aide in teaching them how to work around one mic and to show them that their feet weren’t tapping ! Hee. They had a real desire and hunger to learn bluegrass the old fashioned way. I think we infused alot of laughter and zambi like joy together which helped them create their own humble approach to bluegrass. It was like old times back with ARU. At the time I was working with Alzsheimer’s patients and doing alot of theatre. In 93′ I had played with them in Atlanta at the Roxy, but I had no idea how “big” they had gotten since then. “Hoist” was great for bluegrass music. Time will only tell what influence Phish’s interest in bluegrass did to forward the progression of bluegrass experimentation that continues in the music until now through so many bands that got their “call of permission” from Phish. Like “Old and in the Way” did to forward the music to new fans, “Phish” took it to the next generation by including bluegrass in just a few shows in these few shows. “Jerry affected” music is what I call the music of the GD. I think we are all “Grateful Dead cover bands” of sorts whether we admit it or not, once we realize that the GD created a genre and were not just a band. Phish kept it going like nobody else had ever done or may ever will. We owe them much for keeping that spirit alive. This footage speaks volumns to the child like joy that must exist inside of music and inside of bands. Their curiosity for something new, continuing education, playing new instruments, and respect for the pioneers of the genre, gave Phish the credibility they needed to “pull off” bluegrass in front of thousands of reverent and loving fans. This is for those fans. The real fans. This is for all people who love and understand the civilizing power of music. This is to inspire thousands to hopefully upgrade their life by simply learning to play a musical instrument. Phish did this tour and this music without any concern over “bluegrass chops” or any concern over their own ego. They even “Phished” bluegrass with that wonderful vibe they have. They didn’t have to do bluegrass, but they did. They laughed at themselves and we had some of the greatest laughs and times I have ever had. This time with them rekindled my own desire to play rock again and helped me really appreciate bluegrass, even though I had grown up with it. The true spirit of “Hamptonian Zambi Vibe” was there on every level ! May it simply inspire you. Let music into your life like they did. Learn music. Live the music. It can save you on every level and it can save this fear ridden planet and give us all hope again. Like nothing else on earth music is drugs.”