What Can Music Do?

I went through a phase in 9th grade where I would take LSD and listen to Pink Floyd in the dark, so cliche. It was only “Dark Side Of The Moon" and “The Wall", just the mainstream billboard charting records that everyone knew. I didn’t learn about “Meddle" until much later.

What dark, depressing very British subject matter for a young man’s acid experience!? I don’t know why I did that to myself. I also don’t know why I’d also listen to Aphex Twin… man, that “Come To Daddy" EP took my whole brain apart one day.

I had grown up on 90’s “alternative" rock, a bit of metal, and a bit of industrial music.

I think I was unaware that music was anything but an expression of angst, depression and other bad feelings. two seniors, Brian Keegan and Dan Thatcher introduced me to the Vermont jam band Phish. It wasn’t even the lyrical content that opened my eyes to musical expressions of joy, it was the guitar solo in “the lizards". It’s this triumphantly joyous few minutes of music that I’d repeat on my discman in a constant loop.

There was also a little guitar piano part toward the beginning of the 20+ minute “You Enjoy Myself" that was so calming and uplifting, I wanted everyone to hear it.

I made so many Nelly loving high school listen to 25 minute Phish songs, and they were good sports about it!

I discovered a bit torrent online file sharing community that traded live recordings of bands that have a taping policy. FurthurNet provided me with tons of phish shows and GD shows that i’d burn for everyone.

This kind of open ended improvisational music expanded my whole concept of what music could be, what it could do and where it could take you. I learned so much about funk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country and rock and roll.

I started seeing live music regularly in the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school (2002).

On the last day of 10th grade my father took a couple friends and I to see Trey Anastasio Band at Great Woods. At that time Anastasio had this 10 piece jazz fusion Afro-Cuban, rock, funk, jam band that just smoked. The horns, the guitar, and the percussion just blew me away. I don’t think my dad even knew that we had all eaten mushrooms!

In July I saw Phil Lesh and friends for the first time, I’m talking about the early 2000’s quintet that moved mountains, spit fire and controlled the weather. I ended up chasing Phil around in my 20s and seeing some of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

In the beginning of 11th grade my friends older brother took he and I up to Burlington, VT to see Trey again. It was in this itty bitty high school gymnasium sized theater. It’s still one of the best concert experiences in my memory, I even met the Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista at set break.

My english teacher Mr. Walker made me review the show for the school paper. That might have be the last thing I wrote until 2021 when I got to incessantly blogging all the time.

Going to shows was always this big, youthful adventure. I built lifelong bonds with the companions I went around chasing jams with.

Now, I may have been a bit bored at the last few Phish shows I went to…but I’m forever grateful for what phish did to my paradigm of what music could do

Plus: I’d never have gotten into Talking Heads (one of my favorite bands to this day), if I hadn’t heard phish cover them. I would watch “Stop Making Sense" on a loop for years.

I’ll save the hundreds of festival/ tour stories for another time. I have a good memory of my hippie career.

For the record there is still a big place for depressing music in my heart and playlists. My favorite band now is Dinosaur Jr. And lyrically it’s like J. Mascis has been going through a rough breakup for the last 30 years. Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan still get a lot of spins on my Spotify.

My phishyness may have waned but I will tell you this: I love Jerry Garcia more and more as I grow older.

I need all the music!



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