In celebration of Phish's 13-show run at Madison Square Garden, the Mockingbird Foundation is announcing 13 unsolicited "miracle grants" supporting music programs across the country. Each board member identified their favorite Phish show, and we found a worthy music education program nearby, part of the Foundation's long-standing Tour Grants program. We're presenting these 13 special grants chronologically, based on the dates of those favorited shows. Here's #9...
There’s no denying the power of music, no matter what kind of music that speaks to your ears and soul, it is an influential force in life. As a country for years, we have seen a decrease in many federally funded programs, one of the most critical from my perspective is reduction in support of arts and music education. I am not a musician, or an artist as my brain strengths are more dominant on the scientific and analytical side, however, I have great admiration of those who create art and music, and respect for those who teach it to our upcoming generations. I am thrilled to be a part of the Mockingbird Foundation and on the Board of the Directors and have the honor of selecting an organization to a ‘miracle’ grant in my home state of North Carolina.
The recipient of this $1,500 grant is Easton Elementary School Music Program in Winston Salem, NC, honoring one of my favorite shows, 11/23/97 at the LJVM Coliseum. In selecting this program, the teachers interviewed were passionate about providing the smallest experimental education to their students, who are often under privileged. As a teacher, hearing comments such as a fourth grader telling you, you are the best thing that has ever happened to their school, and she made music “come back” to them has to be rewarding. Those are some touching words to come from a fourth grader! The grant will help fund classroom instrumentation and a microphone for singing.
As written in the Helping Friendly Book, The Phish Companion: A Guide to The Band and Their Music 3rd Edition, my friend Eric Wyman gives a fantastic review, and holistically sums up why I chose this show for my favorite. “This show punctuated one of the best weekends in Phish history, immortalized in the stunning audit on the Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97 box set.”
It’s funny for me to look at the setlist and have picked this one as my favorite as there are songs that are not quite my favorites if you asked me to write a setlist 20 years later. However, this was a game changing weekend that heavily influenced my life 20 years ago, and this was indeed the pinnacle that wrapped up that glorious weekend.
The entire show is confirmation of why Fall 97 tour is called “Phish Destroys America”. Cow Funk starts up early in the first set, with one of my favorites “Black-Eyed Katy” which I hold dear in my heart as she morphed in ’98 to “Moma Dance”. Basically this song was a limited edition, and I’m grateful I was there in person to witness it’s brief life and climax. Other recommended songs to listen or relisten to in the first set include a “Stash” that leads into a deep space funk, and a highlight for me and my show companions on this night was “Fluffhead”, which certainly was not as underplayed as when Mike finally said “yes” and they played it for the return on 3/7/09 in Hampton, VA. However, it was a personal Phish moment that still brings me great excitement and joy upon reflection. The remainder of the show is what I like to deem blissful buttery Phish, from the 31 minute “Bathtub Gin” to the glorious DWD->Low Rider->DWD. I recall being on what was then Fishman side enthralled in what my eyes were seeing, the engagement of the crowd, and the overall bliss my ears were hearing- improvisation kicked into the highest gear. As this set closed, there were two guys around me that didn’t really dance the entire show. When the opening notes to “Bold As Love” began, you would have thought these guys really won the lottery, as they were jumping up and down with glee, obviously big Hendrix fans. Although the encore is “Julius”, it really is one of the most energizing versions I know of, and a fantastic way to close one of my favorite shows and Phish weekends ever.
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Mike Gordon: August 13, 2017
4 days ago
The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
 With Greg Sanderson and Josh Schwartz on saxophones and Chris Brouwers on trumpet.
Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.
This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $1,000,000 to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.