Summer of �91. I had just graduated high school, was looking forward to college and was spending the first of four summers working at the camp of my childhood in Maine. Even on the most superficial levels, you could say it was a time of �transition� in my life. Below that surface, however, there was even more going on. The winter and spring of my senior year had gotten off to a shaky start. After dating a girl seriously for 2 years, I had been unceremoniously dumped. On Valentine�s Day. Two days later an older friend I traded Dead tapes with demanded I go to see some band called Phish in NYC. From the moment they took the stage I was hooked. I had to see them more. I had to hear them more. Unfortunately, the next time they came around during the school yeaf I was away and tapes were very few and far between. I had a suspicion I would find more like minded people working at camp, and I was right. On the first day I met my friend Wyatt who was dying to see them again just like me and some older counselors who had tapes they were willing to share. Getting our hands on tapes only made the jones worse. We lucked out, however, when the tour with GCH came through Portsmouth during the first session of the summer and a bunch of us took a coveted �Night Off� to head down to the gig and buy tickets at the door ($5!). There were some epic adventures that night and it was a blast. I also left KNOWING I was going to see this band MANY more times and significantly bummed that neither my work schedule nor their touring schedule was going to make that possible for a while. Session 2 of camped rolled around. My days were spent either taking kids on camping trips or helping to run the ropes course back at camp. Some nights I would tinker in the photography �room� (very primitive set-up) learning how to develop film and prints. It was in the darkroom that I could blast the tapes from Hunts and the Paradise I had just copied from my friends and obsess even more over this amazing band. Something weird happened that session. Never in my 4 summers working there did I not have my 2 days and 2 nights off planned well in advance (perhaps having tour dates handy in future years had something to do with that). That July/August I still had at least one day off that I hadn�t planned and one of the directors was pressuring me to sign up for it soon because the end of the summer was coming. I half-heartedly penciled my name in on the calendar and was making my way to the top of the hill when my friend Alice came tearing out of a building. �They�re playing for free! In Maine! Tomorrow!� I turned right back around, erased my name from whatever random date I had chosen and put it in the next day�s box. Now I just had to find a car. Wyatt had just returned a day early with the kids from Long Voyage, our oldest campers. He did not have any days off left and I had to break it to him about the show and ask to borrow his car all at the same time. I wasn�t even halfway through my pitch when I could see the wheels turning in his head. Somehow, he and another counselor in the cabin convinced the directors that taking the oldest kids in camp to a free concert in Auburn would be a really good idea. They were, after all, back a whole day early from their session-long trip and the kids really were too old to join in the daily activities at the camp. Miraculously, they convinced these kids this was what they wanted to do, too. To this day, I question whether taking those kids to the show was a good idea, but it wasn�t my decision to pitch or make. A few minds were warped that day and I still run into some of those �kids� at shows today. The plan was this: I would ride with Wyatt and another frined in his car (somehow he had converted his remaining Night Off into a morning). At some point the Long Voyage kids and other counselors would show up in a camp bus. They would stay for a while and then Wyatt would give me the keys to his car, he would ride the bus with kids back to camp and Charlie and I would drive his car back after the show. Ahh, the best laid plans�. Pulling into the �venue� we immediately knew we were in for something special. There were already plenty of cars there, several tents (a sign of things to come) and a very laid back vibe permeated the air. We walked around chatting w/ people, listened to the soundcheck through the trees (what the hell is this �Bitching Again� song? That wasn�t on any of the tapes we�d been listening to) and waited to be allowed into the field with the stage. While we were waiting Mike walked out and chatted for a while. Apparently, our buddy Charlie had interviewed him once for his school paper. Mike had been impressed that Charlie seemed to �get it� and thanked him for the write-up. Finally, we crossed the little bridge into the field and made our way to the stage. These were the days before people bolted and pushed their way to the stage so we had no problem securing an awesome spot right up front. What a cool set up there was. Vending booths, spray trucks and hale bales for security. Trey drove in on his motorcycle with Amy on the back. Weird announcements were made and this unbelievable event was underway. I�ll spare you the song-by-song recount, as the tapes (remember those?) speak for themselves. There was a fully naked woman walking around at one point, much to the delight of the teenage campers attending. The whole vibe was so laid back I actually just wandered back stage during one of the set breaks and no body said anything. The band was just all hanging out around the JEMP truck goofing around. The camp bus was scheduled to depart at some point during set II. Wyatt decided that he wasn�t quite ready to leave at this point. I had a brief moment of panic as I thought I was going to have to leave early or be stranded there. �Relax,� said Charlie, �we�ll figure something out.� Now, I�m not sure how I was convinced that a solution would present itself, but I was and I just let go of all concerns. Somehow, hitching a ride on those back roads seemed like a completely viable solution at the time. I enjoyed the hell out of the show. Zero man made an appearance, someone played the didgeridoo during �Buried Alive�, I was introduced to the Dude of Life and his ridiculous songs, and the band played with genuine intent and heart. I could tell they were sincerely grateful for the fans who had supported them the last 8 years. I was equally appreciative for being let in on the secret that was soon to be unfurled on the rest of the world. This whole event was truly something special. At some point during the encores Charlie ran into someone he knew. She could drive us back to camp! As Harry Hood (a first for me) played out under the starry sky, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the day. The song, the setting, and the spirit behind this whole scene left me speechless. I would have loved to have camped out, but work said otherwise. The only other perfect option for ending to this whole day was driving back to Moody�s Diner in Waldoboro for coffee and pie. It was there that Charlie told me the story of the Harry Hood song while I played with the Hood creamers that our waitress had left on our table. I can�t believe this whole thing went down 20 years ago already. As I sit here typing I am playing the show (not on the worn out tapes I once got through a tape tree thanks to the earliest days of phish.net) I am grateful for so many things. I�m forever grateful to all the great experiences I had at Camp Kieve, both as a camper and a counselor. I have my own kids these days and I want them to have the same opportunities and experiences that Kieve and the beautiful state of Manie made possible. I�m grateful for all the amazing experiences I had thanks to the band, one of the few that somehow capture the spirit of adventure and fun that play an integral part in my life. I�m also grateful that we have Phish back. They are playing more like they did on that night in August 20 years ago. They are just have a bigger bag of tricks to pull from these days. Thank you, JEMP.
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.