Boogie On Reggae Woman
Music/Lyrics: Stevie Wonder
Original Artist: Stevie Wonder
Original Album: Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974)
Albums: Hampton Comes Alive
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update: 2015-10-02
While “I Wish” was performed on two known occasions when Jeff Holdsworth was still in the band and “Golden Lady” made two appearances spread out over ten years, “Boogie On Reggae Woman” is the only Stevie Wonder cover to find staying power in the Phish repertoire. That fact does not diminish the influence Stevie Wonder has had on members of Phish. Trey even made mention of Stevie from the famed stage of Radio City Music Hall on 5/21/00 when he noted that “Page and I came to this hall to see Stevie Wonder, which was a huge inspiration.”
Fans of Phish statistics will enjoy this most notable gap: the first known performance of “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was at Slade Hall on 2/21/87. It made three appearances after that (4/29/87, 3/21/88, and 9/13/88), and then made its next appearance on 12/7/97, a full 989 shows later!
Stevie Wonder "Boogie On Reggae Woman"
Coincidence or not (cause or effect?), in the years before the 2004-2009 break-up, where you had an amazing Phish show, the delightfully upbeat and soulful “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was likely to appear. The roster of show appearances is indeed impressive: the aforementioned 12/7/97 breakout (available as a Live Phish archival release); 11/21/98, on Hampton Comes Alive; 12/29/98, blissfully sandwiched by outstanding versions of “2001” and “YEM”; 12/11/99 at the Spectrum; 12/30/99 Big Cypress; and 6/26/04 at band favorite haunt Alpine Valley, with a segue to “Ghost.” “Boogie On” was also one of four songs played by Phish before a crowd of any sort during their (first) hiatus, on 12/1/01 at the wedding reception of Dionysian/Red Light exec Jason Colton.
Phish, "Boogie On Reggae Woman" – 3/1/03, Greensboro, NC
Three versions of “Boogie On Reggae Woman” stand out for special mention, each featuring extended exploratory jamming. The offering at the excellent 7/25/99 Deer Creek gig is sublime, and the first time Phish has substantively stretched out this song. The second set-opening "Boogie On" from 9/18/99, in Chula Vista, CA demonstrated that this song can stand as the centerpiece of any set; clocking in at over 20 minutes, this soaring and extraordinarily beautiful renditions stands as one of the great jams of the era. The 9/18/00 Blossom version often gets lost in the shuffle, but you want to make time for this underappreciated but majestic four-song second set.
"Boogie On" continued it's strong role in the repertoire when Phish returned to the stage in 2009. After several solid if unspectacular performances on the early summer 2009 tour, "Boogie On" opened the second set on the final night of the Red Rocks run (8/2/09). This spectacular seventeen minute version contained a theme reminiscent of "Twist" as well as "Oye Como Va" teases from Page, propelling a blistering second set that also included a guest appearance by Bill Kreutzmann. While the frequency of performances in the 3.0 era has resulted in many versions that are fairly interchangeable, recent notable versions include 12/30/09 Miami (with numerous "Boggie On" teases in the subsequent "Antelope"); the first encore performance in a decade on 7/1/10 in Raleigh, NC; 8/9/10 in Telluride, CO (with a "Manteca" tease); 5/27/11 Bethel Woods, yielding to a magnificent “Waves” through an a-typical outro; the powerhouse 6/7/12 Worcester offering that followed a powerful “Ghost”; the unique 10/26/13 Worcester version with guest Kenwood Dennard replacing Fish on drums mid song; 11/1/13 Atlantic City with alternate lyrics referencing “bush” and “kush” and a “Theme from The Rockford Files” tease; and 7/27/14 Merriweather, leading the encore that would culminate in “Tweezer Reprise” to punctuate a thrilling “Tweezerfest.”
Phish, "Boogie On Reggae Woman" – 6/7/12, Worcester, MA
Finally, if you just can’t get enough of Phish members performing “Boogie On,” be sure to check out the 2/10/05 moe. Roseland Ballroom gig with Trey on guitar, John Medeski on keyboards, Sam Bush on mandolin, Ray Paczkowski on keyboards and Jennifer Hartswick on vocals; or the two TAB offerings to date on 6/11/05 Bonnaroo and 11/11/05 Utica, the latter with Fish on drums and Mike on bass. Sadly, no known recording exists for the only performance of “Boogie On” by Trey, Mike and The Duo (G.R.A.B.), a late-night private party in Toronto on 7/17/06 that also featured “The Ocean” and “Sex Machine.”