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: 2013-09-07
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, a point noted in multiple interviews. 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!
Phish, "Boogie On Reggae Woman" – 5/23/00, New York, NY
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; 5/23/00, sadly not making the cut to appear on the VH1 broadcast; 12/2/03, celebrating Phish’s 20th anniversary; and 6/26/04 at band favorite haunt Alpine Valley. “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 early 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 given set; clocking in at over 20 minutes, the length of this version is surpassed only by its extraordinary beauty. 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 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 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, and the powerhouse 6/7/12 Worcester offering, with the last two instances anchoring spirited tour-opening performances.
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.”
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