Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update: 2016-03-12
A mix of acid jazz and loose funk attended with three-part harmonies and silly lyrics, “Gumbo” had all the ingredients for greatness. Debuted on 9/28/90 in more or less the same format that persists today, “Gumbo” was a little undercooked early on. The ‘91 Giant Country Horn tour lent significant spice to “Gumbo” on five occasions, including 7/12/91 (LivePhish 19). “Gumbo” wasn’t on the menu for the next 228 shows, opening the encore of the 4/16/93 Louisville gig. The excellent 12/2/94 version – again with horns – appears on A Live One.
”Gumbo” – 9/14/99, Boise, ID
Beginning in ‘97, “Gumbo" transformed from its casing and became a platform for exploratory jams. Brought to full boil in the desert heat of Phoenix on 7/29/97, “Gumbo” stretched its legs for the first time, a full thirteen minutes of pure heat. 1997 proved to be the song’s heydey, with extended excursions on 8/8/97 Tinley Park, 8/13/97 Burgettstown, PA (at almost 20-minutes the longest to date), and 11/26/97 Hartford (with “Manteca” teases). Other Phish 1.0 notables include a 16-minute affair on 8/3/98 at Deer Creek; 9/14/99 Boise; 6/14/00 Fukuoka, Japan (LivePhish 04); and 9/27/00 at Fiddler’s Green in Colorado.
The undisputed post-hiatus version and an all-time favorite of many fans took place back at Deer Creek on 7/22/03, an 18-minute monster. Upon Phish’s return to the stage in 2009, “Gumbo” has been a regular in setlists, but has reverted to a utility role in the repertoire, appearing exclusively in first sets and always sticking close to its structure. Though, beginning with the 12/29/13 MSG version, “Gumbo” has been given a little more room to breath, expanding from four-to-five minutes to on average over six. Finally, be sure to check out the Jimmy Buffett version that he contributed to The Mockingbird Foundation’s tribute album, Sharin’ in the Groove.