The Old Home Place
Music/Lyrics: Dean Webb/Mitch Jayne
Vocals: Mike (lead), Page, Trey (backing)
Original Artist: The Dillards
Original Album: Back Porch Bluegrass (1963)
Historian: Ellis Godard
Last Update: 2012-07-02
It's the name of several folk songs, and at least one venue (in McClure, VA). But Phish fans know “The Old Home Place” as the tune by country icons and bluegrass progenitors The Dillards. The tune’s narrator regrets having chased a woman from his rural farm into the burgeoning metropolis of Charlottesville, ultimately losing both the girl and his home. (Charlottesville, a college town in central Virginia, hosted eight Phish shows. Six of those were at the legendary venue Trax, birthplace of the Dave Matthews Band phenomenon, where Phish played the only vacuum-solo-as-encore and the famed “Destiny Unbound” that preceded its 796-show disappearance.)
The title refers not only to the physical house left and lost, but also to the life left behind. Phish picked up the song as they turned another corner away from their old life. The debut, in West Virginia, started the encore to a show that had featured Gamehendge (nearly ten years old) as the first set and Hoist (recently released) as the second set. The latter debut helped emphasize the band’s transition from four-track recording in a dorm room to a nearly overproduced studio extravaganza.
The song has since become something of a special staple, particularly in first sets. It appears less frequently than other bluegrass tunes, but without notable gaps in appearance. Notable performances include 7/6/94 (acoustic with no mics), 10/10/94 (acoustic with Steve Cooley on banjo), 10/18/94 (acoustic with Béla Fleck), 11/12/94 (as a joyful suffix to the jams earlier in the set), 11/18/94 (acoustic with “Reverend” Jeff Mosier, who played the Dillards ’“Dooley” with Phish at the 11/19/94 parking lot jam and 11/20/94 show), 12/31/94 (electric, with a surprise shift into “Maze”), 11/10/95 (during the Fox Theatre run), 8/17/96 (opening the second day of the Clifford Ball at roughly 4:20), 11/30/96 (with John McEuen on banjo), 4/3/98 (between “Mike’s Song” and “Weekapaug Groove”), and 10/18/98 (with Mike on banjo and Page on stand-up bass). The first post-hiatus appearance (7/21/03) was a fine version, though oddly placed between “Stash” and “Vultures.” Post-breakup versions can be found in Charlottesville on 12/5/09 and at Deer Creek on 6/28/12.