Cars Trucks Buses

Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
Phish Debut1995-09-27
Last Played2023-07-19
Current Gap44
HistorianPhillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update2023-11-13



It made perfect sense when a band that cut its teeth on the road offered a tribute to a ubiquitous rest stop sign. Phish debuted this instrumental during the first show of the fall ’95 tour in Sacramento, CA (9/27/95). This short, keyboard-driven interlude quickly established itself as a regular, and remains among the most frequently played of Page’s compositions. The song appeared as the fifth track on Billy Breathes.

Phish ”Cars Trucks Buses” –. 10/21/95, Lincoln, NE.   

Phish ”Cars Trucks Buses” – 2/16/97, Cologne, Germany. Video by trfrasier from German TV

"CTB" was in heavy rotation from its debut through 1997, settling into a much lighter role through to the hiatus. “Cars Trucks Buses” made three 2.0 appearances (7/26/03, 11/29/03, 6/18/04).

The song continued to be a regular in the rotation, especially in the first set, after the band returned to touring in 2009, beginning with a version on the last night of the 2009 Hampton Run. 

Phish ”Cars Trucks Buses” –. 6/8/11, Raleigh, NC. Video by Brian Ferguson    

Phish ”Cars Trucks Buses” –.7/6/16, Portland, ME. Video by Lazylightning55a    

One of the most exciting versions of this tune is from JazzFest in spring ‘96, which features a NOLA injection courtesy of Michael Ray. He reprised his JazzFest performance with a hot version of “CTB” on 9/26/99 in New Orleans that also featured saxophonist Tim Green and guest in his full Sun Ra Arkestra regalia on 9/9/00 in Albany, NY.

Phish ”Cars Trucks Buses” –. 9/9/00, Albany, NY. Video by silverchair97.    

Early on, “CTB” seemed closed to the possibility of opening up into a jam, with most early renditions being more or less similar. That changed at the Flynn Theatre gig on 3/18/97: after a strong “Harry Hood,” Dave Grippo and James Harvey sat in for the longest version to date at just under ten minutes.

Outside of Phish, “Cars Trucks Buses” found a regular outlet in Page’s side projects. Check out this hot Vida Blue version from 4/27/02 in New Orleans; Vida Blue’s performance on 7/13/02 at the House of Blues in Hollywood with Mike sitting in on bass; 1/4/04 in St. Petersburg, FL with Fish on drums; or the encore of his 'solo' band on 6/4/07 at New York's Irving Plaza. The song also became a part of setlists when Page appeared with Porter Batiste Stoltz during their five shows together in September 2008 and May 2009 (Jazzfest).

Project Logic & John Scofield offered a sizzling rendition of “CTB” on Mockingbird’s Sharin’ in the Groove CD. DJ Logic continues to perform the song in his live gigs; during Project Logic’s opening set for Vida Blue on 4/20/02 in Burlington, Page joined them for a fun and unusual version, recordings of which do circulate. 

For the ultimate in jazzy versions, witness the one offered at the 5/7/08 Jammy Awards gig in New York that featured Page, Roy Haynes on drums, James Carter on tenor sax, Nicholas Payton on trumpet and Christian McBride on bass.

”Cars Trucks Buses 2008 Jammys (part I). Video by SpottedStripers.
”Cars Trucks Buses 2008 Jammys (part II). Video by SpottedStripers.

Page’s song has found an outlet with a variety of other artists as well, approaching a level of “standard” that few Phish songs have. There are versions by Tony Monaco and New Mastersounds. It is a fixture in Jazz is Phish setlists. The Benevento Russo Duo performed the song, including when they joined forces with Mike Gordon (aka GRAB). The song was a part of the evening when Trey joined the Vermont Jazz All-Stars in 1999. And, the Univ. of South Carolina Upstate Faculty Combo has performed the song before, among many other covers of the song.

Last significant update: 11/10/23

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