Tag Archives: Page McConnell

Phish, 7/16/13

Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Alpharetta, GA
July 16, 2013

Set I:  Kill Devil Falls, Mound > Bathtub Gin, Army of One, Rift, Horn > Possum, Pebbles and Marbles, Ocelot > Cavern > Run Like an Antelope

Set II:  Rock and Roll > Heartbreaker > Makisupa Policeman > Chalk Dust Torture > Wilson > Tweezer > Silent in the Morning > Birds of a Feather, Joy > Harry Hood > Character Zero

Encore:  A Day in the Life > Tweezer Reprise

Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Brad Kuntz…

Phish cohesively take the South


Alpharetta & Charlotte
June 14 & 17, 2011


With the wind at its back after what was unequivocally the most sustained run of post-hiatus greatness, Phish made their way into the south for a four night run that began just outside of Atlanta and wound through the Carolinas.

It can safely be said that there is nothing quite like a Phish show. With eye-splitting lights, nuances galore and a language entirely unto itself and its devoted flock, Phish is an institution in the world of improvisational music. But this is not to say that they can do no wrong. In fact, over the past few years, they have had a hard time doing much right in the eyes of fans whose geeky adoration of their beloved foursome is equaled only by their love of stats, dissecting critique and cynicism. Herein lies an easily misunderstood portion of the Phish beauty… love through hate is perfectly acceptable.

But something strange had happened since the opening notes at the summer 2011 tour opener in Bethel some one month earlier; a unification and excitement had begun to swirl past any point since the inception of 3.0 (sans Hampton). “What ultimately united the mass?” one may ask. Well, it was the music of course – well played orchestrations of Phishy complexities. But above and beyond this, Phish was jamming again.


Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park
Alpharetta, GA
June 14, 2011


5.jpgAfter two solid performances on its stage last year over Independence Day weekend, signs pleading for various tunes were held high; the Phish faithful were primed for the moment when their darling quartet would (once again) grace the sold-out Encore Park stage.

To uproarious celebration, and after a quirky exchange between guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon and ivory tickler Page McConnell (the content of which one can only guess) and a call out from Anastasio informing that the opener was being played for “that guy over there with the green shirt” – the band surprisingly busted into “Dinner and a Movie.”

There was nothing especially unique about the rarity (which had only been played three previous times during this 3.0 era), one thing that it did do was prove how invested each member of the band is; with drummer Jon Fishman sounding as good as he ever has. There wasn’t even a notion of a miscue. It was hearty, short and sweet; but most of all, it was fun and served as an off-the-bat reminder that our boys were back in town.

As the set reeled, the songs rolled with concise play of various pieces from the extensive catalog.  “Fluffhead,” a song that was virtually untouchable pre-3.0, was definitely worthy of mention. The gem that declared Phish was back at Hampton in early 2009, an event that now seems so long ago, was played on this night with a jazzy element that was primarily infused through the ivory work of a constantly smiling McConnell, but naturally never veered too far off of its heavily composed course.

To close things out for the set, Vermont’s Phinest had a nice little exploratory series of punches consisting of “Bathtub Gin” and Traffic’s “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” >  “Cavern.”

26.jpgOf the three, “Gin” and “Light Up” were the showcase numbers of the run and set on its whole. Both numbers were played with a sense of journey and never lost cohesion. It was improvisation with a purpose and it was as though both crunchy tunes were born from one another and united to provide their listeners with a mental escape that was sonically pleasing through sufficient buildup. It was beyond catch-and-release or bait-and-switch jamming that is standard at any jam show. It was the organic chemistry that made most of us buy the Phish product in the first place.

After the set break and meetings, conversations, and the copious amount of pissing that inevitably ensues, set two immediately got off on the right foot with the ever-engaging “Carini” that brought out the low end Mike-play that has been even more prominent than per usual since Mike’s latest tour on the heels of his solo effort, Moss. But while “Carini” was great (with ample Trey shredding) and served its purpose, it was the post “Sand” portion of the set that would prove to be a highlight on its whole.

Though this is perhaps a solo observation, it is important to look at the 2nd through 10th songs as a collection as opposed to individual numbers.

Beginning with an ominous and equal parts owned “Disease,” the set progressed through a segued “Maze” (in all of its glory) before the trance-driven introspection that these tunes brought about made its way into the manic “Meatstick” that, while lacking in anything spectacular, cemented the notion that 1999 called, Phish answered, said hello and embraced the year with a warm hug.

Though there was the obvious inclusion of the “Meatstick” dance that first appeared on 7/4/99 at the nearby Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, there was more about the set that screamed turn of the millennium. It was the emotive “Bug,” the ripping “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” and the “Maze” that included the tail-ending ’97 funk, space-noodling and yielded intensity for which 1999 is famous.29.jpg

But with revisiting an era aside, the set’s seemingly deliberate cohesion was what stood out most. It was as though it was designed as a story and it was this aspect that was most inspiring about this night. Further, the guys were all on the same page whether during the portion of the voyage that sailed through “2001” and its inbuilt liftoff or during the subdued “Bug” where all realized that “it doesn’t matter anyway.”


Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Charlotte, NC
June 17, 2011


The air in and around the Verizon Amphitheater in Charlotte, North Carolina was thick – thick with heat and humidity, and thick with anticipation and excitement. Dark clouds were rolling in, and for those who had also been in attendance for second of night of Alpharetta, this brought back memories of the deluge that soaked us not once, but twice.  As show time drew closer, the venue filled in while the energy and vibe in the pavilion began to match the intensity of the Southern June weather.

With eyes glancing nervously towards the threatening shapes in the sky, folks from all different walks of life swapped stories of terrible show storms throughout the years.  Then the house music cut off, Kuroda’s lights came on, and Phish took the stage to a welcoming roar that seemed to say, “We stuck it out with you through a monsoon on a Wednesday night, and now Friday is finally here and we want to get down.”

The guys from Vermont responded when Trey Anastasio grabbed a “Mike’s House” sign out of the crowd and swiftly launched into a somewhat brief, but ripping “Mike’s Song” that had bodies moving and faces smiling right out of the gate, despite the fact that he started in the wrong key while trying to play with the sign in his mouth.

As sweat began to pour heavily, the rocker dropped into the slow, melodic beauty of “I Am Hydrogen” before winding into, of course, the bass-driven “Weekapaug Groove.” Even though “Weekapaug” did not break any new ground, it was still extremely danceable and fun, and when it reached its conclusion, the crowd responded with yells and nods of approval in response to at the opening trio of song selections.

16.jpgThe heat inside the venue was now suffocating, and a cool-down was in order.  “Bouncing Around the Room” and “Sample In a Jar” bookended “NICU” which, as per usual, showcased bright offerings from Page McConnell after a call for “Page’s House” (a reoccurring theme of the tour) from Trey instead of the normal “Play It Leo.”

Then the show took off once again with the first “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent” and “Fly Famous Mockingbird” since the 4th of July show in Alpharetta a year ago.  Similar to the 2010 offering in that there was no narration in between the two songs (though Trey did point out the man’s face on the t-shirts that he and Mike were both wearing), they were both, however, nearly flawlessly performed in sharp contrast to the sloppy versions  of the year before.  The crowd showed its appreciation and Phish shifted gears with the hard rocking “Axilla” before sliding into the funk of “Wolfman’s Brother.”  All four members synched up quickly and moved as one through the super gooey textures as the jubilant crowd grooved.

“Scent of a Mule,” which saw Page absolutely crush the ivories, and the set-closing “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” with extra-spicy licks from Trey, concluded the first-set.  High-fives were exchanged throughout the crowd, and conversations moved from discussing the quality of the opening frame to the inevitable second-set predictions.  We had dodged any potentially severe weather, and Phish had raised expectations and questions.  What would the next frame bring us?  What, if anything, did the lack of narration in “Forbin’s/Mockingbird” foreshadow?  What the hell were those t-shirts about?

After a seemingly shorter than usual set break, Phish opened the second half up with the too often played “Backwards Down the Number Line.”  This version featured none of the experimental or exceptional jamming of most recent appearances, though this truncated offering did allow most fans to get back to their seats after standing in the long bathroom lines that seem to plague this venue even more than most.  Having settled back in, most people were ready when the set then began in earnest with the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.”21.jpg

Page and Trey jointly crushed the anthem for a minute or two before quickly taking an exploratory turn into a brand new theme wherein Jon Fishman switched to a more groove oriented beat as Mike Gordon, Page and Trey chased each other through multiple measures of pure fun.  Things then got good and spacey as Trey found an uplifting melody that eventually dissolved and turned darker before morphing into only the second “Story of the Ghost” of the tour.

Wasting no time, the band cohesively constructed a playful sketch that nearly broke down before being reborn into a “Bathtub Gin” like jam.  Growing and soaring until it peaked hard, then reloaded and peaked again, this seemed to be the musical highlight of the evening; and as far as experimental jamming goes, it certainly was.  As the second peak subsided, Mike led the charge into yet another section with his fast-paced, popping bass-lines that soon landed us in the former jam-vehicle known as “Free.” Despite the fact that it has not been extended in what seems like forever, “Free” was still a great song and a wonderful way to come back to Earth after the improvisational one-two punch of “Rock and Roll” and “Ghost.”

Phish then dropped the other musical highlight of the second-set, in the form of the always welcome mistress of the night, “Reba.” Sailing through the zany lyrics and the intricate compositions with hardly any miscues, they reached the final, or “jam,” segment exuding the confidence of four musicians completely locked in together, making the quieter section seem more delicate and beautiful than it has in a long time.   Fishman heightened the speed and complexity of his beats, and Mike’s increasingly pronounced bass lines provided the counterpoints to Page’s angelic piano work.  Then Trey came in over top with those lovely guitar leads that tickle your brain and pull at your heart: emotional, thrilling, and beautiful.

30.jpgNow, in the spirit of full disclosure, upon re-listen, there are three or four instances where Trey hits a sour note before quickly sliding into the perfect note.  Yet, for those who were locked in to the soaring, ethereal climax, those “bad” notes seemed to go unregistered by the brain in the moment, overruled by either the heart or the spirit that chose to only acknowledge the transcendental power of “Reba.”

An already great show was then elevated, to howls of pure ecstasy, even further by only the third “Icculus” post-1995.  The t-shirts from earlier in the show were shown on the screens, and the man whose picture graced the front of said shirts (local musician David Mayfield) was purported by Trey to be the man who wrote “The Helping Friendly Book.” Trey did not have much to say other than, of course, “Read the Fucking Book!”  But what else really needs to be said anyway?  The Phishy silliness continued as Trey took a seat at the drum kit so Fishman could come out front and center to sing Syd Barrett’s glorious “Bike” and take a vacuum solo.

Short versions of the rock-anthem “Chalk Dust Torture” and the always fun and funky “You Enjoy Myself” wrapped up the incredible second-frame.  Fireworks, originating from someone in the parking-lot, exploded into the sky towards the end of “Y.E.M.” in an apparent answer to the pyrotechnics that had been emanating from the stage nearly all night.  When the band finished the vocal jam, the crowd responded with well-earned adulation for the night of transformative music, read-icculus humor, and ass-shaking good times.

Coming back out, Phish launched into the first “Wilson” encore since 1998, but cut it very short to make room for the all-too-oft encored, “Loving Cup” (Rolling Stones).  The audience appreciatively erupted once again as the band left the stage for the final time that night, for most knew that they had received a stellar show that contained almost all of the elements that make Phish…Phish.  All questions had been answered in a resounding positive way, at least for one night anyway, and the guys from Vermont sent a message for the second year in a row, do not miss a Friday night show in Charlotte.




I:  Dinner and a Movie, The Moma Dance > Possum, Cities > Fluffhead, Ocelot, Ginseng Sullivan, Kill Devil Falls > Bathtub Gin, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone > Cavern
II: Carini > Sand > Down with Disease > Maze, Meatstick > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Bug > A Day in the Life > Run Like an Antelope
Encore: Quinn the Eskimo

Download the audience recording of this show here.



I: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Bouncing Around The Room, NICU > Sample In A Jar, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird,
Axilla, Wolfman’s Brother, Scent Of A Mule, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
II: Backwards Down The Number Line > Rock & Roll > Ghost > Free, Reba, Icculus, Hold Your Head Up, Bike > Hold Your Head Up, Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself
Encore: Wilson > Loving Cup

Download the audience recording of this show here.



High Sierra back in fine form

High Sierra Music Festival

Quincy, California

July 5-8, 2007


The High Sierra Music Festival has always been about more than just music.

At its best it is about magic. 

In the summer of 2007 that magic that was back in full force.

Thanks to the hard work and cooperative efforts of festival organizers and the city of Quincy, California, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office was not nvited to this year's festivities.  Instead, sympathetic community volunteers walked the festival grounds as a peace keeping force.  This allowed festival goers to freak freely and let the magic flow.

High Sierra was again the gem that all festivals should aspire to being.  By focusing on the hottest mid-level and up-and-coming acts on the circuit, this four day music festival draws true music lovers to revel in sound and each other's company for a long and lovely weekend.

If "the heat" had been held at bay this year, the heat was not.  As the fest opened Thursday temperatures climbed well past 100 degrees as campers settled in and built as many shade structures as they could. 

The weather proved no impediment to the fun, however, as Vince Herman and Great American Taxi  kicked off the music on the main stage, while Los Angeles' Shannon Moore entertained the Shady Grove stage with her hook-laden rock sounds, 

The March Fourth Marching Band combined burlesque and acrobatics with their set, Salvadore Santana (Carlos' son) fused world rhythms, rock and hip hop, Garaj Mahal turned into a quintet with the addition of bassist Kai Eckhardt's extremely talented pre-teen son on drums for their complex fusion jazz, and That One Guy worked his unique instrument of pipes, reeds and loops.

Sol Jibe proved itself one of the hardest working and most delightful new finds at the fest by lending it's world beats and Latin rhythms to two different stages during the course of the day, winning new fans every time it played.  The Waybacks offered their blend of bluegrass, rock and country sounds, Hot Buttered Rum tore it up in an acoustic way, while Zilla offered more electronic grooves.  As Galactic's hard New Orleans funk closed out the main stage the heat had not yet yielded, lending a Southern feel (minus the humidity) to the proceedings.

When the outdoor stages were closed for the night at 11 the heat finally let up.  Things may have eased up on the bodies of all the festival goers, but the music geared up for round two of day one. 

Anders Osborne kept the New Orleans vibe going in the Funk N Jam House with String Cheese Incident's Kyle Hollingsworth on keys and Galactic's Robert Mecurio on bass before Soulive held funky court there. 

String Cheese Incident's Michael Kang brought his electric mandolin to the African funk sounds of Chris Berry and Panjea in the Tulsa Scott Room before Kan'Nal rocked the psychedelic tribal groove there. 

But it was the Yonder Mountain String Band that was still rockin' the Music Hall with it extremely energetic newgrass as the first light of dawn cracked the sky at five A.M.  If there were those that were tempted to leave earlier, that temptation ended when Vince Herman came out and joined the band for "Cuckoo's Nest > Jack London" during the second set, including an extended, improvised romp with lyrics about what a dream High Sierra is.


all photos by Susan Weiand 





Read on for Friday


While it was warm again as day two began, temperatures would not again reach the brutal highs of that first day, providing some relief.  Some festivarians chose to hit the nearby swimming hole, while others opted for cold showers even though hot ones were available.  Many others began cooking bacon, which seems to have become the breakfast of choice for serious festival goers.  The combination of stomach-settling grease, water-retaining salt and  energy-providing protein in a candy-meets-meat form was almost as popular as coffee and Bloody Marys for breakfast in camps throughout the fairgrounds.

This morning was when the magic became palpable.  Start wondering where a friend was and they would appear.  Realize you needed something and it would be offered before you spoke.  Think you even wanted something and it too would manifest.  "Careful what you wish for" became a running joke but the reminder seemed unnecessary because the positive vibe was everywhere.

Friday also featured many of the acts of day one on different stages at different times, providing opportunities to see bands missed when the inevitable tough choices among High Sierra's four stages and playshop room all operate simultaneously.  Yonder rocked the mainstage just as they did during their evening set.  The Waybacks, Anders Osborne (again with Kyle Hollingworth), Soulive and Kan'Nal all did it again in the broad daylight.

New acts were also showing up to join the fun.  Brett Dennen was joined by members of ALO in an inspired Big Meadow stage set of his thoughtful, tender and utterly catchy songs.  Xavier Rudd proved himself equal parts Ben Harper, Michael Franti, Keller Williams and tribal rocker as he wailed away on electric dobro and three different didgeridoos; if there is one word that characterizes his music it might be "love." 

The Devil Makes Three is an old time string band on steroids, while the Drive-By Truckers rocked the house in a whiskey-soaked set to close out the mainstage in Southern style again.

The annual Camp Happiness cocktail party earlier in the day was set to feature the New Mastersounds at 4:20.  Their drums were still in transit as the party began.  No worries.  Vince Herman, the very spirit of the festival, had stopped by.  He picked up his guitar (after another rollicking set with Great American Taxi on the Shady Grove stage) had a mic taped to a keyboard, and proceeded to hold court with two members of Eddie & The Roughnecks on bass and keys and Sam Johnston (Box Set) on harmonica for over an hour of unalduterated joyuntil the New Mastersounds were able to take over.

After all that sonic goodness, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk still managed to steal the best act of the day award with a blistering set of funk the way funk is supposed to be played — loud and dirty.  Highlights included an Al Green tribute, A Rolling Stones cover, and the theme song from The Sopranos.  Two basses, a kick drum that could be felt more than heard and some serious shredding from the guitar of Ian Neville had folks dancing for hours and talking for days.

Late night again offered something for everyone as SCI drummer Michael Travis' project Zilla and DJ extraordinaire Bassnectar provided electronica,  The Waybacks and Hot Buttered Rum served up the grass, while The Phix's Phish tribute opened for Garaj Mahal's fusion in another room.




Read on for Saturday


Saturday began with temperatures still high but since they weren't as hot as day one, and people began to adapt, it was becoming more bearable. Some of Austin's finest took over during this day, including Guy Forsyth's Tom Waits inspired madness, Patrice Pike's conscious rock, and perhaps most importantly, Carolyn Wonderland

Wonderland is equal parts Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  She clearly had the single best, most powerful voice at the festival and she can shred on the slide guitar.  All while remaining conscious of what truly matters and humble too.  Why Carolyn Wonderland is not a huge star is and shall remain a mystery.  Her Vaudeville Tent set brought down the house.

Other inspired sets were turned in by ukelele wizard Jake Shimabukuro, the rollicking country of the Mother Truckers,  Nickle Creek's Chris Thile's
solo project How To Grow A Band (featuring Greg Garrison and Noam Pikelny of Leftover Salmon), the African sounds of Asheville, North Carolina's
Toubab Krewe, the jazz of Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing, the crazy rock of Les Claypool and the old school bluegrass of Del McCoury.  The Ryan Montbleau Band won many fans for its sweet rock on their first trip to the far west.

Again it was the closing act of the Vaudeville Tent in the midnight hour that stole the show for many, however.  Something happened when JJ Grey & Mofro took the stage that mere talent alone can not account for.  It was that old High Sierra magic that infected that Blackwater swamp rock this night and many jaws were set agape by the Jacksonville, Florida unit's new lineup featuring a horn section.

Before one could fully digest what had transpired, however, the late night fun began indoors.  The funksters headed over to see the Meters inspired sounds of The New Mastersounds (with Papa Mali opening), those seeking heady trancefusion headed over to see the Disco Biscuits, while the largest crowd gathered to see the reunion of Leftover Salmon.

The sold out hall was first treated to Darol Anger's new supergroup, Strings for Industry.  Anger is a true virtuoso on the fiddle, but when he gathered his new Portland, Oregon based unit featuring Tony Furtado on guitar and banjo, Scott Law on electric guitar, Tye North (formerly of Leftover Salmon) on bass and monster drummer Carlton Jackson the magic was flowing again. 

But it was the Leftover Salmon reunion that drew the crowd.  Playing their first gig as a full band since they went on hiatus at the end of 2004 (a gig two weeks before at Telluride was without keyboardist Bill McKay), it was like they never left the road.  The band was on fire from the first notes and the crowd responded in kind.  Drew Emmitt is a spectacular player and singer, and Vince Herman is a force of nature, but something happens when the two of them are on stage together that is far greater than the sum of the parts. 

As if they could not get enough of playing together, the group kept it up until five thirty in the morning, going past the crack of dawn to dawn itself.  As the last notes of "River's Rising" greeted th new day everyone wondered how Leftover Salmon could possibly top that on Sunday, the final day of the festival.

Vince Herman was later seen playing a morning game of kickball with fans rather than heading to bed.  Your reporter managed to catch only two hours
of sleep after the Salmon set, but that is not the reason the majority of things he saw the last day were on the mainstage.




Read on for Sunday


For years now Maria Kelly has handled all the MC duties for the Grandstand Stage, but this year she could not be there. I was among the radio personalities given the honor to announce the acts there on Sunday.  It was an honor and a real joy to do so.  I did manage to catch the first hour of the Gospel Show on the Big Meadow stage while eating breakfast that morning, however, and what a way to start the day.  Carolyn Wonderland, Patrice Pike, Papa Mali, Shannon Moore, Guy Forsyth and others really know how to start a Sunday morning!  Sweet, rootsy, funky gospel goodness replete with prayers for peace is how to do it and they did right, song circle style.  With all that talent on stage there was no way to do it otherwise and, man, did it work.  If church
was always like this I would go every day.

As people started to wake up, however, it became clear that haze obscuring the mountains across the valley wasn't simple fog, it was smoke.  A few scary thoughts crossed everyone's minds until it was learned that the major wild fire creating all that smoke was over 30 miles away, not moving in the direction of the festival, and not being whipped by winds on this still morning.  So the smoke, which had settled into the valley overnight (and mostly dissipated by late afternoon), was an annoyance, not a threat.

Whatever else was going on at the festival (including sets by New Mastersounds, Eddie & The Roughnecks, Ryan Montbleau, Disco Biscuits, Chris Thile, ALO, the Budos Band, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, I was content to be at the mainstage.  After a set by Lynx, a unique young hippie woman whose music combines folk, looping, computer beats and conscious lyrics, Albino, a San Francisco-based Afrobeat band, got people dancing despite the heat and the smoke.  The legendary Mavis Staples was up next, and the gospel theme continued into the afternoon.  An hour and a half break and the evening's festival closing sets were lined up. 

JJ Grey & Mofro were very good, even if they did not quite scale the heights they did the night before.  Phish's Page McConnell (who played a previously unannounced solo piano playshop earlier in the afternoon) brought his new band on and truly rocked the house for two hours of inspired rock.  McConnell may be the best leader to emerge from Phish, and he will certainly prove to be the most consistent unless Trey Anastasio eventually gets his shit together.  I was never much of a Phish fan so it was a great surprise to me just how good this group is.

After some heartfelt thank yous from the festival organizers to the city of Quincy for stepping up to quell the the civil rights violations of the Sheriff's office the last few years and trusting them, and the festivarians, to take care of ourselves, Leftover Salmon took the stage again.  With so little sleep and so much magic happening everywhere, it seemed a little like it was third set of a long Leftover Salmon show with some truly great tweeners as LoS took absolute command of the festival.

If their latenight extravaganza had been great, this was somehow even greater.  It was more focused, tighter and had even more energy, if that is possible. Guests included Darol Anger for most of the set, Chris Thile on mandolin, Page McConnell on keyboards for song, and others, but mostly it was Leftover Salmon proving that they are now and always will be the very spirit of the festival.  The group seems to understand the magic, chaos, joy and energy of the festival and turn it into sound.  It's just that incredible.  I for one hope they never stop playing together, even it is just sporadic summertime festival gigs every year.

Later on I wandered around a bit, tempted by the San Francisco party that ALO and Tea Leaf Green were throwing in one late night hall while Les Claypool or the Everyone Orchestra played in others, but instead went to a party I had been hearing about in Camp Harry in RV area near the Big
Meadow stage. 

What a scene that was as Eddie & the Roughnecks (another UK funk band led by Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds) tore it up as people danced and talked.  Eventually, however, I had to give into being tired and realize that it had really happened.  High Sierra 2007 had gone on for four days — almost around the clock — with virtually no trouble, great amenities (note to all other festival producers: the importance of clean portapotties for the entire weekend can not be underestimated and is worth whatever it costs!), great food and drink and most importantly, great people.

The campers not only enjoyed the music and each other's company, they respected the space they were in.  As the tear down began on Monday morning it was clear that people were bringing their trash and recyclables to the proper spots and leaving very little matter out of place for the Clean Vibes crew (who also did an amazing job) to deal with.

Let the news ring out throughout the land: High Sierra is back and believe it or not, better than ever.  The Best Fest in the West is back!





A summertime night with Page McConnell

Page McConnell


Cincinnati, Ohio

June 9, 2007


After stints in Phish and Vida Blue, the anticipation level of a Page McConnell concert in Cincinnati is always fierce.  McConnell admitted as much on June 9 as he toured behind his self-titled solo recording, and had a kind word for the facility that hosted both of his former bands.

"I love playing Bogarts," McConnell gushed with an ear to ear grin on his face as his ensemble began the funky rhythmic structures of "Heavy Rotation." The energized mass on the floor settled in with the groove, arms and legs flailing to the staccato tempos and drifting melodies.

McConnell’s solo work has been consistent, providing an undercurrent of strong musical composition and layered improvisation that has, in time, exposed the depth of his range and contribution to the inner sonic mechanics that was Phish’s broad rock and roll sound.  Beside the extensive jamming on "Rotation," McConnell treated the Cincy crowd to the laidback ballad "Maid Marian."

But, it was the pounding chord changes of "Back in the Basement" that proved to be the highlight of the night, pushing both his group and the audience into a state of blissful nirvana, accentuated by his delicately balanced keyboard playing.  Indeed, by the time McConnell ended the show with the opening track, "Beauty of a Broken Heart," the bonding connection between the two forces (band and crowd) was complete.  The only question was what McConnell’s choice of encore was going to be.

There were those expecting one of the many covers he perfected performing live with Phish, while others were hoping for a Phish track to take on the road back with them.  But, McConnell, ever steeped in the element of surprise, broke into an electrified version of "Most Events Aren’t Planned" from Vida Blue’s debut disc, stunning the Bogarts’ denizens who left the club with a heightened sense of contentment and eagerness to seek out an after show activity to indulge in after Page McConnell’s triumphant performance in Cincinnati on June