Trey once called The Anne LaBrusciano show “the greatest radio show ever, of all time.” But unless you lived in Burlington, VT during the early 80’s, or attended Phish’s fourth show ever, chances are the name Anne LaBrusciano doesn’t ring a bell. Maybe if you attended the Clifford Ball and listened to The Bunny while you waited in miles of traffic, then you might have heard her broadcast. But otherwise, for the most part, this special piece of Phish lore has become a forgotten relic form the past, rarely mentioned, if at all. That will hopefully change today, as we will take a trip back to Phish’s early days in Burlington and rediscover the genius of The Anne LaBrusciano Show.
Anne was the host of a show on WRUV-FM, Burlington, VT 90.1 called “Two Heads are Better than Four Legs,” that ran between 1984-1985. During this time Anne became an inspirational figure in the Burlington radio and arts community and was seen as a pioneer of weird radio. On the air, Anne never spoke a word, and there were no programmers or narrators either. Instead, her show was a free-form sound collage composed of various audio sources: music, poetry, instructional records, audio drama, and incidental noise—much like an acid-test. On her broadcasts, Anne would also use sound clips recorded by Trey (through some very 80’s effects) specifically for her show.
Phish’s connection to The Anne LaBrusciano Show runs deep—she sat-in with the band on their fourth gig ever (11.3.84), on what was the first of many performances at Slade Hall on the UVM campus (click here to download). This is rarely mentioned, if at all, although she can clearly be heard on the recording. As the show begins you can hear Anne mixing her unique blend of sounds beneath an “ignition sequence” which then leads into “In the Midnight Hour.” Later on, during some of the jams, Anne can be heard adding her sound collages under the band, although the poor audio quality makes it somewhat difficult to hear. For example, also listen at the end of the “Bertha” jam as Anne adds some of her trademark sounds before the band leads into “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’.” For now, check out Anne’s intro on 11.3.84:
“Ignition Sequence” > “In the Midnight Hour” (11.3.84)
From Phish.com: This was the band’s 4th show, their 2nd gig as Phish and the first of many shows at UVM’s Slade Hall. The tape is labeled ”Wall of Sound” and featured Anne Labrusciano mixing 6 stereo speakers and 3 turntables live during the show. The price on the flyer is $00.00.
This piece of the band’s early career is seemingly known by very few, which is a mystery considering the level of detail many Phish fans desire. Also, when Phish hosted their first festival, The Clifford Ball, they invited Anne to host one of her broadcasts on The Bunny, after her own show had been retired from the air for over a decade. Below, hear Trey introduce Anne’s show on The Bunny.
Today, I’m proud to be able to share with you some highlights from The Anne LaBrusciano Show from the original broadcast on WRUV-FM 90.1. The clips are taken from various shows and provide the listener a sense of what it would have been like to hear her show on the radio. While no two shows were ever alike, the introduction always remained the same. Below you can listen to two clips, the first which includes a typical introduction to The Anne LaBrusciano Show and the second which is taken from various shows over her 14 month tenure at the station. I hope you enjoy these discoveries as much as Trey and I do.
The Anne LaBrusciano Show