Video: Alex Bleeker & The Freaks – “Step Right Up”

Force Field SXSW 3.13.13

Last week, the Fader premiered the latest video from Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker and his band of Freaks. Set to the lyrically revealing “Step Right Up,” the video was filmed on location at a Phish concert on their 2013 Summer Tour (can you tell which venue?). About the location choice, Bleeker says “It is my opinion that Phish has the most enthusiastic concert-going music fans in the world. The choice to shoot this video in the parking lot of one of their shows this summer was simple. This was the only large crowd I could think of that would lovingly embrace and interact with a man in an antler helmet without a moment’s pause. ” “Step Right Up” comes off Alex Bleeker & the Freaks 2013 release How Far Away, available via the good folks at Woodsist.

Catch Alex Bleeker and the Freaks live when they perform our post-Phish late-show at Mercury Lounge on December 30.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1SuaOrHFEY#t=19]

Dog Gone Presents: The Auras // Tess Parks & The Good People @ Parts & Labour // July 17

Auras_poster2

Friends of the North! We’re psyched to announce the details of our next Toronto show. On July 9, we’ll be hosting Toronto shoegazy-psychsters The Auras along with Tess Parks & The Good People at the Shop at Parts and Labour—-a great subterranean spot with good sound and a wide selection of drinks/grub taboot.

Since returning to The Great North in March, we’ve discovered so much great music and these are two bands that we are most excited to share with you. It also just so happens that a certain Vermont Quartet will be in town that evening, so we welcome those attending that show to come after it’s over as we’ll be getting started rather late.

We’re giving away a number of tickets to DGB readers so tuned for contest details! Thanks to Justin Gabbard for the beautiful poster design.

RSVP HERE.

The Auras – “Desert Dream”

Tess Parks & The Good People – “Life Is But A Dream”

New Release: Phish ~ Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97


As many of you already know, last Tuesday, the Phish vaults opened, unearthing for the first time a series of high quality recordings that rank among the greatest treasures in the Vermont quartet’s live catalog. Say what you will about Phish, but until you’ve heard (or attended) performances such as these—taken from the storied and transitional Fall ’97 Tour—it’s difficult to form an opinion of a band that’s true potential has always been reserved for the live setting.

Phish: Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97 presents a run of three entire concerts from November 21 & 22, 1997 at Hampton Coliseum Hampton, VA and November 23, 1997 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC. The recordings, taken from sound engineer/guitar luthier Paul Languedoc’s stereo soundboard mix and remastered by sound guru Fred Kevorkian, pay justice to these coveted tapes with 7 great-sounding CDs that also include unreleased soundchecks from both venues.

But what separates Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97 from the band’s previous live output, is the release of three consecutive shows from one of the most loved periods in Phish history. As lore will tell, the fall of 1997 is not only a consensus milestone of the bands touring career, but also one of the most unique and experimental. For, in this time, the transition of Phish’s sound toward a more groove-oriented approach had come full circle—akin to that of Miles’ band from the late ’60s to early ’70s—propelling the band into one of their greatest creative high points. While this period defines itself on its own, it also acts as the catalyst to what would occur in the years the followed.

Set between the abstract psychedelia that stretched from 1994-1996 and the cosmic rock that formed between 1998 and 2000, this phase marked the largest upending in Phish’s career since they graduated from playing Grateful Dead and Wilson Pickett tunes in the 80s. The inspiration for this transition came while performing the entirety of Talking Heads’ Remain in Light on Halloween ’96, gradually taking hold over the following year, and finally coming to fruition during the fall of ’97.

In Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, he notes than an enlightened individual will be drawn to subtle patterns and tones, as oppose to things presented more elaborately. During this tour, Phish embarked on a path representative of this philosophy. Guided by the collective group ethos of African artists such as King Sunny Aide and Manu Dibango, the transition resulted in the presence of groove-based jams and a greater use of effects and looping techniques. For a change, bassist Mike Gordon, who is much higher in the mix than usual, can often be heard leading the band while guitarist Trey Anastasio reverts to wah-laden karate chops in place of his usual chow-mein solos (although there are still plenty of those).

On Novemeber 21 at Hampton Coliseum, the opener—an ambitious debut cover of the Stones’ “Emotional Rescue”—catches an early glimpse of Anastasio’s recently added looping rig with decaying sirens peaking out from beneath the groove-based improv, carefully crafted layers of sound and colorful textural tones present in the undercurrent. Drummer Jon Fishman keeps a riding jazz beat as Gordon lays out coiling, high ended lead phrases and McConnell adds synthy washes of sound beneath. The jam carries away from the loose “cow funk” label into a four part space journey that ranks as one of the highlights of the entire box set, largely setting the tone for the next three nights. And that’s just the opening cut (of the first night).

During the second set, on “Ghost”—a staple of the tour—Anastasio and McConnell lead the rhythm at the start of the jam as Gordon throws out trebly bass leads, experimenting with his arsenal of effects (a hint at the direction he would take in the years following). Anastasio begins a simple melody that raises the tempo, and then continues to gradually fall before the jam transports into a charging, cosmic sound quest. McConnel remains on piano for the first several measures, providing a haunting eeriness to this particularly dark segment of improv. But after a while, Anastasio reconfigures the jam with some bright major chords and trills, jumping into one of the first lengthy version of “ACDC Bag” on the tour. It’s another juggernaut from this performance depicting the improvisational fluidity of the band, while also marking the period’s shortened setlists in favor of more lengthy jams.

The second performance from Hampton Coliseum contains many exceptional moments of improv, including the unexpected “Mike’s Groove” opener and, especially, the much-loved second set “Halley’s Comet.” The latter of these is another extended sound quest, beginning with a typical (for the period) journey into the world of space funk before carving out a segment of calm, spontaneous compositional beauty. This is why “cow funk”, as this type of jamming is often labeled, is often misrepresentative of the period. Many, if not most, of the strongest moments on Hampton/Winston-Salem ‘97 are also the mellowest. However, the tight groove-based experiments act as a launch pad for these moments, allowing the band to travel deeper through the pulsing beats and layered soundscapes.

All three concerts here have their own rewards and the way to fully enjoy this box set is to sit and listen to each in its entirety, seeing the evolution of the sound play out over the three shows. Each night is another experiment. You can hear the band’s excitement to explore, such as with Anastasio calling out “Stay on ‘F’” to Gordon before the “Halley’s jam” ensues, or with the emergence of the funk instrumental “Black Eyed Katy”—the only song to appear twice on the box set.

On the third night, the band switches venues, but the move fails to impede their creative flow. Fueled by the previous two performances, the November 23 show from Winston-Salem carries a distinct energy that seems almost tappable. The first set gets the full treatment with a one of the furthest explorations of “Black Eyed Katy,” and a far reaching krautrock jam on “Stash.” But, as with the many shows on this tour, there is a central highlight of the night, and in Winston-Salem that highlight is the 30 minute second set “Bathtub Gin.” Anastasio’s midrangey, wah-heavy guitar riffs lead the jam through a wailing solo for several minutes out of the gate, but eventually, as with the funk, the music reaches for the cosmos and a near-ambient space groove emerges. A different launch pad is used to reach a similar place, and before long another segment of spontaneous composition emerges with the band riffing off Anastasio’s octave-dropped melody, while setting the coarse for the astral trails. The level of interconnectedness shows Phish at one of its tightest points, and it’s clear by now that the transformation has fully taken hold.

This is why Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97 is an essential piece of not only Phish history, but recorded improvisational music: adventures as far-reaching as these have rarely been seen on the rock stage. They were still operating with the same vision of the past, but were realizing it in an entirely new way and seeing how far they could push it each and every night. Before a year would pass, the band would be exploring a new sound built off the foundations of this one, and with these three consecutive performances we see this transitional phase at its peak. An understanding of Phish can only be known through the heights reached in their greatest live concerts, and Hamton/Salem ’97, for many fans, represents the apex of that.

Wide Wail – “Summersong”

Pulling into Watkins Glen last Thursday, our car went into deep silence when the sounds of some unknown band graced our ears over The Bunny’s airwaves. The Ducktails-like guitar tone combined with the spacey psych effects sounded to us like the work of Matt Mondanile—but actually turned out to be a late ’90s group from Vermont. Before DJ Rubes could identify the song, Phish took to the stage for their soundcheck and all we heard was “I’m fading out…I’m fading out…Phish is soundchecking.”

Determined to find the source of this music I had heard, I went to the Bunny Radio’s facebook page and discovered it to be “Summersong” by a group called Wide Wail. The song comes off an album called Like It Never Was, released in ’98, but now seems to have fallen into relative obscurity. Numerous searches later and all I can find is this single song, which I ripped from the Bunny broadcasts.

Wide Wail – “Summersong”

Download Link

If you have any Wide Wail in your collection, or know more about them, please share! I am eager to know more about this band.

New Music: Superhuman Happiness – Needles & Pins 7″

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For nearly a year now, I’ve been championing Superhuman Happinness as one of the most promising up and coming acts on the scene. Loaded with a plethora of musical talent and creativity, this Brooklyn-based band is a fearless improvising machine with the tightness of James Brown’s band on a good night. Some of you may have actually seen some of the members this past Halloween when frontman Stuart Bogie (Antibalas, Iron & Wine, TV on the Radio) and trumpet player Eric Biondo (Beyondo, The Monkeys) joined Phish for their cover of Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus.

Last week, the good people at Royal Potato Family records released the band’s brand new 7″ containing the killer summer jam “Needles & Pins.” The song recalls Genesis and MGMT in parts and features what is easily one of the best guitar riffs of 2011 from Antibalas guitarist Luke O’Malley. Below, you can check out the brand new studio sounds of Superhuman Happiness—a band that never fails to live up to its name.

Needles & Pins


Andrew VanWyngarden Pre-MGMT: Accidental Mersh

Andrew VanWyngarden

There’s no denying MGMT’s blatant connection to the jam scene. But did you know that co-founding member Andrew VanWyngarden played in a highscool jamband of his own? While attending White Station High School in Memphis, TN VanWyngarden joined up with Hank Sullivant (of the acclaimed indie band The Whigs as well as a touring guitarist for MGMT and later Kuroma) who was attending Memphis University School at the time. The two formed Accidental Mersh, a funk-inspired jamband that recalls many of the jam scene’s most prominent acts. As VanWyngarden told Relix magazine in the June 2010 cover story:

“My sister got me into Phish and that is pretty much all I listened to to from the time I was 12 through high school.”

In its brief period of existence,—around 2000-2001—Accidental Mersh quickly grew into a popular local act on the Memphis scene releasing two albums during that time. Below you’ll find streams for two of the songs off the band’s debut album Mirror Israeli, along with a link to download the full album. This is a terrific sounding, 2000-era jamband record with killer guitar parts and infectious horn lines. I think many of you will enjoy it.

Listen as “Trailmixx” moves through several measures of Phish-inspired jamming into an unmistakable nod to the Biscuits circa ’99. Also notice the similarity of Sullivant’s solo to the one from “DWD.”

Trailmixx

San Diego Psychocity

Download Link

The Listening Station: Alex Bleeker and The Freaks

By now, you’ve probably heard of the New Jersey born indie-psych band Real Estate—whether it be through the various videos and statements I’ve posted supporting them, the Pithfork-sized buzz that follows them around or the house music leaving Phish’s performance at DCU Center on November 27, 2010 (listen to “Suburban Dogs” here). But, it’s less likely that you’ve delved some of their side-projects. So allow me to introduce to you, Alex Bleeker and The Freaks.

(Photo by Francis Chung)

Alex Bleeker plays bass in Real Estate, but in his side project Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, he is the principal songwriter and rhythm guitarist. The band features a rotating cast of supporting musicians that often includes members of Real Estate, or other closely-related groups. Departing from the indie-psych sound in his primary outfit, Bleeker takes the Freaks into fuzzed out Crazyhorse-ish, Grateful Dead-esque terriroty. As he told me in a recent interview for Jambands.com:

“I think I’m the member of Real Estate that has the biggest jam background. So probably my side project, just by nature of the fact that I’m the lead songwriter, is going to be the most jammy, in a way…I’ve said in multiple other interviews that some of the first psychedelic and most experimental music I’ve ever heard were spacey jams at live Phish shows that taught me to open my ears and be patient and listen to music like that.” 

Click here to read the full interview

Stream the opening track on The Freaks’ album “Summer” > “Epilogue” (yes, he records studio segues) along with Bleeker’s homage to the Dead, “Dead On,” below.  Also, check out a live video of the Freaks performing the above mentioned segue at a show in their home state of New Jersey.

Summer” > “Epilogue

Dead On

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/5904835]

BEYONDO: Phish and a Side Dish (or Two)

These days, it’s common knowledge that the level of talent coming from the musicians in the Brooklyn music scene is among the highest anywhere. On any given night, in any one of New York or Brooklyn’s small clubs or DIY venues, these musicians can be heard playing their hearts out for anyone who will hear it—quite often just for tips. So it came as no surprise when, for the second year in a row, Phish reached into this scene and pulled out a world-class horn section to back them on Halloween for their cover of Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus.

10.31.10 (Redredworm via Glowstickwars.com)

In recent years, Brooklyn artists and bands like Marco Benevento, Joe Russo, TV on the Radio, Rubblebucket, Antibalas and others have helped bridged the gap between the Brooklyn and jamband worlds (with a little help from their friends in Phish). There’s plenty more out there, and if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I champion many of these bands on a regular basis.

For the past two years, Phish has plucked musicians from the extended Daptone/Antibalas family to assemble a lineup of horns for their musical costumes. Today, you’ll get to hear from trumpet player Eric Biondo who talks about about his experience playing with Phish, a secret jam session that went on backstage, and his own side projects outside of Antibalas—”side dishes” as he likes to call them. Eric plays in Antibalas, Superhuman Happiness as well as his own project Beyondo. He has also recorded and performed with with Spoon, TV on the Radio and many others.

Anytime I get the chance, you’ll find me front row at Eric’s shows. If you live in the NYC area, come check his bands out, say hello and hear some of the best music there is out there. Phish clearly knows how good these players are, and so should you.

The next Beyondo show is at Rockwood Music Hall on March 9th in the Lower East Side.

Eric Biondo (T. McCabe)

When did Phish first approach you about playing with them on Halloween? How early did you know which album you’d be covering?

They approached us for the gig about a month and a half before the actual concert. They approached Antibalas management about getting us on there. We didn’t know what the record was going to be until maybe about a month before. We were kind of curious what we were going to play, because we knew there was a record [being covered]. So I got an e-mail from the management that they would be getting us the tracks soon and then we would go from there. So, yeah, it was kind of a surprise for us—to be waiting for this information in suspense.

Did the band require you to sign a confidentiality agreement right from the start?

Yes we did. We were sworn to secrecy and we also had to sign an agreement, which was something I’ve never experienced before. So that was cool.

Were you familiar with Waiting for Columbus before you found out you’d be covering it?

I knew about Little Feat because my father was into them back in the ‘90s. I had gone to see Little Feat in Buffalo back in the early ‘90s. So I knew about it, but then I kind of forgot about Little Feat for many years. My dad was into Little Feat and Robyn Ford and all these bands that I wasn’t as familiar with. But when the Little Feat record came up I was like “Oh my god,” and then I listened to it again and I was like “wow, I am familiar with this music.”

What was the rehearsal process like?

We did two days of rehearsing at SIR in mahnattan. It was a big sound studio. Us horn players trickled into a Phish rehearsal in progress. It was obvious that the had done there homework on the Waiting for columbus record. They were running the set as if they had been playing those songs for years. Once all the horn players were there, we started practicing the arrangements. It was a smooth process. Aaron’s charts were right on. We ran the set a few times each day to get the flow. I have to say the first time I heard Stuart play the solo on Mercenary Territory I got chills as it transitioned in to the guitar solo. We also sight read Julius. It’s always a great feeling to add the brass!

Did you realize you’d be assuming the role of Greg Adams from the Tower of Power horns who plays on the original recording?

[Laughs]. Oh man, I could never assume that guys role. Growing up as a trumpet player, Tower of Power was one of the biggest inspirations, and him being one of the soloist for the trumpets and the arranger and all of that—he’s a serious inspiration. And obviously all of the Tower of Power horns, and Tower of Power…I’ve got to see them at least four or five times in my life. I actually didn’t know Tower of Power was on the record until this thing came up. I mean, when I was a kid I guess I didn’t read the liner notes.

That must have been a double bonus for you—getting to play with Phish and take on the parts of one of your heroes at the same time. Were the arrangements very complex or how did you find them?

Oh man, those arrangements and just their sound…they’re the quintessential funk horn section. I mean, they’re just out of control. The arrangements were very clear and as far as horn arrangements go, they were awesome. A lot of times when bands collaborate like that, the arrangements don’t necessarily feel like they’re part of the song.  But I really felt like that music and those horn arrangements were complimentary—there was a definite coalescence between the two worlds—which makes it that much more exciting. So it was very natural as far as learning stuff and it’s more inspiring to learn it.

Were they the actual arrangements that were written out by the Tower of Power horns, or did Trey or someone else transcribe their own versions?

Well, the arranger Aaron Johnson transcribed those from the recording. He’s the trombone player for Antibalas and the musical director and arranger for the Fela! Broadway show. I believe he was contracted to that. He has great ears and I’m sure it didn’t take him long to do that. But at the same time, you can’t really hear every little thing—there’s five horns. For me to do that would be extremely challenging to really be able to hear every little horn part in a live mix. So hats off to Aaron.

That’s interesting, I did not know that. Were you forced to stick to the charts or was there room to stretch out at times?

There was definitely some rearranging of sections on some of the tunes, just some minor horn changes. But for the most part it was verbatim as the recording. We did some improvising at the end of “Spanish Moon” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” That was all basically improvised. We’d come up with a riff and communicate it across the section and then go from there. And then the rest of it was just totally improvisation after that.

What was it like getting to jam with Phish? Were you a fan of them before?

Phish was a band that I had seen once in 1995. And then really just through circumstances, just drifted away from them into other things. But I have, in the last few years, been coming back and re-familiarized myself with their music.

When we got [to Atlantic City] it was an incredible experience as far as joining in to what they do naturally and being an equal part of what they were doing as far as jamming and improvising. They weren’t like you guys are just the horns.  They were considerate of what we could do and they demanded us to play. Trey’s direction was really supportive and he gave us a lot of encouragement to stretch out.

Do you have a specific favorite moment of the night?

My favorite moment would have to be at the end of the jam when we were marching around Boardwalk Hall, the jam continued into the backstage area where we had a percussion jam with horns for an extra fifteen minutes after the band had gotten off stage. It was incredible because we were just in the dressing room just playing and clapping and using percussion instruments. It just kept going and it was so much fun. It didn’t end…It wasn’t over yet. To me I thought that was awesome because we weren’t like “We’re backstage, let’s stop playing.” We just kept on playing.

That’s funny because that almost sounds like a Superhuman Happiness jam.

Exactly. Exactly. And that energy from that show has inspired all of us and our fans. We all left that night…it felt like the crowd was like an equal member to the band. There was this incredible interactive spirit that’s just always there—it never goes away. I’ve been on stage with so many different bands and that was a really special moment. With that amount of people, it’s just absolutely inspiring.

Had you played in front of a crowd that size before?

I’ve played at MSG a couple of times with Spoon, and that was pretty incredible as well, but a totally different kind of crowd. We were actually opening for Arcade Fire, so it was probably a split audience. But it was massive—we did two nights there with six horns. Those are probably the biggest shows I’ve ever played.

So let’s talk a bit about your own side dishes, as you like to call them. Can you tell our readers about some of the projects you’re involved in?

Well, Beyondo and Superhuman Happiness are so closely related, in a way, because Stuart [Bogie] (Antibalas/Superhuman Happiness band leader) has been a big supporter of Beyondo for a while. He actually produced our first band EP back in 2005 or 2006. I’ve been playing with Stuart since 2003 when I started to play with Antibalas. He’s definitely a role model for me as far as his vision and what he stands for as a musician, artistically, and also as a leader. So that definitely affects my music and Beyondo.

[Stuart is] the leader of Superhuman Happiness which is a collective band. We all contribute to that band, we all write collectively. But we’ve all come together and been handpicked by Stuart in a way that we all have a common genuineness where we are all trying to be as pure and honest with our vision and our music. And we all have the same taste in music and these kind of things. So Superhuman Happiness is maybe Stuart’s third or fourth band that he’s ever created. That happened quite recently—it’s only been three years since Superhuman Happiness started, I think.

Beyondo has been around since ’99 or ’98, with different members and stuff like that. I’m actually going to put out a compilation of some old tapes that were made when we were in Rochester, when the band started while I was in the Rochester School of Music. Those tapes were created by the guitar player in our band, Grey McMurray. So that’s kind of this old compilation and it’s called Beyondo Beginnings. It just kind of gives an idea of where the band started and where it’s going. It’s very lo-fi stuff.

We’ve been rehearsing regularly lately and I put out Gold Tone this past year and it’s still selling, believe it or not, after all a whole year of being out. People are listening to it and it’s getting a lot of support from people who have never heard of that band.

So to keep that fire going we’re making a new record with the full band and we’re going to record that this spring with the idea of collectively writing together. Hopefully that will come out in the fall. But before that one comes out I’m working on another solo production on my own that will hopefully generate some money for our studio expenses. Other than that we’re just doing our gigs around town.

What about some of the other artists you’ve done studio sessions with?

Some of the other bands and musicians I’ve recorded with around town are TV on the Radio [Eric played on the original version of “Golden Age”] and Passion Pit, The Foals, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Holly Miranda, The Barbarians…a lot of independent bands that are just making some great music that need some horns. We do all that kind of stuff. I’ve probably played with at least 60 bands since I’ve been in New York. But Beyondo and of course Antibalas, that’s my main New York family since I’ve been here. That’s where the party is.

I’ve also been the trumpet player for the Davy Jones Band for the past ten years. Davy has been a big supporter and fan of Beyondo. I had Davy over to my house for dinner once and it turned into a Lo-Fi recording session. Davy is like that. He’s a big pop star that is 100% into music making on any level. We’re gonna release my garage band version of his song Love you Forever this spring

Coming back to Superhuman, I think that is one of the most unique bands I have ever seen perform. How would you describe its sound?

Superhuman Happiness has got this magical, almost hypnotic sound. If you could open up your favorite music box, that’s kind of what it’s like to see Superhuman Happiness. Every single individual player in that band is like a note, or like a sound and all those sounds come together in different orders and make this band. The personalities are very strong, the vocals are full of personality. We’re not trying to sound like anybody.

When people watch Superhuman Happiness they should be feeling like a part of the band as well because our show is basically…we want people to join in with us and clap with us and dance with us and sing with us and listen together. When I’m not playing a note and I’m just standing there, I’m listening to the concert. Although I’m on stage, we’re really trying to bring those two worlds together.

We’ve talked about bringing people up on stage from the audience to just create that linkage between this collective room of rhythm and dance. I’m sure Stuart would say the word “joy” because it’s also like therapy for us. We all work so hard together that it’s really like therapy for us to get together and play this music. It just has almost a healing quality to it because it’s so rooted in harmony and rhythm. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the rhythms and harmonies and it’s not one man’s dream. It’s five people’s interpretations and criticisms and constructions. That’s a band, you know?

Would you consider Superhuman Happiness a jamband? You seem to share many commonalities with the jam world, but it’s almost like a super group of session musician—like a jamband on steroids.

Yeah I totally think we’re a jamband. We’ve done a few shows that are totally improvised and every single show we do has plenty of improvisation with transitions or…it really depends. Although we do have a lot of structured material we can open up on, the band is a fearless improvising mechanism. We’ve played shows where we improvised the whole show and people were like “what was that second tune?”

The other thing about what we do while we improvise, and sometimes people don’t even notice it, but we’ll improvise things vocally. A lot of that stuff is totally improvised vocally. I get on stage and I hear a melody in my head and Stuart will be conducting two sections. We have this thing called memory ones and twos and threes and fours. Basically they’re like ways to document moments in our improvisation so we can remember the feel of a certain [jam]. But there’s so many different variables. Sometimes someone will just lead the way and take us into a place where we have no choice but to support.

Check out this live clip of Superhuman Happiness from 3.1.11 @ Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.

BAND WEBSITES:
Beyondo
Superhuman Happiness


The Anne LaBrusciano Show

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 1984 Slade Hall

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

CLIP 1

CLIP 2


Taper’s Section: December ’95 Recommended Sources

12.8.95 Official Poster

As we continue to look back on highlights from the month of December, today we turn our focus toward some of the best audience recordings from December ’95. If you haven’t been following along, etree user ‘duanebase’ has been sharing AUDs from 12.95 each day on the 15th anniversary of the shows. Below, you will find links to the downloads and source information for the shows up to this point. I recommend downloading all of these sources as many are among the finest that circulate from this incredible period in the band’s career. Big thanks to duanebase for uploading these and to those responsible for taping and transferring the shows.

And of course, today’s must-hear jam comes to you in the form of the remarkable “Tweezer” > “Timber” > “Tweezer” from 12.14.95 (as featured on Livephish 1).

December ’95 Recommended Sources

(click on the dates to download)

Download: 1995.12.1 Hersheypark Arena, Hershey, PA
Source: (FOB) AKG 460

Download: 1995.12.2 New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, CT
Source: B+K 4011 > custom pre-amp > Teac DA-P20 (@ 48kHz)

Download: 1995.12.4 Mullins Center, UMass, Amherst, MA
Source: AKG 460B/ck61 > custom pre-amp > Teac DA-P20 (@ 48kHz)

Download: 1995.12.5 Mullins Center, UMass., Amherst, MA
Source: AKG 460B/ck61 > custom pre-amp > Teac DA-P20 (@ 48kHz)

Download: 1995.12.7 Niagara Falls Convention Center, Niagara Falls, NY
Source: AT 4031 –> Tascam DA-P1

Download: 1995.12.8 CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, OH
Source: Schoeps CMC34 –> Sonosax SX-M2 –> Panasonic SV-255

Download: 1995.12.9 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY
Source: B+K 4011> Neumann p/s> Sony D10 PRO II> DAP1> ZA2

Download: 1995.12.11 Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland, ME
Source: B+K 4011 > custom pre-amp > Teac DAP-20 (@48kHz)

Download: 1995.12.12 Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI
Source: AKG 460B/ck61 > custom pre-amp > Teac DAP-20 (@48kHz)

Download: 1995.12.14 Broome County Arena, Binghamton, NY
Source: AKG 460B/ck61 > custom pre-amp > Sony D7 (@ 48 kHz)