In 1995 when my brother told me Jerry Garcia had died I said, “who?” and he said, “the lead singer of the Grateful Dead, idiot,” and I said, “oh, that metal band?”

And yet, me, a member of Uncle Trout’s Band:

I don't play banjo in this band anymore.

I don’t play banjo in this band anymore (though I’m still in the band).

Wha happened?

I don’t know.  I guess I grew up.  HA HA HA HA.

Backing up, I will unashamedly admit to being completely obsessed with Phish from 1994-1999-ish (I attended 64 shows between 1996 and 2004).  And you might think, as do many of the unindoctrinated, that all bands with traveling followers decked in patchwork and patchouli are the same.


Phish is clever, heady, math-y. Their lyrics are collegiate, verbose (yet often stupid and grammatically incorrect ["the echo of whomever spoke," for example]).  They’re tight, eager, earnest, silly.  When they jam (at least back when I used to see them), they often play together as though with one brain, psychically coming together to fill open spots in their collective musical mosaic, including knowing when to use quiet and silence.  Yo.  I loved this band for a long time.

The Grateful Dead is as far from most of that as you can get.  They’re loose, unhurried, unironic.  Lyrics replete with sexism and nature imagery.  The jams go to never-never land and can become unlistenably atonal.

I do play acoustic guitar in this band now.

I do play acoustic guitar in this band now.

It is fun to play this music. I like being in this band. I like being in any band at all for a couple reasons:

1) it forces me to learn new stuff, practice, and get better.

2) it relieves me of any thought as to how to behave unawkwardly at parties.  When I play in a band, my mission is clear.  Stand on the stage.  Play music.  Watch friends dance.

I like being in the Grateful Dead cover band specifically for a couple reasons, too:

1) as a group, we’ve gotten more cohesive.  We’re better than ever at listening to each other, playing off of each other, and doing interesting things (at least, I find it interesting).

2) because of the Phish/GD comparisons, the Dead used to hang out in my peripheral vision.  It’s kinda fun to learn lyrics where in brain it used to go “loose lucy, baba bay, dontcha getta smally pasta dadada day.”

Alas, Trout (who sings and plays lead guitar and cares about this band way the most) is leaving for Antarctica in a couple weeks.  We have one more show and then it’s quits on that for awhile.

However, Ezra and I are very excited about the idea of an all-segue dance band, so that might happen for New Years.

Also, I’m going to see Phish at Hampton!

It's round inside and sound moves in cool ways in there.

It’s round inside and sound moves in cool ways in there.

I saw them there the day before I moved to Twin Oaks, on New Years in 2002-2003.  This will be my first show since Phish’s “last” show in Coventry, VT back in 2004, a disastrous event at best (the subject of another post, maybe).

So there you have it.  I am a dorque.