Keyboardists Reflect On Page McConnell's 50th Birthday

Marco Benevento

How were you first exposed to Page's playing/Phish's music?

I remember being real stoned and listening to Divided Sky in 1991 at a friend's house in New Jersey and feeling like I was melting into the chair because of Page's organ sound, more specifically it was the sound of the lower baffle of his Leslie that seemed to move my brain and body around the most. It felt as though I was half asleep floating through a dimly lit pink fog-filled hallway that was cotton candy scented.

What's been Page's influence on you?

We've played together here and there, we've recorded a little bit together, we've had some espresso together, we even shared a bike taxi in New Orleans, so I got a little Page in my life all the time. I really enjoy playing music with him. Last time we played at his studio together we were both at some old keyboards making crazy electronic music sounds and afterwards I told him that it felt like a meditation. He's real subtle and can support every musical idea you may throw into a improvisation very graciously.

What's your favorite keyboard part(s) to a Phish song?

Man - I still haven't heard this yet. But maybe you guys can help. The very first time I saw Phish was at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton, NY in 1994 [ed. note - 4/9/94]. They opened with "Magilla" and did it in a very different way it had such a different feel than the record version. I think that melody is real catchy. Equally as catchy is his tune "Cars, Trucks and Buses" - I feel like that organ part is real cool too.

Is there a technical aspect or skillset or use of a certain instrument in McConnell's playing that you particularly appreciate?

I appreciated his timing. He seems to comp for the band in the right places and never seems to over do it. My favorite would definitely be his piano playing.

What separates or differentiates Page from other keyboardists in rock?

His clarity. He is real great at coming up with such a memorable keyboard part for a song.

Can you share a Happy Birthday message to Page?

Come over for some meatballs!!!!

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