Keyboardists Reflect On Page McConnell's 50th Birthday

Matt McDonald
Perpetual Groove, Ghost Owl

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

I was introduced to Phish by my buddy, Justin Davis, in college. I had heard of Phish, but really hadn't paid much mind to them. Justin took me to my first show and that pretty much changed everything in my courses and career. It was a free show at the Band Shell at the University of Florida [ed. note - 10/23/94]. Being that guitar was my major at that time, of course I was drawn to Trey, but it was the way Page played with Trey that really grabbed my attention. That was the most impressive part of the experience for me. The patient approach that Page took, especially in jams, is what grabbed me. Like most, I had never heard a band like that, one that really moved as a unit.

What's been Page's influence on you?

Page talked in Bittersweet Motel about having the patience on stage during sections of improvisation to let the group get there "together." That lesson has always stuck with me.

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

It's "Cars, Trucks and Buses" - just so fresh, so funky and they captured that even on the album version. Good and fun songwriting on that one.

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

It goes back to Page's unbelievable taste and patience. He's never worried about taking his "solo" or having his moment out front. He really compliments Trey and Mike melodically and rhythmically helps drive the train with Fishman. Being the support or the glue, is much more difficult than most people realize.

What separates or differentiates Page from other keyboardists in rock?

I think Page's proficient understanding of several different styles of music makes him shine and stand out from others. Especially his ability to tap into all of those styles through the course of an evening. Whether a latin rhythm, jazz progression or full-on rock organ, Page touches on it all. Not many players can or will do that.

Can you share a Happy Birthday message to Page?

Happy Birthday Page! Now go make another solo album!

[Published on: 5/17/13]

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