Phish tribute band Phix will play a benefit show for The Mockingbird Foundation at Nectar's in Burlington, VT, the club that Phish was essentially born out of in the late '80s. The show will take place Thursday, March 18 at 9:30 pm. It marks the first time that the Boulder, Colorado band has ventured to the town where their musical muse got its start. It is also the first benefit they have done with The Mockingbird Foundation, something the band hopes to do more of in the future.

Phix by Stephen Miller

"Since it's our first time playing in Burlington, we wanted it to be something special," says Phix drummer Chris Sheldon. "It just made sense to do something productive with this show, and working with The Mockingbird Foundation seemed like the logical choice since we are obviously huge Phish fans ourselves. We really believe in what they are doing--supporting school music programs is something that needs to be done for kids, and it's just not being done adequately by the powers that be. We hope to hook up for more benefits with them in the future."

The policy of "only free shows at Nectar's" will be adhered to, with representatives from The Mockingbird Foundation accepting suggested donations inside the club. The band will also be donating everything it makes that night to the Foundation. "We're happy to play for free and hope that fans will be generous since they don't have to pay a cover charge. We think we can really make a difference if everyone comes out with the right attitude--that of being ready to have some serious fun and helping some kids at the same time," says Sheldon.

Phix by Stephen Miller
The Mockingbird Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization run entirely by a volunteer staff and with almost no overhead, has made nearly $200,000 in grants since its inception in 1997. Grants to date have come from proceeds from various projects, including The Phish Companion, a comprehensive and authoritative reference guide to Phish and their music, and Sharin' In The Groove, a two-disc album of Phish covers by notable artists such as Dave Matthews and Jimmy Buffett, among others, available at record stores nationwide. A second edition of the book will be released this spring. Phish also recently announced that all profits from its music download site will be given to the Foundation.

Recipients of these grants have included schools, community centers, workshops, camps, and scholarship programs around the world. Their funding guidelines define music education for children broadly and somewhat unconventionally, and have enabled the Foundation's efforts to go beyond schools to hospitals, shelters, and foster homes.

For information on The Mockingbird Foundation, including donation guidelines and lists of past grant recipients, please visit


When Phish, considered by many to be the reigning kings of the jam band scene, announced they would be going on hiatus in the fall of 2000, it left legions of phans wondering if they would ever return. It was during the following summer that four musicians in Boulder, Colorado got together to start playing the tunes that so many were missing so badly. Phish did come back in 2003 and they, as well as Phix, are doing as well as ever bringing this brilliantly eccentric music to the masses. It is clear that fans of this band can't get enough of their music.

Phix by Stephen Miller
Still based in Boulder, CO, Phix has been seeing remarkable success paying tribute to their musical heroes. Capturing the sound and spirit of Phish's music with astonishing accuracy, they have been captivating crowds all over the country. In two years of national touring, they have played over 200 shows in over 30 states, including performances at legendary venues such as the House of Blues (Hollywood, New Orleans, and Chicago locations), the Georgia Theater in Athens, GA, B.B. King's in New York City and their home venue, the Fox Theatre, Boulder's own nationally-renowned venue that Phix has played over ten times in their short history.

Phix was the brainchild of guitarist Paul Murin and keyboardist Derek Berg, who had played original music together in the Chicago area throughout the 1990s. The idea for Phix was sparked in 2000 when Phish, at the height of their popularity, announced a hiatus from which they would not return until New Year's Eve 2003. Further inspiration came from the Dark Star Orchestra, an extremely successful Grateful Dead tribute band—also from Chicago, and longtime friends of Murin and Berg. After relocating to Colorado, they met drummer Chris Sheldon and bassist Brian Adams.

The project came together quickly even though it required the band to learn over 100 songs, many of which are quite complex. "We had dabbled with playing Phish songs in the past because we learned so much from their music," says Berg. "It was more complex than anything we had played before, and it forced us to stretch out into new musical territory." Murin adds, "We were kind of caught off-guard by how quickly it took off on us. We started the band, picked up a few gigs around Colorado, and within six months we were going on tour all over the country."

The reaction to Phix has been almost universally positive, despite initial skepticism on the part of some audience members. "A lot of people think we won't be able to pull it off, which is understandable because the music is pretty difficult," says Sheldon. "But we play the songs well, and we do it with respect and love for the music. I think our audiences can feel that as soon as they hear us."

The return of Phish, of course, begs the question of what Phix will do in the future. "In a way, their coming back is inspiring for us, and makes us want to branch out and write our own music again," says Berg. "All four of us have written lots of music in the past, and we're looking forward to putting our heads together. But it will take time to do it right--by playing Phish's music, we've created a pretty high standard that we'll have to live up to."

In the short term, though, it seems like there are plenty of people in the country who have clearly not gotten enough of their Phish. Bassist Brian Adams (the newest addition to the Phix lineup) explains, "Phish's tours are short these days, and the tickets are hard to get and kind of pricey, so a lot of people are not getting a chance to see their shows. We feel like we're giving people a chance to experience their music in a live setting in small venues for a low price. There's an unbelievable energy being exchanged between the band and the audience at our shows."

The Phix website can be found at, where fans can submit their phantasy setlist for any upcoming Phix show. There are also pictures, many audio samples, and much more.


3.11 | Cicero's | St. Louis, MO
3.12 | Newport Music Hall | Columbus, OH
3.14 | Peabody's | Cleveland, OH
3.14 | The Opera House | Toronto, ON, Canada
3.16 | Kings Tavern | Saratoga Springs, NY
3.17 | The Asylum | Portland, ME
3.18 | Nectar's | Mockingbird Foundation Benefit--Burlington, VT
3.19 | Harper's Ferry | Boston, MA
3.20 | Lion's Den | New York, NY
3.21 | River Street Jazz Cafe | Plains, PA
3.25 | The Bluebird | Bloomington, IN
3.26 | Madison Theater | Covington, KY
(Cincinnati area)
3.27 | Rock Island Brewing Company | Rock Island, IL
3.28 | The House of Bricks | Des Moines, IA

JamBase | Vermont
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[Published on: 3/4/04]

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