‘Cluster Flies’: Club d’Elf Covers Phish’s ‘Sand’

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JamBase presents Cluster Flies, a covers compilation reimagining Phish’s album Farmhouse, complete with bonus songs and revamped tracklist. The limited-edition 3LP release was mastered by engineer Joe Lambert and includes custom artwork and a poster created by longtime Phish collaborator Jim Pollock. A pre-order is underway now through May 3 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Visit www.clusterflies.com for purchasing information as well as full album credits and tracklist details.

Each of the songs on Cluster Flies will be featured via daily episodes of The JamBase Podcast with interviews with the musician that recorded the cover. Today’s episode features Club d’Elf’s cover of “Sand.”

Phish’s song, “Sand,” is the ninth track on Farmhouse. A staple of live shows since its Phish debut on September 9, 1999, “Sand” is also regularly performed live by the Trey Anastasio Band.

“Sand” made its public debut on April 17, 1998, at the one-off 8 Foot Fluorescent Tubes show staged by guitarist Trey Anastasio at the Higher Ground in Winooski, Vermont. “Sand” appeared again during electric second sets on Anastasio’s May 1999 solo tour while backed by the 8 Foot Fluorescent Tubes — and later TAB — rhythm section of bassist Tony Markellis and drummer Russ Lawton.

Written by Anastasio, Markellis, Lawton and lyricist Tom Marshall, “Sand” was brought by Trey to the Phish live stage on the third night of their Fall 1999 tour at the abovementioned show at The Gorge in Washington state. “Sand” held a consistent spot in setlists for the rest of the so-called “1.0” era, but was played just once by Phish between 2003 and 2004 — the “2.0” era. When Phish began the “3.0” era, “Sand” returned slowly, showing up just twice after coming back in 2009 but then becoming a regular part of the cycle in 2010 and beyond.

Born of a desire of Phish to improve their groove, the pulsating rhythm of “Sand” has launched many memorable jams over the past two decades for both Phish and TAB. Improvisational ensemble Club d’Elf has been a Boston institution for years, holding court at Cambridge’s Lizard Lounge. Their approach fit perfectly with their Cluster Flies cover of Phish’s “Sand” (not to be confused with Club d’Elf’s own original titled “Sand”).

Stream Club dElf’s cover of Phish’s “Sand” for JamBase’s Cluster Flies compilation here:

Club d’Elf is a revolving door of talented musicians, led by Mike Rivard, that combines Moroccan music with jazz and psychedelic influences to create something truly fresh each time the collective performs. Rivard recently spoke with JamBase’s David Onigman for the The JamBase Podcast about recording Club d’Elf’s cover of “Sand,” which features vocalist Jen Kearney. Rivard breaks down the cover’s atypical time signature, discusses the arrangement and recording process and much more.

Listen to the “Sand” Cluster Flies episode of The JamBase Podcast below or via all major podcast services including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Podcast: