‘Cluster Flies’: Reed Mathis Covers ‘Bye Bye Foot’

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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 Reed Mathis’ cover of “Bye Bye Foot.” Explore additional Cluster Flies podcast episodes here.

Phish’s song, “Bye Bye Foot,” is one of only a few in their repertoire written by drummer Jon Fishman. The band has yet to record “Bye Bye Foot” for a studio album and it has been performed live only five times.

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Phish began 1997 by touring Europe in February and March, during which they debuted the first three new originals of what would be a total of 18 to come out that year. The tour also saw Fish donning a tailored all-black dress suit instead of his iconic donut mumu dress, which he would wear onstage through the summer.

The majority of the new material Phish introduced in 1997 came in June during the band’s European Summer Tour. “Bye Bye Foot” was one of those new originals that was first played abroad, as its first time making a setlist came on the second night of the tour, on June 14, 1997, in Dublin, Ireland.

Preceding that night in Dublin, “Bye Bye Foot” was played by Phish on June 6, 1997, at the end of the first of two sets performed at a pre-tour rehearsal at the house shared at the time by Brad Sands (former Phish tour manager) and Pete Carini (former Phish drum tech and inspiration for the song “Carini” that debuted in February 1997). Following its Dublin debut, “Bye Bye Foot” made its second appearance on June 20, 1997, in the second set of Phish’s show in Prague, Czech Republic.

A third performance of “Bye Bye Foot” came on the second night of the North American leg of Phish’s Summer Tour 1997. The show at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, North Carolina was later made available by Phish, marking the only officially released version of “Bye Bye Foot” to date. “Bye Bye Foot” made one more appearance in 1997, in the first set on August 10 at Deer Creek in Noblesville, Indiana.

The Deer Creek show’s second set saw the fifth performance of “Rock A William,” another Fishman original debuted in February 1997 that featured the band members swapping instruments. “Rock A William,” with Fish on guitar, bassist Mike Gordon on keyboards, guitarist Trey Anastasio on drums and keyboardist Page McConnell on bass, has not made another Phish setlist since the Deer Creek show.

The August 10, 1997 concert is notorious for the Indianapolis Star review written by Marc Allen, immortalized in the “you brought bad reviews?” scene in the Phish documentary Bittersweet Motel, that read in part:

“To be blunt (and paraphrase the title of a popular book), Phish could urinate in its fans’ ears and tell them it’s music. The fans, in turn, would be there with tape recorders to capture the moment.”

For years it seemed that night in Noblesville was the last for the pair of rarely played Fish originals. While “Rock A William” remains on the shelf, Phish busted out “Bye Bye Foot” 705 shows after the Creek concert, on November 29, 2019, at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Bye Bye Foot” was covered for Cluster Flies by multi-instrumentalist Reed Mathis. Mathis has long been a familiar face on the jam scene, with credits such as Billy & The Kids, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Tea Leaf Green and others including his Electric Beethoven project whose debut album featured Phish’s Page McConnell and Mike Gordon. Reed also spent part of 2020 quickly posting covers of the new songs Trey Anastasio was sharing that became the basis of the latter’s Lonely Trip solo album.

Joining Mathis on the “Bye Bye Foot” recording was drummer Jay Lane who has performed with many others including Primus and Bob Weir’s solo projects. Listen to Mathis and Lane’s cover of “Bye Bye Foot” below:

Reed chatted recently with JamBase’s David Onigman for today’s episode of The JamBase Podcast. Mathis talked about a cool experience seeing Phish for the first time at his first visit to Red Rocks, piecing together his cover of “Bye Bye Foot,” covering Trey’s new tunes and more.

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