‘Cluster Flies’: Vetiver Covers Phish’s ‘Driver’
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. Today’s episode features Vetiver’s cover of “Driver.” Explore additional Cluster Flies podcast episodes here.
Phish’s song, “Driver,” was released as one of two bonus tracks on the Japanese edition of Farmhouse. The song was written by guitarist Trey Anastasio and lyricist Tom Marshall during the last of four songwriting retreats the pair held in 1997 at rented farmhouses in rural Vermont.
“Driver” made its debut on the same date Phish made their Bridge School Benefit Concerts debut on October 17, 1998. Neil Young and his late ex-wife Pegi Young held the Bridge School Benefits annually in October at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California from 1986 to 2016. The all-star Bridge School Benefit lineups featured bands performing acoustically, with Phish joining the tradition for both their sets in 1998.
More Cluster Flies on JamBase
A full-band acoustic performance of “Driver” followed when they taped an episode of the PBS program Sessions at West 54th in New York City on October 20, 1998. Another full-band acoustic performance of “Driver” came during the first set of Phish’s show on October 29, 1998, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. “Driver” began the encore the following night in Las Vegas, starting a string of performances throughout the rest of Fall Tour 1998 with only Anastasio going acoustic.
“Driver” was back to the full-band acoustic arrangement when Phish set up a mini-stage on opening night of their 1998 New Year’s Eve Run at Madison Square Garden in New York City. That December 28, 1998 rendition of “Driver” was the final acoustic version — either just Trey or full band — as everyone has stayed fully plugged in since Summer Tour 1999.
The one exception to the now common electrified “Driver” came on November 1, 2009, at the band’s Festival 8 at Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, California. The lone return of the all-band acoustic “Driver” came mid-day during Phish’s “first full-length acoustic set.” The rarely played tune stands at just 35 live performances by Phish, most recently going for a spin on November 29, 2019, in Providence, Rhode Island.
For Cluster Flies the keys to “Driver” were given to Vetiver. The mastermind behind Vetiver, Andy Cabic, is an extremely talented singer-songwriter with an impressive body of original material. The Bay Area-based Cabic also recorded a Vetiver album made up of influential covers entitled Thing of the Past that came out in 2007. Vetiver’s most recent album was 2019’s Up on High.
Stream Vetiver’s cover of Phish’s “Driver” for JamBase’s Cluster Flies compilation here: