On July 22 Phish played the second of 13 consecutive concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of their Baker’s Dozen residency. The band gave away strawberry donuts from Federal Donuts to those who entered MSG early and the strawberry theme found its way into the show multiple times. One such instance was the debut cover of Shuggie Otis’s “Strawberry Letter 23.” Videographer LazyLightning55 has unveiled high-quality footage featuring audio taped by NYCTaper of what turned out to be one of many highlights of the run.
Phish debuted 17 covers over the course of the 13-show residency. When @YEMblog asked its Twitter followers which cover they would want to see the quartet perform again, “Strawberry Letter 23” won by a landslide. While Otis originally recorded the song, it was The Brothers Johnson who scored a hit with the tune thanks to a 1977 version produced by Quincy Jones. Phish’s rendition was closer to the original but did include some elements of the 1977 cover. Guitarist Trey Anastasio handled vocals and hit the high note perfectly.
Watch LL55’s footage of Phish performing “Strawberry Letter 23”: