Page McConnell Open To More Vida Blue Concerts
Phish keyboardist Page McConnell reunited Vida Blue after 15 years to record a new studio album, Crossing Lines, due on September 20 and for three concerts surrounding the release of the LP. McConnell spoke about the future of the quartet — which also includes bassist Oteil Burbridge, drummer Russell Batiste and guitarist Adam Zimmon — in the cover story for the September 2019 issue of Relix.
“I wanted it to start small,” McConnell explained to Relix about the decision to play just three shows with the band. “I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too many dates or too many sets, and just get it back up and running.” Thankfully, Page is open to keeping the band going beyond this month. “I would like this to continue over the years and not be a one-and-done or three-and-done kind of thing. It’s such a fun band, with such great players. It’s a true honor for me to play with them.” Vida Blue’s first concerts since 2004 will take place at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. on September 18, Philadelphia’s Fillmore on September 20 and at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York on September 21.
“Even though it had been nearly 15 years, I never really thought it was over,” the keyboardist revealed of Vida Blue. “I do a lot of work in my studio, not for anything in particular, just because I like doing it. Then, at one point, I realized that I had a handful of songs that the band would be a great vehicle for—or, perhaps, the songs would be a great vehicle for the band. So I reached out to Oteil and Russell to see if they wanted to do it.” The result was the eight-track Crossing Lines.
Page brought Burbridge and Batiste to the famed Criteria Studios in Miami to record the album in January 2018. McConnell had long ago realized Zimmon would be a member of the group when the time came to reunite Vida Blue. “I made the decision, at least 10 years ago, that if I ever got Vida Blue back together, I wanted Adam to be part of it,” the New Jersey native told Relix’s Dean Budnick. “Adam’s a wonderful person, an incredible player, very tasteful and one of the nicest guys in the business. We’ve always gotten along.” The keyboardist also enlisted Spam Allstars to contribute to the sessions.
Vida Blue tracked 15 songs in Miami which Page took to his home studio in Vermont. McConnell eventually whittled down the material to eight tracks, including one penned by Russell. “The song is a tribute to Art Neville and my dad, the two keyboard players I admire the most in my life,” Batiste said regarding “Real Underground Soul Sound,” the penultimate song on Crossing Lines. “Nobody had that flavor like them. It’s written to honor them and, since it was a keyboard song, I asked Page to check it out. It turned out he loved the groove, and I love Page for giving me my props and allowing me to do this.”
Other topics discussed were the tough times Page, Oteil and Russell were going through during Vida Blue’s initial run from 2001 – 2004, the evolution of McConnell’s songwriting, the band’s initial recording experience and the keyboardist’s relationship with Adam Zimmon. Head here to read the entire article.