Phil Lesh & Friends Featuring Trey Anastasio + Page McConnell Kick Off Warfield Run In 1999
Phil Lesh & Friends featuring guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell of Phish kicked off their landmark three-night run at The Warfield in San Francisco on this date in 1999. Guitarist Steve Kimock and drummer John Molo rounded out the lineup of one of the most memorable collaborations the jam world has seen.
The shows also marked Lesh’s return after undergoing liver transplant surgery. The April 15 concert kicked off with Phil and his sons Brian And Grahame Lesh performing Eric Clapton’s “Hello Old Friend” as a fitting first song back for Phil. The five-piece then showed off its firepower with a 34-minute “Viola Lee Blues.”
In a 1999 interview with Jambands.com, Lesh revealed that it was Anastasio’s idea to do “Viola Lee” and talked about how he started listening to Phish and also how the collaboration came about. Read an excerpt below:
[Phish’s music]…was absolutely entrancing, it was just gorgeous…but I couldn’t hear the piano well on the live tapes, so I went back to the CD’s and started listening to Page and what he was doing, and so I said “Well…” and my wife said “Come on, Come on, give them a call.” Somehow I got their phone numbers, and I gave them both a call. We talked about it, and they said we’d love to do it, and so we set a date, and we started calling back and forth, and like I said earlier they brought in a dozen Grateful Dead tunes I never would have thought of doing, but they wanted to [do] them. And we got together at rehearsal and the first thing we did together was “Viola Lee Blues,” and from there on out it was like now let’s do this one, and let’s do this one. It was real rehearsal in the sense that the Grateful Dead rarely was. Grateful Dead rehearsals were kind of comical. We believed in public rehearsals.
After the exploratory, bar-setting, “Viola Lee,” the quintet would run through more material from the Dead canon with Trey and Page harmonizing on “Big Railroad Blues,” Phil singing “Jack-a-Roe” and Phil, Trey and Page harmonizing on “Cosmic Charley” before getting into the first Phish tune of the run (and only one that night), “Wolfman’s Brother.” Phil also spoke with Jambands.com about wadding into the Phish catalog:
I had thought maybe we would do this tune or that tune, and in the end, we only ended up doing one tune that I thought we would do, and that was “Prince Caspian,” and then they brought up those other three, “Wolfman’s Brother,” which I had never heard, and “Down With Disease” and “Chalkdust Torture,” which I hadn’t heard either until we played them at the rehearsal, and then I went and got the CD’s and checked them out. But then I started listening to their other stuff, their other stuff is real interesting, but you can tell by listening to that that they need their forty hour weeks, because they really need to get that shit down.
After a first set-closing “Uncle John’s Band,” the second frame got underway with Lesh leading on “Alabama Getaway” and “Sugaree,” the latter of which featured the band taking things out again and stretching the song to over 20 minutes. Phil once again stepped to the mic for a cover of the Bob Dylan classic “Like A Rolling Stone” that saw Trey and Page joining him on the chorus and led into a spirited “I Know You Rider.” Anastasio then fronted the quintet on a sweet version of “Row Jimmy” ahead of the crowd-pleasing “Shakedown Street” which saw the band stretching their legs once again for a nearly 20-minute excursion. Next, “The Wheel” led into the classic closer “Not Fadeaway” to bring set two to a conclusion. After Phil’s donor rap and band intros, Phil & Phriends closed out Night One of the run with Phil singing lead Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which they did in the style of The Byrds.
Watch the entire April 15, 1999 Phil Lesh & Friends performance below via the JamBase Live Video Archive for this edition of Throwback Thursday:
|dmonshaw (See 3 videos)|
|Phil Lesh & Friends (See 183 videos) , Trey Anastasio (See 146 videos) , Page McConnell (See 25 videos) , Steve Kimock (See 97 videos) and John Molo (See 109 videos)|
Additionally, check out full show audio:
Setlist (via Phish.net)
Set One: Hello Old Friend, Viola Lee Blues, Big Railroad Blues, Jack-a-Roe, Cosmic Charley, Wolfman’s Brother > Uncle John’s Band
Set Two: Alabama Getaway, Sugaree, Like a Rolling Stone -> I Know You Rider, Row Jimmy, Shakedown Street > The Wheel > Not Fade Away
Encore: Mr. Tambourine Man