Phish & Medeski Martin And Wood Perform On Fall Tour 1995
This year marks 25 years since Phish’s historic Fall Tour 1995. In recognition of that noteworthy tour and to make up for the lack of shows this fall, JamBase presents a daily retrospective highlighting a noteworthy moment from a Phish fall tour concert that took place on that date over the past 25 years. The 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour series runs each day between the start of Phish Fall Tour 1995 on September 27 through that tour’s finale on December 17.
Phish kept to their typical m.o. of going without openers for all of Fall Tour 1995 with one exception. Medeski Martin & Wood kicked off the evening on this date during Fall Tour 1995 at the State Palace Theatre in New Orleans and later joined the quartet for an adventurous 35+ minute jam.
More 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour on JamBase
The announcement that the trio consisting of keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood would open came in Phish’s Doniac Schvice newsletter, “We are pleased to welcome Medeski Martin & Wood as special guests in New Orleans.” Guitarist Trey Anastasio intrigued many a fan with the description, “music that makes me want to drive too fast.”
Phish first shared the stage with MMW a few days earlier on October 14, 1995 at the Austin Music Hall in Austin. MMW added to a wild “You Enjoy Myself” in Austin that also featured Phish bus driver Dominick Placco on trumpet. Later that night, Anastasio sat-in with the trio at nearby Emo’s on “Jelly Belly,” “Is There Anybody Here That Love My Jesus” and “Chubb Sub.”
Medeski Martin & Wood began the concert in New Orleans with a five-song set that included “The Lover,” “Last Chance To Dance Trance (Perhaps)” and “Chubb Sub” from their latest album at the time, Friday Afternoon In The Universe, as well as “Dracula” and “Henduck” — two tracks that would appear on 1996’s Shack-man.
Phish then took the stage for their first of two sets at the State Palace Theatre. A bevy of staples were included in the frame including “Sample In A Jar,” “AC/DC Bag,” “Maze,” “Glide” and “Strange Design.” The second set began with the pairing of “Mound” and “Prince Caspian” before drummer Jon Fishman sang “The Fog That Surrounds.” Up next was a “Suzy Greenberg” that led into the recently debuted “Keyboard Army.” All three members of MMW emerged for the aforementioned 35-minute jam.
The seven musicians explored vast soundscapes over the course of the rare piece of music labeled “Jam” on a Phish.net setlist. Medeski hopped on organ for most of the jam with Mike utilizing a Chapman Stick and inserting a few “Dave’s Energy Guide” teases into the mix. The improv really got hopping towards the end.
Anastasio said the following during a 1996 interview with Guitar Player when asked about the jam with Medeski Martin & Wood:
I didn’t know what to make of it in New Orleans! [Laughs.] It was an experiment. In Austin we had this incredible 25-minute jam with both bands, with this screaming peak where everyone was running around the stage at a full sprint and shit was buzzing all over the place. And then New Orleans, about three days later, we decided to go for it again and literally start from nothing, which is the big risk. But between both bands, we’d rather take a risk than not. I don’t generally like saying this because I don’t like to stomp on someone’s experience–and people did come up and say New Orleans was an incredible experience–but I personally didn’t like it. [Laughs.] I liked that we were on a limb. I’d much rather jump off the cliff than walk on the path, and we jumped. But I thought we were sucking.
Phish showed off a completely different side of their musicality when they returned for the encore. The band went acoustic and without mics for bluegrass classics “My Long Journey Home” and “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” to end the evening.
Stream audio of “Keyboard Army” and the jam that followed below: