Sunday Cinema: Phish – The Bluegrass Sessions 1994


During Phish’s fall tour in 1994, the quartet invited “Reverend” Jeff Mosier to tour with them for a handful Midwest shows in November. Not only did Mosier perform with the band at a number of shows, but he also spent lots of time teaching them about bluegrass.

That week Mosier brought his video camera with him and documented his experience. About six years ago he dusted off his tapes and shared the resulting footage with the world via YouTube.

Rev. Jeff Mosier shared the following thoughts about his documentary with Dog Gone Blog.

“After 11 years I pull out this video and look back in awe at the bravery and spirit of these four guys called “Phish”. I taped the sessions so they could watch it back as part of our lessons and so I could learn some of their tunes as well. I met them in 89 during my days with ARU. The video was shot to aide in teaching them how to work around one mic and to show them that their feet weren’t tapping ! Hee.

They had a real desire and hunger to learn bluegrass the old fashioned way. I think we infused alot of laughter and zambi like joy together which helped them create their own humble approach to bluegrass. It was like old times back with ARU. At the time I was working with Alzsheimer’s patients and doing alot of theatre. In 93′ I had played with them in Atlanta at the Roxy, but I had no idea how “big” they had gotten since then. “Hoist” was great for bluegrass music. Time will only tell what influence Phish’s interest in bluegrass did to forward the progression of bluegrass experimentation that continues in the music until now through so many bands that got their “call of permission” from Phish.

Like “Old and in the Way” did to forward the music to new fans, “Phish” took it to the next generation by including bluegrass in just a few shows in these few shows. “Jerry affected” music is what I call the music of the GD. I think we are all “Grateful Dead cover bands” of sorts whether we admit it or not, once we realize that the GD created a genre and were not just a band. Phish kept it going like nobody else had ever done or may ever will. We owe them much for keeping that spirit alive.

This footage speaks volumns to the child like joy that must exist inside of music and inside of bands. Their curiosity for something new, continuing education, playing new instruments, and respect for the pioneers of the genre, gave Phish the credibility they needed to “pull off” bluegrass in front of thousands of reverent and loving fans. This is for those fans. The real fans. This is for all people who love and understand the civilizing power of music. This is to inspire thousands to hopefully upgrade their life by simply learning to play a musical instrument.

Phish did this tour and this music without any concern over “bluegrass chops” or any concern over their own ego. They even “Phished” bluegrass with that wonderful vibe they have. They didn’t have to do bluegrass, but they did. They laughed at themselves and we had some of the greatest laughs and times I have ever had. This time with them rekindled my own desire to play rock again and helped me really appreciate bluegrass, even though I had grown up with it. The true spirit of “Hamptonian Zambi Vibe” was there on every level ! May it simply inspire you. Let music into your life like they did. Learn music. Live the music. It can save you on every level and it can save this fear ridden planet and give us all hope again. Like nothing else on earth music is drugs.”

With that, let’s watch Phish – 1994 Bluegrass Sessions Documentary.