Trey Anastasio’s 10 Most Played Solo Acoustic Songs

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Tonight, Phish frontman Trey Anastasio takes the stage at the Academy Of Music in Northampton, Massachusetts for his first full, non-festival solo acoustic performance. Anastasio will follow the show in Northampton with similar performances on Friday in Troy, New York and on Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Phish.net setlist team member Scott Marks has prepped a Google Doc detailing the sets, shows and songs Trey has played at past solo acoustic performances. There’s plenty of interesting facts we can gleam from Scott’s list such as that Anastasio has performed 146 different songs acoustic and of those 55 have just been played once. In honor of the run beginning, we’ve used Marks’s document to put together a list featuring the 10 tunes Anastasio has played most “unplugged” over the years.

1. Back On The Train – (44)

Trey debuted “Back On The Train” at the second show of his inaugural solo tour in 1999. Anastasio played an acoustic first set at each show of the tour followed by a performance with a trio featuring drummer Russ Lawton and bassist Tony Markellis. The guitarist played “Back On The Train” during each and every acoustic set in 1999 except the tour opener. It’s also been a staple of other tours featuring acoustic segments such as TAB’s Winter ’01 run, 70 Volt Parade shows in 2005 and TAB gigs in 2008 and 2011.

2. The Inlaw Josie Wales – (42)

Anastasio unveiled a beautiful instrumental at the first show of his inaugural solo tour in 1999. He didn’t have a name for the tune at the time and told the crowd whomever posted the setlist on the internet first could name the song. Trey didn’t wind up using the title first posted, which was “Minestrone,” as instead he went with a takeoff of the title of the film The Outlaw Josey Wales. “The Inlaw Josie Wales” was in heavy rotation during Trey’s 1999 solo tour and found its way into many TAB Fall ’02 and June ’03 performances. He also played the instrumental a fair bit during the 70 Volt Parade days.

3. (tie) Bathtub Gin – (26)

Unlike the first two entries on this list, Phish debuted the song long before Trey played a solo acoustic version. While Anastasio performed “Bathtub Gin” often with Dave Matthews during the ’03-’04 Dave & Friends days, the count of 26 only includes solo takes on the tune. The guitarist only threw “Gin” into his solo acoustic sets twice in 1999, but it was performed regularly during acoustic segments in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

4. (tie) Sample In A Jar – (26)

“Sample In A Jar” has been a staple of Phish performances since its debut in 1993 and the same can be said about its regularity in Trey’s solo acoustic canon. After playing it twice during the 1999 tour, he treated fans to many unplugged versions in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011. “Sample” turned up at two of Anastasio’s most recent solo acoustic performances, when he opened for Neil Young in 2012 and as part of the New Yorker Festival in 2015.

5. (tie) Waste – (26)

The Billy Breathes ballad “Waste” thrives in the solo acoustic setting. It’s a simple ballad at its core which makes it perfect for unplugged performances. Like “Bathtub Gin,” Dave Matthews liked to perform “Waste” with Trey during the Dave & Friends days, but we’re only counting solo acoustic takes on the tune. Anastasio really enjoyed playing “Waste” in 2005 as he performed the tune 10 times by his lonesome that year alone in addition to duet versions with Page McConnell, Mike Gordon and Tom Marshall.

6. (tie) Pebbles & Marbles – (25)

“Pebbles & Marbles” is a rare song on this list in that Anastasio debuted the tune in the solo acoustic setting before bringing it first to TAB and then to Phish. Trey initially showed off the lengthy and gorgeous song at a series of Spring ’02 radio appearances and then worked it into heavy rotation with TAB for Spring/Summer ’02. “Pebbles & Marbles” was played often by Trey during solo acoustic segments in 2005 and then a handful of times in 2006.

7. (tie) Wilson – (25)

The lone Gamehendge song on this list, Trey loves watching the crowd chant along with “Wilson.” He first played “Wilson” solo acoustic at UIC Pavilion during the encore of a TAB show in 2002 when he worked an incomplete version within “Chalk Dust Torture.” He then played a full version at the inaugural Bonnaroo a few weeks later. “Wilson” was a staple of Trey solo acoustic segments in 2010 and 2011.

8. Brian & Robert – (23)

While the guitarist debuted the pretty “Brian & Robert” with Phish in 1998, it didn’t take Trey long to realize it was a good fit for solo acoustic performances. He played the ballad as part of most of his 1999 solo acoustic appearances and “Brian & Robert” was also performed unplugged by Trey a number of times in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

9. (tie) Chalk Dust Torture – (20)

Trey debuted the unplugged version of this A Picture Of Nectar rocker at the first show billed under his own name which took place at Higher Ground in February of 1999. He only played it twice during his solo tour a few months later, but it was a staple of solo acoustic segments of 2010 and 2011 TAB shows.

10. (tie) Farmhouse – (20)

“Farmhouse” was one of the songs Trey played most during his solo tour in 1999 which featured acoustic first sets. He actually opened the tour with tune and performed it at all but one of the shows on the run. Anastasio worked “Farmhouse” into his Tibet House set in 2000 and then wouldn’t play the song in its solo acoustic form again until 2008. The guitarist last performed “Farmhouse” during his most recent solo acoustic set at 2015’s New Yorker Festival.

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