Rocky Mountain High: The Untold Story of Phish’s Archival Release, Colorado ’88 (Relix Revisited)
This piece originally ran in our February-March 1988 issue
July 25, 1988
It’s 2AM and Phish has just finished its weekly gig at Nectar’s, a Burlington bar best known for its cheese fries. Like most Mondays in ‘88, the group has just performed a three-set show stacked with early favorites like “Fluffhead” and quirky stories about Gamehenge, the centerpiece of Trey Anastasio’s senior thesis at Goddard College. It’s been almost five years since Anastasio met Jon Fishman and Mike Gordon at UVM, three years since Gordon added Page McConnell to the mix and only a few short months since Anastasio’s graduation. As Anastasio began fusing his textbook compositional prowess with his knack for free-form improvisation, Phish slowly began pushing outside its pub crawl confines to finally score its first offer outside the Northeast: Colorado. The group is clearly excited about its journey and, on this night, even drops a Red Rocks reference into its popular narrative “Icculus” [This version of “Icculus” is included on the 1992 reissue of Junta ]
“There is a real kindred spirit between folks who travel between Vermont and Colorado,” McConnell says from his Burlington home 18 years later. “People had heard about us in Vermont and would tell their friends out west.”
One friend was Cilla Foster, a future girlfriend of Gordon’s who was waitressing for Warren Stickney, a local restaurant entrepreneur in Telluride. After speaking with Gordon, who served as the group’s first manager, Stickney promised Phish a month-long tour but, as July 25 drew near, he became increasingly harder to contact. Shortly before Phish’s intended departure date, Stickney admitted that there was no tour, but agreed to book the group at his restaurant, The Roma, for a$1,000. The quartet handed over its Nectar’s spot to Ninja Custodian and took time off from their day jobs.
“We gave ourselves a grand sendoff, hopped in this cube van at 2AM and took off,” Fishman reminisces from his home in Maine. “Now I’m married with my third kid on the way and prefer to stay home, but at the time I was living it up, a single guy on the road. We were young and had all the energy in the world. We were spending our life properly.”
“We had major discussions about whether we should go right up until the end,” says longtime sound engineer Paul Languedoc. “We had a vote whether we should go and we all voted ‘no,’ but decided to go anyway. Phish was able to make that leap of faith from the beginning.”
The departure of the more blues-based guitarist Jeff Holdsworth * two years earlier allowed Phish to dive headfirst into Anastasio’s compositions and for McConnell to truly add his fingerprint to the band. “That kind of happened, and had to happen, just as Jeff was leaving,” he says. “I don’t think we would have been able to continue if that weren’t the case.”
Without a guarantee, or a place to stay, the Vermont quartet, along with Languedoc and early lighting designer Tim Rogers, hit the road for a 42-hour journey. Gordon handled the money, while Fishman and McConnell split most of the driving. “We were stuck together, but it was defining,” McConnell laughs. “We’d never had such an intense time together and were flying by the seat of our pants.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
- Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger "The Pequod"
- Trey Anastasio with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center
- More Visions of the Hangout Music Festival 2013 (A Gallery)
- A Blowout for the So So Glos
- Portugal. The Man "Atomic Man" (Official Video)
- Prince "Fixurlifeup" (Official Video)
- Alex Bleeker & The Freaks: How Far Away
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll