My Page: David Calarco aka Mr. Miner (A New Plane of Consciousness)
My online alter ego Mr. Miner started in 2000, when I covered Phish’s first full tour of Japan for JamBase. The assignment suited me just fine as nobody wanted to discuss the musical happenings of the night to the extent that I did, and writing gave me a way to process the evening before moving on to the next. Little did I know that thousands of fans who couldn’t make it to the Far East were reading these reviews, and when I got home, hundreds of emails filled my inbox, with people thanking me for writing and explaining how they could really get a sense of the show through them.
Maybe I was onto something. But what led to that moment started five years earlier.
Unlike so many kids growing up in New England during the early-‘90s, I didn’t get into Phish during high school. Because I had a passion for athletics, my calendar was packed with sports all year long and that’s how I liked it. My ears were content with the suburban mélange of hard rock, classic rock, hip-hop and the beginnings of alternative. Though I always had a passion for music—beginning in second grade with Duran Duran—I knew what I liked and I stuck to it, happily and ignorantly.
In college, everything changed. Three of my closest friends at school were big time Phish fans with several tape racks of live shows, and, consequently, I began to hear a lot of Phish. At the same time, my life began to take a new direction—shortly after hanging up my cleats, I began to experiment with mushrooms. I was floored and fascinated by the psychedelic experience. Completely enamored with this plane of consciousness, I needed to know more.
The first time I ever took LSD was at my second Phish show—and the convergence of these two forces was both profound and indelible. That fateful evening crystallized with each passing moment as everything clicked into place with natural lucidity. Before I knew what was happening, I was dancing for the first time in my life. As sweat dripped off my brow, the entire experience felt completely novel, yet—somehow—incredibly familiar. And it was certainly the most spiritually liberating occurrence of my life. I felt as though I had found a home.
Moving to this compelling music shook my soul. Sound, motion and consciousness converged in a metaphysical bolt of lightning that flipped my world upside down. When I woke up the next day, there was nothing that I wanted more than to go to the next show. Throughout the rest of 1995 and 1996, I saw as many shows as possible while remaining in good standing at school, but after graduating in 1997, I dove head first into Phish tour.
When it comes down to it, even after all these years, the feelings, emotions and spiritual planes that arise while dancing to Phish are what keep me coming back. This intersection of music and movement provides inspiration for all parts of my life, powered by the most exciting music I have ever known. There is nothing like the moment Phish drops into the unknown. The mystery inherent in the path of a jam mimics the contours of life, itself. Giving myself to this void opened a door to inner exploration and exhalation.
It is this path of musical mystery and revelation that I have always tried to convey through my writing. When depicting my eyes-closed experience of live Phish, objectivity has never been my goal. Music is feeling and I’ve always given my authentic, emotionally driven take on shows while trying to stay true to the music, and only the music. The positivity and spirituality that color my writing are universal emotions that Phish fans can relate to, and this is why—I think—my writing has resonated.
When Phish returned in 2009, so many feelings flooded my mind that I decided to process them through writing. I had just concluded five years of teaching high school to start a career in journalism, so the endeavor felt doubly relevant. Out of the blue, I decided to start a blog. After sharing it with friends for two weeks, I threw self-consciousness to the wind and made “Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts” a public site.
As the tour began, many longtime fans weren’t able hit the road like they used to, thus writing about each night felt like a natural progression of the blog. I’ve tried to bring fans as close to the show experience as possible through my writing, yet, all I’ve ever done is share my own perspective on the band. It’s been crazy and completely humbling that so many people have come along for the ride.
Dave Calarco is the author of Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology by a Fan for the Fans, published by BAJ Design this past December. Please visit www.phishthoughtsbook.com for more information and www.phishthoughts.com for more of Calarco’s writing.
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.
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