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Phish Go Swimming Again

Band to return on New Year's Eve

August 14, 2002 12:00 AM ET

After 676 days and roughly nine hours on self-imposed hiatus, Phish have announced their return. The band will take the stage for a three-set New Year's Eve gig at New York City's Madison Square Garden, and will follow with a three-night run at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia, January 2nd-4th.

Further dates have yet to be announced, but the band is planning a tour next year and a new record in late 2003 as well. The four band members -- guitarist Trey Anastasio, drummer Jon Fishman, keyboardist Page McConnell and bassist Mike Gordon -- announced their break on October 7, 2000, following a performance in San Francisco, citing their relentless work schedule over the span of seventeen years as the reason.

To help fans make it until the reunion, the band will release the third installment of the Live Phish series on October 29th. This time, a theme is involved: Over the course of their history, Phish has been known to don a "musical costume" for Halloween gigs, covering a classic record in its entirety. The four releases will be their takes on the Beatles' "White Album" (from 1994), the Who's Quadrophenia (1995), the Talking Heads' Remain in Light (1996) and the Velvet Undergound's Loaded (1998). The band will also release Phish: Live in Las Vegas, the band's first full-length DVD taken from a 2000 show, on November 12th.

Despite the break, Phish's individual members have not disappeared from public view. Anastasio recorded and toured with Oysterhead (with Primus bassist Les Claypool and Police drummer Stewart Copeland) last year, released an eponymous solo record earlier this year and toured regularly with his own ten-piece band.

McConnell has become a band leader in his own right, fronting Vida Blue, a trio featuring drummer Russell Batiste and bassist Oteil Burbridge. The band released a self-titled record on Elektra and just recently finished a cross-country tour.

Bassist Mike Gordon has focused on both the visual and musical mediums. He released Outside Out, his first feature film, and Rising Low a documentary about the making of Gov't Mule's two The Deep End albums, which feature numerous prominent bass players -- including Phil Lesh, John Entwistle, Bootsy Collins and Les Claypool -- honoring late Mule bassist Allen Woody. Gordon is also working on a record with guitarist Leo Kottke.

Fishman has been busy playing with the Jazz Mandolin Project and his own band, Pork Tornado. The latter will release their self-titled debut on October 1st on Rykodisc. The band also hits the road for a lengthy six-week tour in October.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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