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Phil Lesh Concocts Unbroken Chain Benefit

Phish, Steve Kimock, John Molo May Perform

After eight months of inactivity — and life-saving liver
transplant surgery — Grateful Dead bassist
Phil Lesh will return to the stage for a three-day
run at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater beginning on April 15 and
extending to April 17. But he won’t be alone.

The concerts, which are benefits for Lesh’s non-profit Unbroken
Chain Foundation (named after the song he penned for the Dead’s
Mars Hotel, the organization benefits a variety of
community outreach programs), are billed as “Phil Lesh and
Friends,” and insiders tell us that Lesh’s famous friends will
include Trey Anastasio and Page
McConnell
from Phish as well as
Zero‘s Steve Kimock and former
Bruce Hornsby drummer John Molo.

“We can’t confirm the line-up, and we won’t confirm it,” said
Tom Kirschner, a member of the Unbroken Chain
Board of Directors. “We like to keep the mystery,” he added
impishly. When queried whether Lesh will follow these three dates
with shows in May and June, he said, “*Everything* is a
possibility. The future is bright.”

The three shows in April represent a return to the series of Phil
& Friends concerts that Lesh introduced last year. The final
performance of that series was August 8, and since then Lesh has
been dealing with the effects of Hepatitis C, which resulted in a
liver transplant operation on December 4. Kimock, who played with
Lesh in the Other Ones, participated in the last Phil & Friends
concert, and a Zero newsgroup released the name of Phil’s friends
last night. It included Anastasio, McConnell, Kimock and Molo, but
Phish’s management wasn’t talking. “We had an office meeting this
morning about this and we won’t confirm it,” a spokesperson for
Dionysian Productions said. But a source close to the band insists
that it’s a fait accompli.

Some Deadheads resent the implication that the Vermont-based group
now wears the crown of the preeminent jam band in the aftermath of
Jerry Garcia’s death on Aug. 9, 1995. The various Internet
newsgroups which cater to Dead discussions have been filled with
praise and barbs from fans and detractors of both groups. Oddly
enough, Phish themselves have (until recently) felt reluctant to
endorse the comparison, especially since the transfer of the mantle
seemed to have occurred more due to media linking of the two bands
than anything Phish have done on their own. While the members of
Phish are self-proclaimed Dead fans, they’ve studiously shunned
covering Grateful Dead songs to avoid engendering any comparisons
or ill will. Last summer’s performance of the Dead’s “Terrapin
Station” by Phish on the anniversary of Garcia’s death broke with
this tradition. Trey Anastasio moved closer to musically
acknowledging the connection by performing Garcia’s “Row Jimmy”
earlier this month at the Vermont club Higher Ground, as a warm-up
show for his appearance at the Benefit for Tibet House on February
22. Come April 15, this self-imposed moratorium on Dead tunes will
presumably be off.

In This Article: The Grateful Dead

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