The core group would vamp on the grooves from Moss with Mike and Scott calling out chord changes to the novices up there with them. After giving each guest a few minutes to jam with the house band, Friday would call out the name of a new instrumentalist to replace the old guest. Whenever a particularly capable player made it to the stage, Scott, Mike and Joe would challenge them by changing the tempo or groove mid-jam and most responded really well and followed along admirably. There was no hiding how excited the guests were to jam with the house band and one of my favorite parts of the evening was watching the glow emanating from those who had just left the stage.
There were no songs per say as the group would move from one Moss groove to another without any vocals being sung with the exception of a few musicians who sang improvised lyrics into one of the many mics setup on the stage. An MC took the mic at one point leading to a bit of heavy-metal rap that got Gordon bouncing up and down, while a harmonica wiz led the band through a blues-y section. All in all, the first session was quite a success and I can’t imagine Mike and his team expecting such a fine result from an event with so many unpredictable variables involved.
Mike Gordon Band drummer Todd Isler spelled Joe Russo for the late set, which also ran about two hours. You’ve got to hand it to Cactus. On a rare night off from Phish tour he made his way down to the city to promote his album in a way that gave over 100 musicians the opportunity to jam with him. Mike’s team did an amazing job of transforming the first venue Phish ever played in New York City into “The Mossery” and created an event worthy of the off-beat bassist. Moss hits stores today and is now available for purchase online.