To kick off my one of my first columns of 2012, I felt it would be a great idea to put a wish list together of three things I’d like to see happen in 2012. Some requests may seem pedestrian and obvious, while others may be more unrealistic than hearing Hendrix rise from the grave and play a live show in New York. But, regardless of what this list asks for, one thing is music is clear: you just never know what the possibilities may hold, do you?
3.) Phish festival returns to Limestone
Lets’ face it: Phish festivals are the bees knees. They also redefined music festivals in this day and age as we know it, beginning with the out-of-the box thinking and setup of the real “first” festival – The Clifford Ball in 1996 (not counting events such as Ian’s and Amy’s Farm in earlier years on a much smaller scale). There has been no site Phish has visited for their annual festivals more than Limestone, Maine. Hosting The Great Went in ’97, Lemonwheel in ’98 and IT in ’03, Loring Air Force Base has boasted some magical and surreal Phish moments over the years – to say the least.
The reason I would love the band to return here is for several reasons and factors. First, it’s an adventure, plain and simple. I can still remember the Doniac Schvice (Phish’s old, print newsletter) arriving at my door in early ’97, announcing the Great Went in Limestone. Always the jokers, the band described it as “an easy drive from any direction.” Being at the northern-most tip of Maine, and having only one real route to get there, the joke is clearly on the attendees. Waiting in traffic for about 24 hours to enter, the car line takes on a party atmosphere all its own – and I’ve always had a blast.
Secondly, the place is huge! Wandering around during the day, and more especially at all hours of the night when the temperature nosedives like one of the World War II bomber the hangers used to house, Limestone is truly a secluded world of its own, with eye candy galore supplied by the Phish camp and the artists they hire to create it. It literally feels like a huge area to explore and build your own adventure, with tons of Phish sets mixed in. Toss in the fact that you are seemingly hundreds of miles from any sort of reality, and that is the icing on the cake for a great Northern adventure.
2.) More/New Phil & Friends Shows/Tour
Something magical occurred on April 15-17, 1999 at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco: Phil and Friends, as we got to know it for the next decade, was born. Fresh off a liver transplant and with the help of “Friends” Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell from Phish, Steve Kimock, John Molo and Donna Jean Godchaux, Phil Lesh redefined the concept of the rotating super-group. While the two years has seen him tour tirelessly with Furthur (which is outstanding in their own right), there is just something to be said about some of the surprise lineups and guest spots that seem to gravitate towards Lesh and company over the years.
From regular staples in the lineup like Warren Haynes, John Scofield or Molo, who seem to always deliver fireworks, it is the X-factor guests that often created the greatest results. Ryan Adams was one such notable example who toured with Lesh for a while, and was somewhat unfamiliar to most of the Deadhead community prior to his tenure. But, as Ryan has openly said, he was largely influenced by the Grateful Dead growing up, and it doesn’t seem like too wild of a idea after the fact.
But, my point is, Phil & Friends was and is about the unexpected, the unknown and the exploratory. Having a regularly rotating cast of characters adds to the freshness and flare that always keeps fans on their toes, as well as the band. I, for one, would love to see the recent addition of Furthur drummer Joe Russo in a future lineup of P&F. He, like Molo is a locomotive train that keeps the train barreling down the tracks, leading the other members to play with reckless abandon above him.
I also would die to see a reconciliation between Lesh’s camp and Kimock, who has fit so effortlessly into the extended Dead family over the years. Some of my favorite concerts of my life have been P&F-related. From the return of Anastasio in Glens Falls on October 20, 2007 or the snowstorm show he played at The Beacon on February 12, 2006, or the countless “Q” shows of the early 2000’s, Phil and Friends has been a way for the greatest musicians of our scene to share the stage with a living legend in Lesh.I, for one, could do with more in the future. Thankfully, Lesh has assembled a lineup of friends to play three shows next month, but let’s hope there’s much more where that came from.
1.) Talking Heads Reunion Shows/Tour
Now, quite simply, a boy can dream, can’t he? After seeing LCD Soundsystem’s farewell show at MSG last year, I walked out thinking they might be as close as I would ever come to seeing something akin to The Talking Heads. I’m not calling LCD the TH’s of our generation, but they are very similar and threw awesome dance parties. But, a proper reunion in this day and age of the Talking Heads might just be one of the hottest tickets of all-time. If the Police and Pink Floyd (to a degree) and others can do it, then why not bury the hatchet and give it a try?
The quirkiness of David Byrne, the under-appreciated chops of Tina Weymouth, the infectious drumming of Chris Frantz and sonic swirls of keyboardist Jerry Harrison, it was hard to replicate such a lineup as the Talking Heads had. Cited as examples from just about every jamband today, and one of the most covered artists’ around, the legacy that the Talking Heads carries today is one of its own. While they may not be as big an act as someone like The Beatles, per say, the Talking Heads are still just as vitally important and relevant to past, present and future of music and culture.
While a riff between Byrne and his band mates still remains, I am an optimistic dreamer and remain hopeful that time heals all wounds and relationships. If this goes down, I’d be first in line to see them, and you better believe I’d be stretching my legs for weeks before they hit the stage, because you know a dance party would surely be on the agenda.
Overall, 2012 holds great possibilities and promises for the world of music as a whole. It also holds uncertainty, unexpectedness and one of may favorite traits, danger. You never know what’s around the next corner, but these three things I’ve detailed are a few things I am hoping for in the future. How about you? What are your musical wishes for 2012?