The Laid Back Funk of Summer ’98

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

As Phish progressed through their career, each tour seemed to add a new element to their music.  Constantly evolving their sound, the band kept fans engaged not only with new songs and new jams, but new styles of playing.  In ’93 they peaked all that had come before with the ferocious “speedjazz” era. In ’94 their jamming grew far more exploratory and adventurous, combined with the aggression of a wild hyena.  ’95 brought extended abstract spacescapes in the summer and moved into blistering tight arena rock in the fall.  1996 was a year of transition, moving from their style of Fall ’95 towards whole-band groove, and in 1997 this transition was completed.  With the rawest funk grooves coming in the summer, Fall ’97 brought a refined James Brown-esque disco-funk into the mix, living symbiotically with outlandish psychedelia.  Phish never grew complacent with their music, and never stopped pushing themselves out of their comfort zone into different milieus.

Hampton (M.Yates)

Hampton (M.Yates)

As 1997 came to a close, the community was on cloud nine, having just finished one of the outstanding years in Phish history- yet what laid ahead?  First came the Island Run, which was a sublime aberration all to its own.  And after a brief stint in Europe, the band returned to the west coast to showcase their new summer style.  If we traced the rhythmic playing of the band from raw to refined, this summer represented a nuanced shift to a slower and beefier relaxed style of jamming.  Congruent with the feeling of summer, Phish engaged in plentiful sessions of patient funk grooves.  While many people remember the summer of ’98 for all of the one-time covers busted out by Phish, the band’s primary focus of the season was creating thick textures that blossomed in the summer air.

Starting off in Portland, OR, they made no bones about what the central theme of the tour would be, opening with “Wolfman’s,” followed two songs later by the first stateside “Moma Dance.”  This focus would emerge more obviously in the second set with the now-famous segment of “Tweezer > California Love > Tweezer > Free, Meat.”  The funk was deep; the funk was relaxed; the funk was infectious- and this would be the overwhelming trend for the rest of Summer ’98.

Hampton (T.Caine)

Hampton (T.Caine)

In a summer that oozed fun, Phish seemed to have a ball creating sweltering dance sessions amidst their favorite songs.  The enthusiasm was contagious, as every night brought addictive fun and more surprises.  The Summer ’98 sound featured prominent, yet slowed-down, lead bass lines from Gordon, favoring a soft and round tone- our ears were bouncing on trampolines all night.  The pace of the tour’s definitive improv was brought to a far slower tempo.  Trey utilized tar-thick wah-grooves all summer long to rhythmically and delicately dance around Mike’s patterns.  Also guiding the band with danceable leads, Trey was focused on rhythmic playing for the whole tour.  Page shied from his piano in favor of more textured sounds that enhanced their funk canvas.  The clavinet and the Fender Rhodes grew more prominent in his sound.  Fishman held down an incredibly deep pocket with Gordon, and was a band leader within this beat focused era.

Hampton (S.Hanna)

Hampton (S.Hanna)

The laid back music of ’98s summer tour supported the concept of Phish as maestro mood matchers- always fitting their music to their locale.  The improv discussed herein would have never taken place indoors during a fall tour- that wasn’t the place for this type of music.  The amphitheatres and open-air venues that made up the summer circuit allowed the slower music to bellow across the crowd, especially in the roofless venues.  When playing these stops- like Portland Meadows, The Gorge, and Sandstone- the sound dynamic coaxed the band to delve into even slower tempos.  Each night, as the sun set, you could be sure that you’d be dancing to some seriously thick Phish for most of the night, and the tour took on a character of its own.

Throughout this summer, the band played incredibly well together, forming cohesive jams all over the place.  Even if their improv wasn’t always straight-laced groove, there was always a certain rhythmic quality that marked their playing.  In one of Phish’s most well-loved tours,  you knew that every show would bring a different dance party centered around this style.

Upper Page Side (S.Hanna)

Upper Page Side (S.Hanna)

Some of the highlights from this tour that defined this playing were the aforementioned “Tweezer > Free” from Portland, the Shoreline “YEM,” the Austin “Tweezer,” the Deer Creek “Gumbo,” the Merriweather “Sneakin’ Sally, and the Lemonwheel “Gumbo.” And those are just some of the most significant episodes.  When aurally perusing the entire tour, this pattern of laid back funk clearly emerges.  And, naturally, as the summer was coming to a close, the band began to drift into more layered, ambient style, foreshadowing their musical evolution of the upcoming fall.

To chronicle Phish’s very own “Summer of Love,” I have selected one representative jam from every US show during this special era of Phish. Totaling over seven hours of music from Summer ’98, this collection should keep the grooves going until the break of dawn.   Chronologically combined into one compilation, I present to you “Miner’s Picks: Laid Back Funk ’98.”  There are a few song repeats, due to the band’s song rotation over the summer. (And I forgot to add the Deer Creek “Gumbo!” It will be linked below.) The tracks and download links are below.  Relax, kick back, and enjoy!






1-4. “Tweezer > California Love > Tweezer > Free” 7.15, Portland, OR

5. “Reba” 7.16, The Gorge, WA

6. “Gumbo” 7.17, The Gorge, WA

7. “YEM” 7.19, Shoreline, CA

8. “Bathtub Gin” 7.20, Ventura, CA

9,10. “Ghost > She Caught The Katy” 7.21, Phoenix, AZ

11,12. “Wolfman’s > 2001” 7.24, Houston, TX

13. “Tweezer” 7.25, Austin, TX

14. “YEM” 7.26, Dallas, TX

15. “The Moma Dance” 7.28, Bonner Springs, KS

16. “Tube” 7.29, Riverport, MO

17,18. “Curtain > Free” 7.31, Columbus, OH

19. “Mike’s Song” 8.1, Alpine Valley, WI

20. “Ghost” 8.2, Deer Creek, IN

21. “Halley’s Comet” 8.3, Deer Creek, IN (Forgot the “Gumbo!”)

22. “Wolfman’s” 8.6, Atlanta, GA

23. “Ghost” 8.7, Raleigh, NC

24. “Sneakin’ Sally” 8.8, Merriweather Post, MD

25. “YEM” 8.9, Va.Beach, VA

26,27. “Wolfman’s > Time Loves a Hero” 8.11, Star Lake, PA

28. “YEM” 8.12, Vernon Downs, NY

29,30. “Gumbo > Sanity” 8.15, The Lemonwheel

31. “2001” 8.16, The Lemonwheel

(32.) “Gumbo” 8.3, Deer Creek, IN (Right Click, Save As, or listen)


Hampton (S.Hanna)

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193 Responses to “The Laid Back Funk of Summer ’98”

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  1. Mugician Says:

    Great topic, links aren’t working. Can’t wait to hear this stuff.

  2. JoyBoy Says:

    I should listen to more summer 98’….I must admit that it’s been neglected in my camp, embarrasing.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    summer 98 was my first one really out on the road for an extended period with the boys.. I did merriweather>va beach>starlake>vernon downs>lemonwheel. Great summary – the covers were fun, but the funk dance party is what it was all about! Phish had reached a mastery with their jamming and sort of plateaued around that time. The lemonwheel was a life defining experience for me and that Gumbo>Sanity and the myriad visions contained therein is still being processed.

    A couple of other notable jams not mentioned: va beach ac/dc – slow and funky but In the Groove, starlake’s Runaway Jam (with some “maria” from west side story teases if I recall correctly, Vernon Downs Simple!!

    As far as the funk goes – the sneakin sally from merriweather is often overlooked because of that sick piper in the second set, and the wolfman’s>time love’s a hero is another excellent representation of the Layered Slow Funk with synth and clav that was so prevalent in 98.

    Has there ever been a complete download of the Lemonwheel posted here? I couldn’t find one in the search, but would love to have it if you’re taking requests!

  4. phil Says:

    i can’t believe the Ramble On>Slave from Vernon didn’t make your mix!! That is truly what summer 98 was to me.

  5. chris Says:

    links not working confirmed

  6. MGStreak Says:

    Confirming: links not working

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    Great topic write-up! Been waiting for the next Dj Miner mix addish. Oddly enough, I was on a trip for work and dusted off some summer ’98 classics for the plane ride. Not a laid back funk jam, but the Gin from 7/29 is the HEAT! For those unfamiliar, cop that shit. Nice mix miner, well played. (Link is down though)

  8. congressman Says:

    links dont work

  9. Pence Says:

    cowfunk I think has pretty much the whole summer 98 tour for download, SBDs for free. Just go to free stash, and then choose Phish. At work right now, so going off memory.

  10. Pence Says:

    ^ that site should include lemonwheel

  11. Jed Says:

    I was just listening to the tweezer>cali love>tweezer>free at work a few days ago. Its my favorite tweezer out there, love the segue into free. good post, always enjoy reading whats on your mind. keep up the good work

  12. Chalkdustin Says:

    Lemmonwheel is also on

  13. Frankie Says:

    Nice picks Mr. Miner! Can’t wait to download… Summer ’98 used to be my favorite era of Phish and most of my favorite jams were already mentionned like the 8.9 AC/DC Bag, 8.11 Runaway Jim and 8.12 Ramble On… So many fun shows one after another… Thanks again!

    11th Island Tour Anniversary today!! 🙂

  14. Mitch Says:

    **Phish Thoughts Gathering**

    I know we are still a couple months away but I thought we should make some plans to do meet ups in different cities. If you have a cool place that would be fun to meet at and have a few beers in your local area, post it here and we can make an ophishal spot.

    I suggest for the Jones Beach shows (June 3, night before) the Astoria Beer Garden. It’s easy to get to, right off the train, outdoors and has good beers.

    Check it out and let me know what you guys think. This place can hold a lot of people and its always a good time to drink beer in the warm summer nights outdoors. (which cant always happen in NYC)

  15. Frankie Says:

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    Thanks fellas.. Have found and the google spreadsheet lacking in quality sometimes,so I didn’t go there, but I haven’t checked nugs.. I’m assuming they are the fm sbds? Usually those are a bit squashed. Back in the day there was a great schoeps source or bnk maybe.

  17. msbjivein Says:

    Summer ’98 was killer! That was also my first extended touring with the Boys. I hit 9 shows that tour. you never forget your first show and you never forget your first real run w/ Phish. The summer of ’98 was one of the most memorable summers in my Phish history. Thankyou Mr. Minor!

  18. msbjivein Says:

    The Cities opener @ Polaris Amp is a great example of the Summers sound also.

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Oops ,That was a My Friend opener @ Polaris. The Cities is really what sticks out in my mind that 1st set.

  20. nonoyolker Says:

    Cities from Polaris is SICK… 15 min of rage. Nice call

  21. hawkinbj Says:

    1998 is my top two favorite phish years of all time, the other being (don’t hit me!) 2000. I REALLY loved the funk that transpired, but moreso the move towards spacier/loopier jams. 98 was a HUGE section of the highway towards the spaceytown. Great article and great selections

  22. hawkinbj Says:

    c0wfunk if you’re looking for quality shoot me an email (since we don’t have PMs) at or post your email and I’ll invite you to a torrenting site that is all about quality. That offer stands for anyone on this board 🙂

  23. SOAM Says:


  24. SOAM Says:

    Meatstick with japanese lyrics in Jerzey-tweak out

  25. SOAM Says:

    Tube 98 Oswego

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