Remembering Jazzfest

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of the greatest traditions of this land. Uniting the best and brightest from all walks of improvisational music, combined with southern flavor and creole cuisine, Jazzfest becomes a multi-sensory indulgence. This past weekend, the ‘09 edition got underway, and yesterday, April 26th was the 13 year anniversary of Phish’s unique Jazzfest appearance in 1996.  Performing at the festival grounds under the blazing southern heat, and right before The Meters, the band played one long set that created a unique dynamic between Phish and their classic surroundings. The Fairgrounds @ Jazzfest

4.26.96 The Fairgrounds @ Jazzfest

When Phish announced the would be playing the New Orleans fest, the community was jazzed to see the band make such a prestigious and historic appearance. But when all was said and done, the festival didn’t share the joy of the Phish scene infiltrating the festival, and the band would never be invited back.  The inundation of the fairgrounds with Phish’s fringe element took the organizers by surprise; a surprise they didn’t need to see again. Meanwhile, Phish took to the Bayou with a solid one-setter that gave N’awlins a taste of Vermont’s Finest.

4.26.96 Phish Crowd

4.26.96 Phish Crowd

Following the band’s epic peak of 1995 at Madison Square Garden, everyone was eager to see them again, and what better place to do it than New Orleans? A lot of people shared this idea, and a circus of Phishies descended upon the fairground on a near 100 degree afternoon.  VW Buses took over the residential area where the festival is located, while dreaded, patchworked hippies dispersed throughout the grounds. This entire scene creatied an odd amalgam of Phish lot and Jazzfest; Jazz lot.

When it came time for Phish to play at 3:30 pm, the dispersed tribe united around the Ray Ban main stage, awaiting the first notes of 1996. Opening with an appropriate and festive “Ya Mar,” Trey wove a tease of “When The Saints Go Marching In” to commemorate their visit to the south.  The band went on to play a very palatable set for the mixed audience, making sure to include a little something for everyone. The set contained several highlights, but the band’s first dip into improv came with “Stash.” The dark, twisting music sat against a summer backdrop, as the band shredded the densely textured jam to the delight of the Phish-dominated crowd.

4.26.96 Jazzfest

4.26.96 Jazzfest

Longtime friend of the band and New Orleans native, Michael Ray, came out and joined them on trumpet for a spirited run through Page’s “Cars Trucks Buses.”  But when the dust settled, three other segments of music stood out- “YEM” > a half-a capella and very interesting “Wolfman’s Brother” (segue via vocal jam), “2001 > Hood,” and a large, late-set “Bowie.” None of these jams entered into a separate reality, but that really wasn’t the point of the set. The band had sustained contact with the source for four nights at the end of 1995, but on this first afternoon of 1996, their set  was defined by straight-forward, fun in the sun.

“Stash” and “Bowie” provided the only outright darkness of an otherwise upbeat, happy show. Phish brought their pre-’97 cow funk down to the swamp, with particularly laid-back escapades in “YEM,” and “2001.”  Following the “2001,” Phish released “Harry Hood” for the first time since the sacred 12.30.95 rendition, and under the late afternoon sky, they unveiled a tightly wound and majestic version of their feel-good classic.

4.26.96 Jazzfest

4.26.96 Jazzfest

If this was a normal Phish set, it might have ended with with “Hood” or “Sample,” and then certainly with The Beatles classic, “A Day In the Life.”  But this wasn’t a normal Phish set, and they just kept playing, entering into their most extended and interesting jam of the day in “David Bowie.”  Cranking out some ’95-esque psychedelia, the set-closing “Bowie” thrilled all the Phish kids and created the post-show buzz.

The fairgrounds and surrounding neighborhood provided a unique post-show atmosphere of southern comfort.  Sometimes the experience of a show can be so unique that the music, regardless of how crazy or mellow, just seems to fit.  Just like that laid back day New Orleans so many years ago.

photos by Brad G. Serling and Andreas Veneris



4.26.96 NOLA Jazz & Heritage Festival < LINK TO livephish release for Hurricane Katrina relief. (Buy it, its a good cause!) AUDs up when I find ’em.

The Fairgrounds: Post-Cavern

The Fairgrounds: Post-Cavern

Ya Mar*, AC/DC Bag, Sparkle, Stash, Cars Trucks Buses**, You Enjoy Myself > Wolfman’s Brother***, Scent of a Mule, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood, Sample in a Jar, A Day in the Life, David Bowie

E: Hello My Baby, Cavern

*With “When The Saints Go Marching In” tease. **With Michael Ray on trumpet. ***A capella intro.

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67 Responses to “Remembering Jazzfest”

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  1. Baxter Says:

    Classic NOLA… Thank you for the downloads, nice stuff!

  2. nonoyolker Says:

    Acapella Wolfman’s is kick ass! Nice recount of events Miner.

  3. empire01 Says:

    cool show I have not listened to it for quite some time, the livephish versions comes with a filler of 11/7/91 II Tipitina’s,
    with ARU on some of the songs…gets pretty crazy

  4. Brimley Says:

    Apparently went under…Does anyone know a site that has a large database of shows that can be streamed so i can listen at work…?

  5. Corey Says:

    Oh, what fun it was! As a professional jazz musician, this was truly a wonderful gathering to be at. Phish at Jazzfest. Always wanted to say that…wish I could say it again. IMHO, this fest has ALWAYS been better than Bonnaroo, Rothbury, and nearly all other festivals. I don’t need anymore rock bands. Gimme more jazz. Oh, and Phish, lets break out the A Train or Donna Lee or Satin Doll or Manteca or…and that Wolfman’s Brother acapella — could you ALWAYS do it that way?

  6. Jay Says:

    @Miner wrote:
    “it is truly an epic week every year”

    Not to be a nit-picker but Jazzfest spans 2 weeks (actually it’s really two 4 day weekends)

  7. RobAins Says:

    It’s been a while since I checked, but is a good site to stream shows… you have to click on the “free stash” at the top right of the page. Not as large a selection as, but it should keep you busy….. Lots of other bands on their too

  8. Uberchef Says:

    Nice timing Miner! Some friends and I just listened to this show yesterday…enjoying a beautiful spring Sunday in the backyard with a pork shoulder slow cooking through the afternoon. Great music for the day!

  9. Marshall Says:

    I remember that Phish was scheduled for a 1 hour time slot. When they kicked into 2001, which was the mid-set equivalent of starting a second set, we all knew they were going to blow way past an hour. Any discussion of Phish at Jazzfest is not complete without remembering that the band preceded the Funky Meters – THE FUNKIEST BAND EVER! Very few bands are great enough to warrant having Phish open for them, but the Meters qualify for such accolades.

  10. msbjivein Says:

    I’ll be in NOLA in 3 days!!!! I think this is the blueprint for all other festivals. I wasn’t at this particular Jazzfest but my wife and I have been annually since ’99. By far the best 2 weekends of music America has to offer. Can’t wait to see Page & PBS this Sat. among many others. Bring on some NOLA FUNK!! Anyone else headed down for Jazz??

    @Jay, What the fuck dude?? You should be going to Jazz this weekend.

  11. msbjivein Says:

    I haven’t listen to these shows in a while can’t wait to download after work. One thing I’ve always wondered about this show is why didn’t they play Gumbo??? Your in fucking New Orleans and don’t play GUMBO. WTF!!
    Phish didn’t play it in Sept’99 when I was at that show either. WTF!!

  12. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Miner, isn’t this a livephish release? Just want to make sure we don’t piss off Capshaw.

  13. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Also, this is was my second show ever, and the first time I ever visited NOLA, where I went on to live for 5+ years. Seminal moment for me.

  14. hawkinbj Says:

    Thanks for the SBD’s Miner.

    As always, if anyone wants an invite to What.CD’s private torrenting site for Phish SBD downloads (not streaming sorry) feel free to shoot me an email It’s always been my aim to bring in as much of the live community at large as possible.

    I use as well for a quick stream of an AUD. Hopefully phishshows will put their hosting woes behind them and rise again.

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    this was one of the greatest weekends of my life. I was near front row and during the build up in Stash, me and Trey locked on each other and he pointed at me with his shit eatin grin. One of my favorite moments at any show. That Stash was so fun. The show that weekend where Trey and Page sat in with the Kosmic Krewe is the shit and I suggest you search for it.

    i also went the next year and me and my buddy ran into fishman. well, we saw him and debated (we were hammered) if it was indeed fishman as the person of interest was either too short or too chubby. when he was done getting his jambalya he came back towards us and i asked him if his name was jon and he basically pissed in my face. we deserved it.

    but that weekend i saw Bela & the Flecktones open for MMW. That show was hot. then i watched the Kosmic Krewe at a bar called the Funky Butt at 2AM. The room was the size of my living room. as i was dancing i looked over and John Medeski was getting down right next to me and i patted him on the back and said get up there and he walked over, sat against the wall and jammed for another 2 hours on a little clav thing. along with billy martin in tow. i walked out and it was daylight and i had no idea where i was. love NOLA.

  16. Smitty Says:

    The jazzfest set was great and then later that night the Michael Ray show that trey and page sat in on was great as well… Overall, it was a great fest.

  17. Al Says:

    This is a LIVEPHISH.COM release….

  18. voopa Says:


    I love that site! It’s been keeping me from doing other things (like visit LL), but I’m loving it. I’ve already added a couple FLAC sources that were missing, more to come.

  19. Exree Hipp Says:

    @ IFD & Al:

    The policy is clear – trading official live phish releases is not allowed, but trading amateur recordings of the same shows is allowed. Go have a look at for all your post-hiatus needs in AUD form.

  20. Al Says:

    Everybody MUST watch this multicam film of the Hampton Reunion > Fluffhead opener! Goosebumps!!!

  21. Dr SF Jones Says:

    I have grabbed “a few” things from the what cd site and have left all the torrents open after to seed but have never had anyone upload. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Would like to build a decent ratio.

  22. voopa Says:

    @Dr SF Jones

    Let’s take this off-board. I have some suggestions for you. email me at

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    I mistakenly posted the live phish release of NOLA today. I had no idea there even was a livephish release of this set, thus it was a total oversight on my behalf. I will try to get an AUD copy up asap.
    Thanks guys.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    and Al. next time you see something- email me instead of posting in on the web, cool?

  25. Al Says:

    I see your point, Miner! I will. Sorry….

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