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”

  1. Exree Hipp Says:

    Man, that’ll teach me to post without listening to the show first… Apologies to IFD and Al.

  2. 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.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    anyone know of a nice AUD source for 4.26.96 I can post?

  4. nonoyolker Says:

    W/out, not sure of any AUD sources. The spreadsheet doesn’t have it ( and i think momadance shut down a while back. Community sharing is collapsing!

  5. Davey Says:

    With down it’s slim pickins.

  6. voopa Says: is listing 2 aud sources for this show. Don’t think I have any, but if I do I’ll put ’em up tonight.

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ not seeing those sources…link?

  8. voopa Says:

    Here’s a link to the torrent of 632, not sure how active or how old it is since I can’t view the bt side of etree at work:

  9. voopa Says:

  10. voopa Says:

    My posts aren’t posting. Must be the links?

    shnid’s are 632 & 95288. Go to any source page at db.etree and change the shnid in the url to et there.

    It’s the first line of the ’96 index page, and there’s a link to a torrent of 632 (don’t know how active or current it is, don’t have bt.etree access at work).

  11. voopa Says:

    to *get* there

  12. Smitty Says:

    Here’s the link… Currently there are no seeders. I’ll see if I can find my copy of the show (it may take a bit of looking around) and start seeding.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ link?

  14. voopa Says:

    Well, that was weird.

  15. voopa Says:

    Can you see the posts now? They’re showing up for me.

  16. Smitty Says:

    let’s try the link again….

  17. Al Says:

    Do you guys really think it was such a hot set down there in New Orleans? I remember listening to the Livephish recording – and I wasn’t really happy…..nice Bowie, but the rest?

  18. Harpapa Says:

    the set did not blow me away – but great experience…drove 27 hours straight from Toronto to get there. Obviously a fun city to see shows….great food! Also, there had been no Phish in 4 months at that point, and my crew was jonesing.

    Saw the A-bros twice and loved the gospel tent….people were really getting down in there…probably as much for a respite from the heat as for the thick funky grooves that were emanating from within. It was sweltering that day.

  19. fluffced Says:

    I really do love the jazzfest YEM… i hadn’t smoked for about 3 months and i turned this on after a personal bowl and treys playin during the YEM jam really hit me

  20. Smitty Says:

    I wouldn’t say that the set was unbelievable, but it was good. Alot of it was about the experience being Jazz Fest etc…. It was unbelievable hot / humid…..

  21. hooks Says:

    6 weeks till asheville. less than 5 till tour opener. time will both fly and crawl by

  22. judd Says:

    i think it’s a pretty good show, considering they hadn’t played in almost 5 months. the bowie is ridiculous- trey teased Caravan about 10 minutes in.

  23. Mugician Says:

    Here’s one for you guys:

    What top 5 songs do you *need/want most* to see this summer?

  24. gus Says:

    1. Divided Sky.
    2. Esther.
    3. Harry Hood.
    4. Time Turns Elastic.
    5. The Mango Song.

  25. Mugician Says:

    Nice choices.

    I’d have to say (in no particular order)

    Divided Sky
    Squirming Coil
    Harry Hood
    Chalkdust Torture

    These are just songs I need to see played live to believe them. I have a playlist of great Phish recordings that I play along to everyday (I can keep up with Trey most of the time), and Chalkdust is the one song I play the most (that and Run), and I just would absolutely LOVE to see it live. Shoreline opener anyone? HA! I love sitting around thinking about what’s going to happen in such an impossibly unpredictable situation.

    I guess it was kind of cruel giving you only 5 choices…

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