Summer ’91 and The Giant Country Horns

Arrowhead Ranch July 1991

Arrowhead Ranch w/ GCH July 1991

If we were to travel back 18 years in time this week, we would find ourselves in July of 1991, right in the middle of Phish’s famous summer tour with The Giant Country Horns.  Spanning only sixteen shows, Phish took local musicians Dave Grippo (alto sax), Russell Remington (tenor sax), and Carl Gerhard (trumpet) on the road for what was an exciting and musically divergent few weeks.

phish-summertour-91Taking their moniker from Giant Country White Bread, a brand of bread from New Hampshire, The Giant Country Horns were born.  Spicing up many standard compositions with horn arrangements that sounded completely natural- like they were meant to be there- the horns gave songs like “Gumbo,” “Cavern,” and “Suzy Greenberg” new life for this summer run.  In more open improvisational pieces, like “Tweezer,” “Mike’s” and “Stash,” the horn ensemble lent a darker feel of fusion to the jams, enhancing the band’s interplay and adding another layer on top of the textured jams.  This well-loved tour of early-era Phish started in their home town of Burlington, and culminated at Amy Skelton’s Farm in Auburn, ME for what would be the earliest foreshadowing of the Phish festival.

In addition to enhancing songs already in the band’s rotation, the addition of The Giant Country Horns also allowed Phish to break out some jazz tunes that had been shelved such as “Caravan” and “Flat Fee,” some new covers in The Doors’ “Touch Me” and Charlie Parker’s “Moose the Mooch,” and breakouts like “Frankenstein.”  The horn lineup certainly lent a jazzier feel to Phish’s early music, which was rooted in jazz tradition, itself.

7.14.91 Townshend, VT (M. Gordon)

7.14.91 Townshend, VT (M. Gordon)

Largely contained to the Northeast corridor, Phish’s 1991 Horns Tour did stretch all the way to Atlanta during a four-show southern dip between the festival-like weekends at Arrowhead Ranch in Parksville, NY and their finale at Amy’s Farm.  Though the members of The Giant County Horns would reappear in various incarnations come 1994 and beyond, it was this sixteen-show collaboration that was the central focus of Phish’s experiments with their horn section.

With Grippo, Remington, and Gerhard on the bus for the tour, the band’s onstage dynamic took new form.  Trey and the horns played off of each other dynamically, and the band, as a whole, took on a new sonic shape for these shows.  Often adding rhythmic lines as well as complementary lead melodies and psychedelic backdrops, the horns brought a whole new element to Phish’s music.  Trained in the jazz tradition, Phish easily blended with their guests, playing off of their musical ideas amidst jams as well allowing space for their composed accompaniment.  What resulted over the abbreviated tour was some of the most memorable music of Phish’s early years.

Phish Update - Summer 1991

Phish Update - Summer 1991

The Giant Country Horns appeared as a six-piece ensemble with Phish for a couple more shows in 1994 at Burlington’s Flynn Theatre (4.4) and New York’s Beacon Theater (4.15), and the band periodically featured different horn lineups through the years.  The Cosmic Country Horns- a six-piece lineup led by New Orleans’ Michael Ray, included Grippo, Gerhard, and some of his own Cosmic Crewe- joined the band for a few shows in 1994.  This lineup gave the music a more free-jazz / Sun-Ra feel rather than the more classic swing style of accompaniment of The Giant Country Horns.  Additionally, individual members of both groups have appeared with Phish over the years, including their landmark Remain In Light performance in which Grippo and Cosmic trumpeter, Gary Gazaway, joined the band for their defining set.  Grippo and Russell Remington would go on to become integral members of Trey’s solo band in later years, and friendships between the musicians still exist.  Will we ever see the return of the horns-  who knows?  But just as always in this Phishy world- anything is possible.

Below is an all-SBD compilation of highlights from Summer ’91 with The Giant Country Horns.  Check it out to hear a wholly different vibe to our favorite band.



1. “The Landlady” 7.23 Washington, DC II

2. “Tweezer” 7.21 Arrowhead Ranch, NY II

3. “Cavern” 7.23 II

4. “Magilla” 7.14 Townshend, VT II

5. “Split Open and Melt” 7.14 II

6. “Bathtub Gin” 7.14 III

7,8. “Oh Kee Pa > Suzy” 7.23 I

9. “Stash” 7.15 New Music Seminar, NYC, NY

10. “AC/DC Bag” 7.21 II

11. “Flat Fee” 7.23 I

12,13. “Dinner and a Movie > Gumbo” 7.23 II

14. “Frankenstein” 7.15

15,16,17. “Mike’s > Hydrogen > Weekapaug” 7.21 I

18. “Contact” 7.11 Burlington, VT E

19. “Caravan” 7.15

20. “Touch Me” 7.21 E

21. “You Enjoy Myself” 7.20 Arrowhead Ranch, NY II

22. “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars” 7.14 E

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Tweezer” 4.21.92 Eureka, CA SBD


If you know this “Tweezer,” you love it, and if you don’t, take fifteen minutes of your time with some headphones and fall in love.  One of the most unique and sublime jams to come from the band’s amazing west coast run of Spring ’92, this “Tweezer” is musical nirvana- all surrounded by redwoods in Northern California.  This is an impeccable soundboard recording of one of my all- time favorite jams.



7.14.91 Townshend Family Park, Townshend, VT SBD < TORRENT

7.14.91 Townshend Family Park, Townshend, VT, SBD < MEGAUP.

7.14.91 Townshend, VT (

7.14.91 Townshend, VT (

Here we have a three setter from the Summer of ’91, showcasing Phish and The Giant Country Horns in all their glory.  The horns joined the band for most of the second and third sets of this marathon show.  While the compilation gives you snapshots of the era, this is a portrait of the band during a very special tour.

I: Reba, Llama, The Squirming Coil, Golgi Apparatus, Guelah Papyrus, My Sweet One, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, The Sloth, I Didn’t Know, Possum

II: Suzy Greenberg, Caravan, The Divided Sky, Gumbo, Dinner and a Movie, Bouncing Around the Room, Split Open and Melt, Magilla, Cavern, Run Like an Antelope

III: AC/DC Bag, The Landlady, Esther, Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, HYHU > Touch Me, Harry Hood

E: Contact, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars

With The Giant Country Horns for most of set II and III


“Golgi” 7.20.91 Arrowhead Ranch, Parksville, NY (partial)

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279 Responses to “Summer ’91 and The Giant Country Horns”

  1. T. Leo Says:

    By the way, just finshed downloading the 12/31/94 show (i used to have the tape). I forgot, how tossed the Maze is from set II. I really was just remembered the Mikes->Buffalo Bill-> Mikes.

  2. Bandnana Says:

    Really, thanks. I guess my attempt at assistance ended up being for myself. Sorry Leo.

  3. T. Leo Says:

    On the iTunes note, I also sort all albums by date, even if it is a Live Phish series (1-20) or a Dick’s Picks. I’d rather listen to them by date than by a Volume number so If I have Dick’s Picks 22, I have it listed as:

    2/22/68 – Lake Tahoe, CA [Dick’s Picks, Vol. 22]

    I have the sort criteria set to “1968-02-22” so it is in date order and I have grouping set to “Dick’s Picks, Vol. 22” So I can sort them by Dicks Picks if I want to.

    Anyone else have nay iTunes advice?

  4. T. Leo Says:

    No Problem, I just wanted to see how everyone else did it, if it helped you, that’s fantastic!

  5. T. Leo Says:

    On Album artwork, If you find a picture you want to add for artwork. Just copy it into Paint. You can cut it or stretch it into a perfect square if you want You can also add text to it so you can add the date and venue so it looks like a real album cover. I know it is anal, but I have had a lot of fun doing this for all my shows.

  6. Bandnana Says:

    I do the same crap with dates

    [1997.11.17] McNichols Sports Arena, Denver, Colorado [Live Phish Volume 11]

    A little long handed I guess, but good to know I’m not the only psycho out there.

  7. Bandnana Says:

    I put the image in paint and overlay dates only for my multiple shows at same venue in consecutive days, so I can differentiate.

  8. T. Leo Says:

    I also do not separate out sets, if I only have a partial show, I make note (set II). I don’t like that so much, because you can’t always find the set break at first glance, but I have so many shows that adding sets would make sorting through them unbearable.

    I use the album art to differentiate shows next to each other. Therefore, If I have shows on back to back nights at different venues, I can use different art to help them have a little more identity then a date and venue. I guess I just learned that I am a visual learner. How about that?

  9. Bandnana Says:

    Reading these posts is hilarious, you do like the exact same stuff. I don’t note set for the reason you mentioned of having to redo so many. I do list all my encores as: Song Title [Encore] thats easier to manage and it helps you work back to figure 2nd set start better.

  10. sumodie Says:

    @mitch: I just felt like digressing a bit more on the secret dosing topic -I understood where you we’re coming from 🙂

    my date system for saving shows in folders/itunes:
    1997.02.14 Le Botanique, Brussels

    As for album artwork, I’ve been grabbing images (photos, posters, etc) that relate to the specific show, using google images or sometimes those posted by Miner.

    Not long ago someone here told me about using the space bar to highlight all songs (within or across albums -doesn’t matter) in b/t the first song selected and the second song selected, e.g., for pasting album artwork, changing titles, etc. Space bar works for highlighting any sequential sequence of any document type I believe.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    any hot spac pavilions? I might have a red rocks extra…

  12. sumodie Says:

    “Reading these posts is hilarious, you do like the exact same stuff”

    LOL -I’ve realized, however, that my brain can’t process people discussing shows by typing the date only (2/17/97). Usually I need to know more context, like location. I get very lost when you’re all firing dates back n forth 🙂

  13. Mr.Miner Says: for me too 😉

  14. Bandnana Says:

    Its easier for a show I’ve been to for the date by memory thing. But Sumodie I’m with you “I’m the boss, need the info” otherwise its tough. But as I said when its a show I was at its not even a thought those dates are burned in my brain. I have a crazy good memory from what people tell me and I believe, but “I am a visual learner”, to paraprhase T.Leo.

  15. Pence Says:

    I love SBDs cause I love to play my stuff LOUD in the car. Does any one know of any SBD compilations out there that? Dont say the one that miner posted today, cause I already got those. It would be greatly appreciated people.

  16. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @sumodie, if you click the first song in a series and then shift-click the last, you will select everything from first to last.

  17. T. Leo Says:

    On the same note, if you Click while holding CTRL then you can select a range of individual songs

  18. larry bird flu Says:

    wasnt phish destroys america all SBDs? or am i crazy?

  19. T. Leo Says:

    ^^I just did a quick google search and you are right, larry bird flu, it is all SBDs

    that is definitely my next download, thanks

  20. KWL Says: going on right now with our fellow PTer cowfunk

  21. larry bird flu Says:

    i think if i had to pick a desert island disk or 4 i might choose phish destroys america above anything else, there is just so much good music on there.

  22. T. Leo Says:

    ^^I haven’t listed to it yet, but I bet I could think of worse

  23. T. Leo Says:

    @larry bird flu,

    just looking trough that site with the “Phish destroys america” I came across a sick poster for a Decmberists/Andrew Bird concert from last weekend.

    I don’t really collect posters, but I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on that one.

  24. T. Leo Says:

    Couldn’t imagine it being a very bad show either

  25. larry bird flu Says:

    thats a pretty sweet poster. havent been able to get into the decemberists, but i do like what little andrew bird ive heard

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