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.

DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: GIANT COUNTRY HORNS ’91” < TORRENT

DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: GIANT COUNTRY HORNS ’91” < MEGAUP.

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

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/01-Tweezer-SBD.mp3]

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.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

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 (phish.com)

7.14.91 Townshend, VT (phish.com)

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

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

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

  1. larry bird flu Says:

    i think this might be the best poster ive seen recently

    http://www.mikeyburton.com/new/wilco-milwaukee/

  2. T. Leo Says:

    I really like the Decemberists in a shuffle/mix with a few other albums, as they can be a little too much to take for an extended period. Although, there new album is outstanding, definitely worth a good listen.

  3. Robear Says:

    @ T. Leo

    did you find a sbd of 94/12/31 Boston Garden to download online? I’d love a sbd copy to replace my aud. version. Hot dog, large fries, large coke, anyone?

  4. T. Leo Says:

    Yeah, I like that Wilco Poster, simple and understated, yet it says it all. There really are some great concert posters out there.

    Just looking at the others, I missed that spoon show by a day… Wish I didn’t. I saw Stevem Malkmus the night before (great show), but had to leave town the night spoon was playing.

  5. Robear Says:

    BTW, for you cats heading to Red Rocks: ” Greensky Bluegrass” will be playing at “Owsley’s” in Denver the 29th. I guess it’s a bar, run by a bunch of heads. I’m going to try to make it.

  6. T. Leo Says:

    No, I got a copy from Phishshows.com, it does not say what the source is, but it sounds really good. You can just play a stream to check it out before you download.

  7. larry bird flu Says:

    alright im signing off for a bit, been on here for far too long

  8. Robear Says:

    thanks Leo. later larry.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    the carrie B. thing is cool. hope she goes to a show.

    also thanks for the Amy’s Farm story and links to Phish Destroys America

    for the record: Dose Your Buddy was a very insane and stupid thing to do. What if 3 of us dosed the same person the same night? We were young and dosing 3-5 times a week every week tour or no tour.

    I one thousand percent concur with the analogy between unwanted dosing and rape – and yeah Mitch it was clear that wasn’t what you were talking about

  10. larry bird flu Says:

    ahh who am i kidding, i cant stay away

  11. guyforget Says:

    thanks for that sick Phish Destroys Americal DL link. 8 discs of 97 goodness, SBD stylee. Nice.

  12. halcyon Says:

    Robear…..owsley’s, cervantes, quixotes, sanchez broken arrow, Dulcinea’s Monkey are all owned by the same group…..many heads reside there….good bands play there from time to time as well

    check out http://www.quixotes.com/index.html

    The Phish Destroys America files are siiiiick!

    I was seeding them for a while…I can try and put them up again

  13. Cactus Says:

    It’s official.

    The NY Yankees have taken the lead in the American League East. I think the last time they had the lead this year was right around the time Phish was taking the stage at Fenway….there’s a lot of ball to be played though, so I will enjoy being in first place just as I did during the first leg of the summer tour. Hoo-Aah!

  14. Robear Says:

    halycon, did you hear about the Greensky show? Do I have the right date / place?

    @ Larry, lmao, welcome back.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    halcyon – re: seeding – you mean the mp3s, or are there flac filesets of this? I’d love a lossless version

  16. larry bird flu Says:

    glad to be back robear

  17. halcyon Says:

    Robear…..Greensky is on the 29th at owsley’s …. the 31st has Oakhurst (good energy) and 1st has Hot Buttered Rum with a tribute to Jerry for those not going….

    Mr C…..Upon further review of my log….I had dl’d those shows from keep it surreal as well…..my bad.

  18. uncle matty Says:

    ^^cactus – no yankees please. bad enough being married to one 🙂

    1000 thanks for those Phish Destroys America! Sounds awesome! Dead 77-Phish 97!! Works for me

    thank you also to mr miner! great work all around!

  19. larry bird flu Says:

    phish destroys america is 8 discs total? the copy my buddy made for me was only 4. have i been missing out on 4 discs of phishy goodness?!?!

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    no worries halcyon, thx for checking. I just finished working my way through Miners ’95 Picks (ay caramba!) and need a big new megamix…if flacs do exist out in torrentland I’d love to know…will poke around @ some point

    too many trackers too little hd space

  21. guyforget Says:

    Right on Cactus, 6/8 was the last time…..

  22. guyforget Says:

    Larry, 6 discs, my bad…

  23. larry bird flu Says:

    shit ive been missing out on 2 discs then

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    are those the 97 jam mixes?

  25. guyforget Says:

    yeah, they are , they are mostly from like 4 shows, but still sweet nonetheless…..link is a page back…

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