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)

Tags: , ,

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

  1. whole tour! Says:

    i agree. I’d like to see solid details so i can make plans already.

  2. albert walker Says:

    Eureka 92
    Giant Country 91

    it’s like waking up in a time machine this morning
    some of the classics from the XLII days
    back in the day the crispy boards we’re from the early days since the band started controlling them more post 92

    like someone stated 7/21/91 old skool tapes we’re a must for every collector

  3. whole tour! Says:

    I dig the old giant country horns shows. The ones from 91 were great and the ones from 94 were smoking.

    I got to see michael ray play a few sets with the band in 99 new orleans and 2000 in albany. Both were really standout sets.

  4. albert walker Says:

    I have a cancellable property in Indio but also am holding out on air fares
    even though I’m fairly certain I want the official go ahead before putting down some more cash on an unannounced location

  5. msbjivein Says:

    I love this shit!! GCH rock!! Possibly best tour ever. I too had these tapes. Played the shit out of them. I LOVE the GUMBO’s of that era!! Straight NOLA FUNK!! THANKS MINER!!

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    “could I have a Bowie”

    ^ I used all SBDs

  7. msbjivein Says:

    I was at the NOLA show’s too. Great Time!!

  8. Chalkdustin Says:

    The Hampton Inn in Palm Desert is offering a 3-day Phish package, including ticket….proof enough?

  9. msbjivein Says:


  10. whole tour! Says:

    @ chalkdustin: do you have a link to that offer?

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    @wt and msb…Yeah, that NOLA ’99 with Michael Ray and Tim Greene was something else. I’ve never been one for sit-ins but I didn’t want that set to end. I listened to most of it Saturday morning. I think Funky Bitch, Cars Trucks Buses, Free Thought, and Cavern were there sit-ins…all big “horn” pieces IMO. The Free Thought is just SICK SICK SICK. There was some pretty good L floating around that lot…post-show got crazy, think I was at the Howlin’ Wolf doin’ my own bit of howling.

  12. themanatee Says:

    yeah that tweezer is off the hook. super melodic mike

  13. Chalkdustin Says:

    @wt! Here you go.;jsessionid=APQR35FGLY4TCCSGBJBOD4Q?_requestid=48003

  14. whole tour! Says:

    word!!! thanks!

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^lol…that about says it!

  16. msbjivein Says:

    LEO, We down to Bourbon after the show and it was absolutely dead. Weird!We actually got cut off on Bourbon that night. Never thought that could happen.

  17. gavinsdad Says:

    miner: sweet post…loving how you intersperse the old with the new.

    i was at the arrowheads and the townshend vt that year (i also hit 1990 townshend…that was the summer i lived in burlington and they took off the entire summer. d’oh!!) and both killed. saw that academy show too (they played one set and yothu yindi played too). i was so new to it at that point that i didn’t even have enough non-GCH phish under my belt to perform a proper comparison but i always thought GCH really added some pop. they seems so freaking rehearsed at the time…

    side note: trey’s sleeveless harley davidson “number 1” tee from arrowhead was epic.

  18. whole tour! Says:

    That’s a great deal too!!!
    Like $299.99 for a ticket, hotel, and transportation.
    i might be able to swing it!!!
    fuck yeah!!!

  19. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @chalkdust – that is dirt cheap for three days of lodging plus a ticket. I figured the ticket would be around $200 by itself.

  20. whole tour! Says:

    if that dosen’t work out then camping is always an option.

  21. KWL Says:

    ^I’m pretty sure thats $300 per night, total would be almost a grand…

  22. gavinsdad Says:

    ps….they were handing out flyers to amy farm at arrowhead. just a basic directions sheet. i always wanted to get there but never had the chance. that would be a real find to ferret out a scan of that flyer…

  23. msbjivein Says:

    It doesn’t sat shit about Phish on that link. LOL!!

  24. whole tour! Says:

    per night???
    scratch that!!

  25. whole tour! Says:

    @msb: click the more next to the “phish fest package”

Leave a Reply