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. Leo Weaver Says:

    And Mr. C…yes, very funny…he had the whole place doubled over laughing…something about floating down a river and girl scouts…

    @Type III…re: that sweet emotion at parties…I always LOVE the look on people’s faces when they realize the song…then the pause…then…”who is this??? I KNOW it’s not aerosmith!” Then they’re like “WHO the hell is that?” I just shake my head.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    hahaha voopa!

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude, definitely. let’s work on meeting times and such closer to the date – but yes, lets have a meet-up at some point!

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    Mr. C…etree maybe have some of Leo’s older shows?

  5. oneshowatatime Says:

    @Exree Hipp – holy shit, funniest interview i’ve ever seen, hahah!

    “mike’s losing roll’s, fish is gaining roll’s… page is actually on [honor] roll”

    great improv comedians these boys.

  6. voopa Says:

    Mr. C- haha!

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Leo – Kottke has never published a pro-trading policy so only the Mike & Leo shows are on etree. He’s up on other trackers though. I don’t have any on this computer I guess, but I could throw some in the mediafire tomorrow

    oh and

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. Completely, not sure if you know this, but Marmaduke of the NRPS has died this morning. Bummer, another great loss!

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    URL hacking rulez

  10. EL Duderino Says:

  11. Mr. Completely Says:


    not a big NRPS fan but part of the fam nonetheless – love his bass vocals on some of the old gospel tunes they did together

  12. butter Says:

    damn that is a hot horn mix miner. i really understand how shitty the live phish releases from ’09 are after listening to these crispy crunchy sbds. thank-you , you rock.

  13. sumodie Says:

    Speaking of amazing acoustic guitarists (~Kottke), I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela at the roo this year -never seen anyone play like that! Their last album (self-titled with a ‘dinosaur eye’ on the cover) has an awesome cover of Stairway to Heaven (they also cover Metallica and Motorhead I believe).

    One of the best roo performances I saw this year.

  14. larry bird flu Says:

    i know i mentioned him a few weeks ago during the “other” live music discussion but has anyone ever seen jake shimabukuro? a ukelele player who is just unreal to see live.

  15. Little Buddy Says:

    Kottke + Gordo at Roo in ’04 was one of the most pleasant surprises of my music-going life. My wife and I were front row and it was just amazing. Clones indeed!

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @larry I missed that whole discussion while on vacation…but I just looked him up on youtube. WOW!, music starts about a minute in….

  17. Little Buddy Says:

    larry bird flu –

    Yes. Holy crap that kid (at least he looks like a kid) is amazing. He was one of the headliner’s at the Rochester Jazz Fest this year. Last year he played one of the smaller venues at the fest but was easily the most discussed artist out in the streets so they brought him back as a headliner.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    his tone is redonkulous

  19. Mugician Says:

    Shoreline lawn for $40…

  20. Mugician Says:

    Wow, this guy is great.

  21. larry bird flu Says:

    yeah mr. c. and little buddy i saw him on conan a few years so i kinda knew what to expect when i caught him in newport last year, got right up front in the little tent he was playing in, by the end of the set people were spilling out of the tent and going crazy.

  22. larry bird flu Says:

    and actually caught him a few weeks ago in a little theater in the area, truly a treat to see live.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s outstanding. and yeah Rodrigo y Gabriela do cool stuff too, not to skip over that, but I had never heard this guy before

  24. larry bird flu Says:

    its the least i can do mr. c after all of the sweet music and forgetten shows youve turned us onto.

  25. Mitch Says:

    So I was just reading yesterdays posts, took forever and I noticed people talking about a TTE set. Wasn’t this mentioned back when TTE was announced? That there would be a special show where they played TTE full or something? Am I making this up?

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