Dear Phish: Words from Coventry

Coventry 2004

This weekend I received an email from George Pratt, a stagehand and musican that was part of the crew hired to work Coventry. While breaking down the stage long after the band had left the mud-filled site, he found a notebook that a bunch of fans had filled with letters to the band and thrown onstage. With their band crashing and burning, none of the guys saw it or cared to pick it up. George has kept it through all these years and has recently made arrangements with a moderator to send the book to the official Phish archives. However, he also scanned the entire thing to share with fans, and he has already done so on Phantasy Tour and

When I began to read this, I was fascinated. All of these people, none whom I know, were telling Phish what they’d always wanted to tell them—deep emotions from the heart. Laced with clever comedy, these letters provided an emotional throwback for me, and halfway through I found myself in tears. But these weren’t tears of sadness—for Phish is alive and kicking, but tears of awe at the power of band. So many strangers shared my powerful emotions, and to see these notes that were written down as Phish was bowing out felt nothing short of magical. A predominant theme throughout of the letters is how Phish changed lives and provided people with unmatched happiness and the experiences of a lifetime. Take ten minutes of your day to read through the notebook yourself. You won’t regret it.


We also have a way we can show George appreciation for this priceless piece of Phish history. Here’s an anecdote from his email that explains how.

In 2003, one of the companies I worked for was hired to provide all the labor for “Coventry” so off we went. We spent nearly a month in that town on that land both before and after the show building the venue, setting up the site, building the stage, and setting up all the lights, sound and video, and eventually all the band gear. The community of stagehands backstage was a show all on its own. We had various types of lodging. I was housed in a ski lodge nearly 45 minutes away but it was very nice. Since we are all crazy and were used to getting little sleep, each night turned into a party. Our house being the largest often played host. One particular night when all the stagehands were there, I grabbed my guitar— as I always do—and started playing some songs that I had written along the way. One of the guys there had a 4-track recorder and he quickly set it up. One of the songs I played that night was titled “Piss Wall.” It’s all about the giant wall we built that surrounded the entire corn field-turned-venue and enclosed the performance area.

I have had this song and book for years, and recently pulled this all out as part of my plan to win a contest for free studio time. I have made it to the finals in large part from the help I received from a lot of Phish fans on various forums. But I have fallen back to 3rd place and could use more help. Voting goes until Tuesday, so I still have a chance. I thought that since your blog is all about Phish, perhaps you might be interested in this book and song. People are really loving it and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Here is a link to vote for George in the contest. Hook it up!


Jam of the Day:

Scents and Subtle Sounds” 7.23.03 I, Noblesville, IN

The opener of night three of three at Deer Creek.


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128 Responses to “Dear Phish: Words from Coventry”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I didn’t pull trigger on anything yet, Kaya. The good folks of the BB have provided, once again.

    I do need to grab a single for AC #1 though.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    George Pratt is a pholk hero. Good luck George. Voted.

  3. tela'smuff Says:

    well, yeah. given the state of Phish and where Trey is focused, i think there is a lot riding on Worcester. Certainly things can always turn on at any moment, but if these 3 shows fall flat, there will be a firestorm of criticism. so yeah, i guess i’m nervous in a new way. just being honest.

  4. poop goblin Says:

    Hey peeps. any help with some woostah floors would be appreciated. looking for a pair for each night.


  5. George Pratt Says:

    come friend me on Facebook

    George Pratt

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    What is the state of Phish?

    I would say its pretty freaking good considering the type of shows they played in 2011. 2011>2010>2009.

    If Phish was a stock you’d be pretty pumped up with your initial 2009 investment. They may not be Google, but no one is going poor if you continue to exceed the previous year’s results.


  7. BingosBrother Says:

    hippies gotta have 2 sides
    cause they don’t wanna piss on the other
    Piss wall


  8. MiA Says:

    I am long Phish (so to speak).

    TAB 1999 was great for Fall ’99. I’m confident they will bring it.

  9. tela'smuff Says:

    dude, no question Mr. P. if you’ve ever followed what i have to say, i’ve been a huge fan of 2011 Phish. I think i’m stating the obvious though, if Worcester falls flat, shit ain’t gonna be pretty. not suggesting right or wrong, just the way it is. MSG is the root, but lots of other things adding to the judgement storm. i for one think these are can’t miss (although i’m missing) shows, and fully expect them to be talked about like Bethel, UIC, etc. BUT, i’m strangely a little nervous.

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    In 2011, I think they had hard time sustaining musical momentum. That will be the thing to watch. Although Dicks stayed big all weekend (had to do it).

  11. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Remember, Everything is.

  12. RoosterPizza Says:

    Listening to 2011 gorge night one set two. Never gets old.

  13. tela'smuff Says:

    agree Rooster. top to bottom a near perfect show.

  14. RoosterPizza Says:

    They drop into meatstick so smoothly that it is like a dj mixing. I can talk about this show all day…I will stop now.

  15. Luther T. Justice Says:

    @ tela

    Ronnie & Richard. Looks like its gonna happen.

  16. tela'smuff Says:

    why or why Luther?!! Richard has been looking for a reason to explore this side of himself for a while, he finally gets his wish. i just don’t think this will happen though. no way. shocked Ronnie would consider it.

  17. Jeff Killion Says:

    Thank you, George!!

    I love that this thing survived. So cool to find out about it 8 years later.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    telas was about to shit himself during that >meatstick @rooster…kept looking at me with a new look of bewilderment, saying, “no way, no fucking way they’re going into FotM…do you hear this, do you hear this?”

    We’d all just been blown the fuck away by that RnR jam, no time to collect thoughts. What a fucking night. And after the show when we found ourselves lost in the lot (looking for the Wildhorse bus) and wondering if we could figure out how to find our way back to the campground, I turned around and there was Snowbank. He was a lifesaver, took us straight to the bus and all was good.

  19. Luther T. Justice Says:

    @ tela

    Ashley Madison says they’ll drop the money for it. Ronnie is the only one who can stop because we know Richard won’t back down. If it happens, I don’t want to watch but I know curiosity will pull me in.

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    ha, leo, before the segue i spent a minute confirming with you that the RnR jam was actually happening the way i was hearing it. i thought for a second i was lost in a trip. completely and totally convinced they were about to play Fire on the Mountain. for some reason i had never picked up on the similarities of the two songs until that night. now when i hear the song i always hear it slightly. that night though, it was very prevalent.

    and yeah, snowbank came through. we were in a state of confused disbelief.

  21. MiA Says:

    Thanks for sharing that George. Checking it out.

    Note: Girls have better and more stylistic penmanship than dudes.

  22. tela'smuff Says:

    @luther t – i will watch for the initial attempt, but no further. no way it happens though. although a cool million is tough to pass up.

  23. poop goblin Says:

    Setlist Flow, Focus, Consistency, Creativity

    And no more set II (or III) fuckin Alaskas are the key to success this summer.

    MSG failed in all of the above.

  24. MiA Says:

    I hear ya PG. But Trey’s been givin’ us questionable 3rd sets for a long time.

    Set 3: Buffalo Bill -> NICU, Weigh, Guyute, Dirt, Scent of a Mule -> Digital Delay Loop Jam[4] -> Scent of a Mule, Prince Caspian

    Last thing I was expecting for Set 3 at the Great Went. Alaska was only one kick in the balls. That was like getting pummeled.

    Kinda kidding. But not really.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    What up Jeff Killion! Thanks for making this book! Bet you were fuckin surprised! This whole scenario is amazing, feel inspired by todays post and the events surrounding it. Who knew Coventry could produce something so beautiful.

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