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. RoosterPizza Says:

    Sounds like an awesome night at the gorge. Really want to get out there the first chance I get.

  2. Selector J Says:

    Glide -> Piss Wall to open Woostah.

  3. George Pratt Says:

    Today is a very fun day for me 🙂

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    I’ll bet You got some cool stories George.

    Cool article in the new RS today. Seems Owsley left us a treasure trove of pristine recordings of Janis, Johnny Cash, tGD, and others from 66-75. Over 1000 shows that his family will be digitizing and releasing soon.

  5. Guyute711 Says:

    Keep hitting the Phish boards George, just put my vote in for you.

  6. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Very very cool, George. Definitely lots of feelings reading thru those entries.

    I agree, MIA: girls phans have much prettier handwriting….

    I was surprised by how many youngins wrote, 13,14,etc

  7. Jtran Says:

    TT goin

  8. chuck Says:

    damn, half way through, and I’m sobbing like a baby

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Piss Walls, Shit Tents, this place it all!

  10. angryjoggerz Says:

    has. Has it all.

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Interesting read, though. Honestly speaking, though, between the frequent mentions of 18 hours in line, 10 mile hikes in mud and all the mud on the notebook – made me happy I missed Conventry. I mean, the wait to get into IT was perhaps the most frustrating concert experience of my life, just totally rude.

  12. MiA Says:

    Great souvenir to find and share. Thanks George!

    I felt all weekend like I was grabbing everything mentally I could.

    The wife still like’s Coventry for being what it is. I can’t argue with people who have very emotional memories very positively about all the effort everyone made to get in and say goodbye. Knowing they were saying goodbye to a huge part of their own life also.

  13. BingosBrother Says:

    The lack of anger and level of acceptance and love and gratitude are so refreshing. Saying goodbye was huge for me too, even though I did it at Deer Creek. Led to the most spiritual moment of my life.

  14. George Pratt Says:

    WOW sooo many people are enjoying this I am overwhelmed by the response. It is making myself and all my stagehnad friends reminisce as well about these old shows. I am catching up in the contest and I am trying to re-upload the book when links go down. Please let me know if any links are bad.

    George Pratt

  15. Multibeast Says:

    For all the CO BBer’s, Neil Young & Crazy Horse to play RR on Aug 5th & 6th

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:


  17. Multibeast Says:

    Thanks to George. Enjoying reading “The Notebook” today off and on.

    Sure would be cool if someone could tell Trey and the boys to “READ THE FU*KING (note)BOOK!!!”

  18. MiA Says:

    —long post—

    For IT, my flights were delayed and cancelled flying to Bangor, ME. Mrs MiA was on one flight from Austin, and I was rerouted out of another because I was flying out of Atlanta to meet up. Looked to be a big fail everything was sold out.

    I ended up in Pittsburgh (thanks FF status) then flew a puddle jumper on United to Bangor, and landed at like 11:30 PM. Every rental car was gone but the plane was filled with other fans that were in the same boat. Not all of our luggage made it (tents, etc) so were pretty worried and had to stick around that next day, while others that night carpooled in.

    Stayed at the Holiday Inn for the night, hoping to be able to get something the next day get good sleep. Got a phone call at 6 AM, saying the had a cancellation, and I could have the car. Got over to the airport at 7 AM, and picked up a nice SUV, and got it loaded up. Took a leisurely breakfast downtown Bangor, looked around for anyone needing rides, then started driving around 12 AM.

    4 hours later, We pulled into the gates at 4 pm, and parked next to a nice couple from Jersey. They had just pulled in also. They asked what we thought of the traffic. I said “What traffic? I didn’t hit my brakes the whole way in? Alas, they were in traffic for 14 hours. They must have been the last car in line at the very end. Have a nice Funky Bitch sticker they gave us.

    @Coventry, I pulled out of “line” 15 seconds after the announcement, hightailed it into Newport, and parked in a yard about 2 miles from the venue on Pleasant St. Had already been looking at maps, so kinda knew my way around. Took 2 trips to walk in all my camping gear, but basically had everything we needed. Wasn’t a big deal either. No 15 mile walks here.

    All my festivals from Clifford to Big Cypress, had some drama, but everything always turned out great. Very lucky.

  19. sumodie Says:

    AW, electrons sent

  20. butter Says:

    voted for George

    vote early and vote often

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Russian writers. Cool cats.

  22. Kaveh Says:

    voted for George

    ^ Got my vote in.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    the 5/8/77 matrix that recently went up on bt.etree is certainly worth the pull. Damn near perfect sounding recording.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    i always thought great went night two set three was a cool come-down / denouement to the best festival of their career. slower, more reflective songs, Mind Left Body Mule—best version ever by leaps and bounds (its actually good!)

    But yes, set 3s have been traditionally lite forever.

  25. poop goblin Says:

    Got it Sumo. Will hit up when I get out of work in a few.

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