A Portrait of an Era

1091808964_1553For the past two weeks, I’ve been playing a game that has totally diversified my Phish listening. If you have the Phish On Demand app, and can get a speaker for your phone in your bathroom, you can play too! Before every shower, I hit the random show selector. No matter what show comes up, I choose one jam to listen to from that show for the duration of that shower. Several of these jams have been featured in my last couple playlists, but last night I hit the jackpot!

The random show selected was 8-14-98, Limestone, Maine. Your thought is correct, there was no show on that date. The app had pulled up the Lemonwheel soundcheck. I almost just hit the button again to select a real show, but staying true to the rules of my game—you can’t pass on a show—I decided to let it ride. I’ve never been one to listen to soundchecks all that much beyond The Bunny or live at a festival, and I had never heard any of this multi-tracked Lemonwheel affair. I selected the 20-minute jam and hopped in, not sure what to expect.

Lmnwhl Postcard (Pollock)

Lmnwhl Postcard (Pollock)

The tape cut in on a laidback bluesy, groove—nothing all too special. But after a couple minutes, the band dissolved into an ambient jam that clearly foreshadowed the late-night “Ring of Fire” jam in which they—essentially—debuted their next improvisational palette that would take them through the fall and beyond. This was a spectacular, and totally unexpected end-of-the-day soundtrack! And, boy, Phish sounded like they were at complete ease, clicking immediately into a gorgeous, emotive passage. But they weren’t just testing levels here, it was much more than that. This was the first time the band had stepped on stage at Limestone since The Great Went. They were re-acclimating themselves to the magical surroundings and reacquainting themselves with the spirits of the north woods. You can hear the guys’ awe and sense of majesty in their playing. They had reached the end of a long and winding summer tour that started six weeks earlier in Copenhagen, came stateside in Portland, Oregon, and wound its way to the northeast corner of America. The near-psychic connection the band had developed over this time is evident in the utter relaxation and collaborative nature of their jamming. And you wanna talk collaborative? Wait to hear what comes next.

1998-08-16moAfter coming to a natural pause, the band’s dripped into a quintessential, Summer ’98 funk groove that absolutely slays. At this point I’m dancing to some never-before heard ’98 Phish in my shower at 1:30 am—and fuckin’ loving it! This music transported me back in time instantly. They say that smells can evoke specific memories of a place in time, well so can chunky Phish grooves, because I felt like I was back at Limestone, 16 years ago. Comfortable and confident, the band sounded in their element, neck-deep in groove and playing to a wide open field.

This 22-minute jam truly represents a sonic portrait of 1998 Phish—a year when they had built on their raw funk of ’97, smoothed things out considerably and began to travel outwards via melodic, ambient-amoeba jamming. Two of the band’s signature sounds of the year are captured in this single soundcheck jam. And don’t let the word “soundcheck” throw you, this is the straight dope! Listen below.


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356 Responses to “A Portrait of an Era”

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  1. RoosterPizza Says:

    I now have a new app. Thanks Miner. I already have my system set up for music in the shower, but it is usually LP archives. This app seems way better.

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Fracking love waking up to a freshie post. Miner has been on fire as of late. Keep it up sir!

    Love the idea of this game. Best part is you win every time. I’ll start playing the game in earnest aft taking this Lemonwheel soundcheck jam to the dome this AM. In the shower of course.

    Thank you Mr Miner!

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Roo Phish OD is the app version of phishtracks 😉

  4. dyda Says:

    don’t sleep on those festival soundcheck jams. they’re often the hidden gems. i have several compilation cds of just soundcheck jams. be sure to check out check out coventry (yeah, it’s worth it), it, superball & cypress next. more recently there were the ones from bangor, the most recent trip to garden state, bethel, essex etc… got to hear them in person, a perk of showing up first on lot. happy listening!

  5. MiA Says:

    Great writeup Miner! I haven’t listened to that soundcheck in a long time. I love how “at our fingertips” everything phish related has become.

  6. sumodie Says:

    Frak! I ran outta hot water before the jam ended 😯

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I was thinking about that challenge. depending on the jam, you either have to speed up your routine (3.0 jam density, yo) or risk the wrath of anyone in your household who doesn’t like water wasting (Worcester Jim comes to mind here). either way, nice idea, and this was a good one to test the waters with… so to speak

  8. MiA Says:

    Get out of shower, and shave. Keep listening. Problem solved.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ll just put this here I guess…

  10. vapebraham Says:

    nice piece, miner. can’t wait to spin the posted sc. thank u. 98 is the bizness.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    This is all way too much information and yet I have so many questions. I think my day to day is much different than Miners. Love to trade someday.

  12. the Baker Says:

    I’m agonna put my STONED INTERNET HYENA-ass in my TUB& soak thru that whole SoundCheck !
    That is absolutely hilarious 😉

  13. vapebraham Says:

    anyone know where i can find this sc jam in FLAC?

  14. Kaveh Says:


  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there are a few fun tidbits to check in on from the wayback machine for today, such as the one time covers of St. Thomas (’88) and Dazed and Confused (’89) or the bounty of banter from that ’89 show including talk of car towing (leading to Contact) and the alternate lyrics to Mike’s or maybe the “audience jam” from Seattle in ’94 (“you guys never play that anymore” says Fish), but the show to go to for your listening pleasure is clearly 05-21-2000.

    Sunday, 05/21/2000
    Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY

    Set 1: First Tube, Wolfman’s Brother, The Squirming Coil, Possum, The Moma Dance > Limb By Limb > Character Zero

    Set 2: Gotta Jibboo, Down with Disease > Dirt, Twist > Piper, Harry Hood > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Guyute

    Encore: The Inlaw Josie Wales, Loving Cup

    now, the next night holds the absolute gem in the Ghost, of course, but this one has its moments, notably the Disease and Hood from where I’m writing. being the first real show since Cypress (after like five or six radio gigs) it must’ve felt great to them to be in front of their crowd again. you can feel it from the First Tube forward.

  16. dorn76 Says:


  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

    When did you stop dancing?

    When did you stop singing?

    When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

    When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

    Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.

    Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.

    ^Remotely applicable? ymmv

  18. sumodie Says:

    <em<Get out of shower, and shave. Keep listening. Problem solved.

    Yo, leaving the sanctity of the shower is against the rules

  19. George W. Kush Says:

    In non-Phish news:

    Shepard Fairey painting up the town a bit.

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Jam gets real interesting around the 14:15 mark…

  21. George W. Kush Says:

    hell, why not spin thru Lemonwheel for the next few days?

    Crispy fest recordings are the goods.

  22. DryIceFactory Says:

    Best soundcheck jams ever? Go.

  23. sumodie Says:

    Vape, check etree for FLACs. This one looks active:


    08-14-98 – Lemonwheel
    Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME



    Disc I
    1. Jam (21:53)
    2. Ginseng Sullivan (4:00)
    3. Back at the Chicken Shack (7:07)
    4. Jam (12:53)
    5. She Caught the Katy (4:36)
    6. Dog Log (4:01)
    7. Blues Jam/Instumental (7:17)
    8. I Gave My Love a Cherry/Mr. Sausage Tribute (4:44)
    9. Please Send Me Someone to Love (6:45)

    Or try these other sources for an active seeder:

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    hard to beat this one. there’s actually video of a bunch of tunes from this soundcheck.

    but a few notables…

    Bethel Waves
    Attack on the Bass
    Jam->Shock the Monkey
    SASS (07-15-03)

    start here. solid comp of many of the soundchecks out there (though Bangor is not there since that post is from 2012).

  25. Stoney Case Says:

    This jams long enough to rub one off. In the shower.

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