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The Art of Improvisation - Page's Thesis

Posted 4 years ago by Lemuria - 9 comments Link:

The following is the text of Page's senior study from Goddard College. It was first "kindly made available to readers of the net" in 1992 by then-fan (later employee) Shelly Culbertson, who posted it to the then-nascent mailing list, and is now reposted 19 years later in celebration of the 24th anniversary of its submission.


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts at Goddard College
Page McConnell
December 19, 1987

At the age of four I began taking piano lessons. For the next twelve years I studied with four different teachers. They attempted to teach me to read music, a skill I never fully developed. My dyslexic tendencies made the process very difficult and a good ear made it easier for me to play by ear. In my early years of lessons I had no problem playing the pieces that were assigned to me as long as I had heard my piano teachers play them for me. As the level of difficulty in the pieces I was playing increased, I was forced to learn how to read. I struggled with the process and didn't entirely enjoy it, though the ones that I did learn stretched my technical abilities. The most difficult piece that I learned was Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag."

During my ninth grade year I stopped taking piano lessons. It was during this next stage of my playing that I began to really enjoy playing. Obviously this was because I was playing for myself, not for my piano teachers or parents. I spent much of the next year listening to rock albums, playing what I heard, and taking my improvisation more seriously. Often I was just improvising the voicings to the songs that I was playing, but my ability to do blues improvisation increased also. My first introduction to the blues was a book I received in first grade called Jazz and Blues for Beginners. This book introduced me to blues progressions. These are progressions that alternate between the 17 and the IV7 chord and generally end with a V7-IV7-17 progression. Both rock and jazz find their roots in the blues, and in fact rock has never really left. The majority of rock songs written are a variation on the 17-IV7-V7 progression. Many do not vary at all.

I suppose that my main motivating factor for practicing during my high school years (other than the fact that I enjoyed it) was that...


Video of the Week: 1996-12-29

Posted 4 years ago by tmwsiy - 8 comments Link:, posted in the Video category

Classic, fun & memorable show was 15 years ago this month at The Spectrum in Philadelphia on 12-29-1996.

In addition to this monster You Enjoy Myself sandwiching both a Rotation Jam and the debut and only performance of Sixteen Candles, this show also boasts Champagne Supernova with Tom Marshall and an epicly evil rendition of Harpua.

The vibe during the nights running up to New Year's Eve are always electric and there's usually something special happening at each and every show. In addition to this video that has recently surfaced, another high quality audio source has surfaced on eTree. Watch the video, listen to the show, and enjoy the frenetic energy as Fish bangs on the keys, Trey wails on Fishs' kit, Page drops some deep bass bombs, and Mike works the lower frets of Trey's axe....and then rotate! Fish can drop bombs too! It's a fun video and makes one excited for the MSG run in a scant few days.

Every Friday, we highlight a video with a brief recap of the show it is from and what makes it interesting, noteworthy or simply fun. With the help of Dan Saewitz from, we hope to keep the stream of videos coming at you entertaining and interesting. Have a cool video you’d like to suggest? Interested in contributing a review yourself? Submit ideas here.

Q&A With Mr. Miner Of Phish Thoughts

Posted 4 years ago by Icculus - 16 comments Link:

David Calarco, a.k.a. “Mr. Miner,” is perhaps the most well-known Phish blogger. Since 2008, Dave has been blogging about Phish on his very popular Phish blog,, though he got his start writing about the band in 2000, reviewing Phish shows from Japan (and elsewhere) for Dave's opinions on shows are highly regarded by many fans and, whether you enjoy reading his work or not, "Mr. Miner" knows his Phish, having seen hundreds and hundreds of shows since his first show in 1995. As you likely have already heard, Dave has published a 600+ page book, Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts, and he agreed to speak with me about it. It is available for purchase here, and it would make a great gift for the Phish fan(s) in your life. Happy holidays. -charlie


Mystery Jam Monday Part 78

Posted 4 years ago by lumpblockclod - 24 comments Link:, posted in the Audio category (489 listens)

Welcome to the 78th Mystery Jam Monday here at After the Blog's triumph last week, we will be playing for TWO MP3 downloads this week, courtesy of our friends at / Nugs.Net. The rules haven't changed: you need to correctly identify the song and the date to win. Post your guess in the comments. One guess per person per day (with the second “day” starting after I post the hint). The hint will come on Tuesday and the answer will be posted on Wednesday. Good luck...

Tuesday Hint: No hint needed this week...

Thursday Answer: According to our setlists, it is the "Jam" out of the 12/12/97 "Caspian." So, we have two "correct" answers, each given within 7 minutes of the other. What to do, what to do? Well, as luck would have it, we have two downloads to award this week, so the Blog is unilaterally declaring the first Mystery Jam Monday Co-Champs... Congrats, ghostboogie and Blackeyedsloth. See you all on Monday.

COT announces Ticket Giveaways, API

Posted 4 years ago by Lemuria - 0 comments Link:

Fan website has had an incredible year developing a "face-value community", with nearly 12,500 members and 26,000 posted trades of tickets, rides, lodging, artwork, and handmade goods. To show their gratitude, founders Brando and Dusty are running a massive New Year's Eve ticket giveaway: 2 tickets to 7 different bands playing on New Years Eve 2011, including Phish, Furthur, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Moe.

The site continues to develop, including a new API program that allows users to import their Face Value Trades directly into any website, blog, or Facebook. All members can now access posts directly in by visiting The Trades page! has integrated the API into their site as well: recent setlists, reviews, forum, and personal show lists are directly presented under the Phish.Net tab on the homepage. members can feel free to add shows to their list as well as post directly to the Phish.Net forum while remaining on the website.

Trey is the Chooser

Posted 4 years ago by Lemuria - 8 comments Link:, posted in the Quote category

I'm the chooser of what we're going to play. I wonder how it got to be that way. I guess it's just my personality. To me, it's like composing, and I really like composing and I don't get to do it when I'm on the road, so it's my little way of making little suites every night. I usually plan something out before we go on stage, and then we change it when we get on stage. It's very rare that we stick to the whole songlist. Or any of it, for that matter. But I choose it, partially by what we haven't played for a couple of nights before.

Trey Anastasio, 12/10/94 interview with Steve Silberman (though note that setlists have not been pre-written since prior to summer 1997)

Communication: Where it's at

Posted 4 years ago by Lemuria - 1 comment Link:, posted in the Quote category

We consider the community aspect and the communication aspect of what we do to be the whole point of it, the whole fun of it. That why we like playing live so much better than making albums. Though I do like making albums a lot, I could see myself getting to a point in my career where, if we could get to a situation where we had a studio near our homes — which we’re working on, we’ve actually built the building, and we’ve started buying equipment — it won’t be long until we have a studio in Burlington. At that point, I could see going much more into the album end of things. But the communication thing is definitely where it’s at.

Trey Anastasio, in a 12/10/94 interview with Steve Silberman

Video of the Week: 1996-10-22

Posted 4 years ago by tmwsiy - 6 comments Link:, posted in the Video category


Anticipation for Madison Square Garden is heightening as the month of December barrels towards the band's second ever four night run at the fabled venue. While picking a Top Ten list of most memorable moments at MSG would yield scores of different responses from fans with all the extraordinary moments there, there's no doubt the "Freakapaug" from 10-22-1996 would grace many lists.

For fans yearning to replay this magical moment or wishing to see what they had only heard about, great news surfaced earlier this week when it was revealed that: IT WAS CAUGHT ON VIDEO! In case you don't know what happens, mid-Weekapaug dancers dressed up in circus garb raided the stage and danced for the remainder of the Groove. Mimi Fishman even joined in on the fun towards the end. Despite relatively poor video and audio quality, the uploader has promised to upload a remastered video (with remastered audio too) along with the entire second set of this show. Hopefully, that includes the encore too! In addition to the fun in the first set, this show featured a spectacular "All Along the Watchtower" encore. It was the second (and last!) time ever played (the first being 1996/04/21). It included more circus dancers along with Buddy Miles on drums and lead vocals. Plus Merl Saunders on keys and Fish on Trey's percussion rack.

Thanks to Bill for uncovering and uploading this fantastic gem!

"Lights Out" Glowstick War on 12/28 to kick off MSG New Year's Run!

Posted 4 years ago by jackl - 46 comments Link:

Our partners at ("GSW") are sponsoring a special glowstick war to fire up the band at the moment the lights go down for the first set of the NYE run at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, 12/28.

Here's how it will work:

As soon as the house lights go down inside MSG, the GSW organizers are going to RAGE the first ever pre-show (that is, pre first note) glow stick war!

The idea is that lights go down, glow sticks go up, the band walks out to the most emphatic crowd response and proceeds to just murder the show with a ferocity we've all been waiting for. This energy will carry through the entire run. will donate $0.10 to The Mockingbird Foundation ( for each of the first 3,000 confirmed attendees! will also be contributing five Show Sticks (soft, thin and super-bright glow bracelets) to this cause for each of the first 3,000 confirmed attendees! GSW plans to hand them out outside of MSG before the show on 12/28, with a little note detailing these shenanigans.

GSW has setup a couple of special discounts specially for this event:

5PHISHNY - Receive a 10% discount and FREE shipping on orders of 5+ tubes!

25PHISHNY - Receive a case of Show Sticks (25 tubes, aka 2,500 glowies) shipped to your door (or hotel) for $150!!

Order now at

Further information at the GSW Facebook page here.

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