Statement on Phish Breakup

The Mockingbird Foundation today released the following statement regarding the announcement last week that Phish would breakup after the  August 15, 2004, Coventry show:

Like many in the Phish world, Mockingbird volunteers were surprised and saddened by the announcement of the band’s imminent breakup. Our hearts so sank that it took us more than a week to collect our thoughts and convey our reactions.

When the band stormed back from the Hiatus with so much excellent new material, it did not occur to us that the end would come so soon. Especially after the many triumphs of 2003 – from Vegas to Utah to an otherworldy jam on top of an air traffic control tower – many of us felt that there was still plenty of exciting music yet to come. We hope that the warm memories of the past many years will loom larger than the frustrated promise of realms still unconquered. We urge our friends to remember the many happy times we’ve all had in pursuit of that moment of musical and personal transcendence – from Nectar’s to Shoreline, from Red Rocks to Drum Logos, from Hampton to the Paradiso.

As evidenced in The Phish Companion, we are not the type to casually assess everything Phish as “all good.” However, our assessments are always out of profound respect for the music which inspired us. When a passing acquaintance asks “How are you today?”, the answer is often perfunctory. When a dear friend asks, we reveal our real concerns, our lingering fears, our secret hopes. For many of us, Phish has been like a dear friend. So, it is with the comfort of familiarity that we have answered the question “How is Phish today?” with great candor. Especially now that Phish’s story may soon be complete, it isn’t necessary to romanticize their remarkable 21-year endeavor. There were always highs and lows, both for the band and for individuals on their own journeys, but the highs provided a view like no other.

Beyond the music – enjoyed for so many years on countless Maxell tapes and CDRS, in cars and dorm rooms and cubicles, and now sound files on computers and MP3 players – we are thankful for all that has come along with it. We’ve made lasting friends and had defining experiences along the way. None of us, when we listened to our first Phish show, would have predicted that we’d eventually create and operate a charitable foundation. This band and the scene that’s grown up around it gave us an outlet to put our love of the music to work for a worthy cause, and to perhaps surprise ourselves in the process. The Mockingbird Foundation is just one of countless positive things that have grown out of the fact that Jon, Mike, Page and Trey decided it would be a good idea to start playing music together.

Whether the band continues or not, the music will endure and so will the Mockingbird Foundation. We will continue, well beyond Coventry, to do what we started in 1996: celebrating the music of Phish while benefitting music education. That celebration is far from over. We believe that Phish’s body of music will endure, not only in the memories of those who witnessed it live, but as an historical force, creating new fans and awakening old ones for more years than we now realize. We look forward to sharing Phish with those who missed it the first time, well after the final shows. We also welcome those new fans as volunteers in our efforts to provide comprehensive books, innovative recordings, special events, and creative donation premiums to the Phish fan community. We will of course continue to donate the dollars we raise and the donations we receive – including Phish’s net proceeds from music downloads purchased through livephish.com – to respond to the void of arts funding for music education.

We’ve worked for a long time to have the new edition of The Phish Companion in your hands during the summer tour. We have stuck to that schedule, and want to reassure fans that the book (complete through the recent Vegas shows) will still ship from the printer in June as scheduled. We’re glad that it will be here to accompany you as the final tour goes down, as well as long after the last notes of the Coventry shows fade into a moonlit Vermont night. The new Companion is the definitive written resource on Phish and its history, and will remain that until its next edition. We will of course document these farewell shows, as well as other Phish-related projects in the coming months and years, and will chronicle them in future editions of The Phish Companion as well as other Mockingbird works. The addition of new fans and volunteers means that there will always be fresh perspectives and new ways to look back at the body of music which has moved us so profoundly for so many years. And the continuing circulation of old shows, old friends, and old memories will continue to provide even more complete and accurate information.

Finally, we thank Phish and Dionysian Productions for the support and encouragement the foundation has received over the years, and, most importantly, for all the great music. It seized our minds, ignited our passions, and changed our lives. We therefore welcome these final shows as a celebration of all things Phish. Though so much has changed, and despite the frayed ends, we’re all in this together, and we still love to take that bath.

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