Phish fans donate money to Albany city schools

The Times Union ran this story Tuesday, August 1, 2017:

The Mockingbird Foundation, a non-profit created and run by fans of the jam band Phish, have donated $1,500 to the music program of the Albany City School District.

The gift is one in a series of 13 unsolicited “miracle grants” to music-education programs awarded by the foundation, each one recognizing a board member’s favorite Phish concert. The grants pay tribute to Phish’s current 13-show run at Madison Square Garden (which is due to host the ninth on Tuesday night).

For his personal favorite Phish performance, Mockingbird board member Jack Lebowitz chose the Dec. 9, 1995, show in Albany, which the website Phish.net describes as “a classic ’95 show with a must-hear YEM, a silent jam, and a Beavis and Butthead doll.” (“YEM” is a reference to the popular and frequently played Phish song “You Enjoy Myself,” which consists of the following lyrics: “Boy / God / S—/ Wash uffizi drive me to firenze.”)

In her review of the 1995 show for the Times UnionMichelle Solomon made no mention of the Butthead doll but had this to say about “YEM” and the silent jam:

“The band proved its prowess on ‘You Enjoy Myself,’ a 20-minute workout that began innocently enough with Anastasio playing a jazz-fused guitar riff and Fishman lightly offering the undercurrent. Midway through the song, the kings of improvisation worked themselves into such a tizzy that they had nowhere else to go. The band created a silent jam that lasted for almost five minutes, simulating playing some of the most intense licks you could ever imagine: Fishman motioned heavily on the drums; Anastasio did a Pete Townshend,  winding his arm around his guitar in a circular motion and looking as if he would break a few strings had he really been playing; and McConnell and Gordon kept their cool, doing the same. When they came out of it, they didn’t miss a beat. The music picked up where it was when the sound left the room.”

According to a press release from the Mockingbird Foundation, the $1,500 check was sent to the attention of Albany music department chairs Josephine Amore and Edwin Newell.  In total, $19,500 in grants are being awarded by the foundation as “part of a long-standing effort by the Phish fan community to spread the love of music in locales in which performs.”

For more information on Mockingbird and its “Baker’s Dozen” grants, see mbird.org.

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