Brian Bavosa: Your band played two shows in November, how did it go?
Mike Gordon: It was a whirlwind of activity getting ready and hitting the road for our first weekend in six months. There was a certain smoothness of intention which felt great in the first set – like instead of the music playing itself, our souls played themselves, or at least mine did. That may sound strange but that’s how it felt. There was a relaxedness and a tightness despite it being fresh, and it was also great to have a few new songs, including an epic cover and a new original, Sideways. That one in particular felt smooooth – it’s almost reggaeish, and yet dimented enough such that I don’t know what it is… A simple, haunting little ditty about the world on its side. Or something… Very cool to rehearse something and try so many subtle variations of groove and approach – tight vs. loose, repeating vs. improvised – and then remembering that it’s only on stage that the final element walks in the door – the magic.
After an initial run through the song, the improv that developed quickened with a pace and fury that left my jaw on the floor. While I shudder to think that I can’t make it out of my first comments without making a comparison to Phish, this jam found a space that harkens back to truly great You Enjoy Myself jams. At one point Mike even settled into a groove that some might argue was a direct nod to Phish classic. Sonic vibrations blasting the bodies in the front rows, it was hard to NOT be blown away.
Gordon had this to say about the iconic status and loyal fan following Phish has garnered over the years: “Well, it’s a dangerous situation for artists to be put on a pedestal because then you don’t know how to live up to that,” Gordon said.
Phish bassist Mike Gordon has been making the most of his time off from touring by sitting in with jam stalwarts the Spin Doctors, Jackie Greene and now old pal Marco Benevento within the past few weeks in his hometown of Burlington. Marco, along with bassist Dave Dreiwitz and drummer Andy Borger, is smack dab in the middle of a four-week residency at Burlington’s Radio Bean coffeehouse and invited Cactus out for the start of the second set. Gordon replaced Dreiwitz for a jazzy version of Green Onions (Booker T. and the MGs) and Benevento’s intense cover of Deerhoof’s Twin Killers that included teases of Rhapsody In Blue and Bathtub Gin.
On the eve of Phish’s first performance in Vermont since Coventry, bassist Mike Gordon stopped by Higher Ground in South Burlington to sit in with the Warren Haynes Band. Mike played a four-string fender bass for covers of On Your Way Down by Allen Toussaint and Little Milton’s That’s What Love Will Make You Do. Both tunes may be better known to jam fans for the Little Feat and Jerry Garcia Band versions respectively.
As many of you know, the show on June 3rd in Clarkston, Michigan is on Cactus’s birthday, the first show to fall on that date since the 80′s. It is our duty as fans to wish everyone’s favorite funkmaster happy birthday. I will be handing out flyers at the show, and will also upload the template here for anyone else who wishes to help. The plan is to sing it before the first set when the band walks out on stage. I hope to sneak in an airhorn to signal when, but if that gets confiscated, the singing should begin after the initial round of cheering when the band walks out, but before they start to play. This should set a great tone for the rest of the show.