Phish’s Baker’s Dozen run is quickly approaching. As is tradition for summer tour, there will be an enormous amount of talent surrounding the entertainment with pre- and post-shows galore. Phish’s thirteen nights at Madison Square Garden will be no different, as Live For Live Music plans to take over New York City with over a dozen shows of our own.
As the shenanigans approach, we’ll be discussing Phish with a number of artists who will be in town performing some of these late-night shows. So far, we interviewed Craig Brodhead from Turkuaz and Matisyahu. In the third installment of our “Phishin’ With” series, Ryan Jalbert from The Motet discusses his relationship with the band Phish — ahead of The Motet’s 7/21 post-Phish performance at BB King Blues Club & Grill with Jennifer Hartswick just a few blocks up on 42nd Street (purchase tickets here).
The Denver-based act has been coming strong with the funk force since 1998, led by founder and drummer Dave Watts. With Joey Porter (keys), Garrett Sayers (bass), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabe Mervine (trumpet), and the fairly recent additions of saxophonist Drew Sayers singer Lyle Divinsky in early 2016, The Motet comes at you with a complete and unified sound, digging extra deep into the world of funk with flourishes of afrobeat and jazz throughout. If you are looking to continue the party after Phish on Friday, 7/21, The Motet at BB King’s is the first stop on the F-Train from MSG (the “F” is for Funk).
Live For Live Music: Tell us about your first Phish concert experience.
Ryan Jalbert: My first Phish show was 11/29/98 at Worcester Centrum. I started high school in 1996 and met my buddy Brian who, upon discovering that I was already serious about playing guitar, gave me a copy of A Live One. I was immediately obsessed. I soon tracked down all the albums, acquired a modest tape collection, and was trying to learn the tunes on guitar. I loved Phish. Alas, my folks wouldn’t let me go to a show until I was 16. That fateful day came in the Fall of 1998 – my junior year of high school.
Leading up to the very first note, I remember being so enthralled by the whole experience. There were license plates from all over the country and the scene in the lot was mayhem. The arena was filled with charged chaos as we all found our way to our seats. The lights went down, the band took the stage and I saw my first arena rock show. It was indescribable. Three hours later, my dad picked me up after the show. I went home and laid awake in bed all night feeling like a different person. I couldn’t wrap my head around exactly what had happened, but I went back to high school the next day with these 2 realizations: 1. I need to see more Phish shows ASAP. 2. I want to be a professional musician.
L4LM: How would you describe the music of Phish?
RJ: To my friends and I, Phish was a huge part of the soundtrack to our formative years. We were young, discovering freedom and adventure, in a thriving East coast jam scene where Phish was king. Their music takes me back to that time in my life when I had no responsibility and basically just worked a job to buy Phish tickets.
L4LM: How many Phish shows have you seen?
RJ: Probably close to 40. I was fortunate to get my drivers license in time to catch a bunch of shows at the tail end of what I’m told is now called the “1.0” era. The Motet is so busy now I haven’t caught a show in a few years.
L4LM: Do you have a favorite show, or most memorable experience?
RJ: Many of the shows I saw before 2000 had the most impact on me. However, it was a pretty special experience to catch the Fenway Park show in May 2009. After surviving Coventry in 2004, I broke up with Phish. The band had gone their separate ways and so had my friends and I. I moved to Colorado, became a touring musician, and moved on from Phish. Fast forward 5 years later and I was back in Massachusetts with my brother and all my old buddies (all of us lifelong Red Sox fans). Phish was rocking out in center field at our childhood mecca… Fenway Park! It was a surreal, full-circle experience. “Our band” was reunited and my old guitar hero had climbed back from rock bottom with something to prove. Phish played a rocker that night and we raged Bean-town just like the old days. When Brian passed out, we put him in the bathtub and threw snacks at him. It was like no time had passed at all.
L4LM: What are two of your favorite Phish songs?
RJ: Oh man, that’s a tough one… if I had to pick just 2, “Maze” and “Tweezer” come to mind I suppose. While I always had my old favorites, I was more into hearing the band play whatever they were excited about. Sometimes their newer material inspired some of their more creative and energetic jams and those tunes would become new favorites.
L4LM: What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen at a Phish show?
RJ: It was July 4, 2000 at the E Center in Camden, NJ. We were on our 6th show in a row and Brian won after-show backstage passes in a Waterwheel raffle. By the time we finally made it backstage, I was having a #1 emergency but security insisted that the only bathroom I had access to was outside of the venue exit in which case I’d have no re-entry. I found a different, younger looking, security guard and told him I was Page’s nephew and pleaded my case to be quickly escorted to the facilities. Seeing my visible distress (potty dancing), he agreed. The young guard unlocked a door, walked me down a long hallway and unlocked another door to let me into a rather nice backstage bathroom. The shower was running and through the foggy, frosted glass there appeared to be a certain red headed gentleman having a post show rinse. I was 18 and relieving myself while my guitar hero showered just feet away and all I was thinking was, “DO NOT SAY A WORD JALBERT!”. You can imagine my excitement to meet the rest of the crew in the lot afterwards for our post show story exchange. So to answer your question, the wildest thing I’ve seen at a Phish show was Trey’s butt.
**Purchase Tickets To The Motet at BB King’s on 7/21 Here**
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[cover photo by DN Photos]