For 30 years, Neil Young and Pegi Young‘s annual Bridge School Benefit and Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA was a highly anticipated annual event, bringing together some of the most talented names in music for a multi-day concert to help raise money for the severely physically and speech-impaired children of The Bridge School. After celebrating the event’s 30th anniversary in 2016, the Youngs announced this year that they would not be continuing the annual benefit in 2017, as promoter costs had risen too high for them to actually raise significant money for the non-profit.

Today, as we remember all the good times from Bridge School Benefits through the years, we take a look back on one of the most memorable editions in the benefit’s history: The 1998 Bridge School Benefit featuring R.E.M.The WallflowersSarah McLachlanBarenaked LadiesMike McCready and, of course, the Phish from Vermont, which began on this day 21 years ago.

acoustic

[Screengrab via Music Vault]

Phish played single-set acoustic shows on each of the event’s two days, 10/17/98 and 10/18/98. On the event’s first day, the band debuted a string of originals (“Sleep,” “Never,” “Driver”), busted out an a cappella rendition of “Free Bird” (first time played since 6/19/94, 338 shows prior), and more. To close their set, they welcome the host himself, Neil Young, to add guitar to “Harry Hood” before leading the band on vocals in a rendition of Young’s classic “Helpless,” a Phish debut. This marked the second time in as many weeks that Young had played with Phish, as he also sat in for the majority of their set at the Farm Aid benefit on 10/3/98.

Watch Phish Perform With Neil Young & Willie Nelson At Farm Aid In 1998

Phish w/ Neil Young – “Helpless” – 10/17/98

[Video: Music Vault]

On the event’s second day, Phish welcomed Young, Sarah McLachlan, and more for another memorable acoustic set featuring cover debuts of songs by Bob DylanCat Stevens, and Ian & Sylvia. You can watch full, pro-shot videos of Phish’s two Bridge School Benefit performances (setlists below via Phish.net):

Phish – Bridge School Benefit – 10/17/98

[Video: Jam & Psych on MV]

Phish – Bridge School Benefit – 10/18/98

[Video: Jam & Psych on MV]


Setlist: Phish | Bridge School Benefit | Shoreline Amphitheatre | Mountain View, CA | 10/17/98

SET 1: Carolina, Sleep[1], Never[1], Possum[2], I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome[3], Free Bird, Driver[1], Wading in the Velvet Sea[2], Harry Hood[4] > Helpless[5]

[1] Debut; acoustic.
[2] Acoustic.
[3] Acoustic; Mike on banjo, Page on acoustic bass.
[4] Acoustic; unfinished; Neil Young on guitar.
[5] Phish debut; acoustic; Neil Young on guitar and vocals.

This single-set performance was part of the 12th annual Bridge School benefit that also included R.E.M., Neil Young, and Barenaked Ladies. This was an acoustic performance, with a unique stage setup that had Fish stage right, with Page on the far left. Carolina was performed with the band facing toward the Bridge School children, who were on a raised platform at the back of the stage. Sleep, Never, and Driver also debuted at this show. I’m Blue I’m Lonesome (first since December 12, 1995, or 195 shows) was performed in the bluegrass setup of 1994, with Mike on banjo and Page on acoustic bass. Free Bird was played for the first time since June 19, 1994 (338 shows). Hood included a tease of Work Song by Page and was unfinished; Neil Young joined in during the Hood jam, and then sang lead on the Phish debut of his own composition, Helpless.


Setlist: Phish | Bridge School Benefit | Shoreline Amphitheatre | Mountain View, CA | 10/18/98

SET 1: Hello My Baby, Billy Breathes[1], Piper[1], Roggae[1], Loving Cup[1], Albuquerque[1], The Old Home Place[2], Guyute[1], Brian and Robert[1], Sad Lisa[3], Four Strong Winds[4], I Shall Be Released[4]

[1] Acoustic.
[2] Acoustic; Mike on banjo, Page on acoustic bass.
[3] Phish debut; acoustic; Sarah McLachlan on guitar and vocals.
[4] Phish debut; acoustic; Sarah McLachlan and Neil Young on guitar and vocals and Kevin Hearn on accordion.

This single-set performance was part of the 12th annual Bridge School benefit that also included R.E.M., Neil Young, and Barenaked Ladies. This was an acoustic performance, with a unique stage setup that had Fish stage right, with Page on the far left. Hello My Baby was performed with the band facing toward the Bridge School children, who were on a raised platform at the back of the stage. The Old Home Place was performed in the bluegrass setup of 1994, with Mike on banjo and Page on acoustic bass. Sad Lisa featured Sarah McLachlan on guitar and vocals, while Four Strong Winds and I Shall Be Released featured McLachlan and Neil Young on guitar and vocals, as well as Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn on accordion; all three songs were Phish debuts.

[Originally published 10/17/17]