In March, guitarist Trey Anastasio informed his fans that his longtime collaborator and Trey Anastasio Band keyboardist Ray Paczkowski had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor, noting that he is in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery. That announcement, understandably, raised questions about how Ray’s absence would be mitigated for Trey Anastasio Band’s upcoming 8-date spring tour, set to kick off on Tuesday, April 17th at House of Blues in Cleveland. Those questions were soon answered, as Trey announced that he would not be choosing a substitute keyboardist for the tour, but rather stripping his recently 7 or 8-piece band down to a trio along with drummer Russ Lawton and bassist Tony Markellis.
The announcement that the TAT will replace TAB on the upcoming tour was met with mixed responses from fans. Most of the shows were already sold out, and a vocal contingent of fans have, understandably, expressed particular disappointment at the omission of the band’s well-loved horn section, comprised of Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, and James Casey. They’re a fantastic facet of the full band that many fans will miss at these shows, and we look forward to their eventual return. In case the new plans are a dealbreaker for you, TAB is offering refunds to ticket-buyers…but it would be unwise for you to take them up on that offer.
While it may not be the show you signed up for, history tells us it will be one you won’t forget. As Anastasio’s Facebook post explains, the tour’s opening night, April 17th, 2018, marks the 20th anniversary of the first time Trey shared the stage with Tony and Russ, as part of a gig billed as 8 Foot Fluorescent Tubes, which featured the debuts of “Sand”, “First Tube”, and “Mozambique”, among others. That core group–Trey Anastasio, Russ Lawton, and Tony Markellis–soon became the original iteration of the Trey Anastasio Band.
The trio mounted a full tour in May of 1999, which featured one set of solo acoustic Trey and one electric TAB set with Tony and Russ each night. That tour saw the birth of many of the songs that still make up TAB setlists to this day, with just Trey, Russ and Tony holding things down. The band (and the music) continued to evolve from there, with Trey going through a litany of lineup changes, additions, and evolutions over the years.
If the show format is anything like the trio’s 1999 tour, this would mean that audiences will also get their fix of solo acoustic Trey which, as we witnessed recently on his “storytime” tour earlier this year, would likely bring fun surprises and hilarious anecdotes into the fold. But even more excitingly, those who are holding tickets to the Trey Anastasio Band-turned-Trio’s 2018 spring tour get the rare chance to witness TAB in its earliest, rawest form.
TAB – The Trio [Full Set Video] – Chicago, IL – 5/6/99
The TAT lineup significantly changes the expectations for this upcoming tour. This lineup isn’t a brass-infused indie-soul outfit–It’s a lean, mean power trio, and the possibilities for these talented and experienced collaborators in this stripped-down format are endless and exciting. Of course, the three will perform the modern Trey Anastasio Band (and Phish) staples they helped introduce twenty years ago. But what new gems could this back-to-basics tour dig up?
In anticipation of this “surprise” TAT tour, we’ve come up with a list–we can call it a “wish list,” or we can just call it a “that would be sweet” list–of power trio cuts that we’d love the Trey Anastasio Trio to surprise us with their on last-minute run together, from songs you’ve heard Trey play before (“Walk Away”), to songs that have always been begging for the Machine Gun Trey treatment (“Machine Gun”), to songs that, in all likelihood, we’ll probably have to keep waiting for until Trey reunites that other trio…
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble – “Texas Flood”
Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys – “Machine Gun”
[Video: Jimi Hendrix – Topic]
James Gang – “Walk Away”
Cream – “Badge”
Oysterhead – “Pseudo Suicide”
For a full list of upcoming Trey Anastasio tour dates, head over to his website.