Though Phish and its legions of fans would describe themselves as anything but mainstream, the veteran rock band continues to prove itself as one of the most bankable acts in the concert industry moving through the 2020s. With the levels of success that Phish has experienced over the years, they’ve had the opportunity to play at events like Farm Aid and even share the stage with its founders.
That’s what happened on this day (October 3rd) in 1998 when Phish joined forces with Neil Young for an extended sit-in at Farm Aid which also featured a sit-in on “Moonlight in Vermont” from Willie Nelson and Late Night bandleader Paul Schaffer. After a few original songs, Young made his first appearance with the band after “Runaway Jim” segued into “Arc” in the first set. Phish and Neil Young then played “Down By The River”, before the guest-filled “Moonlight in Vermont” came next. Young stayed on for the remainder of the show, joining Phish on renditions of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”, “Amazing Grace”, and “Uncloudy Day”. Revisit some of the performances from Farm Aid 1998 below.
Phish – “Runaway Jim” – 10/3/98
Phish feat. Neil Young – “Arc” – 10/3/98
Phish feat. Neil Young – “Down By the River” – 10/3/98
Phish feat. Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Paul Schaffer – “Moonlight in Vermont” – 10/3/98
Phish feat. Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Paul Schaffer – “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”, “Amazing Grace”, “Uncloudy Day” – 10/3/98
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Farm Aid | Tinley Park, IL | 10/3/98
SET 1: Birds of a Feather, Farmhouse, The Moma Dance, Runaway Jim -> Arc -> Down By the River, Moonlight in Vermont, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? > Amazing Grace > Uncloudy Day
 Phish debut; Neil Young on guitar
 Phish debut; Neil Young and Willie Nelson on guitar and Paul Schaffer on keyboards
 With Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and Paul Schaffer
 with Neil Young
This single set performance was part of the annual Farm Aid benefit concert which also included Hootie and the Blowfish, The Del McCoury Band, Brian Wilson, Wilco, Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young. The set featured the Phish debuts of Arc, Down By the River, Moonlight in Vermont, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and Uncloudy Day (although Will the Circle Be Unbroken was also played during the November 19, 1994 “Parking Lot Jam”). Neil Young sat in from Runaway Jim through the end of the set; Willie Nelson and Paul Shaffer sat in during Moonlight in Vermont. Four Native American dancers came onstage before Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Circle featured Willie Nelson on vocals. Amazing Grace was performed for the first time since December 31, 1996 (115 shows) and included instrumental accompaniment. This set was broadcast live on Country Music Television, though the beginning of Runaway Jim was cut from the broadcast.
[Originally published 10/3/16]