Trey Anastasio staged what was practically a hometown show on Friday with a gig at the Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, NJ. The Phish guitarist who grew up in nearby Princeton some 40 miles inland led his eponymous solo band through the two-set performance, with saxophonist James Casey once again making a surprise appearance for an emotional encore of “Over the Rainbow”.
Casey began his string of unexpected appearances the night prior in Baltimore, where he joined the band for a bust-out of The Five Stairsteps‘ “O-o-h Child” during the encore after sitting out the rest of the show. The trend continued on Friday in Asbury Park, where Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet) and Natalie Cressman (trombone) performed a man down through both sets, with Casey’s saxophone ominously situated nearby.
As the band returned from the encore break, however, Casey joined Hartswick and Cressman to put the horn section back together again, with the three assisting a typically jubilant Anastasio on an a cappella rendition of “Over the Rainbow”. TAB had not performed the Judy Garland favorite from Wizard of Oz since 1/31/20 in New Orleans. Going the extra mile, Casey hung around after “Over the Rainbow” and picked up his sax for the “First Tube” show closer.
Just like in Baltimore, the poignant song choice had greater implications beyond the stage. First announced back in 2021, Casey is in the midst of a courageous battle against stage three colon cancer. After sitting out TAB’s 2021 fall tour to pursue treatment, he returned to the band’s lineup the following year and ever since his presence has become a beacon of light both with Trey and other projects like Phil Lesh & Friends. While Trey Anastasio Band made no formal announcement concerning Casey’s onstage absence, the saxophonist has offered sparing updates on Twitter, writing back in May, “It’s been a whole lot recently…” and appearing on Today to raise awareness for the disease that disproportionally affects Black men. James Casey did not appear with Trey Anastasio Band the following night for the band’s set at Levitate Music & Arts Festival.
Check out a gallery of images from Trey Anastasio Band at Stone Pony Summer Stage courtesy of photographer Joe Lugo. Trey links up with his other band, Phish, to kick off a 23-date summer tour tonight, July 11th, in Huntsville, AL. For tickets and a full list of tour dates head here.
Trey Anastasio Band – “Over The Rainbow” (Harold Allen, Yip Harburg) – 7/7/23
Setlist: Trey Anastasio Band | Stone Pony Summer Stage | Asbury Park, NJ | 7/7/23
SET 1: Set Your Soul Free, Simple Twist Up Dave, Evolve, Rise/Come Together, Steam, Heavy Things > Cayman Review, Night Speaks to a Woman, The Moma Dance, Curlew’s Call
SET 2: I Never Needed You Like This Before, 1977, Acting the Devil, No Men In No Man’s Land, Oblivion, Love Is What We Are, Drifting, Alaska > Everything’s Right
ENCORE: Over the Rainbow , First Tube 
 a cappella; with James Casey joining on vocals.
 with James Casey joining on saxophone.
James Casey joined for the encore (he not appear elsewhere during the show) to sing on Over the Rainbow, which was performed a cappella, and play saxophone on First Tube.