October 1, 2008 / 6:53 PM / 10 years ago

Phish to swim again in March concerts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The hints came in various formats, but it’s now official. After more than four years, Phish, the Vermont born quartet with a loyal fan following, will return to the concert stage this March in Virginia.

The band on Wednesday on its Web site, confirmed the reunion concerts this coming March 6, 7, and 8 in Hampton, Virginia, and posted a page addressing what is expected to be strong demand for tickets.

Phish built its reputation in the 1990s mostly for its live shows jamming in a free-form style of rock ‘n’ roll often compared to the Grateful Dead, which also enjoyed a strong cult-following over its history dating back to the 1960s.

The relationship between the two bands was once a sore subject for Phish but has warmed in recent years. Both Anastasio and Gordon have made numerous on stage appearances with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh

Like the Dead, Phish proved that a band without a hit single or massive MTV exposure could consistently sell-out 20,000-seat indoor venues as well as 30,000- to 40,000-seat outdoor summer amphitheaters.

Phish, which has produced thirteen studio CDs, and seven live releases in addition to the 27 volume “Live Phish” series took a break from touring back in 2000, returning once for a high-profile New Years Eve show at New York’s Madison Square Garden marking the transition from 2002-2003.

While Phish was at rest, the band members, guitarist Trey Anastasio drummer Jon Fishman, bassist Mike Gordon and keyboardist Page McConnell have been far from idle.

Anastasio has released numerous songs and premiered an orchestral work, “Time Turns Elastic” with Orchestra Nashville at the storied Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry.

The guitarist also was arrested in December 2006, following a traffic stop outside Albany, New York, for possessing painkillers without a prescription. He was sentenced to probation.

Fishman has performed with various groups and McConnell released a self-titled solo effort and has been touring with New Orleans jazz greats George Porter Jr., Russell Batiste Jr., and Brian Stoltz.

Gordon has been touring with his own band, released his second collaboration with guitarist Leo Kottke and just recently released “The Green Sparrow.”

As much as they love Anastasio, Phish fans are likely glad the front man will have to eat his famous words, posted on the band’s Web site in Spring 2004 when he stated “We’re done.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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