Dead Phish Orchestra, which plays tonight at the Vail Ale House at 10 p.m., is a project of four Colorado musicians who have spent far too much time interpreting their favorite bands. The group is an experiment and perhaps even pokes some fun at the musical genre known as “tribute bands.”
The band features former and current members of Great American Taxi, Phix, Mason’s Children, and Mountain Jam, including Brian Adams, bass and vocals; Chris Sheldon, drums and vocals; Paul Murin, guitar and vocals; and Ted Tilton, keyboard and vocals.
An unexpected Blend
At first glance, seamlessly blending the music of the Grateful Dead and Phish may appear somewhat contradictory, perhaps even blasphemous to some. Take away the lengthy improvisations and the repertoires of each band could not be more distinct.
Therefore, Dead Phish Orchestra is just as much a tribute to the collective energy of the jamband scene as it is to the musical library of Phish and the Grateful Dead. It’s an excuse to bring together friends and fans in a unique, if not slightly awkward setting that challenges conventional thinking, keeps everyone guessing and pays homage to the tunes and experiences that have provided (and continue to provide) a lot of pleasure to thousands the world over.
The band members are serious about playing the songs accurately, while maintaining the integrity of both Phish and the Dead. Versus simply going back and forth — one song by Phish, one by the Dead — it is the segue-ways between songs where the band takes liberties and stretches itself to keep performances both fun and compelling for the audience.
Each show is a humble attempt to capture the spirit and energy of two great bands that have inspired Dead Phish Orchestra, both musically and personally.