A friend of a friend also went to the engagement that night & wrote an email to a bunch of his friends, and eventually made it to me. I'm glad he wrote down his thoughts, because he remembered a lot of stuff I forgot to mention. Here's a copy of his email:
saw trey last night
not performing, though he did pick up the guitar for a few songs, but in a "conversation" with Anthony DeCurtis at the 92nd St Y (a Jewish Community Center with educational and community programs)...anyways, I thought some of you might like to hear a little of what went down.
he wore a nice brown i think suit and nice shoes. decurtis said "nice to see you without a number across your chest!" and trey said "you mean the shirt I was wearing for the SuperBowl this weekend?!". Right off the bat, decurtis said there are certain topics that are of limits for "legal" reasons, but they managed to talk a lot about what went down. i mean, that's where trey is right now, so it was unavoidable.
he spoke about how for the 20 or so years that there was phish, they were in a protected environment, and the community served to protect them from reality. and when phish broke up, they were forced to find themselves, the way most of us do in the years after college, who am I, what do I want to do, etc. and for trey, he felt isolated and alone, and that served to exacerbate the problems he had over the previous years. there was a circular cycle that was getting worse (he said something like "spinning and spinning"), and stopping phish was his initial attempt to stop it, but then he was alone, and it only got worse, and he was outside the cocoon of safe good times, and then he found himself handcuffed at 4 am. and he thanked the police officer (really, he said he thanked the guy), and he needed help, real help, and he went to rehab. he said he felt "piles of gratitude for" and he trailed off, i thought he was going to say for not being really fucked up, or in jail, but he said "for getting help, help he really neeeded" (applause). he said the problems he had, and he called it addiction, had existed for a while, and he was able to avoid dealing with them, or keep them in check, but then he wasn't.
decurtis read a funny question, something like "did the drugs make the music worse, or was doing them a reaction to your ability slipping away?" and there was no real answer, but then trey said "i took whatever page told me to take".
a lot of the talk about the recent times, trey was really uncomfortable with, and struggled for words. he was clearly, no surprise, much more comfortable when he picked up the guitar.
he talked about the organization of 70 employees and the community and being the center of all that, and that served to protect him from reality, and he mentioned that many of those employees, like the band, needed to find themselves after all these years. they too were cuaght up in something and had to figure out, many years later than the rest of us, what they wanted to do and be, and had to get jobs.
there was a question from the audience asking what he's learned from Phil Lesh, as they've played together a lot in the last few years, and he said they are in talks about doing something else together. but what he learned was a deep appreciation for family. phil always had his kids around, at bbqs, backstage, wherever, and that was true sometimes for trey, but not at other times, and that's really really important, because he will have his time, and his music may live beyond him, but his kids and family will really live on. then he said "wait, i'll tell another story about phil, because you guys want to hear about ROCK AND ROLL right?!" and he told about playing a late night show at vegoose with phil, 1 am to 4 am or something like that he said. with medeski and larry campbell, and a great band, and they played a great set, took a break, and played another set, and they were really jamming, REALLY jamming, deep deep stuff, funny noises, going off a cliff, going round and round, and really unbelievable, and trey said he was playing (and he pretended to play and made some noises) and playing and realized that phil was really holding it together and doing a great job and the jam was really crazy and he said to himself, wow, that guy is really doing well, and then he said, oh yeah, he was in the grateful dead, and he laughed to himself for 15 minutes during the show. that was a good one, everyone was laughing.
early on he played two songs, love that breaks all lines, and a case of ice and snow. and at the end he played pebbles and marbles. the first two followed some of the stuff about his issues, and he said they were were written while he was struggling, and the lyrics i heard seemed pretty poignant. i'll have to listen again, but there was stuff about being alone, or not alone, and the ice and snow, well, i know what i thought of when he sang about snow.
someone asked how he likes living in nyc, and what's his favorite thing. he said he loves the different people he sees every few steps. he will never grow tired of that. a question "what do you think about on stage" was answered by "not thinking". and "listening" to the cymbal or the baseline, or the room.
decurtis asked what he has planned musically right now, and he said, "really nothing". amazing for the guy who i always felt has 3 albums, 2 bands, and 25 songs in his brain. he really seemed humbled and shaken up by what has gone down, and he sounded pretty grounded, much moreso than any other time i've heard him speak.
there was something about when he was in high school, with tom, and his friend dubbs and aaron, and they would go to parties but not socialize, and instead go in the kitchen and create songs, play with the pots and pans...and he was diong that recently with his younger daughter, and that felt good, and fun. and he said he feels a little concern (responding to a question about war and global warming) for his older daughter, who is in 6th grade, and a bit of an activist, and what world she will inherit...and then he said he doesnt really get how the kids have these computer enabled social networks, and friends that they don't see, and it doesn't make any sense to him, since he can't really use a computer. suddenly he's a old dude.
there was a question about placing phish and the music in historical context...he answered talking about big bands, and they dissolved during WWII when people got drafted, and you could never re-create that sound, it just wouldn't be the same, and then there were small jazz trios and quartets, like charlie parker, and that was part of the spirit of the time, and no matter how talneted other musicians may be, you could never re-create that sound and that time, and then there was rebellious rock n roll of the 50s, and then jimi hendrix in the 60s and no one can sound like that..and they grew up in the 70s and then 80s, when record companies figured out how to make tons of money off of great music with emotional connections, and then formulaic big hits, and their music was rebelling against that, with long compositions and nonsensical lyrics, but that can't be replicated, and how after writing 4 songs in that rebellious fashion of his own, the 5th felt systematic, and he, being a rebel, didn't want to write more like that...and the culmination of it all was big cypress, where all these people came and socialized and listened to long jams, and it was just so perfect and he was really blown away. and that was it. and now there are these other large festivals that he plays at, and they feel like offshoots of those phish festivals.
he talked about the other guys in the band being really close friends, who he loves deeply. he reminisced about going to europe with fishman when they were 18 or something, and playing music in the streets, and being in greece for three weeks, and being on the beach, and buiding a hut and lying there naked together (it was hot) talking about ideas and philosophies. fishman was the most pissed off at the end of phish. he said mike (who is the most unique fascinating person he has ever known), in the last few months has been incredibly supportive, calling him, sending him notes, offering support. he said he always calls them to particiapte in his projects, but it is really different since they used to be doing this stuff together automatically, and this effort forced their friendship to evolve.
an audience question was do you see phish playing together again, and trey said "as usual, there is a disregard for the fact that there are 4 guys in the band," and it is not his decision...and then he said he doesn't want to speak for any of the other guys, but he knows that he spoke to page recently and it took him a little longer to go on the search for himself and he is excited about his album coming out in a month or so, and page wants to tour with it, and he needs a good year or so before he is ready for anything like that, and page has had issues of his own during these last few years...and he said Mike recently said he wants a year off. really off, not recording or touring or writing or anything, just sitting in his house doing absolutely nothing (which trey said he can respect) but then trey said "if i could find myself on stage with the others guys from phish, i would be the happiest person on earth" (loud applause).
Play music, expand the mind, inspire...
"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey" - Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa