A Phish Tale!
Posted: Oct-29-2014 7:02 PM in Music Scene

Posts: 17
Views: 825

Sunday.26October.2014.19:27/The Farmhouse//ChillSpace///Ceres, California

From the time we finally departed from home on Friday, around 13:00, for the next 40 hours, we have been on one long, non-stop continual journey during our Phamily Phish adventure to Chula Vista and back again. Our plans went off course from the time we woke up on Friday until we returned home around 09:30 this morning, presently everyone is in various stages of disruption, illness and general blah-dom! I am a little chilly outside right now, the temp is a cool and breezy 61 degrees but I’m warm enough to sit here, listening to my Beatles Sunday music at a healthy and robust (but not too loud, I’ve a headache) volume. We drove from home all the way to Corona, California on Friday, it took us almost 8 hours because we took a scenic d’Tour through this little mountain town in Kern County that I favor called Tehachapi, I wanted to show the wife and kids where I wanted to live if I was to be an L.A. based artist. It was worth the extra times and miles because the family fell in love with the community when we stopped for dinner, drove around the town, looked at with an eye for a place to relocate to next…It’s a small community but only about 2 hours or so from Hollywood, about the same as it is up to San Francisco from where we are presently located in The San Joaquin Valley. It’s a place more akin to what we’re accustomed to, although it’s a little cooler than I like, it’s remote and safe.

Anyway, the adventure continued and we left Kern County about sunset and headed towards Corona via Interstate 15 and San Bernardino and that was a crazy traffic zoo that zapped our collective energies and wore on our patience. We arrived in Corona and ended up staying at THE WORST MOTEL 6 on the planet, but it was late and we all just needed to eat and retreat to bed which we did. In the morning we went to meet an old friend that I never met in person, a gut named Charlie Adams who I had met on blogster.com in late ’08 and in 2010, we penned “Order #831” together, an original screenplay based on a short story Charlie had made up; he’s not really a writer, he’s a real estate dude, but his story ws really clever and I was inspired to convert into a decent, kick ass screenplay. We have yet to sell the screenplay, but that’s another story (it’s in my book, “My BiPolar Reality; How Life Goes On…”), the point is, we’re really good friends, we’ve collaborated as artists but Saturday morning was the first time we ever sat one next to one another and had a conversation. Naturally we were late to meet him, the meeting and conversation was so engaging we stayed loner than planned and so when we finally got back on the road to head down to Chula Vista, we decided to book a room in advance and just go directly to the venue. We secured a place at a Travel Lodge in a San Ypsidro, about a mile from the Mexico boarder, paid in advance and made arrangements for an after midnight arrival. We stopped at food market before heading to the parking lot at The Sleep Train Amphitheater and sometime around 16:20, they let us into the parking lot.

The kids had long been hearing stories of old, about my carefree youth when I used to follow The Grateful Dead around, selling things in the parking lot to fund my adventures and when I explained that scene at a Phish show is very similar, they wanted to try doing that too! In the week before we left the kids and my wife spent hours painting little rocks with colorful designs, making friendship bracelets and amassing an “inventory” which even included the last four galley (advance print) copies of the book and a stack of my first screenplay “Kill David Spade!” (that story too is in the book)! We also planned on selling some grill cheese sandwiches and just hang out in the parking lot digging the scene before the show started at 20:00. We did have a good time, for the most part, but we sold only one friendship bracelet. The family was also tired, the rest at the Corona Motel 6 was terrible and we were all feeling cramped from being squished together in our little VW Beetle for the past 24 hours. It was all good, however, if anything we rested while sitting there behind our car, smiling at fellow hippies and stretching out in the balmy late afternoon. While we were chilling, as I wore my “BiPolar Dude” outfit and got to talking another dude of my vintage, we talked about how we each found a connection to Phish through our association with The Grateful Dead. The other dude was from Boston and had never seen a Dead show West of The Mississippi, his last show was June of ’95 at Deer Creek and my wife and I were at that infamous show (the gate crasher show) also…in fact, that was the week of “Deadheads on Parade”, a 3 day perpetual event we hosted at The Split/Apple (another story in the book). Anyway, when Jerry Garcia died and The Grateful Dead ceased to exist, his kid brother took him to a Phish show and ever since the guy was hooked! Cool story, I thought, I laughed that I did the opposite, I turned my kid brother onto Phish before The Grateful Dead ceased, in fact, I was turned onto Phish by trading my bootleg tapes from The Dead’s 1986 Spring tour with this kid in Rhode Island. You see, back in the day before the digital age, when we swapped 90 minute Maxell tapes (via snail mail or person to person hand off), there was typical 5-15 minutes of extra space at the end of each side of the cassette tape. I got some shows from the ’83 tour from this kid and as filler at the end of one tape was a Phish song called “You Enjoy Myself” and on the other side another Phish song, “Contact”, both off of “Junta” (the debut album for Phish). However, because of the way things were unlabeled, there was no information about this incredible music on these tapes. I wrote to the kid asking who that band was, but I never heard back from him so Life Goes On…
A couple years later, while playing that bootleg of the ’83 Grateful Dead show at a party, when the “you Enjoy Myself” filler music came on, some other guy at the party knew who it was and so, I learned, about Phish. As fate would have it, about a year later, in the Spring of ’90, before my first son, Cassidy was born, I saw that Phish was opening for some other band (I don’t remember who they were) at some joint above a diner on Belmont, around the corner from the infamous Vic Theater in Chicago, I went to see them for the first time. They played one long opening set and after the second band had taken the stage, before leaving, I saw the piano player for Phish, Page McConnell, sitting at the far end of the bar alone so I went over to him to simply tell him how much I enjoyed their music and performance. I ended up having a 15 minute conversation with him about how music is the fabric that holds a community together, when the guitar player from Phish, Trey Anastasio, interrupted us because the band was leaving. I got to shake their hands and then, the next time I saw them they were playing a huge place in Tinley Park, Illinois, The World Music Theater and they were way on their way towards The Big Time! I was thinking about this story after I told the dude in the parking lot when I was waiting in line at a Porta-Potty and I noticed the band’s tour buses parked over yonder and only one laid back dude manning the gate and I had an idea; I was going to get a copy of my book and then walk to the buses, knock on the door and say hello again!

So that what I tried to do next, I went back to our spot in the parking lot, told the family about this little plot of mine and tried to get my daughter to accompany me but she would have no part of it, calling me just plain crazy! I agreed but still planned on doing it, I needed a witness, I explained because if it works, nobody will believe me if I was the only one so my son volunteered to join me on this little mission to get a copy of the book to Phish! We strolled to the laid back security dude but he stopped me, suggesting I talk to somebody at Guest Services. I did that and came up with the name of the woman in charge, Darcy, I was advised to talk to her when I got into the theater. I did that too, I found Darcy, I charmed her and said I was an old friend of the band from 1990, they said if I went to the show to drop off a book and so here I was…then, surprisingly, Darcy said “Oh, that’s funny, I am going to meet with their tour manager right now, I’ll give it to him right away!” I thanked her Gratefully then joined my family as we found our awesome “miracle seats” and waited for the show to start. Phish did not disappoint, they were awesome, especially Fish (Jon Fishman, the drummer), they were on fire and I found a lot of joy and comfort in the music; the same, however, could not be said of the audience scene, it had a weird, almost tweaking energy to it and most of the people sitting right around us didn’t really seem to fit the scene. Aside from their “straight looking” attire and in general stiff attitudes, they didn’t seem know the songs very well (if at all). I was a little disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm from my fellow audience members and it sadly reminded me of the last tour I got into with The Grateful Dead (1990); the scene wasn’t about the music or the community or the Love, it was about the party. Phish knows this too, I suspect, I felt their performance reflected this notion too but I could easily be wrong because I’ve never experienced a Phish show on the West coast before, perhaps this how the energy plays out for them, I’m not sure. Anyway, we loved the show, it was a spectacular light and sound and performance event which our daughter truly loved and appreciated which was the entire reason we went, to celebrate her 14th birthday!

We were all worn out when we got back to the car and the cops were clearing out the lot quickly, so there was no parking lot scene afterwards. We split the scene, planning to get to our hotel and finally resting. By this time, it was almost midnight, I had been awake since 06:00 Saturday morning, without a nap and had not had anything but kettle popcorn and pot brownies to eat all day. We pulled into Travel Lodge motel, the place we reserved, pre-paid and expected to simply check in, as we pulled into the parking spot and clibed out to stretch, the hotel manage came out and glared at us, not saying anything, but when my wife went in to check us in, the manager gave her a really difficult tie. First he told her the motel property was completely 100% smoke free…of everything. She said that was fine, we’ll go off property if we needed to smoke but then he asked for a $250 CASH deposit so insure we don’t damage or steal anything and that’s when she lost it…the manager, acting like a complete dick, was obviously discriminating us because we appeared to be hippies (he was a very straight looking corporate kind of dude wearing a suit and tie at midnight)! I was going to challenge him, I was really pissed because they had no problem accepting our money over the phone but in person, suddenly, at midnight on a Sunday morning, this motherfucker had the unmitigated audacity to demand a ridiculous sum for no real reason, for goodness sake, we’re a mom and dad and two kids, clearly! We drive a late model vehicle, we have several credit cards we could use for “deposit” but cash? Really… what the fuck?!? My wife stopped me, however, she knew I would go ballistic and it could easily escalate so we tried to find another place to stay. At 1:00 on a Sunday morning, after a concert, in San Diego, either everything was booked up or way beyond our modest budget so we started up Interstate 5 towards L.A. instead.

I was driving, my wife trying to find available, affordable accommodations and the kids nodding in and out of sleep in the back seat, by the time we got to Orange Country, it was evident we’d find nothing so I just starting cruising hard and fast, heading north towards home and everyone else fell asleep. Sometime past sunrise on Sunday, about 20 miles past Bakersfield, I could not carry on anymore. I had been up over 24 hours, not eaten anything and we stopped at the only open place, a Jack-In-The-Box, ate something awful that resembled hamburgers and switched drivers. I curled up in the backseat with my daughter and fell asleep while my wife drive the remaining 3 hours home. We arrived about half past 9, I stumbled upstairs and crashed for the next so many hours until about now! It’s not even been 48 hours since this adventure began, yet, somehow it felt like days on end. I am doing okay, I still ache, I’m hungry and other than a slight headache, all I need is a little more rest. Tomorrow I’ll be ready for a busy day, an incredibly frantic week ahead so we survived. It was, perhaps, one of the last times I’ll venture out like that, in good old hippie fashion because, well, I’ve been doing that almost 40 years and I’d rather enjoy it from another perspective for a while…perhaps from the perspective of being on the stage might be nice but I don’t think I’ll do the whole tour/festival scene as “fan” anymore. Been there, done that (so many bloody times), I want to change it up for the next half century!

So, that’s my little Phamily Phishing Tale, I do indeed hope you enjoyed it and perhaps I’ve inspired to check out both my book (“My BiPolar Reality; How Life Goes On…, available now at my website, www.dphilipchalmers.net or November 1st, everywhere…) as well as one the most incredible bands on the planet, Phish! However, the real message of this entire article is that it’s important to share with your family time doing things together. This was showing my kids a little something of how my youth was and it was giving our daughter something she’ll remember all her life, her 14th birthday adventure! Have a great week, enjoy your life and be well!

Take care and be well!
d'Philip Chalmers