Phil and Friends 7/30/21.  Phil is the one on the right with the bass!  P.H.I.L.

Phil Lesh stole my heart in July 2006 when I attended my first Phil and Friends concert at the magical (and sadly defunct) 10,000 Lakes Festival.  I was already falling in love with the Grateful Dead, but that Phil show sealed my fate.  It changed my life!  

Matt and I enjoying a hot and humid walkabout the Music City.

I've seen lots of different flavors of Dead bands since then--Furthur, Ratdog, Dark Star Orchestra, The Dead, Melvin Seals and JGB, etc. etc.--and they are all wonderful verses in the never ending song that is the Grateful Dead.  Buuuuuuut anything with Phil is bound to be my favorite.  Watching him play makes my heart happy.  You can tell that playing for us makes his heart happy, too.  

Phil and Friends 7/29/21.  The fellow on the left is Phil's son Graham.

Matt and I just returned from six days in Nashville (or NashPhil, as we've been calling it) where we caught a three-night Phil and Friends run at the newly opened Brooklyn Bowl.  Oooooooooooooooh, baby!  I am swimming in a sea of Phil-induced goodness*.  I think that Saturday was, quite possibly, the most powerful night of music I've ever experienced.  Which is saying something!!  It is a hard thing to quantify, but man!  They brought the heat!!** 

A NashPhil skyline as seen from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.

Last year we set our sights on seeing Phil play because we hadn't see him since 2014 and that seemed like too long without some live Phil.  Then the pandemic cranked up and we lost our beloved live music scene, among so many other segments of normal life.  

Phil and Friends 7/30/21

As the pandemic situation evolved and vaccines became available, things started slowly happening in the live music scene again.  Matt kept his eyes peeled for any announcement of shows.  Sure enough, Phil announced some runs*** in New York, Tennessee, and Colorado.  We leapt at the opportunity.  I've always thought the "Music City" would be a swell place to visit.  I figured it would be bluegrass that would take us there, not the Grateful Dead, but nevertheless!  It really was a rad city.  We loved it and would go back in a heart beat (even if the humidity was downright baffling for arid folks like us).  We have tickets for one night of Phil in Colorado, too.  I look forward to it even more now, if that is possible.

The Tennessee Capitol Building and some almost magical shade-giving trees.

Even though things are far from normal, it was nice to get a taste of it.  We have missed travel.  We've missed the Lot.  We have missed our concert family.  I can wear a mask on the plane and at the show if I need to.  I can flash a vaccine card along with my ticket to get in.  Music is so important to me that those things seem easy.  I would leap plenty of these hurdles to get there.  It is worth it for the privilege of getting to refill my cup like that.  To feel so recharged.  To feel reborn.  Ohhhhh, I have missed it. I have missed it.  I have missed it!

Our rental had a rooftop pool and that was pretty dang awesome.  When we got too hot walking around we'd go back to our place to refresh and take in the view!

Phil looks really, really good at 81.  I loved watching him rock out with people 1/3 - 1/2 his age, including his son.  I loved how big of a grin he'd get when the jam was moving juuuust right.  I love that he has incorporated a "tell your friends to get vaccinated" pitch into his organ donor rap now.  I love watching him direct the band with his Phil bombs and his magnetism.  I love meeting people from all around the country who are brought together through this common bond of music.  It is such a special thing!  We are lucky to be a part of it!

The Brooklyn Bowl upper level had colorful windows that were extra cool when all the lightning was going on outside on Saturday. 

*Thank heavens the concerts and the city were so spectacular because we had some serious delays and travel mishaps trying to get back to Montana.  It was a pretty buzzkill way to end a wonderful vacation, but we can both recognize that it was still all worth it, even if our departure ended up being more expensive, protracted, and frustrating than we hoped.  It could have been worse!  I hate to even imagine how devastated we'd have been if the travel delays had come at the beginning of the trip instead of the end.

**It was stormy in NashPhil, too. Just as Phil was about to take the stage on Saturday a storm broke and the venue lost power delaying the show for an hour.  We all just patiently waited, finger crossed, for the show to start.  And when the lights came back on and the band took the stage it was a moment of collective joy.

***Phil is a socially-conscious 81 year old organ transplant survivor so I wasn't surprised when he required proof of vaccination or negative COVID test result in order to enter the show.  I actually had a premonitory dream about it the week leading up to the concerts...and a real-life panic until I actually found my card being used as a bookmark on my nightstand.  While masking was not required Phil also encouraged us to wear them while we were hooting and hollering and singing and laughing all over each other in a fabulous dancefloor mob.  I was initially dubious of dancing in a mask because of how hard I like to boogie, but in the end found it no problem.  I'm so ready for life as I love it to go on that I would do just about anything to be on that dancefloor, shaking it with all my new friends.  I can adapt.  Plus, I like to respect Phil's wishes...cause I love him.

Phil and Friends 7/31/21.  It was hard to get a sharp enough angle to capture the whole band at once.  Even as it is I barely managed to keep the drummer in view. 


  1. Dear Beth,
    ...what fun!...I have such fond memories of our trip to Nashville a few years ago...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. It sure was fun! Nashville was a cool city. I'll go back again someday. Maybe for bluegrass next time!


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