- by Weekend Wook -
There is only one way I can properly kick off the wook-blog 2.0… by thanking the individual who first handed me the Kool-Aid and introduced me to a band and community that would change my life forever. The elderwook who first showed me the lights and opened my ears. My closest friend and role model - my brother.
Having now spent the better half of my life completely enamored with everything Phish, it is difficult to remember a life without it. Everything from the music in my wedding to my daughter’s middle name is connected to them. Like many, my fandom has evolved from basic appreciation to full blown obsession. There was a time though when I knew not of the Lizards or lumpy head... a time before Sample and Simple, when getting "it" was anything but. Luckily, I had a mentor to show me the way.
With brother-wook in mind, I decided to take a look at the role of a Phish mentor.
Sharing the Music
Unlike with other music, one does not typically discover Phish through a radio station or music video (or whatever the modern equivalent is). Instead, Phish is passed along and shared among friends. This communal tradition began early in the band's history with the sharing of tapes, and continues today via social media and digital playlists.
With an enormous catalog of music, it can be intimidating knowing where to jump in when you are just getting started.. the first role of a mentor is to help you begin. Brother-wook started me off with a studio copy of Rift. By the end of the title-track, I was intrigued... by the middle of Maze, I was excited... and by the time they asked to cut my head off so they could weigh it, I had a new favorite band.
Sharing the Experience
As important as the introduction is, the true value of a mentor is in sharing (and helping navigate) the live show experience. From the moment you step on lot, to the final note of the encore, each show is a unique adventure and a party. Weigh may have hooked me, but my first show is where the addiction began.
I remember a big part of that night for me was trying (probably too hard) to get it. How does everyone know when to clap during Stash? Or when to shout "Hood"? How on earth do that many people end up launching glow sticks into the air at the exact same time? My brother didn't tell me the answers... that was the point. He told me to relax and enjoy it. Having someone there who got it when I did not, liberated me to take it all in.
Without looking up the set list, I could not tell you what songs were played that night. I'm not sure how many people were there and I have no idea if the jams were exceptional for that tour. The only thing I can remember with absolute certainty is the feeling of gratitude and overwhelming emotion I felt towards my brother for bringing me.
Sharing the Passion
I am of the belief that everyone needs something to be passionate about. It is written in our narrative as a species and defines what it is to live. Whether it be sports or politics or food or drugs, it is an absolute necessity. That's not to say it is always positive (often passions can be destructive), just that we are programmed as humans to want to feel. I am passionate about my family, my work, and music. In particular Phish.
The thing about passion is it can rarely stay stagnant. Your passion needs to move and grow to be truly fulfilling, and in order to grow it needs to be shared. The last (and on going) role of a phish mentor is to share in the passion. Someone to send you jams they rediscovered in the middle of the night and someone to listen to you hypothesize the extent to which the White Album costume set influenced the creation of Billy Breathes.
You may be wondering why I am talking so much about mentors. You get that I love my brother, but what really is the point of this silly blog post? Well, there are two points I suppose...
First, take this opportunity to reach out to your mentor and thank them for bringing you into this community.
Second, now that you have taken a stroll down memory lane and have thanked the appropriate parties, consider those you have mentored. Upon reflecting on everything my brother has done for me, I realize how important it is for me to do that for others. It can't just be about me. It has to be about us.
It makes me wonder if those "jaded vets" who claim Phish will never be the same simply missed the transition from being mentored, to being the one who shares it with others.