Trey Anastasio Band and Rescue Squad Strings Highlight Week 7 of Beacon Jams

The penultimate Beacon Jams found the core band for the past six weeks accompanied by a couple of new faces, as well as the Rescue Squad Strings, for one of the most memorable nights of the entire run. Trey Anastasio appeared more loose this week and at the same time excited to be performing with the lineup for Trey Anastasio Band, which found Natalie Cressman (trombone) and James Casey (saxophone) joining Jennifer Hartswick (trumpet), who had been singing the past two weeks, and quarantining for a total of five to prepare for the shows.

photo via The Beacon Theatre Facebook page

Friday night’s performance served as the first complete Trey Anastasio Band performance since February 1, 2020 at The Civic Theater in New Orleans, LA, and first performance in New York since January 11 at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. 

photo by Jake Silco

Reunited with friends and a full stage at times, the flood gates of material were opened to allow for Trey band classics and surprising arrangements of Phish songs peppering the night. A pre-show tribute paid respects to the recently passed Carl Monzo, head of Phish security for many years. 

The evening also served as a fundraiser for The Divided Sky fund, which focuses on delivering quality care and compassionate treatment for those battling from addiction, through Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation. By the end of the show on Friday, November 20, nearly $100,000 was raised that night alone, with more than half of a million dollars gathered over seven weeks, an impressive total in support of recovery from addiction.

Kicking off the night was Phish’s “Camel Walk” that had some extra flavor with horns and added percussion from Cyro Baptista, whose daughter was having a baby that evening, leading to banter between him and Trey, before moving into an apropos “Set Your Soul Free” and “Alive Again,” a staple of TAB since summer 2001. 

Trey invited the Rescue Squad Strings and Jeff Tanski out to join the band for “Petrichor,” performed for the first time with Tanski since New Year’s Eve 2016. 

Trey made a point to thank MSG once again for bringing the event together for free on Twitch, and gave an overdue shout out to the union workers who helped put the show together behind the scenes. He also thanked the many groups of fans who donated to The Divided Sky Fund, some donating thousands of dollars to support the cause. 

photo by Jake Silco

The second ever performance of the groovy “All Pretending” had a catchy vibe ala Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright” and was followed by the Bossa Nova “Curlew’s Call,” but with Cyro not shying away from the percussion. 

The Rescue Squad Strings returned for “Harry Hood,” with Trey switching to acoustic guitar, then back to electric for the third section of the song as the rest of the band joined in for the triumphant finale. After, Trey remarked to the strings about the sincere joy of playing “Hood” and writing it on an acoustic guitar on the beach in Greece when he was 19. Anastasio went back to the acoustic for “Lifeboy,” with heartstrings being plucked on couches across the country.

“Heather McDougal Song” took off from that donor’s name popping up on the screen, with some brief improv joined in by the Rescue Squad Strings. Within moments of ending, the full band debut of “Let Me Lie” (also with strings) followed, giving the laid back breather a fuller sound, and a rare “Chalkdust Torture Reprise” surfaced as the strings departed the stage, with the lyrics changed to “Heather McDougal Song.”

“Burlap Sack and Pumps,” another standard that found its legs in the Summer of 2001, went deep, thanks in great part to James Casey switching to baritone sax. The TAB debut of Kasvot Växt’s “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long,” had added character thanks to the slow deep funk groove via the horn section.

photo by Jake Silco

To wrap up the night, the strings returned for “Goodbye Head” and closed with Trey Anastasio Band on the fan favorite “Push on ‘Til the Day” closing the night. Donate to the Divided Sky Fund here and tune in on Friday, November 27 at 8pm for the finale of The Beacon Jams.

Setlist via Phish.net

Set 1: Camel Walk, Set Your Soul Free, Alive Again [1], Petrichor [2], Money, Love and Change, Olivia, All Pretending > Curlew’s Call, Harry Hood [3], Lifeboy [4], Heather McDougal Song [5], Let Me Lie [6], Chalk Dust Torture Reprise [7], Burlap Sack and Pumps, Valentine, Death Don’t Hurt Very Long [8], Goodbye Head [9], Push On ‘Til the Day

[1] Lyrics changed to “Winter’s coming and I’d like a review.”
[2] Just Trey, The Rescue Squad Strings, and the horns.
[3] Full TAB debut; began with just Trey on acoustic guitar and The Rescue Squad Strings with the rest of the band joining later.
[4] Just Trey on acoustic guitar with The Rescue Squad Strings and Jen Hartswick and Natalie Cressman on vocals.
[5] Debut; with The Rescue Squad Strings.
[6] Full TAB debut; with The Rescue Squad Strings.
[7] Full TAB debut; sung as “Heather McDougal Song.”
[8] Full TAB debut.
[9] With The Rescue Squad Strings.

photo via The Beacon Theatre Facebook page
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