It was sixteen years between seeing Phish live. Back in 1997, I saw Phish for the first time at the Rochester War Memorial. It was my very first major concert in a major venue. It was in December and we went for my friend’s Birthday who was a much bigger fan of Phish at the time. I was more into old school rock n’ roll and rockabilly styles as you can tell from previous posts. When attending an arena concert, there are expectations of heavy crowds, waits, and bad visuals of the stage if you are sitting far away. At a Phish there is the added anxiety of all general admission seating, hippies, lots of hippies, and various kinds of organic smokes. We fought through a sea of hippies outside of the arena, because the police had closed the street in front of the venue and there was what looked like thousands of hippes just hanging out front playing drums, smoking, dancing, and selling various random goods. It was eye opening, but I later realized that was very Phish show specific. I remember one hippie started dancing with me as we shoved past them to enter the arena and then just pushed a whole half rack of ribs into my hands from the BBQ joint down the street. I was pissed about all the BBQ sauce on my hands, but licking them clean tasted awesome. We made it in and found seats off stage left. Then the lights darkened, the crowd screamed and cheered as Phish took the stage and played the song, Punch You in the Eye. They played two sets, both about an hour long, and closed with Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Good, a throwback the 50’s style rock n’ roll that I adore so much. They crushed it and won my admiration.
I had never forgotten that show and always listened to random Phish shows I collected throughout the years, though I was never the biggest of Phish fan that went out of my way to see shows and buy every new release. I did pick up the double vinyl release, Joy, and it’s awesome. It was all the classic Phish sounds. My wife is a big fan of Phish and even spent a week following the band when she was younger, so playing the Joy vinyl is always a favorite one in our house. Recently, Phish came back to same arena I saw them at in 1997, now named the Blue Cross Arena. Naturally, I bought tickets and we were both excited to see the show. Only one thing could make this show better and that was getting upgraded seats from the crappy general admission non-sense seating to private box seats. My sister worked for the AHL hockey team that plays in the arena and frequently when concerts come through, if there are extra tickets, or boxes aren’t being used, the staff gets dibs. Well, we got a call the day of the show from my sister and got the hooked up. I didn’t even care about the tickets we already had and we gave them to a friend in need of tickets. Seeing Phish play songs from the vinyl record you had been jamming at home for a year is only trumped by having free booze, seats, food, and bathrooms to your group and not sharing it 15,000 hippies. They didn’t have wine in the box, but at home, wine is always our choice. As versatile as the band Phish is, our choice of wine varies as well. White or red, it all seems to work, and I think it is because of the happy mood of the vinyl. Joy is not only the title of the album, but all the theme. Naturally, being in a happy state of mind is what usually leads my choosing of this vinyl to play when I do, and for me, when I am in a happy mood, I tend to choose fun, exciting, zippy wines.
One of my favorite bottles of wine to drink while listening to Joy by Phish is Paraduxx by The Duckhorn Wine Company. It is hard to argue that any juice out of the Napa Valley is bad. Some are better than others, but the Valley produces amazing wines and Paraduxx is one of them. I’ve always been drawn to anything by the Duckhorn Wine Co., because I remember a story of my father told me about traveling to California with my mother and visiting Duckhorn Vineyards in the 1980’s, then going to dinner with proprietor Dan Duckhorn. I won’t write about that story now, but it was one I always remembered about the winery from my father. Like a child picking a favorite sports team because it was their fathers favorite, the same can be true for wines. I saw his passion for Duckhorn wines and as I grew into the business, when Duckhorn is poured for me, I get excited, joyful. Duckhorn Wine Co. began in 1976 with a focus on merlot. They have successful carved a name in Napa history as one of the best Merlot producers to ever land in the Valley. Today they produce so much more and make great Cabernets, Sauvignon Blancs, and other labels, like Paraduxx. The Paraduxx is a fun blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Basically, they took the big four red grapes of the Napa Valley and bottled them all up. It has classic Bordeaux style structure with the added pizazz and jamminess of the Zinfandel. A lot of wines make me happy and some vineyards can take my happiness from 10 to 11, Duckhorn is that wine for me.
Sometimes our mood just calls for nice long happy jam. As all Phish fans know, the band can bring the jam every time. Paraduxx also brings the jam and with force. I highly recommend both and as often as possible. Keep the needle droppin’ and the cork poppin’.