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A History of Progressive Music and Youth Culture

Phishing in America

Series:

Dennis Carlson

Edited By Shirley R. Steinberg

The late Dennis Carlson uses the alternative nature of the Burlington, Vermont-bred band, Phish, and the larger impact of rock n’ roll to look at youth and revolutionary music culture. A History of Progressive Music and Youth Culture is designed for those who work with or teach young people to understand the nature and origin of musical commitment and devotion. For academics, the book traces a cultural study of rock which is unlike any other discussion of music or musicology published.

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2 Phishy Folk

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Phishy Folk

When Trey Anastasio performed Phish songs with an acoustic guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 2008, he symbolically connected Phish (still in hiatus at that time) to the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s in the U.S. and to the moment the revival began to collapse in 1965. In a seminal performance that epitomized this denouement at the Newport Folk Festival that year, Bob Dylan (who had performed acoustic there the previous two years and become the young face and hope of the folk revival) “plugged-in.” In this venue where everyone else was performing acoustic, he performed rock. In a parody through reversal of this earlier moment, Anastasio, known for his electric guitar and extended guitar jamming, went acoustic and thus traditional at a festival in which most “folk” performers were plugged-in and blurring the lines between folk, rock, country, and the blues. This was a way of paying homage to folk music as a living legacy, one that has played an important role in connecting young people to movements for social change organized around equity, social justice, freedom, and the building of ←37 | 38→inclusive communities of difference and diversity. At the same time, by playing with the memory of Dylan’s appearance in 1965, and its subversive quality, Anastasio was affirming that artists and musicians should not try to live up to other’s expectations for them—even their legions of young fans. Some Phish fans were disappointed to see Anastasio go acoustic at...

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