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9 Magic Moments from The Clifford Ball

Look at those cavemen, it’s the freakiest show.

I hadn’t planned on going to the Clifford Ball. After Jerry died and Phish got bigger and bigger I shied away from them.I hit Deer Creek and drove back to Baltimore after the show. My friend Rick had an extra for Hershey Park and asked if I was in.The December show there the Winter before was one of my favorite times seeing Phish, so I decided to go.

I went to his house to get the ticket, and the guy selling it was someone I knew from 9th grade. I bought the ticket, and he offered me a ride, but he was going to The Clifford Ball afterward, so…. I didn’t have an actual job at that point, so I asked, “Can I get a ticket.” He said, “Well, actually, I have an extra,” and that was it. I packed a few shirts and shorts, took my last $100, and hit the road the next morning.

The drive up to Hershey was all talk about ‘maybe they’ll get 20,000 people, and Puff Head, and I were catching up on eight years since 9th grade. The drive to Plattsburg was all talk about, ‘they will hit 50,000 easy.’ There was palpable electricity in the air at Hershey, and within 24 hours of the show, we all descended on Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

The scope of what Phish was about to pull off wasn’t even fathomable as we drove in. I figured I’d find some hottie to groove with for the weekend, get psychedelic and let the outside world go.

After setting up camp, we were treated to a soundcheck jam that had the first reference to Mr. Sausage besides some great improvisation for over an hour. We fired up the grill, cracked some beers, got irie, and heard sweet sounds drifting out of the not-far distance.

And that was the first glimpse of the magic that would take place that weekend. Mr. Sausage would soon become the stuff of legends, and Plattsburg would never be the same.

The next day, when the festival officially started, we were given a plethora of moments that would shape and inform Phish, festivals, and jam culture going forward Here are 8 more of those magic moments:

Split Open Night 01 Set II

As night fell and set II opened, the band made a statement that the Ball would be like nothing we had ever seen

Acoustic mini set Night 01 Set II

As close as we got (until Fest 8) to a full band acoustic Phish. Short but sweet.

Hood Jam Night 01 Set III

The fireworks during the jam were something to behold

Mike’s> Simple> Contact> Weekapaug Night 01 Set II

A plethora of a Mike's Groove.

Flatbed Jam Overnight between shows

The original 4th set.

Reba Night 02 Set I

Unique with a slow almost zeppelin no quarter jam by page

Brother with Ben and Jerry Night 02 Set II

The kind of guest vocalist you want.

Run Like An Antelope Night 02 Set II

Incorporated a female acrobat (Sylvia from Rio de Janeiro) on a rope suspended circus-style high above the stage.

"The list could go on and on, but we will leave it here. About 9 am Monday morning, Pat woke me up and said, let's beat the traffic out. The ride home was more silent, all of us lost in the memory of what we had taken part in. Phish was community now, we were many, and within a year, Phish would be poised to destroy America."

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