Phish: Burlington band’s memorabilia collected in exhibition


Mo Quigg

Burlington community members take in Phish memorabilia at the new Flynn Center exhibition “Phish in the Northern Country” Nov. 4. Everything on display, including Phish posters and their own Ben & Jerry’s flavor, was donated by archivist Kevin Shapiro.

Hannah Ritz

Home-grown Vermont band Phish will be the subject of an exhibit at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.

The exhibit, “Phish in the Northern Country,” is composed of a variety of memorabilia from previous band tours and concerts.

Everything on display was donated to the Flynn for the exhibit by Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro as well as the WaterWheel Foundation, according to Flynn executive director John Killacky.

The WaterWheel Foundation was created by Phish in 1997 to oversee the band’s various charitable activities, according to the foundation’s website.

The organization was conceived at a concert played by Phish at the Flynn. Proceeds from the show went to establishing the foundation.

Phish began their career in the Harris-Millis Dining Hall in December 1983, according to the band’s website.

They performed in various local venues and houses before beginning a regular regiment of international touring.

The exhibit is named “Phish in the Northern Country” because it portrays so much more than Phish in Vermont specifically, Killacky said.

The exhibit features posters and handbills from concerts throughout the country.

“People love it,” Killacky said. “[They] come into the gallery and are engaged and having fun.”

The exhibit has multiple sections, some of which include handbills from Phish’s first shows at Slade Hall at UVM, Nectar’s and the Flynn.

One section is dedicated to the creation of the Ben & Jerry’s flavor “Phish Food,” while another contains posters from WaterWheel that were sold at shows to benefit the foundation, Killacky said.

The foundation donates to various non-profit organizations, including the helping of keeping Lake Champlain clean, he said.

With the help of the foundation, memorablilia that may have otherwise been lost has been archived.

“The exhibit reminds people that the band actually came from here,” he said.

The exhibit features flyers that were originally hung around Burlington years ago.

“Its roots are here,” Killacky said. “Its early performances were actually on Main Street, and it maintains its presence as a local phenomenon but is still aware of its roots.”

For people seeing other shows at the Flynn, the exhibit will be open during the preshow and the intermission, Killacky said.

“Phish is an experience for people,” he said. “It’s more than just a concert. People love the community around the band.”