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Ernest Joseph "Trey" Anastasio III (//, born September 30, 1964) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and composer best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the rock band Phish, which he co-founded in 1983. He is credited by name as composer of 152 Phish original songs, 141 of them as a solo credit, in addition to 41 credits attributed to the band as a whole.
Anastasio at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on July 30, 2009
|Birth name||Ernest Joseph Anastasio III|
|Also known as||Big Red, the Bad Lieutenant, Giuseppe, The Skinny Guinea, Troy, Matt Altaro|
|Born||September 30, 1964|
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
|Genres||Alternative rock, rock, jazz fusion, progressive rock, classical, funk, blues, bluegrass, Psychedelic|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, drums, Marimba Lumina|
|Labels||Elektra, Sony, Rubber Jungle, Sony BMG, JEMP, MapleMusic Recordings (Canada)|
|Associated acts||Phish, Trey Anastasio Band, Oysterhead, Dave Matthews and Friends, Phil Lesh and Friends, Surrender to the Air, Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes, Space Antelope, SerialPod, Bivouac Jaun, Bad Hat, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra Nashville, 70 Volt Parade, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Grateful Dead, Ghosts of the Forest|
In addition to his work with Phish, Anastasio has released 11 solo albums, and been part of several side projects including the Trey Anastasio Band, Oysterhead, and Surrender to the Air. He has also performed with several symphony orchestras as part of his "Evenings with Trey Anastasio" series. Anastasio wrote the score for the Broadway musical Hands on a Hardbody, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score at the 67th Tony Awards in 2013.
Anastasio was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, when he was three. His father, Ernest Anastasio Jr., was an executive vice president at the Educational Testing Service. His mother, Dina, was a children's book author and editor of Sesame Street Magazine. He grew up with his sister Kristy.
Anastasio attended Princeton public schools through the fourth grade, then transferred to Princeton Day School. He graduated from the Taft School along with Steven Pollack, better known as the Dude of Life, who later helped pen such Phish compositions as "Suzy Greenberg", "Fluffhead", "Run Like An Antelope", "Slave to the Traffic Light", and "Dinner and a Movie". At Taft, he formed his first two bands, Red Tide and Space Antelope.
Anastasio enrolled at UVM as a philosophy major, where he met original Phish bandmates Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, and Jeff Holdsworth. On December 2, 1983 the group played their first gig in the Harris-Millis Cafeteria at UVM. Although frequently referred to as an ROTC dance, this information is incorrect – it was in fact a Christmas semi-formal for Mike's dorm, which happened to house many ROTC students at the time. The setlist consisted of cover songs, including "Long Cool Woman" and "Proud Mary" which was performed twice. The band was very primitive at this time and used hockey sticks as mic stands. After performing one set, Michael Jackson's Thriller album was put on by a party-goer to drown out the band. The band would not return to play but were still paid for the performance. At UVM, he hosted an early morning radio program, Ambient Alarm Clock.
While living at home for a semester, Anastasio met up with childhood friends Tom Marshall, his future writing partner, and Marc Daubert who would officially join Phish as percussionist from September 1984 to February 1985. After seeing a Phish show, pianist Page McConnell joined Phish in the autumn of 1985. Anastasio, along with Jon Fishman, transferred to Goddard College.
During this time he began a musical association and close friendship with composer Ernie Stires, who taught him composition, theory, and arranging. While at Goddard, he composed the song cycle The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday as his senior project. These songs became mainstays of the Phish catalog. He graduated from Goddard in 1988.
Anastasio is a founding member of the rock band Phish, serving as lead guitarist and vocalist since their inception. Phish is noted for their musical improvisation, extended jams, exploration of a broad range of genres, and original live performances. Formed at the University of Vermont in 1983 (with the current line up solidifying in 1985), the band includes bassist and vocalist Mike Gordon; percussionist, vacuum player, and vocalist Jon Fishman; and keyboardist and vocalist Page McConnell. Phish performed together for over 20 years, releasing 10 studio albums, before breaking up in August 2004. They reunited in March 2009 for a corresponding tour, released a reunion album Joy and have since resumed performing regularly.
- Bivouac Jaun in 1984 was a project featuring Anastasio, Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, and one-time Phish percussionist Marc Daubert. The group recorded a four-track project during Phish's short hiatus in the summer of 1984. Much of the project would be retooled and later featured on the first Phish album,The White Tape, in 1986.
- Bad Hat, formed in the spring of 1994, included Jon Fishman on drums, Jamie Masefield on mandolin, and Stacey Starkweather on bass. They casually played improvisational jazz around Burlington, Vermont, for a few months, with the first of several shows at Last Elm Cafe. They billed themselves as "the quietest band around".
- Surrender to the Air was a free jazz ensemble led by Anastasio and featuring Fishman, as well as Marshall Allen, Damon Choice, and Michael Ray (trumpeter) of the Sun Ra Orchestra, John Medeski, Marc Ribot, Oteil Burbridge and several other musicians. The group performed two concerts at the New York City Arts Academy in April 1996 and disbanded shortly thereafter. The concerts, like the group's sole album, consisted of completely improvised music.
- Phil Lesh and Friends (commonly referred to as Phil Lesh and Phriends) in 1999 featured Anastasio and Page McConnell, Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Donna Jean Godchaux, guitarist Steve Kimock, and drummer John Molo performing three nights of Dead and Phish material at The Warfield in San Francisco. It was the first time members of both Phish and the Dead shared the stage together. On February 12, 2006, Anastasio joined Lesh again for a full show at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. He did so again on October 20, 2007 in Glens Falls, New York.
- SerialPod is a trio featuring Anastasio, Gordon and Bill Kreutzmann. On December 17, 2005, the band performed at the 14th annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam in Asheville, North Carolina. The group performed a series of Grateful Dead and Phish classics, plus covers from Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, and others. Ivan Neville joined the group on keyboards for much of the performance.
- A quartet consisting of the Benevento/Russo Duo, Gordon and Anastasio traded opening and closing spots with Phil Lesh and Friends during their co-headlining summer 2006 tour before touring on their own for a number of shows in July 2006.
- Ghosts of the Forest – A side-project for Anastasio and Fishman, which also features vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, guitarist Celisse Henderson, bassist Tony Markellis, and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski. The group was formed in 2018 and performed a short tour in the spring of 2019. The Ghosts of the Forest album, which is credited to Anastasio as a solo artist, was released on April 12, 2019.
Trey Anastasio BandEdit
Trey Anastasio Band debuted in 1998 as Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes as a local band in Vermont fronted by Anastasio on April 17 of that year at the nightclub Higher Ground, co-owned by his brother-in-law. The band debuted a number of songs heard in Anastasio's live performances today, including "First Tube", "Last Tube", and "Mozambique". The Trio in 1999 was an evolution of Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes. Anastasio's first solo tour was with the trio, which included himself, Russ Lawton, and Tony Markellis. The trio reunited in late 2008 (along with keyboardist Ray Packowski) for a tour of the Northeast United States. The band expanded to a sextet in 2000 with three horn players added to the band (Dave Grippo on alto sax, Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet and tuba, and Andy Moroz on trombone). Some of the music originally performed by the sextet was later seen on his 2002 release, Trey Anastasio. A year later they evolved into The Octet which added Ray Paczkowski on keyboards and Russell Remington on tenor sax and flute; and The Dectet in 2002 through 2004 explored complex arrangements and changes of some songs included on Trey Anastasio, and was an evolved version of the octet, now a ten-piece band with the addition of Peter Apfelbaum on barritone sax and percussion, and Cyro Baptista on percussion.
On August 10, 2008, Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB played a set at the All Points West Music & Arts Festival at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. They opened with "Sand" and played a few other classic Anastasio/Markellis/Lawton compositions (songs that were also later recorded by Phish) including "Gotta Jibboo" and "Heavy Things".
On the twentieth anniversary of the original Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes show, April 17, 2018, Anastasio, Markellis and Lawton embarked on a tour featuring performances of Anastasio songs previously performed by Phish, such as "No Men In No Man's Land", "Camel Walk" and "Party Time" (written by Jon Fishman).
Anastasio was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Gwen Stefani / No Doubt, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites. Anastasio can be heard playing guitar on the song "Sweet and Dandy".
In July 2007, he released another instrumental album, The Horseshoe Curve, via his own Rubber Jungle Records. On August 14, he made a surprise guest appearance in Saratoga Springs, New York during Dave Matthews Band's performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. He sat in and jammed with the band during "Lie in Our Graves".
On August 7, 2008, he played his first post-rehab electric show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York debuting: "Alaska" (electric version; the song was debuted acoustic at Rothbury), "Peggy", "Gone", "Backwards Down the Number Line" (electric version; the song was debuted acoustic at Rothbury), "Valentine", "Greyhound Rising", and "Light". Four of these seven songs have found their way into the Phish live repertoire and on official studio releases.
On September 27, 2008 Anastasio debuted Time Turns Elastic, an orchestral epic co-created with composer Don Hart, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Tennessee. The east coast premier of "Time Turns Elastic" was performed on May 21, 2009 with conductor Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, Maryland. The performance also included the debut of the orchestral version of Anastasio's "First Tube".
On September 12, 2009 Trey performed "An Evening with Trey Anastasio and the New York Philharmonic" at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan with the New York Philharmonic, playing various compositions including "Divided Sky","You Enjoy Myself", and "Time Turns Elastic". This concert was a benefit for his sister, through the Kristy Anastasio Manning Memorial Fund and the New York Philharmonic.
- Space Antelope played from 1982–1983, featuring Anastasio, The Dude of Life, Doug Parsons (drums, English teacher at the Boys' Latin School of Maryland), Dudley Taft and others. The band performed originals as well as covers from Rush, The Velvet Underground, and others.
- Surrender to the Air – 1995–1996; An experimental band, playing long sections of improvisation all connected by segments conducted by Anastasio. The group released a self-titled album in March 1996. It featured several members of the late Sun Ra's big band, the Arkestra, which was (among other modes) an archetypical free jazz ensemble.
- The Vermont Youth Orchestra has performed with Anastasio on a number of occasions, including a performance at Carnegie Hall. Anastasio's attraction to complex compositions was apparent on his 2004 release, Seis De Mayo, which included some of his work with the Vermont Youth Orchestra, as well as other smaller ensembles.
- Oysterhead – A trio that included Primus bassist Les Claypool and The Police drummer Stewart Copeland. The original intention of the band was to play a single concert, on May 4, 2000. The supergroup then released an album in 2001 named The Grand Pecking Order, and toured the United States in the Fall of 2001. The band reunited June 16, 2006 at the Bonnaroo Music Festival.
- Dave Matthews & Friends – A band formed in 2003 to tour in support of Dave Matthews's solo debut Some Devil. Most of the band, including Anastasio, performed on the album.
- 70 Volt Parade was Anastasio's rock-based solo band featuring Ray Paczkowski on keyboards, Les Hall on guitar and synthesizers, and Skeeto Valdez on drums. The band was active throughout 2005.
- The Grateful Dead featured Anastasio on lead guitar and vocals as part of their final run of five "Fare Thee Well" 50th anniversary shows in Santa Clara (June 27 and 28, 2015) and Chicago (July 3, 4 and 5, 2015).
Guitar playing style and stage equipmentEdit
Anastasio has employed the services of his friend, luthier and audio-technician Paul Languedoc (Phish's soundman from 1986–2004) throughout his career. The highly resonant hollow-body electric guitars built by Languedoc for Anastasio, his Ibanez Tube Screamers, and Ross Compressors are key to his signature tone. Anastasio has several custom Languedoc hollow-body electric guitars, which make use of set maple necks with 24-fret ebony fretboards and dual Seymour Duncan SH-1 '59 humbucker pickups. During Phish's 2018 Halloween "musical costume" set, Anastasio deviated from his Languedoc guitars and performed with a white Ed O'Brien model Fender Stratocaster.
Anastasio's electric guitar technique is largely conventional; he does not typically make use of tapping techniques and does not usually play slide guitar (an example of when he does is in the Oysterhead section of Les Claypool's 5 Gallons of Diesel) but is known to be competent at both techniques. He normally uses a 2.0mm Adamas graphite guitar pick, but does not always do so. Melodically, he often incorporates modes, notably the dorian, mixolydian, and locrian, as well as pentatonic scales. In addition to scales, Anastasio makes abundant use of arpeggios while improvising as well as in his compositional material. Anastasio's guitar influences include Robert Fripp, John McLaughlin, Jerry Garcia, Pat Metheny, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix.
Effects processors play a crucial role in achieving Anastasio's guitar tone. He uses effects such as two Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamers (with Analogman's Silver Mod) in sequence, the famous Univibe clone the Black Cat Vibe, and a Ross compressor. He switched to Analogman's Bicompressor around 1998, dropped the compressor from his rig in 2002, and resumed use the Ross Compressor in 2008 when a group of fans who desired the return of Anastasio's "signature" Ross compressor sound pooled their resources to obtain a vintage Ross Compressor and sent it to Anastasio in an attempt to compel him to return the vintage effect pedal to his rig. Anastasio responded through friend and longtime collaborator Tom Marshall's website explaining that he had lost his original Ross Compressor and that he was so touched that people cared about his effects and guitar tone that he would add the gift to his rig in the original configuration where it has remained ever since. He also uses a wah wah pedal (usually a Real McCoy Custom 3 by Geoffrey Teese), a Boomerang phrase sampler, Custom Audio Electronics Super Tremolo, Ibanez DM2000 delay, Alesis Microverb II (set to reverse), Whammy II pitch shifter, as well as a Leslie rotating speaker horn. In 2009, Anastasio added a Nova Repeater (delay). He controls these devices singularly or in batch with a Custom Audio Electronics RS-10 footpedal bank.
In the early 1990s, Anastasio employed a custom 2x12 speaker cabinet powered by either a 100W Mesa/Boogie Mark III head or, later, a Custom Audio Electronics 3-channel preamp and Groove Tubes power amp. In mid-1997, he switched to a pair of modified 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb amps, one serving as a backup. When Phish returned in 2009, Anastasio was back to using the Mesa Boogie MKIII. In 2013 he added a Bogner Shiva amp to his arsenal, which can still be seen on stage as recently as Summer Tour '14, though has not been used much during this tour.
Anastasio currently plays three different acoustic guitars by Martin. The first is a D-45E which has East Indian Rosewood sides and back and a solid Sitka Spruce top. In 2005, Martin released a Trey Anastasio signature model acoustic guitar, with a dreadnought body with a curved Venetian cutaway. The guitar also has an Italian alpine spruce top, mahogany sides and a three-piece back with "wings" of mahogany and a center wedge of flame-figured Hawaiian koa (similar to a D-35). The guitar is finished with a flamed koa headplate and snowflake fingerboard inlays. Martin built only 141 of these guitars, which quickly sold out.
The history of Anastasio's guitars, rig and equipment has been meticulously documented by music writer Ryan Chiachiere on the blog Trey's Guitar Rig.
In college, Anastasio studied composition under composer and arranger Ernie Stires. "Guelah Papyrus", featured on Phish's major label debut A Picture of Nectar, includes a Stires-influenced fugue instrumental section called "The Asse Festival" as a bridge between verses. In the early years of Phish, many of Anastasio's compositions were through-composed, intricate and detailed in conception (for example, "The Divided Sky", "You Enjoy Myself", "The Asse Festival", "The Squirming Coil", "Reba", "Fluff's Travels"). Anastasio has used improvisation as the driving force behind simplified songwriting, particularly in the music he has written for his touring and recording projects apart from Phish. Tom Marshall, a New Jersey computer systems professional and friend of Anastasio since his Princeton childhood, has been his primary songwriting collaborator, acting as lyricist. Anastasio has often pulled lyrics for his music from large notebooks of poems and prose kept by Marshall, and the pair have taken working retreats during which they wrote and/or recorded demos of new material. One such demo, Trampled By Lambs and Pecked by the Dove, has been commercially released, and many of the songs included on this release were reincarnated into Phish's 1998 album The Story of the Ghost. Anastasio also writes a number of his own lyrics, including all of the lyrics on his first release with Columbia Records, 2005's Shine.
One of Anastasio's signature compositional techniques is the use of episodic (or organic) form. "Fluff's Travels" and "You Enjoy Myself" are good examples of through-composed pieces which evolve from one musical idea to the other, never returning to a previous musical statement. This technique had been used in a rock music setting by relatively few before Phish (Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead are two such examples).
Anastasio employs modal improvisation, first made popular by Miles Davis in the late 50s/early 60s.
Anastasio has also demonstrated skill at composing chamber music and music for orchestra, most notably on Seis De Mayo, his second solo album, and in his collaborations with the Vermont Youth Orchestra.
On September 27, 2008, Anastasio and Orchestra Nashville premiered a new work titled Time Turns Elastic, an original long-form piece that was orchestrated by composer and arranger Don Hart, and featured Anastasio on lead guitar and vocals. Anastasio previously collaborated with Hart and Orchestra Nashville in his orchestral performance of "Guyute" at Bonnaroo 2004. He performed the same composition at Carnegie Hall with the Vermont Youth Orchestra on September 14, 2004 and with the New York Philharmonic on September 12, 2009. Trey played the Walt Disney Concert Hall accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic on March 10, 2012.
Trey was nominated for a 2013 Best Original score Tony Award, an Outstanding New Score Drama Desk Award, and Outstanding Music and Outstanding Orchestrations Outer Critics Circle Awards for the musical Hands on a Hardbody. That year, he also received the Frederick Loewe Award from the Dramatists Guild of America, which recognizes achievement in a theatrical score.
Hands on a Hardbody received nine 2012–2013 Drama Desk Awards, tying for most nominations, and winning in the Best Sound Design in a Musical category.
Anastasio co-wrote the music for Hands on a Hardbody (along with Amanda Green) for a Broadway opening in March 2013. After only 56 performances, the show closed on April 13, making it the "fastest closing new musical of the season."
On March 15, 2010, Anastasio inducted one of his favorite bands, Genesis, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, claiming it was "impossible to overstate what impact this band and musical philosophy had on me as a young musician. I'm forever in their debt." In addition to Anastasio's speech, Phish appeared and performed two Genesis songs, "Watcher of the Skies" and "No Reply At All". Genesis did not perform.
In June 2010, Anastasio appeared as a surprise musical guest on Conan O'Brien's "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" stop at the Tower Theater where he performed "Alaska."
Between Me and My Mind, a documentary film directed by Steven Cantor about Anastasio's musical projects and Phish's 2018 New Years Eve concert, will be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019.
On December 15, 2006, Anastasio was stopped by police in Whitehall, New York, on a traffic violation. He failed a field sobriety test, and was subsequently arrested for possession of heroin and other drugs, and driving while intoxicated. Anastasio pleaded guilty to a reduced felony drug charge and spent 14 months participating in daily meetings, drug testing, and performing community service in the Washington County, New York, drug court program. On June 2008, after completing all phases of the New York State drug court, Anastasio graduated in good standing. His conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor. He has publicly thanked the officer who arrested him for turning his life around. Following this experience, he became an active participant in the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), sharing his story on Capitol Hill, and working to help raise awareness and money, for a National Drug Court. Anastasio has maintained sobriety since January 2007, and detailed his opiate addiction, arrest and rehabilitation in a January 2019 GQ feature on sober musicians.
"The Barn", also known as "The Farmhouse", is the name given to Anastasio's rehearsal and recording facility in the countryside near Westford, Vermont in the state's Lamoille Valley region. It was reconstructed between 1996 and 1998 from an existing structure, the Alan Irish Barn. The Barn has been used by Phish and most of Anastasio's projects since 1999. The cover photo of the Phish album Farmhouse is of the outhouse located right next to The Barn.
Other artists who have recorded or performed at The Barn include Gordon Stone Band, Herbie Hancock, Béla Fleck, Swampadelica, John Patitucci, DJ Logic, Toots & the Maytals, Tony Levin, The Slip, RAQ, John Medeski, Jerry Douglas, Nicholas Cassarino, Van Ghost and Addison Groove Project, among others.
Beginning in 2006, The Barn was transformed from a commercial recording facility into a studio environment providing accommodations and work space for artists participating in the Seven Below residency program.
- One Man's Trash (October 27, 1998)
- Trey Anastasio (April 30, 2002)
- Seis De Mayo (April 6, 2004)
- Shine (November 1, 2005)
- Bar 17 (October 3, 2006)
- The Horseshoe Curve (July 24, 2007)
- Time Turns Elastic (May 12, 2009)
- Traveler (October 16, 2012)
- Paper Wheels (October 30, 2015)
- Ghosts of the Forest (April 12, 2019)
- Plasma (April 29, 2003)
- Original Boardwalk Style (June 10, 2008)
- TAB at the TAB (September 14, 2010)
- TAB at the Fox Theater (February 8, 2019)
- Surrender to the Air (with Surrender to the Air) (1996)
- Trampled by Lambs and Pecked by the Dove (with Tom Marshall) (November 1, 2000)
- The Grand Pecking Order (with Oysterhead) (October 2, 2001)
- Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead (with the Grateful Dead) (November 20, 2015)
- Live in Chicago (November 1, 2005) (as bonus with Shine)
- 18 Steps (October 3, 2006) (as a bonus with Bar 17 and as a download)
- Live in New York City 12-31-05 (2006) (as a bonus with Shine)
- The Lucius Beebe EP (July 24, 2007) (as a bonus with The Horseshoe Curve).
Videos and filmsEdit
- Vermont Youth Orchestra with Trey Anastasio & Ernie Stires (2001, recorded live at Flynn Theater, Burlington, Vermont on February 4, 2001)
- Trey Anastasio with Special Guest Carlos Santana (2004, recorded live in San Francisco on May 31, 2003)
- Inside Out: Trey and Dave Go to Africa (2004, Documentary based in Senegal, Africa featuring Dave Matthews and Orchestra Baobab)
Session guitar workEdit
- Under the Sound Umbrella by The Dude of Life (June 8, 1999)
- Lettin' Go by Son Seals (2000)
- Lookout for Hope by Jerry Douglas (May 7, 2002)
- Some Devil by Dave Matthews (September 23, 2003)
- True Love by Toots & the Maytals (April 6, 2004)
- Possibilities by Herbie Hancock (August 29, 2005)
- Page McConnell by Page McConnell (April 17, 2007)
- The Green Sparrow by Mike Gordon (August 5, 2008)
- The Phish Companion: A Guide to the Band and Their Music, Second Edition.
- Jarnow, Jesse. "Trey Anastasio Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- Gardiner, Bob; Furfaro, Danielle (December 16, 2006). "Traffic stop puts ex-Phish singer center stage". Times Union. Albany, New York. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009.
The date of birth on the police photo reads April 13, 1966. However, Anastasio's birth date is Sept. 30, 1964. The incorrect birth date on the police photo, coupled with an apparent rumor in the Phish fan community...
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- "Phish Establish Hurricane Fund for Caribbean Island Tortola". Coast 93.3. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
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