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My First Show - Nathan 'Ginger' Calvert - Phish - 12/7/97


Thoughts from my noggin put into words and then typed into my computer with my fingers. Topics vary from personal development and self awareness to music and those that participate in the process of creating it, or enjoying it on any level. 

My First Show - Nathan 'Ginger' Calvert - Phish - 12/7/97

Ryan Stanley

Happy Spring Everyone! I know it's been a while since we've placed any content into the blogosphere, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a guest blogger submission from last summer. Nathan 'Ginger' Calvert saw our request for write ups about a pivotal live music experience and was quick to submit this piece about the night he first stepped into the freezer in 1997. I added a couple of pics and videos from around the interweb to keep it saucy. Enjoy!


My name is Nathan. Most my friends call me Ginger.

Growing up in my early teenage years I was a huge Dead fan and was lucky enough to actually see Jerry play 4 times. When Jerry died I was a lot like many deadheads and was a little lost musically.

I had heard a bit of Phish, albeit mostly studio stuff. They were good, but for whatever reason didn't feel like my cup of tea. Then, I met and befriended some kids from a different school who happen to have  tons of tapes (like dressers full) of live shows. Lets just say it wasn't long before the Phish from Vermont grew on me. I even quickly found myself with a favorite song, AC/DC Bag.

About a year later I had some friends who happen to be going to Dayton Ohio to sell their patchwork clothes on lot at a Phish show. They had room for one more in their car, and even though I didn't have a ticket, I also didn't have anything else to do. So I said "Screw it!" and hopped in the car for the ride.

We got to lot fairly early, laid out a blanket to sell our merch and started chilling. As we got closer to the start of the show I decided to walk around with my finger in the air looking for my miracle of the day in form of someone's extra ticket. I was 17 and had maybe $30.00 to my name. I was having no luck but having a blast.

Suddenly, almost out of nowhere this guy and girl came to me and asked if I had $2.00 and 2 cigarettes. I was happy to help and told them I did but only give them in exchange for a hug from each of them. Money, tobacco and embraces were exchanged. I went to walk away with my finger back in the air but before I could, the young lady handed me a ticket and said "This is the kind of generosity we were looking for!" I gave them both hugs again and ran back to the car to tell my friends I got my miracle and not to head in without me!

As I crossed the threshold of the security gates the excitement started to set in. I went directly to the back of the venue as I assumed my seat wouldn't be any good. I asked the usher where I was supposed to go and he pointed down to the floor! Yes!!

I made my way to the floor and the usher who worked there pointed towards the front and said "way down up there'! At this point I am literally getting more excited by the second and almost jumping for joy as I continue down the aisle! As I get closer to my seat, I realize it's a 4th row isle seat!! The couple that had given me the ticket in the lot were there in their seats and again I hug them both so hard! The lights go down and crowd turns electric.

The show opens with the starting notes of my favorite song AC/DC Bag! So I am literally jumping up and down! I remember the girl from the miracle couple singing along with Trey at me while giving me a shove "time to put your money where your mouth is". The band definitely got the show on the road.

As the Bag closes out they go into 'Psycho Killer' by The Talking Heads... and not just any Psycho Killer but what many consider to be legendary. At this point I'm obviously throwin down when they they flawlessly move into Jesus Left Chicago. I remember thinking "Are you serious right now!?!" As the name of the blog posting eludes, this was the 12/7/97 show, which to me, for so many reasons is the GREATEST Phish show EVER!

My Mind's Got a Mind of it's own > It's Ice > Swept Away > Steep > It's Ice > Theme from the bottom!?! Once you think that's the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard they come out and do this Tube > Tube Jam thing that will go down ( mark my words ) as the greatest Tube ever!

After the super Tube they closed with a powerful as always Slave to the Traffic Light to end the first set. THAT WAS JUST THE FIRST FREAKING SET!!!! It was hard to believe there was more to come. 

12-7-97 A.jpg

At set break I had to sit there and gather my bearings. This was by far the best show I'd ever seen and it was only the first set! I was soaked from head to toe in sweat. Thankfully, my new friends  the miracle couple continued to provide some love as they returned to our seats from a setbreak adventure and gave a much needed re-hydration with a  bottled water. 

The lights go out again. The second set starts off with a rockin Timber, and the band just never quit playing... Timber > Wolfmans Brother > Boogie on Reggae Woman > Reba > Guyute > Possum! They go onto encore with A Day in the Life by the Beatles. By the time it was over I kid you not I was forever changed musically. I mean they got (I know, terrible pun but so true) me hook line and sinker!

I had found my favorite band! There was no comparison! I ended up doing 12 of their 22 fall tour shows. Here I am in the year 2017, 20 years and 100 something shows later and I still get that tingly feeling when the lights go down.

I am so thankful I decided to hop in the car and go on that winter day in 1997. 


Ginger Calvert is a a 37 Year Old Construction Worker from Louisville Kentucky who has been to 104 Phish shows.