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Phish Guitarist Charts An Independent Course

Of the Oakland Press

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Trey Anastasio considers himself a rock ’n’ roll alchemist.

Even while he was part of Phish, the guitarist enjoyed putting together solo and outside projects with ensembles of disparate players — for instance, Oysterhead, his side group with Primus’ Les Claypool and ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland. Anastasio really goes to town on his new solo set, “Bar 17,” which features former Phish bandmates Mike Gordon and John Fishman, keyboardist John Medeski and others, plus Skeeto Valdez of Detroit’s Brothers Groove on several tracks.

“I love putting musicians together on tracks who would normally not co-exist,” explains Anastasio, 42, who released six solo albums prior to “Bar 17.” “I’d love to do more of that in the future. It would be incredible to do a track with, say Maynard (James Keenan) from Tool and Rufus Wainwright. Wouldn’t you want to hear that?

“Somebody once asked me if I could put together the ideal band of people, musicians, who have passed away, who would it be? The first two people I thought of were (AC/DC singer) Bon Scott and (classical composer) Maurice Ravel. That’s the way I think.”

He’s an independent spirit, in other words, and these days, Anastasio also is an independent artist. With “Bar 17” he’s left the world of major labels and formed his own imprint, Rubber Jungle. It’s a move, the guitarist says, that will give him complete control not only over how to make music, but also over how to put it out.

“There are a lot of different kinds of projects I like to do, including instrumental albums,” Anastasio explains. “I don’t think major labels are equipped to deal with that kind of artist.

“So this really seems like the right place for me now. It seems a lot easier. Before there was a lot of people with opinions, and now there aren’t. It’s ... me.”

Trey Anastasio performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (October 21st) at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $38.50. Call (734) 668-8463 or visit


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