'Brave Little Vermont'

"No matter who your are, no matter where you go in life … "

Dateline:  The Vermont side of Lake Champlain

I blame it on Ben.

Or possibly, Jerry.

Not, on Mr. Garcia.

The "Boss" is on max … level 57 on all eight speakers, even those tiny little ones.

Treble is 0 … Bass is +5.

The sunroof is open, the A/C is two clicks under snowing.  On my head, a backwards baseball cap embroidered with the Rolling Stones mouth and tongue.

My mouth is open, and my tongue is out as well.

In my rear-view mirror I see the mouth open and tongue wagging of the older, out-of-shape security guard as he chases my 4Runner.

Which is now just a 2Runner.

A 2Runner in a four-wheel drift.

In a gravel parking lot.

And it's Ben's fault.

Or Jerry's.

Not Mr. Garcia.

Ben, or Jerry, made me late for an interview I had scheduled at the B.A.S.S Federation Nation Eastern Divisional registration, which caused me to, ah, you know, aggressively, sort of park, in the gravel parking lot, which was working out fine until I saw the FIVE-story weigh-in stage we had built, which caused my mouth and tongue to do a Mick Jagger in shock, which made me do that shock thing with my hands up in the air, which made me drop Mr. Cherry Garcia on my new 4Runner mats, which were just cleaned and shinny and slippery, which made Mr. Garcia start to rolling and get jammed under the accelerator, which caused the apparent slide I was in, which was bringing me interestingly close to our FIVE-story weigh-in stage.

Five-story stage meant for fish, er Phish.

As I slide by the two B.A.S.S Toyota Tundra trucks, a man carrying a large box marked pyrotechniques sees me and starts doing the Mick Jagger mouth as well … and then I stop, and calmly with just one cherry on my ankle and one shaving of chocolate on my calf, hang my B.A.S.S. press badge around my neck and walk by the gasping security guard who can only manage to say to me … "Are you with … fish?'

Of which I show him my B.A.S.S. badge, and head to our FIVE-story weigh-in stage.

As I get close to it, past all the stares of our seemingly new road crew, who are starting to bug me because they don't know who I am and they keep asking me if I'm here for fish, and I keep holding up my B.A.S.S. media badge, while telling myself to call Jerry McKinnis and please ask him to tell the new stage people that I work here as well, suddenly I hear "db" and when I turn around, there's the dude I'm supposed to be interviewing, Sean Alvarez, the Vermont B.A.S.S. Federation Nation President, and when I go up to him I say exactly this … "Dude you guys in Vermont ROCK man … that is one hell of a weigh-in stage you've made … thanks so much for hosting this tournament."

Sean Alvarez, Vermont's B.A.S.S. Federation Nation President.

And Alvarez says exactly this back to me … "The stage is for fish."

Which takes me back since of course it is for fish … they catch fish … they walk up on the stage … they weigh the fish … the guy up on stage with the most fish … wins …

"Yeah man, I know, you did a hell of a job, it is by far the best weigh-in stage I've ever seen."

Alvarez and I have never met before.

And he's sort of doing a mini Mick Jagger thing about now and says to me, "db … that's the stage for fish … the rock group, fish … P … H … I … S … H."

True Story.

" … you gonna need somebody, to stand by you … "

As Alvarez and I walk into registration he tells me that PHISH is having a benefit concert to help the victims of the recent massive flooding in Vermont, and I ask him … "It was just a couple of weeks ago, were you concerned the event wasn't going to happen?"

"Nope … not for one second … we take care of each other here, this is after all, 'Brave Little Vermont."

"db … I moved here from Southern California 12 years ago … I'm still in training to be a Vermonter … I can't say I'm a Vermonter … that takes 4 or 5 generations, and I'm working on it, but I can say that I live in Vermont."

"The mountains caught all the rain, and suddenly all these tiny brooks and streams became torrents of rushing water, you could hear these huge boulders being tossed around like pebbles as they crashed down stream."

We are sitting outside, I can see the security guard leaning up against my 4Runner with his arms folded, my new stage crew co-workers with the Grateful Dead T-shirts keep walking by and pointing at me.

"I have this little creek by my house, sometimes it is just a trickle of water, but during he floods it raised 8 FEET and came over my driveway … the power of it, the force of it actually scared me."

"And you weren't worried that the event would be cancelled."

"Not a bit … up here we have three sayings … 'Hold tight' … 'Get through' … 'Clean up.'  We band together … major snowstorms … flooding … whatever … there are only 600,000 or so people in this state … it's like Six Degrees of Vermont, everyone knows everyone, we get together, work together, and know that whatever it is, this too will pass."

As I was leaving registration last night I walked by the then empty PHISH stage I thought of the last of the last thing Sean Alvarez said to me, "db … Vermont is our stage, the whole state, and we the people of Vermont are the show.  That's why I knew this show … this tournament … would always go on … the people of Vermont would have it no other way."

The PHISH concert tonight is a benefit concert to help the victims of the Vermont flooding and marks the first time since 2004 that the band will be playing back home in Vermont.

12,000 fans are expected.

Vermonters, whether they have been here for four generations or not, have sold the place out.

And you can also help the people of Vermont affected by the brutal flooding, by going to www.vermontredcross.org and making a financial donation.

Doing so, will show the 600,000 or so folks in Vermont, that, "Brave Little Vermont" does not stand alone.  Nor should it.

" … no matter how much money you got, or the friends you got,
You gonna need somebody, to stand by you … "

Stand By Me

Playing For Change (Version)