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Mike Gordon, bassist, banjoist, and a founding member of the great jam band Phish, was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts on this date in 1965. Phish came together as a band of four in 1983 at the University of Vermont, and Gordon served not only as bass player and vocalist but as the band manager, booking their gigs, answering fan mail, and so on, until their success ballooned beyond imagination. Gordon has written a score of songs for Phish and co-authored just as many. He has also teamed up on numerous musical projects with guitarist Leo Kottke, Grateful Dead veterans Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, Phish’s Trey Antastasio, and his own mother, Marjorie Minkin. He has also released several solo and Mike Gordon Band albums, and produced three films. Gordon blends many genres of music into his rock and roll, including New Orleans jazz and elements of klezmer. To see Phish in action in 2014, look below.
“Allow [the bass] to be a religion. That doesn’t mean you can’t have another kind of religion too. If you treat it as not just an instrument, but sort of a gateway to an incredible world of rhythm and dreams and music and all that, even just a few notes on that bass can be an incredible tool. Allow it to be huge, that would be my advice.” --Mike Gordon
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.