Phil & Friends: This Could Be The Last Time (in Telluride)

A story which ran in the Marin Independent Journal is making it’s rounds on the Grateful Dead related message boards this morning about a quote which has many of us wondering if Phil will be stopping touring altogether or at least significantly:

Part of the reason for Terrapin was to give Lesh a place to play while he gradually winds down his life on the road.

“After 45 years, I’m done with touring,” he sighed. “The music is still compelling, but I can’t handle the buses, the hotels, the airplanes.”

The above rationale for the establishment of Terrapin Crossroads has always been known to some extent or another, but to see the written words published brings home a certain level of realness to this possibility that Phil may in fact stop touring – save for a few one offs here and there or maybe a limited tour schedule compared to his present day frequency.

It’s very difficult to imagine Phil completely storing away his travel bags for good, but I do believe he’s serious about not wanting to continue on the same pace on the road which as he’s described can be a very tiring proposition.

So, if it’s the case that Phil is turning in his frequent flyer miles for good (to some extent or another), then of course we’re left with some lingering questions. While it’s apparent that TXR has been established as a home base for “Phil Lesh & Friends” and I’m sure we’ll see new exciting incarnations in the future, it seems that P&F might now be mostly tethered to it’s friendly confines in Marin County California. With the emergence of Furthur about two and half years ago, Phil and Friends have basically been dormant anyway in terms of touring. The recent Broomfield, CO run was probably the most noteable excursion beyond Terrapin Crossroads. So, it’s not as if the brakes will have been suddenly applied to P&F … rather it’s more of a jumpstart, but in a different mode of being located at a permanent home venue.

While I’m thrilled for Phil & his family regarding TXR, it’s also sad to note that any appearance he makes at another venue may in fact be his last appearance. I’d like to think Phil will make it out to Telluride once again after the 2012 Blues & Brews appearance, but in reality this could be the last time!

The other big question is “What is to become of Furthur?”. While this apparent news regarding Phil’s lack of future touring didn’t directly address the question, it does nonetheless have significant implications … since I suspect Furthur will not be a part of Terrapin Crossroads in any sort of permanent manner. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Furthur made an appearance(s) at TXR or even made a limited high profile run here or there such as NYE.

This leads to one of the bigger questions of how does Bob Weir fit into this? Bobby has already sat in at TXR, so it appears he’s definitely on the invite list … if not first to be welcomed! Ever since the New Year’s Eve co-billed shows of 2008/09 with Ratdog and Phil & Friends, where Bobby and Phil played mini tweener sets and claimed “this is a work in progress”, I can’t help but think there’s a bond there which can never be broken & as evidenced over the past few years with Furthur that they enjoy playing together. So, hopefully there’s a plan in place to include Bobby and I suspect that he would do the same for Phil when possible.

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