Pop Break Live: Ghosts of the Forest at The Palace Theatre in Albany, NY
Words by Levi Norton | Photos by Matt Heasley
Ghosts Of the Forest performed their fourth out of a nine-show tour this Tuesday at the Palace Theatre in Albany, New York. The new band can be described as a “Phishy side project.” Led by guitar player and lyricist Trey Anastasio, who although is probably most well known for his role in the Vermont formed band Phish, is no stranger to collaborations on stage.
Ghosts of the Forest features Ray Packzowski (keyboards), Tony Markellis (Bass Guitar) and Jennifer Hartswick (Vocals) who have all played together with Anastasio in the Trey Anastasio Band. The band also features Jon Fishman on drums, who is a founding member of the band Phish, and has performed thousands of shows with Trey. Finally, a less “Phishy” addition to the Ghosts Of The Forest is Celisse Henderson, who although being a multi-instrumentalist, she joined Hartswick as another strong back-up vocalist.
As many of the other Phish fans in attendance, I was used to a unique setlist, with not much rhyme or reason behind the order of the songs. The dramatic performance by Ghosts of the Forest digested more like a musical — with a narrative in the constructs of its entirety — each song powerfully moving in sequential order. The inspiration behind the music in the show is attributed to the recent passing of one of Anastasio’s closest and oldest friends — A friend that traced back to before the days of Phish, which was like losing touch to an era for him.
On a phone interview live on Sirius/XM’s “Jam On” station, Trey spoke to radio DJ Ari Fink about how losing his only sibling to cancer, and then another long-time friend and musician in Ghosts of the Forest received a diagnosis of brain cancer around the same time, caused him to pour his culmination of feelings into a series of songs. These songs, Ananstasio said, were written fairly quickly, making them very raw and true to the moment he had found himself in. Bouncing back and forth between grief and hope. The songs set a theme to each part of the performance, which even became interactive at points. Hartswick and Henderon played the part of “Spirit Guides” as they danced mystically in harmony closely around Trey as if from another realm.
As with anyone who attends a lot of live music, especially seeing certain performers multiple times, you can tell when a band is “on.” Let me tell you these guys were on. The sound in the beautiful Palace Theatre was crystal clear, perfectly letting the breathtaking tones of Treys guitar reverberate evenly throughout, pairing beautifully with soulful back up vocals and the sheer chemistry of everyone on stage.
As a whole, the show exceeded my expectations, as well as many others from the buzz on the streets afterward. It was an impressive full fledged one set show, with a chance for a two song encore that captivated the audience, while Trey wore his heart on his sleeve!
You can catch Trey Anastasio’s documentary film “Between Me And My Mind” being showcased at the upcoming Asbury Park Music & Film Festival on April 28that The Paramount Theatre, in Asbury Park, NJ. Click here for tickets.
Ghosts of the Forest
Drift While You’re Sleeping
In Long Lines
There’s a Path Above
About to Run
The Green Truth
Beneath a Sea of Stars Parts 1 & 2
Mint Siren Dream
Stumble Into Flight
Shadows Thrown By Fire
A Light Beyond The Dream
In This Bubble
Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 3 (blue)
Pieces in the Machine