Phish reels in fans for Vermont flood benefit concert


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (WCAX) – Two shows, one Friday night, another Saturday. Phish making music and raising a lot of money.

“We know it’s a hometown crowd,” said keyboardist and songwriter Page McConnell.

Back stage, McConnell and the rest of the band prepared to rock the crowd of Phish fans, who started trolling for tickets as soon as the surprise shows were announced.

Phish was already on its summer tour when the flood waters hit and cast a plan to help right away.

“By the end of that day we had two benefit shows happening at SPAC,” said Beth Montuori Rowles with the Waterwheel foundation.

38,000 tickets were sold for the two day benefit. Tens of thousands also watching and donating online.

“We are expecting to raise 3 million dollars,” said Montuori Rowles.

And all of proceeds reeled in go to the band’s Waterwheel Foundation which set up a special flood relief fund. Money will help other non-profits, flooded farmers, and small towns with big bills.

“This is what we do. They started being successful. They said this is how you conduct yourself as a human being. You share. You do what you can. And they are in a position now to make a huge impact,” said Montuori Rowles.

“This cause is very near and dear to me,” said Gabrielle Kronyak of Montpelier.

Kronyak made the trip from Montpelier to catch her 8th Phish show but given the devastation in her community, this one means more.

“It’s a beautiful little collection of people here for a good cause. I’m grateful to be here,” said Kronyak.

Fans hooked on Phish arrived ready to give. Opening their hearts and wallets.

“A lot of our neighbors were really affected. so, it’s great that they’re doing this,” said Barb Sokolow of Elmore.

Phish’s connection to Vermont goes back 40 years, when the then young band got its start in Burlington.

“Everybody who saw the band at Nectar’s is in the audience,” said Montuori Rowles.

That devoted fan base helped spawn Phish’s global success and still lures them to the stage four decades later.

Stages all over the world… but their hearts remain at home in Vermont.

“We know we are raising money for some people who are going through some really hard times, just a lot of love and a lot of support, this is what we can do to help,” said McConnell.

Phish members tell us the band still plans to continue to raise money for flood relief long after the shows are over.

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