Phil Lesh and Friends is an American rock band formed and led by Phil Lesh, former bassist of the Grateful Dead.
Phil & Friends is not a traditional group in that several different lineups of musicians have played under the name, including groups featuring members of Phish, Little Feat, and the Zen Tricksters.
The Phil & Friends concept takes the music of the Grateful Dead (and an ever-increasing number of other influences, including Bob Dylan, Traffic, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Warren Haynes' Gov't Mule, the Allman Brothers, etc.) and explores and interprets it in new ways. Through the period known as the Quintet years (see below), a Phil & Friends show was often focused on harder, faster rock than that which the Grateful Dead played, thanks in large part to Haynes' and Herring's talents at the Southern rock style. Lesh was fond of calling it "Dixieland-style rock." However, all of the incarnations of Phil & Friends have followed a trend of "updating" the Grateful Dead's massive body of work, and all have been extremely adept at the long, exploratory jams that were a trademark of the Dead. Phil & Friends has been acclaimed for giving new life to the Grateful Dead's material, bringing in new styles and innovations, while at the same time remaining loyal to the original music and the original fans. It is this melding of musical influences that has given them extremely wide appeal not only among old Deadheads, but the modern-day fans of other jam bands as well.
Phil & Friends has continued the Grateful Dead's tradition of allowing fans to record concerts, and trade these recordings freely. The Internet has been an invaluable source for these tapers to disseminate this music through various sources, including Archive.org, and the vast BitTorrent file-sharing network. Phil has also embraced the Internet by providing free soundboard recordings of many concerts through his website, even providing high-resolution CD covers for fans to print. For his Summer 2006 tour, Phil partnered with Instant Live, a company that was able to provide soundboard CDs of a concert immediately upon its finishing, as well as make these recordings available for fans to download online, though this service was not free.
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