The Relentless Communicator: Offering An Introduction

Hey folks, I figured before I jump in too deep, I’d introduce myself. My name’s Aaron Hawley and I’m really excited to be joining the team here at Online Phish Tour. OPT has given me free reign to write about whatever Phishiness I feel like opining upon, and I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to do that. I’m going to call my column, “The Relentless Communicator”, a nod to one of Trey’s many nicknames but one that I always felt aptly described me as well. Before I go off the deep end and tell you why I think jaded vets are overrated and why I think Time Turns Elastic may be the apex of Trey’s songwriting career, I figured I’d just get started with an introduction.

I’m a 31 year old phan who was born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia which is where I live today. Minus brief stints in College Park, Maryland, Honolulu, Hawaii and Pordenone, Italy I’m a West Virginia boy through and through. When I’m not obsessing over Phish, I obsess over the West Virginia Mountaineers and you can read all about it at SBNation Pittsburgh.

I’m excited to be writing for Online Phish Tour since my introduction to Phish came where many others did: online. As a teenager I was a part of the Spin Doctors listserv where I got exposed to the wild and woolly world of tape trading. Stacks of tapes began arriving at my door and among live sets from the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler and the Dead was a great sounding copy of 7/21/91 Arrowhead Ranch. That was it. It was all over. I hit a parked car the next day while focusing a little too hard on the Divided Sky and not hard enough on navigation.

I saw my first show on October 18th, 1996 and it’s been downhill ever since. My love affair with Phish has been a big part of the latter half of my life. Along the way I feel lucky to say that I was there when the band gave Jerry his due at Virginia Beach and when we all rang in the Millennium in the swamps of South Florida. Throw in an assortment of sheds, hockey arenas and Air Force Bases and it’s been one a hell of a ride.

Interestingly enough, when the band gave got burned out in the summer of 2004 and called it quits… I did too. For almost five years, I probably only listened to five hours of Phish. I grew up a little (not too much though) and branched out musically while playing and writing music of my own. While I always kind of knew they’d come back, I couldn’t believe it when they announced the 2009 Hampton run. I got shut out of the Mothership, but an obsession came rushing back. They say addicts never become un-addicted they just get their addiction under control. What happened at Hampton triggered a relapse of epic proportions.

Now I’m back among the Phish phenomenon, marveling at things I never could have imagined back in High School like live streams and bit torrents, apps and tweets. It’s awesome, and it seems everything about this band gets more fun by the minute. My old tour pals are strewn across the country now, some as doctors, lawyers and geneticists, but it doesn’t matter. No matter where all the other paths of life have taken us, they still somehow return to intersect at that place that defies description: a Phish show. Phish 3.0 has taken me back to places I revere like Deer Creek to new stops like the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Needless to say, it’s great to get out there and feel that feeling that I never forgot, but never thought I’d feel again. Best of all it’s just great to have Phish back.

While some folks pine for days past, I’m convinced that the best Phish is still to come, which is one of the many reasons that I’m glad to be a part of the team here at Online Phish tour. Big thanks again to OPT and Guy Forget for having me on board, I’m looking forward to tossing in my two cents on the shows I see, the songs I hear and everything else that gets caught in between.