After over 2 decades working for the Phish organization as guitar tech to Trey Anastasio, fan favorite Brian Brown will be retiring in 2018. Brown, 65, has worked as a tech in the industry for 40 years. He explained that the physical toll of the profession has contributed to his decision to retire, including the “heavy lifting, truck loading, [and] 14 hour workdays.” Combining his 10 years as a musician to 40 as a tech, Brown says, “I’ve been setting up concert gigs for 50 years… since I was 15 years old,” adding “Mother Nature is telling me to slow down.”
Brown will be replaced by storied Canadian-born guitar tech Michael Kaye, who has worked with, among others, Paul Simon, Pete Townsend, Stephen Stills, Brian Wilson, Patti Scialfa, Jon Bon Jovi, and Warren Zevon. Read more about Kaye’s prolific career here. Brown described Kaye as “a great guy, very experienced, and super smart.” He adds, “I’m happy knowing Trey’s going to be well taken care of.”
Kaye was directly involved in the rebuild of Anastasio’s rig that took place at Bob Bradshaw’s Custom Audio Electronics in early December, 2017, and has been working with Anastasio, Brown, and Bradshaw on tweaks and maintenance since, including at Madison Square Garden for Phish’s 4-night 2017 New Year’s Eve run.
Anastasio has spoken highly of Brown from the stage. On July 8, 2016 in Mansfield, MA, after breaking a string during Cities, Anastasio asked Brown to linger on stage, saying, “This is my dear friend Brian Brown. If you like the guitar sound, cheer for this guy right now.” Needless to say, the crowd obliged. At Hampton Coliseum on August 9, 2004, on the eve of the band’s second hiatus, Trey said of Brown from the stage, “I would not be able to play without him… he totally makes all this stuff work.
Since February 2007, Brown has also been building hand-made cables for the legendary Hard Truckers company, famed for its celebrated speaker cabinets and work with the Grateful Dead. Brown’s Hard Truckers cables are made to the same exacting standards as the cables he’s built for Anastasio’s touring rig over the years. Hard Truckers CEO Glenn Goldstein described Brown as a “guitar and electronics wizard,” who “has dedicated his life to the science behind the music.”
Of Trey’s guitars, Brown has said, “Guitars slowly become who plays them. So, it starts out as a piece of wood with a bunch of copper wires and turns slowly into an extension of the person who’s playing it.”
“I’ll always be of service to Trey in the future,” Brown tells me, “just not the primary tech.”
On behalf of TGR, I would like to express my personal thanks to Brian, both for his 21 years of service to one of my favorite guitar players and bands and also for his advice and mentorship on all things rig-related, which helped make this website so much more than I ever could have hoped for when I started it. I’m incredibly grateful.