Phish, one of America's biggest psychedelic jam bands, is reuniting and swimming our way.
Last week, the group announced plans to play three shows at Hampton Coliseum March 6-8. That's good news for both the local economy and fans of improvisational neo-hippie rock.
But the Phish splashdown could create some collateral damage. Earl Banton and his wife have been holding a big bluegrass jam session called the Cabin Fever Pickin' Party in Hampton since 2002. This year's event is scheduled for - you guessed it - the weekend of March 6-8.
The event is scheduled to take place at the Holiday Inn Hampton Hotel & Conference Center, an easy walk from Hampton Coliseum. More than 400 rooms have been reserved for Cabin Fever. But the fact that the bluegrassers got there first isn't likely to make much difference. Once news of the Phish shows broke, rock fans rushed to reserve hotel rooms near the Coliseum. Now, they're sold out for miles around.
"It's probably going to be a problem," Banton said. "I foresee a lack of hotel rooms and parking ... It will force us to look at some other options. The way I always look at it, if somebody wants your business, they court you. But once you're already there, they forget about you. That's how we feel."
Cabin Fever is a small event compared to a gigantic three-day rock extravaganza, but it's still pretty big by most other standards. Last year's edition drew about 3,000 bluegrass lovers - most of them with armed with instruments and eager to jam.
"It's a little disappointing," Banton said. "I feel pretty worn out with being stepped on ... What's really aggravating is the lack of communication."