The Lemonwheel

What's a lemonwheel? A lemonwheel is a slice of lemon (not an eliptical wedge, but a cylindrical slice; and not a half slice, but a full circle), typically cut along the radius (from the center to an edge) and hung on the edge of the mouth glass with certain cocktails. and Yangety noted a play on words: Lemonwheel in Limestone. And Justin Antos noted the continued theme of movement (Clifford Ball, Great Went, Lemonwheel). Also, see anagrams, below.

What's the LemonWheel? As a sequel to the August 1996 Clifford Ball and the August 1997 Great Went, Phish held an event called LemonWheel August 15-16, 1998 at the former Loring Air Force Base (now the Loring Commerce Centre) in Limestone, Maine. (This was also the site of the Great Went.) LemonWheel continued a tradition of summer blowouts, which recently included the Clifford Ball and Great Went but actually continues a Phish tradition since 1990. These three recent multi-day festival events put the experience in overdrive. In case you've missed all three, and in case there are further events in this series, be advised that (a) it will be a religious experience, (b) there will be more going on than you will remember, and (c) you should come prepared to be happy and healthy in an enormous (circa 65K) group, a virtual (and practical) city. Also, make necessary preparations -- food, clothes, camping gear, bug spray, sunscreen, money, etc. Consider taking an RV!

What happened? Events included:

  • Phish performed three sets each day (August 15 and 16, 1998), to a crowd of perhaps 60,000.
  • A fourth set was performed Saturday night, with almost an hour of deep and funky jamming (billed by Trey as "ambient music"). During the set, in lieu of stage lights, the stage was covered with candles made by 100s (?) of concertgoers earlier in the day. The band used these candles to light a set of flames (four propane burners in a cement pagoda, about ten feet to the left of Page) that then remained lit throughout the event.
  • Sunday night ended with the band using the propane-pagoda flames to light a fuse which burned up and down and all over the stage, in twists and turns and spins and zig zags, then out to the right of the stage and along the concert area perimeter fence until it came to a large elephant (reportedly named Lee), then spotlighted by lights from above the stage. Smoke emerged from below the elephant, which raised its trunk and sprayed mist (water, actually) into the air and howled (Fishman on the trombone through a mysterious fifth mic which had stood on stage all day; accompanied first by Page on keys, then Mike on bass and Trey on drums; the band had secretly remained onstage). Then fireworks erupted from behind the perimeter fencing, closer to the stage than the elephant. Then the band began playing "Baby Elephant Walk" (written by Henry Mancini, who also wrote the theme to the Pink Panther and other things possibly included in the language) and the elephant began to move forward, into the crowd, led (by two men on stilts, and ten more carrying tiki lights) down the length of the event site, with the crowd coalescing behind it, out into the campsite, and around and about throughout the campsite until at least 3 a.m.
  • The concert grounds (in a large figure 8, or shaped like the symbol for infinity, or shaped like a guitar, depending on your perspective) featured not only the main stage, but several beer gardens, a side stage, a ferris wheel, a large elephant, jugglers, stiltsmen, wandering minstrels, and The Garden of Infinite Pleasantries which itself featured viewing mounds, prayer temples, smoking huts, crawling tubes, the five-story Port-o-Let Pagoda, a constantly changing garden of stacked-stone sculptures, a walkable pipe carrying water to a waterfall which fell to a ceremonial pool (with a lemon tree growing in it) for cooling rocks heated in a nearby ember pit by folks in ceremonial garb, a series of wonderful craftsmen and artists, large birdnest-like sculptures (made from twigs and branches) that could be walked into, a percussion stage (with hubcaps, metal bars, a hanging car door, et al, with a constant throng of musician passersby, and much much more), and much more), and much more...
  • Several other bands played on Friday in the sidestage and throughout the parking lots, including Gordon Stone Trio, Miracle Orchestra, Keller Williams, and Manic Mule.
  • Skywriting was mostly ads (primirily something that started to look like Phish then Peace but turned out to be Pepsi... repeatedly, until a second plane put a large line through it), but did include at least one smileyface.


Where? (northeast Maine): This is as far north and east as you can get and not be in Canada (which is approximately one mile east and three miles north), in a beautiful area, in blueberry (and black fly) season. If you visit the area (with four seasons of things to do!) or return for a future Phish event, expect warm afternoons, a bit of rain, and chilly nights. See also: ?' ;return true">maps.

Why Maine? Page explained in an interview with the Bangor Daily News, which reported that "The quartet didn't take much persuading to go to Maine, which has been almost a second home for them. In fact, their first concert outside Vermont was at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor in 1985. 'Our manager is from Woolwich, and we've played Portland a lot,' [organist Page] McConnell said. 'Maine's always been one of our favorite places.'"

Other `Wheel Web Sites

For more information (and some photographs) see any of the following pages and sites of interest:


Though the July 17-18, 1999, shows had a festival feel, and shirts reading "Camp Oswego", a March 1999 ?id=512782">SonicNet article said "the airport shows will not receive a designation and are not being viewed by the band as a festival, according to publicist Reyna Mastrosimone. 'The venue is non-conventional. It's not your traditional shed,' Mastrosimone said. 'But it won't be like the Great Went. It won't be like Lemonwheel.'"

Anagrams of "lemonwheel" include "Hello! New Me." is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

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