CORVALLIS, Ore. — Five years after the first-ever academic conference to focus on the music, business and culture of jam band Phish, organizers are reconvening at Oregon State University May 17-19 for a weekend of panels, workshops, art exhibitions and concerts.

The 2024 Phish Studies Conference will build on the scholarship and connections of the 2019 event, said Stephanie Jenkins, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts and conference chair.

“Phish studies is growing rapidly,” she said. “In the five years since the last conference, there have been more publications; the networking that took place at the first conference has resulted in partnerships; and the projects that were taking off in 2019 have developed.”

The diverse nature of the Phish fanbase led to interdisciplinary collaborations at the first conference, Jenkins said. Among more than 200 attendees, researchers in fields from business and economics to philosophy, communications and neuroscience shared how they were studying various aspects of Phish.

“Phish fans are, in their own way, scholars of the band,” she said. “They seek out in-depth knowledge of the band; they track statistics, they collect artifacts. To have a conference like this is an opportunity to dive deeper.”

Jenkins herself saw her first Phish show in 2003. She has taught an OSU course on Phish and philosophy since 2014, which has been taken by more than 200 students, including remote learners from South Korea, Thailand, Kuwait, Iran and Bulgaria.

This year’s conference will be co-hosted by the Mockingbird Foundation, a nonprofit run by Phish fans that raises money for music education across the U.S.

The conference schedule is packed with more than 60 people speaking on panels and showcasing art, posters and publications. Panels include topics such as Phish fan identity and community, Phish musical influences and techniques, public health issues related to Phish events and academic publishing of Phish research. In the evenings, Corvallis venue Bombs Away Cafe will host concerts by Oregon bands. 

Music writer Benjy Eisen, co-author of “Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead,” will give the conference keynote, “Gamehendge State of the Union Address.” Eisen co-wrote “Deal” with Bill Kreutzmann, one of the founding members and drummer for the Grateful Dead.

2024 is a major year for Phish fans. The band started with a New Year’s Eve performance of their fabled  “Gamehendge” set, which they hadn’t performed in 29 years. In August, they’ll hold a new four-day Phish fest in Delaware called Mondegreen, and later this month, the band will perform the first-ever livestreamed concert at the immersive Las Vegas Sphere performance venue.

“Phish is more culturally relevant than ever,” Jenkins said. “It’s the perfect time for Phish studies.”

The Phish Studies Conference is open to the public. Early registration is $195; late registration is $295 beginning May 1. For more information, visit the conference website.

College of Liberal Arts

About the OSU College of Liberal Arts: The College of Liberal Arts encompasses seven distinct schools, as well as several interdisciplinary initiatives, that focus on humanities, social sciences, and fine and performing arts. Curriculum developed by the college’s nationally and internationally-renowned faculty prepares students to approach the complex problems of the world ethically and thoughtfully, contributing to a student's academic foundation and helping to build real-world skills for a 21st century career and a purposeful life.

Story By: 

Molly Rosbach, [email protected]


Stephanie Jenkins, [email protected]


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