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Who will replace Phish?

By Tyson Wheatley
CNN Headline News

The String Cheese Incident
The String Cheese Incident
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(CNN) -- On the weekend of August 14, the career of jam band Phish ended where it began some 20 years ago, with an emotional two-day, six-set finale in the quartet's home state of Vermont.

Some 70,000 fans braved soggy conditions to reach the remote and muddy fields of Coventry, proving once again that Phish fans will travel anywhere to see their heroes play.

During the last set on the final day, guitarist Trey Anastasio altered the lyrics of fan favorite "Wilson" as a clear message to the faithful.

"You can still have fun."

But many fans were left wondering: Are there any more Phish in the sea?

"Phish stood alone atop the jam-band scene," says Jonathan Cohen, news editor for Billboard.com. "From a music standpoint, Phish was offering something no other band was. Any new contender has a lot to live up to."

So who will ascend to the throne now that the kings are gone?

Here's a short list of the most promising players:

The String Cheese Incident

Formed in 1993, this Colorado quintet has built a massive grassroots following by playing hundreds of shows a year.

Their 2003 release "Untying The Not" drew critical acclaim for stretching the boundaries of the band's eclectic blend of bluegrass, funk and reggae.

The String Cheese Incident recently announced three New York City shows leading up to New Year's at Radio City. This is big for them and clearly patterned after Phish's New Year's events.

moe.

They don't have videos on MTV, hits on the radio or platinum albums, but these upstate New Yorkers have developed an army of support with a true do-it-yourself attitude.

These big players of the festival scene score points by offering fans nearly instant recordings of their stellar live performances.

Moe. was one of the first bands to allow fans to plug into the digital soundboard feed at their concerts.

Widespread Panic

Formed in 1985, these musical troubadours have been around nearly as long as Phish.

Their trippy Southern-rock inspired live shows have garnered them a legendary reputation in the jam-band scene.

After making a successful recovery from the 2002 death of founding member Michael Houser, Widespread Panic chose to take all of 2004 off.

Their return could mark the reign of a new king.

The Dead

"I love going to see The Dead," says Allyson Wolfe, a veteran of 30 Phish shows. "I am grateful to have that to look forward to."

Jerry Garcia is gone, but the remaining members of The Dead are still a force to be reckoned with.

Old Dead-heads are blending with the new, and they remain a top concert draw.

These old-school icons could get a bump now that Phish is not there.

Ween

This unconventional rock anomaly is a bit of a wild-card.

Ween is hardly your prototypical jam-band, but they have made recent crossover appeal by playing festivals like Bonnaroo.

They boast a 10-album catalogue every bit as eclectic as Phish's and their three-hour shows have caught the eye of jam-band kids.

The duo has also managed to build a fervent worldwide following by touring nonstop, and allowing fans to openly tape and trade their shows.

Their 2003 album "Quebec" was the band's highest-charting entry on The Billboard 200 (No. 50) to date.


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